This has to be one of our best visits to Disney's Animal Kingdom ever. We certainly didn't do everything, but the quality of the experience was great.
We're also slipping into anti-commando mode in our touring style. Yes, we'll get up and open a park, but we aren't rushing - a very much needed break (and the lack of crowds are taking the pressure off anyway.
For the Disney geeks who read this (and other than family, who else would?!), wait times were no more than 5 minutes for anything - including Expedition Everest. Even if the wait time was posted as longer, everything was basically a walk-on.
In addition to the low wait time, we really had a great ride on Kilimanjaro Safari. The driver was animated and knew his stuff, and we were able to stop and take several photos. A normal 25 minute tour turned into 40 minutes, and we were very appreciative of that.
Aside from the usual savannah activity, we were fortunate to see one of the newest baby elephants with his mother out today. There were also a very active young giraffe who enjoyed following our vehicle around on his part of the savannah!
The cheetah were hidden in the back of their woods in the shade, but we do have memories of our cheetah walk in South Africa to remind us how graceful and wonderful these great cats are!
After the safari, we left Harambe and took the train to the Rafiki's Wildelife Station. I wanted to get there early enough to see if they were still doing any procedures on the animals. This is a back-stage area that teaches about conservation as well as gives the guests peeks into their animal care rooms. Today, a plover was being checked out to see if an adhesion on her beak had healed properly. Every animal at the Animal Kingdom makes its way into the lab at least once a year for a check-up - from elephants (well, they won't fit into the lab) to the tiny plovers. Wow.
However, the neatest thing we saw was this hawk with her trainer Julie. The hawk has lived at Disney for 28 years since being rescued after surviving a gunshot. She's blind from her injury, but gets around just fine (no flying, though). She's one of the remaining birds from Disney's old Discovery Island attraction in Bay Lake and Julie has been her trainer for 15 years now. Oddly, her favorite meal is quail, so that's what she gets nearly every day.
After returning to Harambe, we made our toward Asia and came upon DeVine hanging out along the pathway. We haven't seen her in several years, so this was a nice treat. At first, she really was hidden well along her tree, the revealed her face and a wonderful, winsome smile. Finally, she moved along her way to find a child or two to snare.
After DeVine, we came upon a group of Thai musicians and artists in Anandapur village in Asia. I'm not sure of the name of the instrument, but the music was wonderful.
Expedition Everest was in good enough shape today. Most of the waterfalls were running, and the hawk is back at the scene where the Yeti has ripped up the tracks. However, the Yeti itself is in "B Mode," which means he doesn't reach out and grab at you, but just snarls in the strobe lights as your train hurls by. At least his mountain is safe from all those
We also benefitted from low crowds by walking into the Finding Nemo: The Musical theatre 5 minutes before show-time. You normally have to wait in a long hot line a good 45 minutes ahead of time. The theatre was nearly fall, but definitely not packed. The production has held up well, and does a good job of telling the Nemo story in 37 minutes, and I don't quite have "Big Blue World" stuck in my head. Dammit. Now I do . . .
We had lunch at Restaurantosaurus in Dino-Land. Since McDonald's left, Disney has been tinkering with the menu. They've added shrimp po-boy, which was really tasty for me, and Jim enjoyed the vegetarian sub with sweet-potato fries. The omni-present Disney Angus Burger with fries is still around, but I'm glad to see a variety of sandwiches pop-up at these quick service places.
Several Disney dining management staff were sampling the full menu at a table next to us. As they broke up, one of them asked our feedback on the meal. Since our mouths were full, we gave them two thumbs up.
So, it's hot, and we need to do laundry before we head to Downtown Disney for La Nouba and then dinner at Kouzzina at the Boardwalk. Oh, for a 1 bedroom with its own laundry instead of a studio, but at least the laundry room isn't too far away (relatively speaking, for the 1/4 miles of hallways at Animal Kingdom Lodge) and it's free.
This is the best park to take photos in!