(written by J)
We were very excited about the potential for day 3. We were headed to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the newest of the Disney theme parks. For some reason in our minds, Animal Kingdom has a buzz that the other parks maybe don’t have. Perhaps, it is because it is newer (only 11 years old) or because of the scenery such as the exquisitely constructed Tree of Life or the unique combination of wildlife and amusement (i.e. Kilimanjaro Safaris). Here was the reality of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It seemed 30 degrees hotter and 1000 percent more humid than at any other spot in the Disney complex and it was incredibly crowded. It was a challenging day for us to say the least. Once we saw that we were going to share the park with about a billion of our closest friends, we started strategically planning what rides we were going to get Fastpasses to ride. J figured that the three legitimate candidates for Fastpass were the previously mentioned Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest (a roller coaster based on Mount Everest), and Dinosaur (a high-speed turbulent thrill ride that takes you back to the time of Dinosaurs which Z was very excited about). We headed out towards Dinosaur first because all of the crowds were heading towards Kilimanjaro Safaris. Dinosaur had the best wait of the day, only 5 minutes. J took Z and B on it. B asked J in the line why H couldn't ride Dinosaur. J said that it was because of the baby inside of H. Then B asked, "Why is the baby afraid of dinosaurs?" It was very funny. The kids love dinosaurs and they also love roaring like dinosaurs so they would love the ride, right? Z seemed to like it. B did not – darkness and big dinosaurs coming at you roaring was not a good combination for her. She gave it a thumbs down saying that it was too scary. After that, we headed toward Expedition Everest which had about a 20 minute wait. H said that we should just ride it and not worry about the Fastpass. But after seeing how we missed out on Test Track and Soarin because we didn’t get Fastpasses in a timely fashion, J wanted to experience the thrill of Fastpass where you get on rides with minimal wait instead of waiting a minimum of 20 minutes and possibly much longer. It was about 10AM at this time and J popped in the park tickets into a machine to get a Fastpass to return to Expedition Everest between 10:50 AM and 11:50 AM . With this exciting reservation in hand, it was off to Kilimanjaro Safaris to pick up another Fastpass. We arrived at the safari ride and this time, Z wanted to pop in the park tickets to get the Fastpass. The available times that we could get at that time were between roughly 12 PM and 1 PM which would work out great. Z put his ticket in and out came another Fastpass reservation. This one was slightly different though. It said “this is not a valid Fastpass ticket. Come back at 10:50 AM to pick up your next Fastpass.” J was not pleased with this scenario. J, of course, didn’t ride the fine print of the rules which plainly said to check your Fastpass ticket for the time when you can get another ticket. Clearly, H was right when she said that we should just get in the regular line and ride Expedition Everest. We were concerned that once 10:50 arrived, the tickets would either say to come back between 5 and 6PM or that there were no more Fastpasses available for the day. The wait at 10:15 AM was already 80 minutes and that is way too long to wait in any line for any ride. We killed the remaining 45 minutes until we could pick up the next Fastpass by waiting in line (most of the 45 minutes) for and then eventually riding a train J and Z then raced over to Expedition Everest to make our scheduled time while H and B got the safari Fastpasses. Expedition Everest was an outstanding roller coaster. It was a classic coaster with a twist. It made its way up a fake Mount Everest until you reached the top. Then it stopped and went quickly down the hill backwards. Good stuff. When J and Z reunited with H & B after the ride, Z couldn’t stop talking about how much he loved the ride. J was hesitant to ask H if she was able to get the Fastpasses for the safari but he did anyway. Fortunately, she got them at a still favorable time, between 2 and 3PM . Then all four of us rode Triceratops Spin (like Dumbo but with triceratops instead of elephants) and saw It’s Tough to Be a Bug (another 3D movie) inside the Tree of Life. Because it was 3D, B again refused to wear the 3D glasses. Next we baked in the sun eating lunch and after that bought more Webkinz animals for the kids because B was screaming “ANIMAL” and “CHEETAH” as we got closer to our scheduled safari time. To avoid a screaming safari ride where animals might possible freak out and charge our jeep, we decided to cut our losses and buy them more Webkinz. This haul was a cheetah for B (which is actually a leopard but she is convinced that it is a cheetah and thus named it Cheetah) and a key lime dinosaur for Z. Then finally, it was safari time. We saw lots of African wildlife including giraffes, elephants, antelopes, and a sleeping lion. That concluded our Animal Kingdom adventure as the temperature by mid-afternoon there approached about 500 degrees. Later that night, we went to Downtown Disney for quality dining at Wolfgang Puck Express and quality shopping. Z got the Legos that he had been talking about for weeks (a police helicopter and police car) and B added a stuffed “Lady” from “Lady in the Tramp” to her exponentially growing stuffed animal collection.