Monday, March 26, 2012

"Magical" Day 3: Animal Kingdom & A Priceless Photo

 I'm calling it "magical" day 3 for several reasons.  Maybe I should call it "miraculous" day 3, because I wasn't sure I'd be able to drag myself out of bed after two grueling days at Epcot and Magic Kingdom, but miraculously, I was.  I even got up early, and roused my troops for an early arrival at Animal Kingdom.  We arrived, as is recommended, about half an hour before the park opened ~ so, around 8:30am.  The parking lots are very large, though, so just parking and walking or riding a transport train to the gate can take a while.  The magical part was that we didn't have to park a long way off OR ride the train to the entrance that day, because of the "magical moment" we received.

When we drove into the parking lot entrance, and pulled up to the booth to pay the parking fee, the attendant handed us the above pictured certificate for "Dream Parking"  ~ i.e. FRONT ROW PARKING!  He instructed us to follow the blue line painted on the road all the way up to the first row of parking right in front of the park entrance!  These "surprise" moments are called "magical moments" at Disney World, and we felt very fortunate to receive one.  What a special start to our day! For a while, I thought it might have been arranged by my friend, Anne, who had helped me so much with planning for our trip, and was pulling for us as we fought fatigue and visited four parks in four days, but it was simply a "random" gift from Walt Disney World.  Actually, I prefer to acknowledge it as a grace gift from God.  It really got our day off to a fabulous start, and we all agree that Animal Kingdom day was our best park day of all.

 The crowd looks huge here, but that's only because the gates had just opened, and everyone was headed in the same direction.  Even though we were in sort of a hurry to get a Fast Pass for Expedition Everest, I made everyone stop for a quick photo in front the beautifully carved Tree of Life.
After getting our Fast Passes for Everest, we headed to DinoLand to ride Dinosaur.  The theme of this incredible ride was to go back in time on a very scary rover expedition through a jungle of sorts in search of the Igunadon.  Our mission was to bring the Iguanadon back to the present day lab of Dr. Grant Seeker before the dinosaur-killing meteor crashed to the earth.  (We BARELY made it ~ whew!) Because of its "intense" warning, Coop and Kayla opted out of this one, and as you can see, Cooper had his own encounter with an intense-looking dino outside as he awaited our return.

Now, many of you probably know that at the scariest moment of every Disney ride, a perfectly positioned camera takes your picture in order to catch your ridiculously goofy and embarrassing facial expressions. I'm certain I am breaking some sort of copyright law by taking a close up photo of the photo that we bought after this ride, but I'm taking my chances, because it's just too good not to share.  I'm also risking the possibility of my near 17-year old never speaking to me again, but even that might be worth it.  (KIDDING.) 
 I laugh until I cry almost every time I look at this photo.

Robert walked straight to the counter to buy the thing when we saw it on the TV monitors after getting off the ride.

Kory:  "Dad!  You can't buy that!  It costs like twenty dollars!!"

Robert:  "I don't care if it costs fifty dollars, son.  We are buying it.  It's just too good."

Yes, Kory is such a thoughtful teenager ~ always concerned about our family's budget, as my friend Cindy pointed out yesterday. 

I was thinking he could make it his Facebook profile pic. What do you think?

The ride WAS quite intense, in my opinion, but you would never know it from my very serene posture and smile in this photo.  Really, I don't know how I was caught in this peaceful gaze at just one of MANY very scary animatronic dinosaurs (they seemed SO realistic!), because I'm pretty sure that most of the time I looked like Kory, except with my eyes closed.

 We absolutely loved the Flights of Wonder show!  The birds were really beautiful and trained to do some really impressive things.  Lots of cute humor, too.
Then we made our way over to ride Expedition Everest, which was just so great.  Fortunately, Robert and Kory were not among those snatched up by the Yeti in one of the mountain's caves, and were able to go back and ride it two other times before the day was over.

While they rode the "intense" coaster, Kayla, Cooper, and I hung out near the dino-rama riding the Primeval Whirl coaster and the Triceratop Spin multiple times!  Coop even won a prize in the midway area when he hooped a basketball.
 Lunch was an order of really delicious gluten free pizza and salad combos at Pizzafari ~ hurray!
 And then we were off on African safaris, treks, and trails... (good thing we had gotten our "trail legs" by this third day of park hopping!)
We really marveled at all of the different animals we were able to see in these exhibits ~ elephants, lions, gorillas, hippos, rhinoceros, chimpanzees, flamingos, giraffes, and lots of alligators.  I think the animals were Kayla's favorite part of this all-around magical day.

Last day coming up...Hollywood Studios!


K L M said...

I love your blog! I would love you to also follow mine...

plant. eat. create. said...

That picture is hilarious! We remember that ride from the first time we went (4 years ago) and purposefully skipped it on our second visit (2 months ago) due to it being so loud! Haha, we were right there with you Kory!