The trip report continues! Click here to see all the posts for this report. As a note: I’m glossing over my food experiences here, but don’t worry – I’ll be doing a full food post or two later on.
I was surprisingly merciful after our late night and set the alarm for 7:30 instead of 7AM. My mom hopped in the shower while I brought up Animal Kingdom showtimes on the My Disney Experience app, which was being cooperative. I wanted to catch the bird show and the Nemo musical, but the times were a little at odds. I decided to take a risk and assume we could make it from the 12PM Nemo performance to a 1:15PM Sanaa reservation… right?
Despite our later start we still made it to DAK by 8:40AM, and were let into the park about 15 minutes later. We went straight to the safari, and in the early morning hours it was exactly the improvement we’d hoped. I got some absolutely astonishing shots of the male lion.
From there we went straight to Pangani Forest Trail; my mom and I aren’t much for primates, but it was still an interesting walk.
I had developed a severe thirst, so from Pangani I led us to the Anandapur tea kiosk. I got a cranberry pomegranate iced tea, and my mom got honey ginger iced green tea. They came to use unsweetened, allowing us to customize, and were very refreshing. Recommended!
We were also a little hungry, but Sanaa was coming up and we didn’t want any enormous baked goods. Mr. Kamal’s would’ve been good but it wasn’t open yet. I ran over to Tamu Tamu but it was closed for breakfast too? Weird. I know I’ve eaten breakfast there before. But the glazed nut stand was open, so we bought a cone of almonds to share. They were quite delicious, and my mom enjoyed them so much she vowed to buy more if she saw them sold elsewhere.
By that time the Flights of Wonder pre-show had started, so we watched a handler present a few different birds until they let us into the show. I asked my mom if she wanted to try to volunteer for the bit with a dollar bill (I always bring one just in case; in February I successfully got Moon the volunteer slot), but she demurred. We were to be observers, it seemed.
The show started and was great as always; the birds are gorgeous, although I was disappointed that my usual Guano Joe wasn’t there. The guy we had was fine, but I’ve had a really HILARIOUS guy the past three times so I’m spoiled.
I’d been shooting all day with my Nikon SLR camera, and when they asked for volunteers to take pictures from the stage, I hesitated a moment… then raised my camera in the air as instructed. I was the first person selected! I and another lady were brought up to the stage while they released an adorable barn owl for our snapping pleasure. It was awesome.
I decided we had time to hit up Conservation Station, so we headed over to the Wildlife Express station and discovered an enormous wait. Very wonky. We hopped the second train that came through anyway, but I realized as we were pulling into the complex that if we wanted to make the Nemo show we’d have a max of 10 minutes to spend in here. We did a quick circle around the building, walked through the petting zoo, turned around, and caught the train back. World record!
At that point I switched back over to Walking on a Mission mode, managing to get us from the train station to the Nemo theater in 10 minutes flat, with another 10 to spare. We took a seat on the upper level – I prefer this because you can more easily see all of the action that occurs on the promenade between sections. It was a good show as usual, although I still prefer Festival of the Lion King.
It was once again time for our new favorite game: Book It Across The Park As Fast As You Can! And in this way we made it from Nemo to the Animal Kingdom Lodge bus stop in another 10 minutes. Despite my gambling with time, we actually made it to our Sanaa reservation with five minutes to spare. I was shocked to discovered that it was really busy. Okay, who told the general populace about Sanaa? This was supposed to be our secret, people!
Undeterred, I requested a window seat and was told that it could mean waiting another 30 to 45 minutes. As far as I’m concerned, half the reason to come to Sanaa is to see the animals while you eat, so we said yes, we’ll wait. We only waited about 10, maybe 15 minutes before our buzzer went off, so that worked out fine.
We were rewarded by a lovely view of cranes, Watusi cattle, giraffes, gnus, some other type of bird I didn’t recognize, and zebras INCLUDING THE BABY ZEBRA EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. SO CUTE. It was totally worth it to wait.
|This was taken outside, but we could often see them from our table as well.|
Our server was Jim, who was very nice but very quiet. This suited me just fine, as I am also generally quiet with strangers and I respect that. He was nice and accommodating and brought me a light-up clip-on compound-words Tinker[-]Bell for my birthday so he gets my vote. (If only my Tinker Bell hadn’t subsequently fallen off my bag. Phooey.)
At my urging, we ordered the Indian bread service (spiced and garlic-ginger naan, onion kulcha) with ALL the dips, plus the salad sampler. I got a mango lassi, which was delicious, and then we ordered tomato soup and chickpea cakes. A more in-depth discussion will come, but let me just say that my mom could not have loved Sanaa more. It can be tough for vegetarians, even quasi-vegetarians, to find non-salad-and-veggie-burger food to eat, and Sanaa’s vegetarian offerings are varied, interesting, and delicious. Hey, Sanaa, if you want to set up a satellite restaurant in the Baltimore-Washington area, I can guarantee you at least two regulars!
We went out to the nearby animal viewing area for a bit to take more pictures, then picked up the bus to the Studios. The bus made a couple stops along the way, so it took us a little longer than expected to get there, but not debilitatingly so. The security guard that checked my bag was very cute and told me that I looked 19, so once again I say: WINNING!
We had a FastPass+ for Star Tours, so we went straight there. Our tour took us to… the planet… with the snow and the combat zone? (I fear that when it comes to the stars, I prefer to Trek.) And then a Leia hologram showed up, and then we bounced around the Death Star. And then I said to myself, “I could kill you with this tray,” and then I laughed to myself because Eddie Izzard is the best.
From there we went to MuppetVision, one of the few attractions where I am just as if not more excited about the pre-show than the actual attraction. “WILL YOU STOP THIS FOOLISHNESS?” “What sort of foolishness would you like to see?” is one of the greatest exchanges ever recorded on film. Oh, Sam Eagle. I do love you so.
Our next FastPass+ was for The Great Movie Ride. This was an adventure. We were in the second car, which, as Katherine has proven, means you get the gangster hijacker. Meanwhile, the first car rolls through the gangster scene a little faster and gets hijacked by the cowboy in the western scene. So imagine my surprise when we rolled into the gangster scene and saw… the first car, hanging out. One of the divider doors had failed to open, so they were stuck, and we were stuck behind them.
Unfortunately, no one had told the audio animatronics, so while maintenance came and manually opened the door for car #1, car #2 watched as the vehicle full of gangsters sped in and fired their guns at no one because Mugsi had not yet arrived. And then the red light shot itself out, which was a neat trick.
This left our host, Zach (he was good), and poor Mugsi to do what they could. Mugsi just kinda sauntered out onto the porch and intimidated Zach off the ride with the usual dialogue, but without the preceding gunfight the effect was lost. Later on this also messed with the timing in the Oz scene, as we were blocked by the first car and had to watch as their host did the dialogue with the Wicked Witch. I, of course, found all of this quite fascinating, but I was a little sad that my mom didn’t get to experience the ride properly. Ah well.
Fun fact about me: I always hide under my hat during the entire Alien portion of the ride. I can’t. I just can’t.
We decided to hit up the Indiana Jones stunt show, which is not spectacular but good for some solid entertainment, plus it was the last show of the day and I always heard the stunts are more impressive at night. I was quite impressed when my mom immediately called the plant. As in, the second he was called down to volunteer. Can’t get anything past her! She also pointed out that both Indy and Marian were way too young to believably pass as stunt doubles for Harrison Ford and Karen Allen, but I’m sure it all made sense in 1989.
At this point it seemed around the time the Osborne Lights would go on, so we headed over and caught the lighting ceremony. It was insanely crowded, though, so we decided to come back and tour them properly later. We were starting to get a little hungry, and I headed straight for Writer’s Stop, hoping to persuade my mom to join me in a carrot cake cookie. Tragically, she was not to be tempted by sweets, and I didn’t want to eat such an enormous sugar bomb all by my lonesome. Dear readers: if you would like to tour the parks with someone who will help you share dessert, please let me know.
We headed down to Sunset Boulevard and the line of food stalls, but nothing caught our fancy. I was, however, asked if I needed a hand by a guy wielding a teal Mickey glove. I didn’t know they even made those, and that’s the only one I’ve ever seen – I wonder how he made that happen?
Ultimately we ended up at Backlot Catering, using our last meal voucher courtesy of my coworker’s husband. We got a grilled veggie sandwich, strawberry parfait, and Coke, and it was all perfectly serviceable.
Thus sustained, we went back to the Osborne Lights, which had a more directed traffic pattern now. We walked through the entire area, talking lots of pictures and enjoying the periodic musical numbers. I know there are rumors of this going away to make room for a Star Wars land, but I hope they aren’t true! I’m so excited at the prospect of running through the Osborne Lights in next year’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon.
For our final FastPass+ I had selected Fantasmic, just to be safe, and I’m glad I did. I’m still not entirely sure how this is working, but there were two separate lines – FP+ and standby. From what I saw, the standby line wasn’t moving at any time while we were walking through the FP+ line. Our FP+ was good until 7:45 for an 8PM show. Are the standby people held until the FP+ window closes? Are they let in in small groups beforehand? I am uncertain and I’m not sure how much I like it. The show was good as usual, though, and my mom liked it quite a bit.
We were careful to select seats toward the top and near the exit; when the show ended, we bolted out of the bleachers and hightailed it to the bus. This system worked beautifully – the bus wasn’t even full when we took off.
Then the usual – showers, uploading pictures, notes, bed. Next morning: Magic Kingdom!
Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org. See ya real soon!
We could definitely do some park time together because I know the I-have-a-place-to-be walk, I situate myself by exits to avoid departure crowds, and I could possibly LEARN to just split sweets instead of eating them all myself. Maybe.
And you got your mom to do a lot–mine went on Spaceship Earth, freaked out in front of the Maelstrom, and then sat by the pool complaining about how loud the children were. Jenn's mom for the win on this one.
AND I LOVE THE GREAT MOVIE RIDE! My mission in January is to get the cowboy.
Haha, she'll be pleased to hear that! She kept apologizing for being boring. I was like, "Are you kidding? We're in WALT DISNEY WORLD."
YES TO FAST WALKING.
Your mom's right, though. Children are LOUD. My mom kept complaining about how poorly all the children around us were disciplined.
Ha, I love your park strategies!! And I'm with you on the Alien, I'm all squished up next to my companions during that part with my hands over my eyes! I'm a big wuss on Dinosaur too.
It took me many rides on Dinosaur before I could keep my eyes open the entire time! I really enjoy the ride, but I shocks me that more little kids don't come off crying. It's intense!
As a New Yorker, I naturally walk faster than about 90% of the population in Disney, so sitting towards the back of Fantasmic is a must (me + crowds, especially slow ones = CRANKY).
Unrelated…Eddie Izzard IS the best. I can often be caught questioning "Cake or Death?!?!"
You're lucky we're Church of England!