|Day 5, Thursday, January 3, 2002
This was a day that we spent at the Animal Kingdom, with an evening at the Hoop De Doo Musical Review.
This was an extremely cold day. The weather channel said the following morning that this had been a record breaking day in Orlando. The high was around 30 degrees, which wouldnít be terrible at home. But, at home, we wouldnít have 85 percent humidity and we wouldnít be outside all day long (with a light jacket, on top of it).
Iím trying not to complain, but Orlando in January can be pretty tricky. Two weeks ago (we had been checking temperatures on the web), it was in the 80s down here.
Well, anyway, the weather kept it from being the perfect day it could have been, but it turned out pretty darned special.
We were up at 7, and were at the Animal Kingdom just after 9. The day turned out much better, partly thanks to the early start.
As usual at the Animal Kingdom, we walked straight back to Africa, because the best viewing on the Kilimanjaro Safari seems to be early in the morning (though Iíve heard very late afternoon is pretty fair). The park was not that packed, and we were on the Safari in fifteen minutes, using the standby line. Maybe these were the light crowds that were supposed to be here this time of the year, or maybe it was the earliness of the morning (though Iíve seen crowds at Animal Kingdom early in the morning before). Or maybe it was the weather. Did I mention that it was cold?
The animals seemed very special this morning. They were out in force during the safari. They seem to like the cool morning, and somehow this morning really brought them out. We actually got some pretty good viewing of both lions and cheetahs, which seems kind of hard to do. Plenty of elephants, crocodiles, and hippos as well. And a few really interesting chances to see white rhinos. Plus a large number of antelopes and gazelles. A few giraffes showed up also.
|Debbie used the digital camera (Kodak) while I was using the camcorder
(Sony). Nick was going to try the camcorder, but we got worried about
the bumpy ride. The Kodak has a higher resolution, and better picture
quality in general, but the Sony has so much better zoom capability.
The zoom is a big deal on this safari, as the animals are often a ways
from the truck. But, a decent zoom (the Sony is something like 20x)
can get you the shot you wanted. I did a lot of still shots with
the Sony (it will shoot stills to the memory card, or you can extract stills
from the digital tape), and Iíll probably have a few posted on a web page
here pretty soon. Stills just seem like a more effective treatment
for this type of subject. Even if Iím going to make a tape in the
end, Iíd rather have a few in focus, well framed stills with a chosen soundtrack
underneath, rather than random audio.
Anyway, there were plenty of photo opportunities at Animal Kingdom today!
Walking back from the safari, we took the Pangini trail. This was the first time weíve actually seen gorillas on this trail, and we got some great video and stills of them! Again, the zoom was a big help here. In fact, we got a lot of good animal shots along the trail, including some neat shots in that hippo center and the research center.
I let Nick man the camcorder while walking the trail, and he actually got some remarkably god shots.
Even though it was cold walking the trail, Iíd really rather have it cold than wet. It was really very enjoyable, and we saw plenty of animals.
After we got back from the trail, the crowd was beginning to fill in a little more. So, we went ahead and got a Fast Pass for a second safari, because the first had gone so well. While we were waiting for our FP time to come up on Kilimanjaro, we went to have a quick meal at the Tusker House. I had some good fried chicken, while Debbie had the rotisserie chicken, and Nick some mac and cheese. Everything was quite good, and it was good to be in from the cold. The hot chocolate hit the spot!
|Fast Pass was back to normal now, and our time came up just as we were
finishing our meal. The second safari was nearly as good as the first,
although our second guide wasnít quite as good. But, there were plenty
of creatures out. Usually, as the day goes on, you seem to see less,
but there was no heat to drive them ito hiding today. We got some
more great pictures.
Next, we headed up to Dinoland. I went to pull a Fast Pass on Dinosaur, while Nick played at the Bone Yard, and Debbie waited on a bench near the Bone Yard. Nick still gets a kick out of these playgrounds, and the Bone Yard is a very elaborate one.
While we waited for Nick, we had a small snack of churos and drinks, grabbed from one of the outdoor stands. We were cold, but it was nice to rest, and Nick was having a great time.
I have mixed feelings about what they are doing with Dinorama. On the one hand, it looks like they are generating a number of activities and a couple of new rides over here. Animal Kingdom is probably my least favorite park, because I feel there is less to do here, and this will help out in that regard. But, Dinorama is intentionally cheesy, and Iím not sure it fits in that well with everything else. Furthermore, Dinosaur, although it was a fantasy ride, had a queue that was serious about dinosaurs. And I actually kind of liked the dinosaur jubilee, with the fossil exhibits and so fourth. It seems now like Dinoland is going to be a bunch of sort of cheesy stuff, and one serious ride.
|So, Iím not sure. Maybe, overall, having more things to do at
Animal Kingdom, and a wider variety, may be a good thing.
I finally had to go and get Nick out of the Bone Yard, and agreed to meet Debbie in the store (Chester and Hesterís). But, as we went into the store, Nick noticed the Carnatour character mugging with other guests on the other side. This guy was really pretty funny (hey, wait, wasnít I just complaining about the cheese factor?) But, he was a welcome addition. He was amusing, alternately chasing people around (donít worry, not the littler kids), then running from them. He mugged with Nick a little bit, doing a kind of mock action thing. Unfortunately, the battery in the Sony was spent by this time, so I only got a couple of stills.
It was within our Fast Pass window now, so we went over to Dinosaur. I think it might be slightly slower than the original program, but not by much. Itís a pretty fast, bumpy ride. This is the kind of Disney ride I really enjoy, with a bunch of action, a lot of creativity, and plenty of animatronic technology. I had missed riding it on our last trip, and had a great time this time.
After this, we messed around in the gift shop by Dinosaur a bit, picking up a couple of souvenirs. But, we didnít buy the picture.
Then, Nick and I went to try the Triceratops Spin. But, while we were standing in line, the ride had some type of mechanical difficulty, and they said it could be quite a while before they fixed it. Too bad, I was trying to add things to my ďwe did it for the first time this tripĒ list. It looks like it is a Dumbo type ride, but has the extra controls that Aladdin has, and a front and back seat, so itís more like Aladdin on room also. There is no spitting camel, though.
|Debbie had gone on to one of the shops on ďDiscovery IslandĒ (raise
your hand if you miss the real Discovery Island). But, we scanned
the shop, and couldnít find her, so we had to resort to the cell phone,
and arranged to meet at the beginning of Itís Tough To Be A Bugís standby
There was essentially no wait for Itís Tough To Be A Bug. We walked without stopping down the path and into the theater. We didnít even catch much of the preshow (Bugís Symphony), and were in the theater pretty quickly.
We saw the show twice in a row, and it is still a delightful program. The mix of animatronics, 3D stereo vision, and in-theater effects is a huge amount of fun, and really a pretty immersive experience. We felt both maggots and hornets this time, and got a pretty good whiff of that stink bug.
We were on one side of the theater for the first show, and the opposite side for the second show. Itís pretty interesting how the 3D effects shift to follow your perspective. There really is a lot of depth to this show, if you will.
Overall, it was a very nice experience, although there was a fellow sitting behind Debbie who talked nonstop through the first presentation. As Iíve said before, the only thing Disney canít fix is the other guests. Ah, well, we enjoyed ourselves despite his rudeness, and were lucky to have the chance to experience the second show.
|We were ready to head for the room after this, as the cold was wearing
us down. But, it was really close to parade time, so we decided to
get close to the Discovery Island exit, grab another snack (very tasty
turkey legs this time), and a nice place to sit. After all the Animal
Kingdom parade was another one for the first time on this trip list.
We enjoyed the parade quite a bit. Nick was seated at the front, while Debbie and I were behind the crowd. I got some fair pictures, a little editing should be able to pull some really nice shots from them (shooting over peopleís heads is always tricky).
The puppets and drums are very colorful and fun to watch. Of course, it reminded me in technique of the Tapestry Of Nations parade. Of course, it had a different theme. Overall, it was a lot of fun, and very worth seeing.
At the end of the day, Debbie said this is the first time she really had fun at Animal Kingdom. Normally, the place is so very hot, and the activities are sparsely spread over a wide area. But, the cool weather really worked to our advantage. Still, it could have broke freezing ;^). But, cool and dry seems a lot better than hot and wet for visiting the Animal Kingdom.
|We had an easy trip back to the room. Once again, the OKW bus
service seemed exceptionally good. We stopped by the front desk to
pick up our ticket for the Hoop De Doo Musical Review.
I loved the Hoop De Doo, and Nick and Debbie had a good time as well. It has been a few years since we have seen this, and the show seemed just slightly modified (improved). I seem to recall the main show starting further into dinner last time, but this time it seemed like it was more in acts, with service in between. Overall, a corny, enjoyable little review.
One of the cast, the ďprettyĒ girl, talked to Nick for a while. For reasons I donít understand, he was uncharacteristically quiet and shy. If he had been himself, he may have been tagged to go onstage. But, he enjoyed the attention nonetheless.
The food was both good and plentiful, served family style, and we actually didnít finish all of the first serving! Later we thought, you know we have a tiny kitchen at OKW, and may have been able to get a box for some of that. Especially since we were going straight back to the room after supper. Oh well, not used to thinking that way at WDW.
The one negative thing that I must say is that we probably should have waited and done Hoop De Doo sometime while staying at Wilderness Lodge (which is where our DVC points are). To get there, we ended up taking a bus from OKW to the MK, then a boat to the Wilderness campgrounds, which drops you very close to Pioneer Hall (where the show is held). On the way back, we took a boat to the Contemporary (because the MK one seemed to be slow in coming), then walked through the Contemporary to grab the Monorail to the MK, then a bus back to OKW. The boat ride coming back was amazingly cold, I was shivering uncontrollably. The line for the bus at MK seemed long, too, but that was mostly because of the cold. (Yeah, but it was fun to ride the monorail).
So, although Iíve whined about the cold a lot, this was a pretty terrific Disney day. We had what was really an exceptional time at Animal Kingdom, and a very nice show at the Hoop De Doo. It was a day for the memory books, and we have a ton of new Animal Kingdom pictures to prove it.
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