Monday, February 21, 2011


Our second full day in the magical land of Walt Disney began on a Disney bus ride to Animal Kingdom.

We arrived minutes before opening and were greeted by Minnie and Mickey Mouse, dressed in their safari best with their faithful pal, Pluto. I love this about the Disney parks – they don’t just open the gates with a grunt and a wave. They make opening a storybook adventure from the very start.

At the Magic Kingdom, families with small children head directly to the Flying Dumbo ride. At Animal Kingdom, you speed-walk to the safari ride. Amelia, animal lover that she is, really enjoyed this ride. She giggled as the jeep/bus bounced and bumped over the “African” terrain. She pointed and grinned as we passed various animals. Hippos, crocs, rhinos, giraffes, and a lion… oh my! And her favorite (since visiting the Atlanta zoo a couple weeks ago), a silverback gorilla.

Despite Disney’s clever “Nahtazu” slogan (not-a-zoo… get it?), I found myself saying “this reminds me of the zoo” several times. With a child Amelia’s age, however, this is not a bad thing. She loved the safari ride, the animal-viewing pathways through trees and rocks, and the giant “aquarium” with blue, yellow, and silver fish of all shapes & sizes.

We met a few bigger-than-life animals as well. We were introduced to Terk, King Louie, and Baloo (a.k.a. “big purple bear”, per Amelia). We high-fived and hugged Pluto and Goofy. And in the Camp Minnie Mickey area, we mingled with chipmunks, bunnies, Daisy and Donald Duck, and more.

Amelia was a trooper while waiting for Mommy & Daddy to ride the fast choo-choo ride: Expedition Everest. Now THAT was worth a ticket to Animal Kingdom! It’s quite the coaster. Here’s a hint if you don’t like long lines: SINGLE RIDER! Steve and I both walked onto the ride in mere minutes. And the park developers cleverly created a courtyard space for non-riders to watch and hear the squeals of delight from the plummet down the mountain.

Animal Kingdom is a great park to visit on a second day at Disney. Because honestly, there is much less to do there. This allows for a shorter day without feeling like you’re missing half the park. For us, a shorter day was crucial after 11 hours at Magic Kingdom the day and evening prior.

We ended our Animal Kingdom visit with the Lion King show. Parade floats plus animatronic characters plus wild costumes plus acrobatic talents make for a very entertaining experience.

And the highlight? My very own Amelia was pulled into the show! I was a bundle of nerves wondering if my not-yet-three-year-old mama’s girl would freak out away from me, but she enjoyed the moment. She pranced around the stage with her shaker and I’m sure, melted the hearts of many a spectator.

I always knew she was a STAR!
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