Epic Birthday Trip and Wild Africa Trek Trip Report

Just got back from my 3 day trip to the world for my 40th birthday from 5/21-5/23. It was just me and my 19 year old niece (DS9 couldn’t miss anymore school days, so he stayed home with DH). Originally, it was a planned as a cheap trip with one day. Somehow it evolved to 2 park days and one resort day.

Anyhow, we had an early flight out at 6:10am from Providence. Sooooo early. We arrived just before 10am, headed to DME and was on our way to the Beach Club after about 20 minutes. When we arrived, our room wasn’t ready so we checked a few things with Bell Services and headed to Animal Kingdom for our first day.

We arrived around 11:45am very hungry. We headed to Rainforest Cafe to use my Landry’s birthday Credit (my niece is not an adventurous eater and vetoed nearly every other option).

After that, we went into the park for a picture with the Tree of Life.

Then we had time to kill before our Wild Africa Trek so we headed down the Gorilla Falls trail. At 2:15pm, we went to the check in near Kilimanjaro Safaris (our Trek was scheduled for 2:30). We were originally the only 2 who signed up but while we made a bathroom stop, another family of 3 signed up. But still very small group.

Our tour guides were Daniel and Jill and they were great. Tons of great, interesting animal facts and lots of fun. They fitted us with our gear (including securing our phones so we could take them with us for pictures, although you honestly don’t them - they take a ton of great pictures for you all along the way). You receive a water bottle you keep and can fill up prior to leaving. This day was overcast but no rain - actually pretty perfect.

Then we headed down towards the same trail we had taken earlier. We made a few quick stops at the monkeys, to see the giant bullfrog and finally the aviary.

Next we headed backstage up a trail near the hippo pool. We were hitched up to safety line to stand above the hippo pool with the cast manager who specialized in hippos. They called one over by banging on a bucket that contained lettuce. One quickly appeared before us and she tossed him food as she gave us some hippo facts. I love the hippos since we don’t see them at our zoos back home!

Next it was time to head to the suspension Bridges. They were walking over the second hippo pool where we saw three more hippos including baby Augustus!

I was a little nervous about the bridges, just because walking isn’t my specialty with these ginormous braces on my legs, but I took my time and made it across. Some of the gaps in the boards were larger than I expected, but not horrible.

On the other end of the bridge, there was a CM with a snake awaiting us. A little more education, we got a chance to touch it (except for my niece who wasn’t going anywhere near it! - hence the pictures with her in the background!).

Then it was onto our tour vehicle with driver Matt and we headed off onto the same area as the regular safari. The tour vehicle makes several lengthy stops where we could stand up, move around and get some great pictures.

First stop was the painted dogs who were all milling about waiting to head backstage. Daniel told us that the dogs knew what time it was and were waiting for someone to open the gate. He also said it’s very funny at daylight savings time when they try to adjust those schedules and wait around for over an hour.

We then had a few giraffes hanging around. One of the other guests had a friend at the Kansas City Zoo who apparently got one of the Animal Kingdom giraffes in the exchange breeding program, so they was a very educational discussion about the program. And giraffes are always cool.


We saw a few more animals and headed over to the pavilion where our snacks awaited. I mentioned earlier my niece is a picky eater and she hardly ate anything. I ate slightly more, but it really looked great. The food came from the Tusker House chefs and is only af


Great shots!

I would have just stayed on that bridge if that thing was awaiting at the end. I do NOT do snakes.

More to come…my ipad is giving me issues!!!

The food is only available for the Trek.

Jill came over and told us that the lions were viewable from the platform if we wanted to go see, so of course we all went over. The 3 lions were sleeping together on the rocks and she told us of the love triangle between the 3 (it’s like a soap opera!).

We also for our first view of Frank, the white rhino. He kept showing up and wanting his picture taken. We have more pictures of Frank than anything else!


Then it was back on the tour vehicle. We headed over to see the lions a little closer. They are my absolute favorite.

We saw some ostrich and learned that while most of the eggs they point out on the Safari are fake, they are communal animals who lay their eggs where others do so sometimes there’s a real one mixed in the bunch.

And my biggest treat, the cheetahs! Normally, I only see them WAY in the back laying down. We had one front and center, standing tall on the rock!

And of course, more Frank!

We headed back to where we left our personal belongings and said goodbye to our tour guides.

Overall, it was my favorite Extra I’ve ever done at Disney. Totally worth it for the Animal lovers out there!

My niece and I decided to try to tough out the standby line for FOP since despite my mad ‘modify’ skills, I wasn’t able to get a FastPass. It was around 6pm and we were shocked to only wait around 45 minutes - unheard of!

We then went to our Expedition Everest FastPass and then being up at 3am for our flight started to get to us. We headed back to our resort and were pleased to discover we were assigned one of the hospitality suites. It was much larger than the standard and we got some noise from the lobby because of the location, but we were so tired we had no problem drifting off. Afterall, we had an early morning the next day with EMM!


My niece originally wanted to get up ‘early’ to do her hair (which means a half our of straightening). However, the teenager kicked in when the alarm went off at 5:45am. She rolled over and went back to sleep as I headed for the shower. When I got out, still sleeping. I warned we were leaving at 6:40am.

6:30am I finally was able to get her out of bed and as I put on my shoes, announced I was calling for a Minnie Van. Hit the ‘request’ button at 6:40 and snagged one immediately. She then started moving (getting the teenager moving in the morning was my only issue on this trip!).

We got to the park around 7:15am. They opened bag check shortly after we arrived and we went to get our EMM bands and were first line. Given my slow walking pace, I knew it wouldn’t last long but felt good for a few minutes!

Our EMM plans were very different from the previous EMM trips for us. We wanted to make sure we got in the 3 rides and breakfast, then head off to Fronterland immediately at 9am. Usually, we ride 7DMT until 9am, hit Space and Buzz, then breakfast around 9:45. But our plan was 3 parks, so we needed to move.

They let us in at 7:46am and we headed for our picture in front of the castle.

We then hit Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh with no wait.

Then we headed to 7DMT. I’ve done EMM twice before and this was the first time I’ve ever had to wait. We got there around 8:15am. Waited around 10 minutes for the first ride. Loading was slow and I think they had an issue as they sent one train through with no passengers. We got off and right back into the line and waits around 7 minutes for the next ride. Very different from our previous experience where it was so empty, we got our choice of rows.

It was 8:37 and we headed to breakfast. We enjoyed our quick meal and headed towards Peter Pan where we were held until park opening so we could head to Frontierland. As I mentioned, I’m a slow walker and by the time we got to Big Thunder Mountain, we waited around 10 minutes. Then it was to Splasn where it was walk on.

We had hoped to do Haunted Mansion as well, but the line then was 35 minutes so we decided to call it quits at Magic Kingdom and head to Hollywood Studios.


We got to Hollywood Studios around 11am, in time for our RNRRC (or as my son calls it ‘Rock’) FastPass (we booked our 3 FPS at HS).

Hungry and needing a little break, we stopped at the Backlot for some lunch. We watched one of the Jedi trainings and relaxed for a bit, knowing this would be a long day and trying to pace ourselves!

Then we headed to our Star Tours for our next FastPass. We had one of the scenes I hadn’t gotten before, so that was fun.

Next up, Tower of Terror FP. On the way, we stopped to watch the Citizens of Hollywood for a bit. What a great treat, I have never seen them! TOT is one of my favorites and I love when we have a first timer with us, which we did. He was hilarious, exclaiming at every drop ‘Oh My!’.

We then snagged a FP for Toy Story. We have skipped this my last 2 trips as the first one, they only had one track running and the second one, no FP. I love this and was happy to get a better score than my niece.

At this point, we’re now dragging a bit and making it to the 11pm close at Epcot is looking highly in doubt. Two early mornings are starting to take their toll. With no boat available due to construction, I splurge on another Minnie Van (it’s my birthday afterall!) and we head to our last park of the day - Epcot!

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On the way over in the Minnie Van, I decided to grab an ADR at Le Cellier (somewhat reluctantly because if DS finds out that I had poutine without him, there will be hell to pay). We decided to take a break before our next FP at Soarin. Sunshine Seasons for snacks seemed like a good way to go. My niece got the cupcake and I had a bite and it was delicious, as was my chocolate mousse).

Next up was Soarin. It’s always one of my favorites. We then saw that there was only a 10 minute wait at Mission Space (green, because orange makes me queasy!) and then we snagged at Test Track FP. However, when we headed to TT, the ride was down and flipped to an anytime FP. We had time for a 20 minute standby for Spaceship Earth. I spent the ride trying to get a FP for Frozen, but no luck whatsoever (it’s actually the first time I wasn’t able to get one with modify!). But we had time so we decided to standby as it said the wait was 45 minutes…we waited about an hour and 20…big mistake.

It was getting later, my legs and feet were killing me, but TT was up, so we headed over. The line was longer than I liked because it was down for so long. But we managed to get the big 3 rides in at Epcot so I was feeling pretty good. But man, did my niece make an ugly car.

It was around 7:50 and we had an 8:30 ADR. After a slow walk to Canada, we checked in around 8:10. They stated that we were early and they had a long wait and were seating folks about 10-15 minutes late so we could wait but it might be long. We were exhausted, so we choose to wait. They called us about 10 minutes later.

I am a big fan of LeCellier. My meal is typically signature poutine, pretzel bread and cheese soup. My niece for the steak. I will not show DS this picture.

We decided at this point we wouldn’t make it until the 11pm close. But as we walked out to Illuminations, it seemed like the perfect ending to my birthday.

Our next day, we spent the morning at Stormalong Bay (my niece’s first trip to Beach Club, so that was great). There are showers by Beaches and Cream which was a nice treat (and a relatively new addition!). We hit Disney Springs and lunch at D Luxe burgers (garlic ranch dipping sauce, where have you been all my life).

Our flight out was at 9:30pm. We were exhausted, finally arrived home at 2am and I had work the next morning. But it was all completely worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat! I’m still sore and tired, but smiling. Fabulous birthday!


What a great report and pics. It looks like a fabulous birthday.

There is absolutely NO way that I would walk on that bridge!!! Kudos to you for doing that with leg braces on. Nope, not ever going to do this…

Wow! That’s some great pixie dust!

Love the pics of the lions and cheetahs!

I have a fear of bridges and it would have taken me forever to get across that bridge but if I made it across and found a snake there, record time going back the other way.


So much fun!! I am glad you had a good birthday!