Monday, October 7, 2013

Our Disney World Adventure Part 4: Park Hopper Day

On Wednesday of Disney week, our scheduled stop was the Animal Kingdom.   However, from researching online and talking to people who have been there, we knew that the park closes early, and you can probably fit most if not all of what you want to do there into a relatively short amount of time.  So we went there planning to go back to the Magic Kingdom after we were done.

We had been told to do the safari animal tour first thing in the morning before it gets warm and they all retreat to shade.  Clearly everyone else thought the same, as there was a steady stream of people headed toward the safari area.  Thankfully we had a Fast Pass, so we bypassed the not-insignificant queue to go see some aminals!  Hooray!

Below are a few highlights of the tour.

We were especially amused by this last one, considering that at our resort there was a huge statue of Simba on a rock, very similar.

We then went back to the Camp Mickey Minnie area that was just opening (park opens at 9, that area opens at 10) in hopes we could see Donald Duck, one of Tom's favorites.  We met Donald (yay!)

Tom saw King Louie and Baloo and asked if I wanted my picture with them.  I've never been a huge Jungle Book fan so I was ambivalent, but Tom wanted the picture so we got in line.

And it was fortuitous because when we got in line, there was no one in the queue line for the next hut over, but when we were done, we saw a line and peeked over to see Pocahontas!  Another princess for my hat!  This one's for you, Grandma:

From there, we went to see the Finding Nemo stage show, which we were curious about but hadn't used a Fast Pass for.  Wow.  We were super-impressed.  It was the best stage show we saw on our trip, and highly recommended.

All of the songs are performed live by the excellent puppeteers, and some also have to do acrobatics while singing and controlling their puppets.  It was insane!  And wonderful.

Google image
We went on our next Fast Pass to ride Expedition Everest, which was a really fun ride!  We knew the basic storyline of the ride going into it, but it was still a blast to experience the traditional roller coaster taking an "unexpected turn", and we shouted out "DISCO YETI" as we went by the huge animatronic that almost never works.  (it's a huge yeti, and when it breaks down they have strobe lights on it)

After eating our lunch in a secluded sitting area on a path near the Tree of Life, we went to our last Fast Pass to see the Lion King musical.  It was also very impressive, with live music and circus-like acrobatics in this theater in the round.  Personally though, we both preferred Nemo.  But I would definitely recommend both.

As we were waiting in line for Lion King, I hesitantly broached the topic of maybe possibly since we HAD the Park Hopper passes and could go to as many parks as we wanted, we could go to Epcot France and see if we could get Belle's autograph for my hat, since she wasn't signing anything at the Enchanted Tales experience in the Magic Kingdom.  Despite the fact that it was that notorious time in mid-afternoon when the sun scorches, Tom sweetly agreed.  When we got to France, we discovered that we'd hit it just right at a time when Belle was standing in her area, and we got in line just in time, as they cut off the line two groups behind us.  Belle was standing in the shade under a tree by the water, but....the queue line was all in the sun.   Midafternoon scalding sun.  Oh my.  We waited and waited, and well....she was worth it.

I was so impressed with Belle...since she's my favorite princess, I'm pretty picky about real-world representations of her, and I couldn't get over just how accurate to how I imagined Belle's real-world equivalent looking.  She smiled genuinely, had her graceful gestures down pat, and gave each group meeting her her undivided and charming attention when they were in front of her.  Really, I anticipated Merida being fun when we met her, but this Belle was so impressive, I actually logged onto the Disney World feedback page yesterday to write a positive review of her in hopes she might get acknowledged for her outstanding performance.

But again, in the moment, I wasn't thinking about her performance...I was just blown away because she was Belle.  The magic of Disney again.

Tom knows how much I love Belle, so this meet and greet was all me.  :)  As I met her, he shot a million pictures.  There are many more, but here are highlights:

This is me saying "sign as huge as you want on the very top.  You're my favorite princess."

Her reaction to hearing she's my favorite.  :)

Her reaction and mine to seeing Gaston's autograph on the hat.  Whoops. 

But in the end it was smiles and laughter.

And then we got our picture together!!
This was my second biggest highlight of our trip for me.  After we got Belle's autograph and picture, we stopped in some shade for a Mickey ice cream sandwich and Coke.  Then we were off to the Magic Kingdom.  But enjoyably enough, we got to take this part of our trip via the monorail (hooray!) and a boat across the water.  That was an unexpected bonus to stopping by Epcot!

In the Magic Kingdom, we again tried to track down where we could see Peter Pan, only to find out that he supposedly signs in an area next to his shut-down ride, but his last sign time is noon.  (sigh)

Off we went to ride the Haunted Mansion again, sit and enjoy the nostalgic simplicity of the animatronic presentation in the Enchanted Tiki Room, and went back to the Beauty and the Beast gift shop in New Fantasyland to get my Beauty and the Beast plates.

We decided to skip out on a second night of watching the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom to avoid the crowds, and went back to our hotel to DEVOUR a food court meal of mix your own pasta bowl.  Once back in the room, we again had a surprise for a third day in a row:  We had left a note that morning beside the autographed picture of Mickey and Minnie saying "Thank you, Mickey, Minnie and resort staff for such a wonderful surprise" and here we had another one...a towel animal fish with hilarious girly lips!

And thus ended our second to last night at Disney World, with laughter and fish lips.

Don't forget to read the other parts of our trip if you haven't already!

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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