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Animal Kingdom – Day 4 (Thursday)

Posted Apr 16 2010 9:02am
The alarm went off bright and early this morning and the husband and I were up and at ‘em to try our best to arrive at Animal Kingdom early enough to avoid some of the madding crowds and to catch as many animals as possible.  Many of you suggested that approach and I have read it in a few books as well.  We decided we’d also go out for breakfast and thought we’d give Denny’s a try since we already tried IHOP .  We both customized our own “Grand Slams” where I was feeling the need to fuel up for a long active day of being on my feet and chose from the following *pictures may not be the “best” quality here in this post since I am posting so many, I didn’t want it to take forever to load.
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2 eggs over hard (I am looking forward to having them runny again after peanut arrives!), turkey bacon, wheat pancakes, hash browns and toast.  It was more than I needed, but didn’t finish it all and appreciated being able to sample so many items IMG_7850_thumb
I have to say, it was certainly not the best breakfast I’ve ever had, somewhat greasy and the toast was flattened out like nothing I’ve ever seen! lol  I didn’t end up eating the hash browns.
The pancakes were good though!  Of course nothing compared to IHOP, but they were “wheat” I only ate one IMG_7851_thumb
Then it was off to Animal Kingdom!!  We pulled up to the entrance and got hit with a $14 parking fee for the day! I don’t know what I was surprised, but jeeez, the parks are expensive enough and then they slap a parking fee on top!
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We arrived at around 9:20 (20 mins after the park opened) and it was already filling up fast!  They were very efficient with directing you to park and them herding you over to the Tram to take you to the park entrance gate IMG_7858_thumb
They search your bags at the entrance and they actually take your fingerprint when you insert your ticket to enter the park in a fancy turnstile thing!  Wha??  I dunno if this is for security or to try to reduce sharing your tickets with other people. I was completely surprised by that!  The cutie girl who we bought our tickets from was super sweet and enthusiastic and gave me this cute little button IMG_7861_thumb
Yes, as I’ve said before,
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We entered the park and the first thing you see is the Tree of Life at the center of the park which is really really cool IMG_7866_thumb
We immediately went to Africa over to get on to the Kilimanjaro Safari .  The line was fairly long, but it moved the entire time and we realized later that I think we got there just on the tail end of the faster moving line before the park really filled up. 
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We boarded the safari truck where all the drivers and staff were really enjoyable and we knew it was going to be a good ride IMG_7878_thumb IMG_7880_thumb
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I think we got the best seats on the truck, right in the back where you could turn around and take pictures without anybody’s head in them! We so many animals: giraffes, rhinos, elephants, gazelles, ostriches, flamingos, a Lion and a Lioness, crocodiles and lots of others too IMG_7885_thumb IMG_7887_thumb
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I think it was my favourite part of the park.
Next up was the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail where there were more animals, birds and fish to see.
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The gorillas were amazing and just looking at them makes you see how similar they are to humans just with their eyes and their mannerisms.  I have to admit, as much as I enjoyed seeing all the animals, there was a part of me that felt somewhat guilty for it.  They emphasize the concept of conservation and devote an attraction to that very thing, but I still felt guilty.
Before checking out Rafiki’s Planet Watch , it was snack and hydrate time.  We didn’t bring anything with us because I didn’t want to be hauling around a big bag with me, so we took our chances and bought a $3.50 bottle of water and a $3.50 pretzel.  There was a selection of fresh fruit available, but I chose the badness :- /.  I was happy that there was choices of bananas, apples, oranges and fruit salad though!
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We took the train up to the exhibits and quickly perused through:
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It was pretty much a museum setting out the kinds of vet treatments that they give the animals, ways to attract wild life animals etc.  I didn’t take many pictures and took one picture of this adorable little fella in the “petting” zoo part that we just walked by IMG_7963_thumb
Next up was Asia :
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There were lots more animals to see including a kimono dragon, cheetah, monkeys and bats (totally creeeepy).
Just look at this absolutely gorgeous animal.  This tiger is incredible.  I have always had a “thing” for Cheetahs ever since I was in grade 3 when I chose them as my animal to research for a project.  To me, they are simply breathtaking and magnificent.
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And then there are the “less” breathtaking, but equally magnificent bats!
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One of my Psychology courses I took while earning my degree was “Animal Behaviour.”  While we did learn about Jane Goodall and the chimps, most of the semester was spent learning about bats and bees!  While these bats here don’t actually use echolocation, it truly is an amazing and impressive quality that they share with dolphins and it gave me an entirely new respect for these creepy looking creatures :-) </end animal psych lesson> :-P
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And of course there was the Expedition Everest ride which there was no way I was going on!  Even if I weren’t preggers, I’m not really an “adventure” ride type of girl.  I have no idea why I get scared by that stuff!
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We also skipped the Kali River Rapids that I would have otherwise went on except I didn’t have a safe bag to put my camera in and I noticed many people coming off soaked from head to toe so I didn’t want to change it!  I would have otherwise loved to do that one though.
By then it was getting really hot outside and my foot was really starting to hurt bad (dang foot!) and it was radiating all the way up my lag into my bad hip and on the same side of the lower back. I really needed to rest, so we thought it would be a good opportunity for another drink and a frozen treat!  I got a strawberry fruit bar which was actually all natural and made with real strawberries.  It was delicious and only 120 calories.  There were frozen pieces of real strawberries all throughout. I wished I had a freezer full of these IMG_8004 IMG_8006 IMG_8005
By then I was getting really tired and we had Discovery Island to explore and then that was it.  Inside was a Dinoland expedition.  Up until this point we didn’t stop to watch any of the shows, but were welcoming any opportunity to sit down so this was going to be perfect. IMG_8010
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Or at least so I thought.  We went inside a building which we both thought was a theatre where we were going to watch a show about dinosaurs.  Hmmm, looks kind of “museum like to me”  IMG_8007
The attraction is called Dinosaur (now that I’ve looked it up). From the outside there was no indication that it was a “ride” at all.  We arrived right as the next “show” was about to begin and we thought we lucked out.  As we went inside, there was a cute introduction about how we were going on a special expedition to the crustaceous period and travelling in time and it showed the seats on the video you were sitting in which we saw rocked back and forth, but we honestly thought that it was going to be jiggling you in your seat while you watched a screenLittle did we know that it was a ride where the little car you were strapped into was going to take you on a jarring roller coaster type ride INSIDE where you were surrounded by all kinds of crazy dinosaur affects (which was actually pretty cool). 
It was “G Force” type of roller coaster and that wasn’t the problem for me.  The only problem was that I was getting jerked around so hard and so much that I immediately was freighted that I was going to harm the baby! There was absolutely nothing I could do except wait until the ride was over and try my hardest to brace myself to minimize the jerking around.  I closed my eyes, braced my feet and held on to the handles with all my might just to try to brace my body from bouncing around more than I could help it.  It was an innocent ride for most people (I mean you only had to be 3 feet high to ride it!), but I was shaking when I got off because I had NO IDEA that’s what we were in for at all!!!  At least with the Everest roller coaster, you could see the freaking thing flying around the mountain and all the screams so I knew it wasn’t for me!  The affects and sound of the dinosaurs etc. were really loud and all I could think about was that the baby could hear sounds outside the womb and can be startled by them and was probably wondering what the heck was happening being shaken around with all the loud noise!  Call me a big freaking wimp, but I nearly cried when I got off!  Had I not been pregnant, it would have been loads of fun.  They snap a picture of you that you can see on the TV screen after you get off the ride and I was the only one on the entire ride who had their eyes closed and head tucked down! lol
It was ridiculous that I was so shaken up by it, especially since there were little kids who didn’t seem to be too phased by it, but it’s definitely NOT for pregnant ladies and I didn’t see any warnings at all.  Even if there were signs stating so, I certainly didn’t see them and was completely caught off guard.  Now that I’ve gone and looked it up on line, the last item under “Guest Policies” says, “Expectant mothers should not ride”  Glad I find this out AFTER!  Lesson.Learned.  In fact, now that I look online, ALL of the rides say that and Kilimanjaro wasn’t a problem at all and I enjoyed it with no problems other than a bit of a bumpy terrain ride.
After that, we stumbled upon an “actual” show, It’s Tough Being a Bug ” where it was in a theatre with actual seats and was a 3D movie with real robotic bug characters also on stage and where they blow air and steam at you and it was all really neat.  They even had little things in the seats that poked you in the back and made you feel the sensation of little bugs crawling through them.  Stationary is definitely more my style at this point in time! lol
We took a quick spin around the center of the “Tree of Life” and snapped a picture.  There are really neat carvings all throughout the tree too:
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By then it was nearing 4 p.m, and we were done with Animal Kingdom and I was really REALLY sore and it was time to go and get some real food other than the snacks since breakfast.
By the time we left the park, “lunch” turned into “supper” time and the husband was interested in trying out The Cheesecake Factory , so we fired up the GPS and headed to Orlando.  Turned out that we think that it may have closed and was replaced by a new restaurant, “ Cravewhich we decided to give a try.  It seemed a little fancy schmancy on the outside and we had no idea what to expect.  It had Valet parking and all that jazz.  We weren’t exactly “dressed” for fancy especially since we just spent the day at Animal Kingdom in comfy clothes, but we went on in anyway and while it did seem on the fancy end, the prices were reasonable.  It’s a new restaurant in town that just opened on Monday and I was excited to try it.
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I ended up ordering the Turkey burger (with avocado, chipotle mayo, bacon & pepperjack cheese) and I subbed the fries for a side salad of one of their many amazing sounding salads, the “Savory Chop Chop” (chicken breast, apples, grapes, pine nuts, golden raisins, cubed smoked gouda, blue cheese (I’m pretty sure it was a feta) in a honey balsamic vinaigrette). 

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And a refreshingly perfect “fizzy blueberry” something or other that was just what I wanted to relax at the end of a long day for a preggie :-)
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All in all the food was great and the wait staff are all great too.  Our server was really personable and happy to give us suggestions.  He did forget about our appetizer, so we never did get it, which I was disappointed about, but the food was enough and made up for it in taste.
Hubby had the Chipotle burger with fries and he let me have a nibble and it truly was fantastic.  They have a sushi menu and apparently one entire side of the restaurant is a sushi restaurant and I was really tempted to order some of the fully cooked and vegetarian sushi options, but I was a little too hungry to feel like sushi would hit the spot.
We are now back at the condo watching a movie and resting for the rest of the night.  Tomorrow (by the time this is posted) we are told that the cable company is coming by to install a cable internet and we plan to take another rest day and get some more pool time in so that will be good.  I’m looking forward to it.
We ended up buying a 3 day Disney pass, so it looks like we’ll be hitting up two more Disney parks yet TBD! The 4 day pass is only a few dollars more and she told us that if we decided to add the other day on, we can just show up and they will add the extra day for the same price as buying them all up front.  We were impressed with that.  We thought that it was one of those “decide at the time” kind of deals to try to sucker you in, but not the case!
We are thinking about spending the afternoon at the condo (since the cable guy is coming in the morning), chilling by the pool and then spending the early evening at The Magical Kingdom and staying until the 9 p.m. fireworks which we caught a glimpse of leaving Downtown Disney the other night and they looked pretty spectacular!
Stay tuned and I’ll tell yas all about it :-)
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