I had been wanting to go to Animal Kingdom for a good while with Sarah. The funny thing was that we were both extremely sore from playing football a couple days before and I still had my fractured finger that I was dealing with in a splint. It was probably the coldest birthday I could ever remember in the high 50’s all day long. The one thing I’ve always thought though is if you’re going to go to Disney World, go in the winter when it’s cold and even slightly rainy. It’s amazing! There’s not as many people so the lines aren’t as long and it also keeps going all day long to keep warm. You won’t regret it!
It had been a long time since I’d been to Animal Kingdom so there were a lot of things that had changed. We navigated through the park using our park map and planned our route of attack. First on the agenda was the Kilimanjaro Safari in Africa. Being on that bus out in the open is such a cool experience. The animals are just roaming around and are pretty easy to get some good shots of. The one thing I like about the safari is that it’s always different every time you go.
It actually does feel like you’re in Africa when you look around. There’s a large variety of animals in this section of the park including elephants, lions, giraffes, rhinos, and hippos. There’s even these crazy looking African trees called the baobab or “upside down” tree that goes most of the year without leaves so it looks like a giant upside down tree root.
After that we headed over to the Tree of Life in the middle of the park to see the very good 3D show “It’s Tough To Be A Bug”. This show brings in all of your senses making you feel like you’re actually there. Disney definitely knows how to put on a show.
I had forgotten that it was at Animal Kingdom that they had just added the “Expedition Everest” roller coaster so we had to check that out! While waiting to get in, they lead you through the process of putting together an expedition and hint all throughout about the legendary Yeti that has supposedly been seen in those parts. If you haven’t been on this ride then I don’t want to spoil it for you but I was not expecting the beginning part. You start off climbing a massive ascent and then it lets you go through the mountain. We reached a climb and then the coaster suddenly stops and you see the Yeti tear up the track. Then all of a sudden, BACKWARDS! It was very exciting although also making me a little queasy, but well worth it.
At this point we were pretty hungry and there’s not a lot of vegan friendly food stops unless you only wanted to have expensive fruit or boring salads. When you’re vegan at a theme park you always have to plan ahead so we had brought a good amount of snacks to last us until dinner time. We got out the sandwiches, crackers, pistachios, bananas, apples (and let’s not forget the chocolate!) but I felt even more snacky than that so I caved in and got a Super Pretzel accompanied by several packets of mustard. Not the healthiest I know but every great once in a while isn’t going to kill you. I was saving up a large appetite for a nice dinner at the Rainforest Cafe because I knew they had a good veggie burger!
All the while of criss crossing by Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life on the way to all the park’s rides we were submitting our tickets for fast passes. These let you get on the best rides over and over with practically no wait time. Like I said before though, go to Disney when it’s cold and winter! We practically didn’t even need the fast passes!
There were also many other areas worth noting at Animal Kingdom. Two of which that really struck me were the massive apes and the playful tigers, but the apes especially. There was a very large ape just lying on the ground looking up into the sky and blinking every so often as if it were truly thinking hard about something. I swear when you looked into its eyes, it was just as if you were looking into any human’s. The resemblance that apes have to our species is so shocking, it really gave us a moment to revel over what it means to be an animal. Biologically we are so close to most other animals, it should stop to make people think about how humans treat other species. It would be absolutely unheard of to treat humans the way we treat “food animals”. I guess that’s one reason I feel it’s so great to be vegan. With being vegan, there’s no worry about where our food comes from!
As the day began to wind down, we were getting tired so we decided to relax and see a few shows. “The Festival of the Lion King” was much better than I thought it would be. It actually reminded me of La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil with the incredible trampoline gymnasts posing as monkies and a flying dancer soaring through the air on silky cloth. The final show of the night was the very unique live showing of “Finding Nemo” where many actors brought puppet-like marine creatures to life.
After an entire day of exploring Animal Kingdom we were tired and very hungry. This had been one of the best birthdays that I can remember with everyone at the park telling me happy birthday and just being far away and spending it with Sarah was better than any present I could have received. I guess that’s one thing about me. I’d rather have adventurous and exciting experiences rather than getting something in a box. I leave the box presents to me 😉
On to Rainforest Cafe to grab some dinner!