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Old 04-18-2012, 11:07 PM   #136
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We’d come back to Port Orleans in the wee hours of the morning and thus pretty much just fell into bed. There was another early morning breakfast reservation (I have to eat breakfast in the morning, I greatly envy people who get by on a granola bar!) to look forward to and Bear likes to sleep.

But this night was far more restful than the previous – it was just us again, and we could snooze our way through a few alarms. Our morning routine has been shaved down so we don’t waste a microsecond of potential sleeptime.


I was done before Bear and took the opportunity to snap a few room photos. We’d gotten our second (of two total) towel creature of the trip. We’d had the standard Mickey head and this very impressive rose.

But Bear was done soon enough (and none of my room shots were that great) and we were on our way to the Contemporary Resort. I had booked a breakfast at the Wave; I really just wanted to get a meal in at all the monorail (and most of the deluxe) resorts. And the Contemporary is our (combined) favorite resort.

Breakfast was delicious (especially the sweet potato pancakes and the mega berry smoothie) and went quickly. Our service was excellent, which I suppose should be the norm in a habitually deserted restaurant. But we had a great time and would definitely go back.


We didn’t linger in the Contemporary (thus no photos) because I really wanted to make Animal Kingdom rope drop.


This really was the first time I’d be able to devote a significant amount of time to Animal Kingdom and I was excited. The first time I was at Disney, Animal Kingdom wasn’t around and our dedicated AK time for my two school trips was very limited.


Somewhat astonishingly, we managed to get to the park on time. But Bear decided that he really wanted to use a restroom while we could still find one (we have really bad luck with maps and the only one guaranteed to be found was the one outside the turnstiles). So I got to watch the crowds filter through, getting in front of me in the Safari and Everest lines. Rats.


Even Timon came out and got ahead of me. A MEERKAT. Goodness. I’m not sure why he was even out, because he definitely didn’t stop to talk to anyone and was just walking in a loop.


And thus started the grand tradition of people sticking their faces in my pictures. Stupid people.


Bear finally caught up – skeptical that I had seen Timon – and we finally entered the park. The whole rigmarole took less than ten minutes but it felt like ages. And we were doing much better than with Magic Kingdom!


We headed up to Africa, taking a rather scenic route. Completely because I’m utterly in love with the Animal Kingdom themeing (though why they call the lands ‘Africa’ and ‘Asia’ when they don’t represent the entire scope of those continents and just a few select spots is a mystery to me. Basically – MORE CHINESE KARSTS DISNEY) and not because I got lost.


I was also looking forward to some kangaroos (Australian animals are the best. Anyone else ever seen the gifs of the emu fighting the kangaroo? It’s AMAZING) but I never was clear on where they were. They are not on the path in between Africa and Australia, just to be clear. I am positive of that one.


The standby wait for Everest was rather short and Bear dragged me in line. Roller coasters are not my favorite thing but this queue. How perfect! Except for the bells. I understand why they’re there but those bells get used way too much. I know my tolerance for loud noise is much lower than the average person’s, but the bells are ridiculously annoying.


I love the little tea patch back here. And I really want Disney to scrap Avatarland and instead put in the other Avatar (the animated one. It truly dwarfs James Cameron’s Avatar in every sense: storytelling, plotting, creatively, even art direction. Too bad it’s on Nickelodeon because Avatar: the Last Airbender – and NOT Shyamalan’s version – would be truly spectacular in real life/theme park form).


Dragon!


I seriously can not say enough how much I truly adore this queue. I love exploration/science history in general and this is probably the closest I’ll get to it in Disney.


I mean, there’s a museum in there! A MUSEUM. Literally my favorite places on Earth. I just want to read everything in there. The lines were never long and slow enough for us to truly explore the queue (despite what it may seem), which was disappointing.


The ride isn’t so bad either. You know, that thing you stand in line for? Yeah, it’s pretty good. Everest ride count: 1
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Old 04-18-2012, 11:08 PM   #137
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Now, when you’ve just gotten off the – arguably – best attraction in the park, where do you go next?


The best themed land, obviously.

I will hear no arguments about this – I am obsessed with Dinoland. I love dinosaurs, I love neon, and I love tacky things. I know – and understand – the complaints about it, but I think it’s perfect the way it is.


It’s just so colorful. Look at those oranges! And the puns! Amazing.


The one ride Bear had really wanted to do in Animal Kingdom was Primeval Whirl, the actual reason we were in Dinoland. Really, we were one of MAYBE five families in that section.


But Bear agreed to explore a little bit, since there were so few people around. Crowds aren’t necessarily a bad thing but sometimes it’s nice to have the freedom to really explore a place and have some elbow room.


And I found Jurassic Park underwhelming at Islands of Adventure so I really had a lot of dinosaur emersion to do (yes, I was wearing a dinosaur shirt that day and yes, I had packed more than one because it was too difficult to pick one).


By the time we decided to head in to Primeval Whirl, the crowds had picked up (and someone was in my picture. But now, on second look, it may be Bear…).


Not that that ever really affects the Primeval Whirl lines (or Triceratops Spin, but Bear was insistent that we Whirl and not Spin).


I don’t really understand a lot of the hate leveled at Primeval Whirl. It’s not the most thrilling, imaginative ride in all of the Disney Parks but it’s cute with some nice theming. Definitely needs some more (or any) lady scientists in the murals! Actually, that’s probably my biggest complaint. But I don’t know anything that wouldn’t be improved with more lady scientists.


It was almost time to use our Safari FastPasses, so we headed back towards Asia. We picked up our first set of Everest FastPasses on our way (Everest Fastpass Count: 1).


And then we stopped. Because I am honestly one of the worst people to go to a zoo with – I love watching animals! And I don’t find ‘it’s like a zoo’ to actually be criticism, but instead a very nice compliment. And MONKEYS.


This says 3, but I uploaded #1 twice… so … ignore the captions.

Bear tired of watching the monkeys swing more quickly than I did; he was ready for a nice sit in some shade. I do love Animal Kingdom but holy flying foxes does it get hot and sunny there!


We almost made it to Africa and the Safaris, but Cast Members were out promoting Flights of Wonder. And I really like owls (there’s a theme here…). This Cast Member was really good at his job – natural with the crowd and very good with the owl. I actually have an embarrassing number of pictures of him and his owl, trying to get what I was visualizing in my head.


Flights of Wonder was starting shortly and the Cast Member + Owl disappeared backstage. I’m nearly positive it was for the 10:30 show – my time stamps are all screwy, so hooray for a times guide! We weren’t doing half bad today. Only about 90 minutes in and we’d managed to successfully grab fastpasses and ride rides. Good job us!
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Old 04-18-2012, 11:14 PM   #138
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How did I miss so many updates????? Alright, all caught up now!!

Looks like you guys had a great time at the Christmas party!!! Boo for Bear not carrying you through the Princess line though! Your pictures are just magical!
I actually have a lot of pictures edited, I'm just so behind on other people's TRs that I've gotten behind on writing mine!

Thanks! I really want to work on my night pictures but I also don't really want to carry a tripod in the parks? For some reason it makes me super nervous. But I love photographing the castle - especially at night! It always looks so magical.
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Old 04-19-2012, 06:07 AM   #139
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You guys were definitely efficient that morning at AK!!! I do understand why you appreciate Dinoland, but I really just can't get on board with it. It's TOO cheesy and roadside attraction-y, and that's just not what Disney is. That has to be the area of Disney I find myself wondering "What would Walt think of this one?" the most?
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Old 04-20-2012, 01:58 PM   #140
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Woohoo! You finally made it to The Wave and had the sweet potato pancakes. Did Bear enjoy them? We found their service to be really nice as well when we went.

It looks like you guys had a great time at the Christmas party. I've been debating on going to that or MNSSHP this fall but I think the Halloween party is going to win out.

Yay Primevil Whirl! I love that ride! I always drag DH to it even though he is one of the haters of DinoLand. Everytime we go on it we get put with two other people and they always laugh and laugh. You just can't help it.
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Old 04-21-2012, 09:00 AM   #141
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I always forget the Wave has breakfast! There are so many places I want to try for breakfast but never have time because we always go to the same 2 places-Boma and Crystal Palace. The fact that we're doing Cape May for breakfast in May is a miracle!

You guys got a lot done in AK that morning! I love the Everest queue area, it's so pretty, but those BELLS!!! AHHHHH! I have no tolerance for loud noises either, especially in bell form, like 6 inches from my head.

I'm not really a fan of Dinoland, but I do like how colorful it all is, and the signs are fun to read!
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Old 04-21-2012, 04:15 PM   #142
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The Harambe Reserve[/center]

The Safari standby line had grown quite a bit since the morning; I was just happy we got those FastPasses first.



The igloo drink containers strapped to the top of the safari trucks are my favorite detail in here. I wonder if igloo is a sponsor? Or they were just lying around and an imagineer decided to repurpose them? They’re just so yellow and fun!


Bear and I got our own row, which is necessary because I am terrible at sharing. I’m not sure what he would’ve done for a view if he hadn’t had his own window. And we were right behind the skipper; she was good, but very quiet. I highly doubt anyone sitting behind us heard any of her narration.


Not that it’s vital to hear the safari narration; the storyline is weak and no one remembers the animal names anyway.


She did let us have plenty of time to see the animals, which is really the only thing that matters.


We definitely did not pick the best time to go on the safari lighting-wise; there were plenty of animals out and active but it was difficult to work with the sun and shadow patterns.


This hippo is probably my favorite. Hippos are so adorable and then you remember how monstrously scary and dangerous they are and it’s not fair.


It was truly miraculous whenever an animal just stood still in the sunlight! No hiding in dark caves or under a tree… just soaking up some good ol’ Vitamin D.


I swear there’s an animal in here.


The giraffes are a close second to the hippo. Plus they won’t try and mash my head in, so really closer to neck-and-neck for first place.


Elephants remind me of the lost baby elephant in Planet Earth (I believe) who is following his mother’s tracks the wrong way (backtracking?). Which is just awful and heartbreaking because elephants are so amazing.


'Mingos


The Lioness by wingsfive, on Flickr

Only the lionesses were out for our trip; the skipper did talk about why the male sleeps all day, etc., etc. which was nice, but also somewhat unnecessary in my opinion. Do people really not know about lion pack dynamics? I distinctly remember reading a book about lions in the third grade and it was definitely discussed in there. Or do animal units not really happen anymore (we’re not up on the whole elementary school curriculum thing any more)? But I guess most people look forward to lions (compared to ankole cattle) so Disney feels the need to express this?


I was absolutely ravenous by the time we got off the safari and it was close to the time of day where everyone is in the park (both rope droppers and late sleepers). We had agreed ahead of time to try Flame Tree and I am so happy that we did! There was way too much going on in that section of the park to stop, dig out a list of food places and talk through them (it’s a complicated process since food and decision-making are involved).
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Old 04-21-2012, 05:40 PM   #143
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OH MY GOSH, what time were you in the princess line? We might have been there at the SAME time. I might have SEEN you. THIS IS SO INTENSE.

AHHH the Magic, the Memories, and You. You got a MUCH BETTER VIEW than I did, of ALL the entertainment. Lucky.

The toy soldiers are excellent. It blows my mind, to be honest. It actually sounds like they have wooden feet AND they're playing instruments while marching around with God knows what covering their face and it's amazing.

Wait, one of them fell on you?

The kangas and roos are on one of the paths around the Tree of Life. It's a hidden little area. It's pretty secluded, which I was okay with haha. I think they should scrap any Avatar ideas of any kind and do the stinking Beastly Kingdom like they were originally going to. It would be so much more awesome.

I love Dinoland too. It's part of Animal Kingdom so I love it. I don't see the big problem with it. But whatever, everyone's got their own opinion and it's all good. If you love it, you love it. (And thankfully we both love it haha.)

I love elephants so much! They're so precious. You got awesome safari pictures. Good job!!!
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Old 04-21-2012, 07:42 PM   #144
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Animal Kingdom is my favorite park to just wander around aimlessly in. There's just so much to see there!

Um, I think that Disney talks about the animal information (like lions sleeping), because people as a whole are stupid now and don't remember when they learned in school. And I'm not joking.....there are a lot of dumb people out there....
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Old 04-22-2012, 09:39 AM   #145
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I love all of the details on the safari as well! I think Disney reiterates the info we may already know because there's usually people of all ages on the ride, and littler kids may not understand why the lion isn't there roaring away!
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Old 04-22-2012, 02:28 PM   #146
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The idea to go to Flame Tree had come from the Internet; neither of us had ever eaten there and I figured something “different” would be fun.


The whole thing was pretty much worth it for the mouse art. Too adorable! My photo (and editing; I’m not really happy with most of my shots from this day. I’ll probably re-edit them at some point; there just seems to be something missing) mojo was suspiciously missing at this point. I really do like the area around Flame Tree, but I was using the wrong lens or just rusty at that point.


I finished eating before Bear – I didn’t want my dessert and he volunteered to make sure nothing went to waste.


This gave me the opportunity to take approximately 10,000 identical, poorly exposed pictures of ducks.

After Bear was done, we took a few minutes to revise our plans for the day. We still had some FastPasses to use but it was getting hot and crowded. I was pretty sure we had Kouzzina reservations and we didn’t want to be late; after a few more attractions in Animal Kingdom, we’d head over and spend some time relaxing in Epcot.


We took our second trip on Everest, this time requesting the front row.


Everest is one of the few rides that I like to request a specific row for the ride; Splash Mountain and Space are the other two that I can think of off the top of my head. Even then, Space isn’t so important. We usually end up with a front seat and we switch off between the two of us for who gets it.


After Everest, we were pretty much done with Everest. I really wanted a brownie paw so we took the most circuitous path out of Asia.


The sheer amount of stuff in Animal Kingdom makes it hard to get out quickly – at least for me!


Brownie paw secured, I was getting my second AK wind and didn’t want to move out quite yet. There was a Festival of the Lion King showing coming up; Bear was agreeable to the suggestion (since I promised we’d skip Nemo and do Lights, Motor, Action!) so we veered off the main path.


Our timing was just right – not too long a wait, but still had a decent spot in the Lion section.


I did like the show; I did think it is a little over-rated. But I do think that was the fault of my expectations and being a poor judge of tone on the Internet. There really is no way that Festival, with space and time constraints, would ever be able to hold a candle to a true ballet or Cirque du Soleil (or circus! I’ve been to some excellent circuses) production. I wasn’t really aware of much about Festival before the show, just that it came highly recommended.


The tumble monkeys were definitely my favorite because I know the least about gymnastics. I love watching and have a decent idea of what goes on in a meet, but I haven’t really been exposed to “artistic” gymnastic performances much.


In comparison, I know and have seen a lot more ballet and my preferences definitely run to a full stage production. Not that the dancers in Festival aren’t good, I just didn’t find it impressive.

Overall the show is very good – much better than what we saw in Islands of Adventure – but it does come with the caveat that it’s a ‘theme park production.’ That doesn’t make it bad or good or unenjoyable, just a different type of production with different goals.


Having finished up everything pressing (we’d done some Photopass along the way and I emphatically turned down a Bug’s Life showing), we headed out. Epcot was waiting!
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Old 04-22-2012, 02:29 PM   #147
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Spaceship Earth was waiting for us in Epcot. It’s probably my very favorite park icon and Bear pulled me right past.


He really wanted to check for Soarin’ fastpasses. Mr. T and friend had been talking up Soarin’ and Toy Story Mania; out of the two, I figured we had a better chance at Soarin’.


It was after lunch and – predictably – Soarin’ Fastpasses were gone and the line was unthinkable.


Living with the Land fastpasses were also reported as gone; I think, looking back, that they had never started distributing them. Neither of us took this well – we had rushed all the way over here and I wasn’t happy with the pictures I’d been taking and we were both tired. Lunch seemed a long time ago.

As we left the Land, bickering over what to do next, Bear spotted the beverage cart next to Innoventions. He dragged me over and promptly used two snack credits on – what I thought at the time – over-priced Powerades.


One of Bear’s must-do attractions this trip was Universe of Energy; he’d apparently been in the pre-show numerous times but the ride always broke down before he loaded. I didn’t want to ride a 45 minute time suck, but right then? 45 minutes of air conditioning and sitting sounded really nice. And we wouldn’t have to talk to each other OR make plans, a nice bonus.


My powerade, Bear, and I made it to the ride with no problems; I made it to the dinosaurs and promptly passed out. Not that the show was boring, I just couldn’t anymore.


I’m pretty sure Ellen’s Energy Adventures saved our trip that day; the break, the nap, and the cold sugary drink was all that was needed to fix both of our moods.


Bear was still thinking that a break at Port Orleans was needed; a stop for Test Track Fastpasses was all that was needed to change his mind.


It was my turn to pick a ride and what could be better than Gran Fiesta Tour? I still think I prefer El Rio del Tiempo – grainy, cheesy movie clips and all – but Gran Fiesta Tour is growing on me.


And the refurb could have been worse. I’m certain Figment is incredibly jealous of El Rio del Tiempo’s changes.


And I’m a sucker for character pińatas. It’s a nice bit of Disney synergy that’s not over-the-top and egregious.


And they left in my favorite doll, so I can’t complain too much.


These flags are probably the best thing to come out of the refurbishment; clever, subtle, and entirely adorable.


There was still time left before our dining reservations; I wanted some time to check out the BoardWalk and ride the friendship boats, but even taking those into consideration, we could squeeze in the Maelstrom.


I wish more of the country pavilions would add in the rides. The movies are very nice and often utilize excellent technology (Circle Vision!!), but there’s just something about the dated, 80s-tastic boat rides in Mexico and Norway. It adds a level of interactivity missing from the pavilions that feature the movies. Since we don’t do the hats-around-the-world that seems very popular (it seems really awkward to me, sometimes the pavilions and their offerings can run together. Especially Italy and Japan; I tend to conflate Italy and France and then Japan and China. Nothing against those pavilions, but they’re right in the middle of World Showcase and very little distinctive in their offerings. Add in a gondola tour through Venice or a Mt. Fuji mountain ride and I’m pretty sure I’d no longer have any trouble!
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Old 04-22-2012, 02:52 PM   #148
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You guys were definitely efficient that morning at AK!!! I do understand why you appreciate Dinoland, but I really just can't get on board with it. It's TOO cheesy and roadside attraction-y, and that's just not what Disney is. That has to be the area of Disney I find myself wondering "What would Walt think of this one?" the most?
I definitely understand why people don't like it, but I would be sad if it ever went away. I've been reading a lot of criticism about Animal Kingdom and I do think the Imagineers didn't quite hit the mark with backstory - it's not as organic or well-integrated as many of the other parts of Disney. So it's a lot of my personal bias and subjectivity that comes into play with why I love Dinorama so much. As a land, Dinoland really can't stand on its own, a pretty significant weakness! But I love underdogs and science and puns so I tend to overlook all the "bad" parts of Dinoland.

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Woohoo! You finally made it to The Wave and had the sweet potato pancakes. Did Bear enjoy them? We found their service to be really nice as well when we went.

It looks like you guys had a great time at the Christmas party. I've been debating on going to that or MNSSHP this fall but I think the Halloween party is going to win out.

Yay Primevil Whirl! I love that ride! I always drag DH to it even though he is one of the haters of DinoLand. Everytime we go on it we get put with two other people and they always laugh and laugh. You just can't help it.
I was the only one! He had more of the eggs/biscuits'n'gravy type food since we never have that here at home.

The Halloween party looks really awesome. Especially the parade! It sounds like there's a bit more to do at Halloween, with the villains and the trick-or-treating. It was nice to see the princes, but the Halloween parties seem to have more unique attractions.

Yup, we were put with two other people too! I think next time we'll definitely request our own car since the other two people weren't as into it as we were. The ride isn't really that special but I love the themeing! It's just so goofy.

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I always forget the Wave has breakfast! There are so many places I want to try for breakfast but never have time because we always go to the same 2 places-Boma and Crystal Palace. The fact that we're doing Cape May for breakfast in May is a miracle!

You guys got a lot done in AK that morning! I love the Everest queue area, it's so pretty, but those BELLS!!! AHHHHH! I have no tolerance for loud noises either, especially in bell form, like 6 inches from my head.

I'm not really a fan of Dinoland, but I do like how colorful it all is, and the signs are fun to read!
The Wave was really nice for breakfast! It's so nice being away from Chef Mickey's and all the noise in the concourse. As much as I like the deluxes, I don't think I'd be as happy staying there. There's just so many people in the lobbies! I don't care about pool-hopping but apparently I draw the line at lobby-hopping.

I wish that the bells would actually play something? I know a lot of church bells, etc. are set up electronically to play specific music and I think that would be a neat detail in the Everest queue. Better than random people hitting them at any old time.

Haha, I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who really likes Dinoland. It's just so nutty and out there and wrong that I feel obliged to love it.
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Old 04-22-2012, 03:31 PM   #149
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OH MY GOSH, what time were you in the princess line? We might have been there at the SAME time. I might have SEEN you. THIS IS SO INTENSE.

AHHH the Magic, the Memories, and You. You got a MUCH BETTER VIEW than I did, of ALL the entertainment. Lucky.

The toy soldiers are excellent. It blows my mind, to be honest. It actually sounds like they have wooden feet AND they're playing instruments while marching around with God knows what covering their face and it's amazing.

Wait, one of them fell on you?

The kangas and roos are on one of the paths around the Tree of Life. It's a hidden little area. It's pretty secluded, which I was okay with haha. I think they should scrap any Avatar ideas of any kind and do the stinking Beastly Kingdom like they were originally going to. It would be so much more awesome.

I love Dinoland too. It's part of Animal Kingdom so I love it. I don't see the big problem with it. But whatever, everyone's got their own opinion and it's all good. If you love it, you love it. (And thankfully we both love it haha.)

I love elephants so much! They're so precious. You got awesome safari pictures. Good job!!!
During the first parade? I know we were in there at the same time as katt789 because I saw her in line, so maybe 8:30ish? All my time stamps are all messed up, by like 14-16 hours, but I think that's right.

YES. Not all the way, since he caught himself before falling into the crowd but since we were in the very front, I got hit by the shoes. I felt so badly for him! How embarrassing to trip over your monster toy soldier shoes.

Yeah, we never went up by the Tree of Life. I couldn’t figure out how to get up there! But we really didn’t try that hard – we didn’t find DeVine either. Too busy in Dinoland.

I like the Dinoland is usually uncrowded! The paths around Asia/Africa can get jammed so quickly and I really hate that. In Dinorama, there’s space to move and breathe and it’s so nice.

Elephants are great. For such massive animals, they’re so gentle and fun and I just want to hug them and then play in water with them. Way better than hippos.

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Animal Kingdom is my favorite park to just wander around aimlessly in. There's just so much to see there!

Um, I think that Disney talks about the animal information (like lions sleeping), because people as a whole are stupid now and don't remember when they learned in school. And I'm not joking.....there are a lot of dumb people out there....
Yeah, that’s probably the reason. But I’d swear that a plot point in the Lion King, that the lady lions do all the work. I think Animal Kingdom does a pretty good job with the whole ‘edu-tainment’ but I feel like they could definitely step it up from ‘basic nature facts’ in some places! Especially since SO much went in to doing the theming that’s subtle and interesting and should be highlighted by the cast members.

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Originally Posted by Stringbean&Wingnut View Post
I love all of the details on the safari as well! I think Disney reiterates the info we may already know because there's usually people of all ages on the ride, and littler kids may not understand why the lion isn't there roaring away!
I guess, but it’s not like the lions are heavily advertised on the safari and they spend a lot of time on a relatively simple fact. I’d just rather they focus less on that and some more unusual lion facts since ‘sleeps a lot’ is a pretty defining characteristic of all cats (of course, I’m totally biased by the fact that I volunteer with a group that does science demonstrations with kids and they’re usually pretty sharp at working their way through basic concepts. Then volunteers have the chance to do more intricate, esoteric explanations about certain concepts. So in my experience, most kids – who would know to look for a lion – could also reason their way through why they aren’t awake).
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Old 04-23-2012, 08:41 AM   #150
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It looks like you guys were being very efficient and getting some stuff done in EPCOT. I can't wait to hear what you thought of Kouzzina. Do you and the BF typically like Greek food?
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