Day 7, Thursday, 3/22/01
This is a day that Patti, Jan, and I spent the morning at the Animal Kingdom, while Debbie and Nick made up for lost time at the Magic Kingdom. In the afternoon, we all boarded the bus and headed out for the Disney Wonder. In the evening, we pulled out of Port Canaveral, and spent our first wonderful day at sea.
I think I'll post this day in two parts, one for the AK, and the other for the cruise. So, this is the AK section.
We were up very early to go to the AK. There was a little bit of confusion about cost sharing on the exit bills we got, once again complicated by the mess that AAA had made of our reservations. Have I said AAA never again?
Anyway, we figured it out, and were then off to the AK. Patti, Jan, and I hopped the bus from the front of the Poly to the AK, while Nick and Debbie waited at the Poly for the MK to open.
They really did put the bus stops at the MK far away from the front gate. The long walk was difficult for Patti, especially since we all had our day bags with us. We helped her out, but it is still an awfully long way.
Once we were at the cruise check in desk, however, things went very smoothly. They had a cruise desk set up just a few yards away from the front gate of the AK. We checked our three day bags, made sure that we were registered for the pickup that afternoon, and then Patti headed off to the ECV rental.
I have to admit that the AK is a very beautiful park. It certainly is large, though, and I still find it to be rather sparse in terms of interesting and exciting things to do.
As we headed off towards the Kilimanjaro Safari, Patti and Jan both were enjoying the lush scenery, and the little enclaves which line the path between the front gate and the Tree of Life. Naturally, they were awestruck by their first view of the Tree of Life. It is a magnificent centerpiece.
I think that the depth of the themeing was also a big hit with them--the way that Harambi village has been painstakingly designed to look like a village out in the African brush.
We did the Kilimanjaro Safari. The handicapped access on this ride is very good. There is a nice setup where you park your ECV, and easily pick it up when you come back.
Our guide was OK, but not great. She had a hard time delivering the lines enthusiastically. I think she may have been relatively new to the ride.
Nonetheless, we had a very pleasant safari. We saw quite a few animals.
There were a lot of antelopes, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, and quite
a few wildebeests. At one point, a rhino trotted across the road in front
of the truck in front of our truck, but I missed getting a photo of it.
Patti and Jan got a big kick out of the closeness of the animals to our
vehicle during the ride.
|By the end of the morning, Jan and Patti said that the AK was their
favorite park. They talked about the beauty of the landscaping, and the
closeness of the animals. Personally, AK is my least favorite. It is a
nice park, but it's the one I'd leave off of my itinerary if I felt pressed
for time. But, Patti mentioned to me that she has a great affinity for
animals, and had once considered veterinary science. So, part of it is
a personal perspective, I suppose. The more interested you are in zoology
and ecology, the more AK will strike a chord with you. Being an engineer,
I may be more drawn towards the gadgets and special effects.
After the safari, we made out way to "It's Tough To Be A Bug". There
is a fast pass station here, but this line was really moving quickly, so
we didn't bother. In fact, I don't feel like we really got to enjoy the
roots of the Tree Of Life, as we walked practically right up to the entrance
doors without stopping. That's better than the other extreme, though, as
I can remember waiting what must have been over an hour in this queue.
It does look like they have walking trails now that go around the roots
of the Tree Of Life (do they not need it for the queue, now that the opening
rush has slowed down, and they have fast pass?) I was intrigued by these
trails, but we didn't have time to explore them, as we had to meet the
cruise bus in the early afternoon.
We all really enjoyed It's Tough to Be a Bug. We were sitting in the rear of the theater, because that's where the accommodations are for the ECV. The seating is the same as in the front of the theater, but with breaks in the benches where ECVs can be parked. But, we all sat on the regular benches (including Patti). As you know, this is important in this show. We all had the pleasure of feeling both the hornets and the maggots during the show. Also, there was a black widow directly over our heads. We also got sprayed with acid and got a good whiff of the stink bug. In short, the back seats turned out to be very good, and having an ECV didn't dampen the enjoyment of the show at all. Once again, Disney has done a good job of accommodating those with mobility issues.
I will mention that the Hopper and Flick animatronics are a little far away when you are way in the back, but the 3D effects on film were all excellent. Sometimes I wonder if they are better if viewed from a distance.
Again, I do love this show. All of the 3D shows that they have currently at WDW are wonderful. This once has a very nice mix of theater effects, 3D effects, and animatronics.
On leaving, I once again had that feeling that one of the best jobs in the world would be to have your hand in designing these attractions. Engineering envy, I guess.
After the show, we stopped at Pizzasaurus for a bite. I had a good,
hot deli sandwich, which included some hot ham and other items. Pizzasaurus
is both bigger and better than I thought. It is very colorful, and the
food was not at all bad.
|Jan agreed to meet as at the cruise bus. Patti and I decide to try
to make it over to Dinoland. I wanted to try to get a ride in on Dinosaur.
Patti planned not to, because she has tried Indiana Jones at Disneyland,
and the seating was very uncomfortable. These vehicles have rather small
seats, and she had a tough time fitting in Indy, and figured Dinosaur to
be about the same. But, she wanted to have a peak at Dinoland, anyway,
and it seemed we'd have just enough time before the bus. It didn't really
turn out that way.
The battery on the ECV started to sputter. We did make it into Dinoland, and enjoyed the scenery on the way there. But, because we weren't going at top speed, it became clear there wasn't going to be enough time to get a ride. Then, the ECV gave up the ghost about half way between the Dinoland gate and the ride. So, I ran ahead, snapped a couple of pictures (the skeleton built by the University of Chicago project and the statue outside of the Dinosaur ride are both new to me), and came back to help Patti out. By this time, a CM has approached her, asked if she needed help, and called the ECV rental place for us. Nice bit of customer care there.
I do have to wonder at this point if the troubles she had with the battery
are weight related. I mentioned early in this report that Patti is a member
of RMNAAFA, and it's a given that she weighs more than the average person.
Maybe the batteries run down a bit faster for a heavy person, especially
in a place that has a lot of sloping ground like the AK. Just something
to think about if you are renting an ECV. Especially since a number of
people who have these mobility issues may also be heavy (sometimes these
things go together).
I felt like we only sampled the AK on this trip. I guess that this was true for all of the parks. We really did have a short time on property, especially if you consider the time during which we had gate admission. Four and a half days is just pushing it to do the parks, in my opinion. In addition, Patti and Jan aren't commandos the way we are, and we had the nasty cold bug making the round through our ranks. So, everything was kind of a sampling.
But, we did have a really pleasant time, and I think that everyone had fun. Jan (our first timer) was already talking about returning when we were at AK. Both Jan and Patti were talking about wanting to stay at the AK Lodge once it opened. We had only seen the roof of this place from a distance, but the idea of being adjacent to the savannah appealed to them. As I said, they were both rather more taken with AK than I have been.
We had a minor disconnect from Jan in trying to meet up at the bus. But, a little cell phone tag between Debbie, Jan and I (Jan had Debbie's number, but not mine), and we managed to meet up again. Once again, I think the cell phones proved invaluable.