Wednesday, December 12, 2018


It's Animal Kingdom day, y'all!!  

If you missed the other posts you can find those here:

Part 1:  Prep Work

Today is Part 4 of this (super long) Disney recap and we were READY for Animal Kingdom!

We caught the shuttle early (about an hour and 15 minutes before the park opened).  The boys were chattering away and so ready to get there.  

Again, it was a quick ride over to the park and we were much better at working our way closer to the front of the line this time. 

I absolutely LOVED seeing all the parks decorated for Christmas.  The big Christmas trees were my favorite!

I decided it would probably be best to high-tail it over to Pandora because I knew that the Flight of Passage line would be the longest.  But first, we got sidetracked for a few minutes with the Tree of Life.  So gorgeous.

By the time we got in line for the Flight of Passage, we were already at a 2 hour wait. So maybe not the best decision to stop for pictures of the big tree first.  I knew it would be totally worth it though and since it was our first ride of the day, we were all fresh and in good moods.

The view was spectacular.  The detail in all of this is just hard to even process.  I've never seen Avatar and barely know what it's about but I was THIS CLOSE to spending the next two hours in line watching it on my phone at this point.  haha

The line was moving pretty quickly, it was overcast, and not hot at all.  We were doing just fine waiting our turn.

Everything here is just so perfect.  No detail goes overlooked.  It's insane.

As we moved up in the line, we started to see it up close and it was amazing.  I took about 100 pictures of the scenery and another 50 or so videos. I wanted to remember EVERYTHING.

(You can find all my videos from Disney in my Instagram Highlights!  I'll probably post more to my stories today.)

As we got closer, we got to see the lab where they create the avatars.  (I guess that's what it was for?)

This guy was impressive.  He even moved his arms and legs.  The boys asked if he was real.  I told them no...?  haha

Right before you get on the ride, they "analyze" you to match you with your perfect avatar.  Or something like that.  It was a fun way to kill 5 minutes before it was our turn!

I mentioned this in one of the other posts but this ride is a 3D Virtual Reality experience.  Once you straddle the seat (like a motorcycle), your banshee takes off and you fly on the back of it through the world of Pandora.  And it's not a leisurely stroll like Soarin. It's fast-paced with quick maneuvers and serious dips.  You feel the wind blowing, you feel the water splash you, you SMELL the earthy smells and you can even feel your banshee breathing underneath you.

And I think I've said this so many times already but y'all, I legitimately lost my cool as soon as we "took off" on the backs of our banshees.  Like I was totally uncool.  Geeked out.  For real.  There's no other way to describe it.  I was giddy, giggling, and pretty loud with my total awe at everything going on.  And I had no shame.  This experience is OUTSTANDING, friends.  If the wait is 3 hours, you wait.

This ride is also EMOTIONAL.  It leaves you with a sense of total joy and wonderment. #cheesybutsotrue

 Its the only way I can even come close to describing it and if you've ridden it before then you know what I'm talking about.

I've included the video of it from a riders point of view (not mine, just one I found on YouTube) but it still doesn't do it justice at all.  You have to be there to feel it and experience it.  But I do love watching the video from time to time to keep it fresh in my mind.

Ok, moving on.  Even though I don't want to.  Ever.  haha

Craig took the boys through ride's gift shop and Matthew ended up choosing some sort of drum thing and Mason got a foam sword that he broke within 30 minutes.  (Sidenote:  We asked if it was possible to exchange it since it broke so soon and they barely batted an eye and switched it out immediately.  I'm pretty sure it's impossible for Disney cast members to tell anyone no.  They are all so NICE.)

I made Matthew try on a classic set of mouse ears just for one picture.  He was a good sport even though he was starting to get hangry...

By the time we left the gift shop, he was in a super sullen mood.  (See below.)  I had a backpack full of snacks but none of them were what he was wanting.  Matthew doesn't ever beg for anything (unlike his brother) or even ask for much.  So it's always hard to figure out how to help him snap out of it.  He just goes quiet.

We ended up grabbing a bag of chips from a little cart and BOOM.  Back to normal.  He's so easy to please.  Love that kid.

We grabbed a seat while we waited for our first Fast Pass to the Navi River Journey.

We really enjoyed the Navi River Journey but I don't know if I would have stood in line for more than an hour for it.  And I only got video since it was so dark in there.  I'll post them on Instagram today.

Afterward, we walked through Africa to get to Kilimanjaro Safaris and it was the closest I'll probably ever get to actually seeing Africa.  It was so lively and authentic.  Or what I think looks authentic.  But what do I know?  haha

We didn't have a Fast Pass for the Safari but the wait was right under an hour.  No biggie at all.

This was a great ride if you need to get off your feet.  You sit in these big jeeps and your guide takes you around looking at the animals.  Like a real safari!  Some of them are just freely walking around too and make me wonder what will stop them from just hopping on board with us.

This baby hippo was laying on top of his/her mama which was pretty cute.  It's hard to see in the picture but it got a big "awwwwww" out of the whole jeep.

The gators were huge.

And these guys (I can't remember what they are) blocked the path where we were driving for several minutes and we had to sit and wait for them to clear out.

The rhino was one that got fairly close.  He looked like he was waiting to charge us at any moment.

After our safari, it was time for lunch.  I don't seem to have any pictures of this (probably because I was starving) but we grabbed a quick service meal at Flame Tree Barbecue and it was a perfect choice!  

Everyone loved their meals.  I ordered the pulled pork and baked mac-n-cheese.  It came with coleslaw and a couple of onion rings as well.  Heaven! I should try to recreate it here at home.

Related image
Source:  Mission Food

Source: Diz Radio

After lunch, we headed over to Everest for our second Fast Pass of the day.  The boys were so excited about this ride because it was their first major rollercoaster of the trip.  The grandparents all opted out of this one which meant we were able to use their Fast Passes and ride it back-to-back using their Magic Bands.

We rode it once and the boys FREAKED OUT (in a good way).  We've definitely passed our love of thrill rides on to these two!

We jumped back in line for a second time...

...and a few minutes later we were screaming again!

We loved this coaster but it wasn't nearly as wild as I thought it might be. I guess I'm so used to Six Flags rides and their huge roller coasters with giant hills and crazy speeds.  All the ones at Disney seemed tame compared to that.  Which was not a bad thing!  Just something I wasn't expecting.

On our way to our next Fast Pass, we stopped off at Dino-Rama to do some exploring.  This section of the park is set up like a carnival with carnival type rides and games.  The boys loved it!

The wait for the Primeval Whirl was pretty short so the boys and I jumped in line for that while everyone else decided to find some shade and get off their feet for a bit.  If the line is under 30 minutes, I'd totally wait on this one again.  It was cute and fun.

Then it was on to Fast Pass #3--Dinosaur!

This ride is actually a little scary!  Mason buried his head into Craig's side at one point because a dinosaur got really close!  You are riding in the jeep (on a track) and it is bumpy like a real one would be and it whips you around quite a bit.  Plus the whole ride is in the dark and those dinos look pretty real!  This was a fun one!

We left the park around 4:30 and on the bus ride home, I reminded everyone that we had dinner reservations back at the park at 6:30.  I knew not everyone was going to be up for that though because were all exhausted and EVERYONE'S feet were killing them.  So Craig, the boys and his parents decided to stay at the resort and swim but my parents and I wanted to live it up every second we could.  So we changed our reservation from 8 people to 3. 

I took the long way around the resort to check out the other pool at the Cozy Cone Motel.  So cute!

At 6, my parents and I jumped back on the bus to the Rainforest Cafe at Animal Kingdom.  We also got to see the tree all lit up!

Again, the decor did not disappoint.

I thought this side view of the giant frog was a little funny.

It was so nice to get some alone time with my parents.  They are the greatest people ever and this vacation would not have been half as good if it weren't for them.  They were ready to do it ALL and without them, I would have spent way too much time at the hotel and not nearly as much time exploring Disney.  (Rainforest Cafe night, included.)

The food was great too.  I ended up ordering the Chicken Parm and took most of it back to the hotel with me.  Since we had a microwave and a fridge it was easy to eat leftovers later in the week.

For some reason, I totally missed the fact that there were night shows at Animal Kingdom or we would have absolutely stayed for that as well.  I didn't even realize it until later in the trip. I could have seen it on my Disney app but I never even thought to check.  This is most likely due to the fact that we were delirious with exhaustion and those beds were calling our names.  It was good to skip one night but we made sure not to miss any more!

When I came back to the room, Mason was wanting to get in the couch bed but our elf, Doodah, was sitting there with a balloon tied around his wrist.  (Sidenote:  We asked the front desk if they could get housekeeping to move our elf for us and they did this!  They are THE BEST!)

But since you aren't allowed to touch your elf, we weren't sure how to get him somewhere safer so we could go to sleep.  Mason started to lift him up with the balloon but ended up getting scared and decided to write him a note that asked permission for us to touch him so we could move him.  Sigh.

I told the boys to go in the other room to give Doodah a chance to answer without being seen and I told them I'd be in the other bathroom off the living room.  Thankfully they bought it and I quickly circled "yes" before the boys came back out.  They thought that was so cool!  But they made me be the one to move him because they were still nervous.  After I had, they grilled me on what he felt like and if I could feel his bones.  (hahaha)  Uhhhh no.

And then?  We slept GREAT!  But you know what? My only complaint was that the bedroom only had sheets.  Seriously.  The "comforter" was basically a second slightly thicker sheet and that just doesn't work for me.  It was nothing a quick call to housekeeping couldn't fix though.  But I told Craig I think it must be a way to keep you from blasting the A/C in your room at night.  Didn't work on us.  ;)  The two other beds both had soft blankets though.

  Next up is EPCOT!!  And I think this may have been one of my favorite days which really surprised me.  It's really so hard to have a favorite day though.  They were all so perfect.

More to come when I can squeeze in time for another post!  ;)


PART 1Prep Work
PART 2Travel, Resort Check-In, Disney Springs
PART 3Hollywood Studios 
PART 4Animal Kingdom
PART 5:  Epcot
PART 6: Magic Kingdom

Happy Day, friends!

Don't forget to check the Deals blog and FB group for all your Christmas shopping needs!  The deals are still rolling in and I've found some great gift ideas!



  1. No detail goes overlooked. YES! They really do cover every single aspect of the experience!

  2. We really enjoyed Animal Kingdom, too and that was a shock to me. I didn't expect to want to spend so much time there, but we did! We also chose Rainforest Cafe and I was surprised at how much better the food was than the one we have around here. I am loving your recaps!

  3. Man this makes me want to be back in Disney right now!!!! The Flight of Passage is seriously Amazing!!!!

  4. Your posts are getting me so excited for our next trip!! (which I just booked for next Nov!) We have never been to Pandora so can't wait for that and maybe next trip I won't be too chicken to ride Everest haha - and the first time my son went on Dinosaur he was freshly 5 and came off screaming and crying with my husband and said he would NEVER do it again, 2 years later he did though! haha

    1. I will take it as a personal insult if you don't ride Pandora! ;) And yes, Everest was so much fun but compared to other theme parks, it was about a 6 on the scary factor (for me!). Exciting and thrilling but not scary. Do it!!

  5. The frog picture was the best. Thanks for including it.

    I am enjoying your posts. Just like a "Day in the Life" posts because I think everyone does Disney differently to some degree.

    1. Hahaha! Thanks! ;) We looked over at it and were like "hmmmmm....". And it is so true that everyone does Disney differently!

  6. The elf part is hilarious - can you feel his bones??? haha uh no.
    Are Elf knew it would be too hard for our daughter to not touch him so he told her that she could hug him once or twice but anymore would not be nice - she finds him in the morning and hugs him twice then puts him right back where he goes to rest. Sounds like your boys take the no touching very serious!!


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