I think I'll continue on with a photo-heavy report on the rest of our day. As I mentioned, even though this was our 3rd family trip, this was our first visit to Animal Kingdom!
Back on our 1st trip, the kids were 6 and 9, respectively and with a shorter trip we decided to focus on the parks we thought they would appreciate the most and had a couple of MK days and a HS day. On our 2nd trip a little more than a year later, we squoze a trip in between several days the schools were closed in November for holidays and teacher meetings. On that one we again had a couple of MK days, a HS studio day (the last with Osborne lights!) and an EPCOT day.
This year with the kids DD10 and DS14, I somehow acquired 5 day tickets even thought we planned to have a rest day or two in the trip - but the UT 5th day tix day for $30 for all of us was too good for me to pass up. I intended that we might hit HS for a quick run at the end of our pool day and hit a couple of headliners and run away.
But, we asked the kids what they thought and they voted that we had EP evening instead of HS, which surprised me!
So, back to AK: all of the detail in this park just blew us all away. Couldn't stop commenting on it, and it was so great to hear the kids appreciate the level of work put into the design. Everything was new - so I could make this report crazy long and I know you all have jobs.
So, here's some of my favorite photos from this day with only minor interruptions.
BTW, I have a camera I love, but for some reason on this trip I seem to have a blurry photo thing going on, which really annoys me in hindsight. On this AK day it was very overcast most of the day, so I could blame low-light conditions, but I think it was me not paying attention to the shots because every 5 seconds I saw some new shiny (and usually wet) object that made me rush to look at it.
So, as we wound down the path from FoP we continue to jabber about the ride and goggle at the scenery.
After some wandering within Pandora and stopping for a couple of Photopass photos, that turned out to be not very good - we disappeared into the background. (Fill flash people! Fill flash!)
An Aside: Making Memories
This trip we had the advantage of my wife's friend having an AP and friending us on MDE - so she was able to see and download all of our PhotoPass photos. We had never stopped for many before, not having purchased it. This trip we took many - and I was pleasantly surprised how little extra time it took.
My overall assessment of the photos on a scale of "Blah" to "I'M GORGEOUS" is... "Pretty good."
There's some good ones, some bad ones, some great ones. Dunno if I'd buy it, but I can see the value.
Back to the Timeline
We checked out the wait for Na'vi River Journey and found it was somewhere upwards of 45 minutes, and none of us wanted to risk that being an actual wait when we had a whole park to enjoy and a KS FPP coming up in about 45 minutes.
So, we punted on that step of the plan and thought we might try it later when we came back for our 1:30PM FoP FPP, or perhaps at night.
The overall plan today included a break after lunch and our FoP FPP to hit the CBR pool, then head for dinner and back for the last FotLK. However, the rain was threatening and sometimes coming through, and that wasn't looking promising.
After after the unexpected time to get through FoP, we had quite a bit of time to go for KS, so we went towards the center of the park to soak in some ambiance. We were drenched in ambiance. So much ambiance. I don't think I've used the word ambiance this much in my entire previous life.
As we cruised around, we had a fly-by with Russell who waved heartily at us - CAW CAW ROAR.
The day before I had dumped a FPP we had for EE later in the morning in favor of swapping it for a late morning FPP for KRR. My thinking was to wander over to EE earlier before the safari - we did and it worked well.
What a view on the walk through Asia.
Only DS and I were braving EE, so we headed in to the base camp. AGAIN: LOUSY WITH AMBIANCE. BUT A GOOD LOUSY. (My DD10 was on the fence for that and SM later and decided to wait for our verdict. She made the right choice for herself by waiting.)
As dedicated watchers of the Travel Channel show Expedition Unknown, we were surprised and psyched to see host Josh Gates in one of the displays.
I was completely surprised by how fast EE went. I tried to take a whole ride video, but the dark and light combination was flummoxing my camera's brain so I stopped early and mostly got shaky shots - but love the clip I got of my son's joy riding it...
The walk back across the park was fun and I think the rain along with water spray only made it cooler to experience.
(In both forms of the word cool.)
Everyone was excited for the Safari - but none so much as our animal crazy DD. It did not disappoint.The standby line for KS was up around 45 minutes at this time, but our FPP got us on on about 10.
After the Safari we walked through Gorilla Falls, which was impressive as well. A couple of the males seemed to lock eyes with my son and I a few times, which was surreal. They are beautiful creatures.
From here, it was about 11:30AM so we headed over to Satu'li Canteen for an early lunch. On this 2nd march to Pandora, my DW developed a super bad leg cramp and I could see she was trying to power through, but was going down. Some medicine she takes causes it, and she often drinks tonic water for the quinine in it to help relieve the cramps. We just so happened to be walking up to the Nomad Lounge and I grabbed her elbow and walked her inside.
It was cool and quiet inside - and empty. Wish I got some photos, but had a mission. The bartender was quick on the draw when I asked for the tonic water and explained my wife's leg cramp and didn't charge us, which was super nice. (So I doubled the tip I already had ready for him.)
We took some time for her to sip and sit and we all enjoyed a rest. I made a mental note to come back, because Nomad looked like a great place to unwind. (Sadly: never happened.)
We eventually made our way over to the Canteen. With so much in Pandora on our excitement at first pass that morning, we really didn't look too much at this corner of the place. As we walked by the outside tables and headed inside, the detailed theming made all of us stop and just look at the restaurant. Both my wife and I thought we had wandered into a table service restuarant and she asked some CMs if we were in the right place!
The CMs were handing out menus for us to read before going into the order area, since there's a bit of a learning curve with the Pandoran cuisine.. We asked them for the allergy menu (which we had researched about online already - kids have severe nut allergies), and they told us we had to get those at the register because people kept stealing them.
We knew from our research in general what we could get. It took us more time to decide than to get the info we had read about confirmed and the order in. My son was especially psyched for the protein bowl and loved it. DD and I got the cheeseburger like pod thingies - I liked them a lot, she thought they were a little spicy but liked them too.
My wife ordered the vegetable pods - she sort of like them, but says they could have used more vegetables and less curry seasoning on top. (She had food envy.) We also ordered a hot dog to share and all agreed it was great.
Overall: Two thumbs up, excellent place to sit and eat and relax.
After lunch we signed DD up for Wilderness Explorers CAW CAW ROAR which she had been looking forward to. (We just watched UP before the trip to get ready.) Then we headed over for our Kali River Rapids FPP.
We had heard you get SOAKED with a capital SOAKED on KRR. We went in the FPP line and began to look for the lockers for our bags - only to learn they were back out front on the other side of where we entered (or somewhere.)
Dunno if we missed a sign or something, but everyone ponchoed up and got ready. the other family with us was just a psyched and.... very little splashy splashy. We all though KRR was very thick with theming - but that it was about 50% too short and had much less opportunity for getting wet than the Six Flags rapids we went on multiple times last year.
Probably just the luck of the draw - glad we FPPd it and didn't wait too long.
At this point, since the weather wasn't cooperating with pool-like sun we decided to soldier on in the park rather than head back to CBR. We got the required Dole Whip, then headed over to FoTLK (absolutely terrific!) and then A Bug's Life (more thumbs up (while screaming)).
Finally, the sun began to break and we wandered a bit getting more photos, then back to FoP for our 1:30PM FPP. JUST AS GOOD THE 2ND TIME.
^^ Look there's blue sky in a photo! Yay! ^^
More wandering followed, on into Dinoland and a ride on the the Triceratops Spin with DD - who doesn't like heights, but loved this. On the way to the line we went the long way by mistake and found, randomly an arm-hugging Oswald the Rabbit - her current favorite character. We immediately bought that for her and jumped on.
After, some shopping ensued. DS and I got EE pins, while DD and I got Grape Soda pins, because after all THE WILDERNESS MUST BE EXPLORED.
So much fun was had.
We hit Dinosaur, wandered some more, and then went back to Satu'li Canteen for an early dinner. We got a bunch of the hot dog thingies and pigged out.
While a shorter AK day than expected, we got almost everything we wanted in and the crew was tired. The kids were also had pool on the brain and I didn't want to blow a chance for both sun and pool at the same time.
We drove back to CBR without incident. While the crew got ready I ran over and bought resort mugs at the local room-store they set up during construction. We all walked over with a fistful of mugs and a song in our hearts.
A lighthouse and a pirate pool was on the horizon.