At least three, actually
We’ll get to that in a minute though. We began our day early again, at least by vacation standards, by hopping in our Red [not so] Grand Caravan for the first time since we arrived at the Poly on Saturday and headed to Animal Kingdom. We were about the 10th or 12th car to park in the lot and we we headed into the park under threatening skies carrying our ponchos for the first time on this trip, though it was a pleasantly breezy 70 degrees. Our caravan configuration goes like this:
Upfront: me driving; Rachel in the copilot seat
2nd row: Leah in the captain’s chair behind me in her car seat; the other captain’s chair in stowed in the floor and our unfolded stroller in in that spot.
3rd row: Aly and a gaggle of Duffy bears.
We asked Aly to brush Leah’s hair while we got the stroller out and the bags situated and such.
Although it looks like she has her trapped and is torturing her, Leah is actually a willing participant – this time around. We entered the park just after 8 (park opening 9!) and veered left, looking for one of our faves, the anteater, but he was away getting his makeup on, so we continued on towards discovery island where we took quick break to view the flamingoes and kangaroos while it started sprinkling on us. We were hoping to show the otters to Leah next, but their habitat was under construction, so we hurried along as the rain picked up a bit and made our way to Africa and under the cover of the Tusker House check-in area.
There was nobody else waiting to be seated, which we took as a good sign, though they did make us take a picture outside in the rain before we could go inside to be seated, which was a bit annoying, since it’s one of those pictures that they try to come around and sell you during the meal (we didn’t buy). Tusker House is a buffet at all three meals of the day, and has safari-dressed characters at breakfast (and I think at lunch too). We were put at a table in a back corner, which is fine with us. Our server poured us all glasses of “Jungle Juice” which he described as being comprised of “orange, guava, and passion fruit” and although Aly didn’t catch on, I did right away and told her “It’s POG!” which of course delighted her.
Aly and Rachel went off to get food while Leah and I held down the fort and waited for the first characters to arrive, which they did shortly after the girls returned. The first two came in rapid-fire succession, which always works out great, because then we can all get up and get food! Note that Leah made Mickey kiss her new blue bird, lol.
We did not photograph any food this morning, but it’s a buffet. Aly ate bacon, ham, croissants, a donut, cheese and froot loops, among other things. Leah declined tater tops with ketchup, froot loops on a plate, grapes, raisins, apple juice with a straw, cheese and a few other things, before settling on apple juice without a straw and froot loops in a bowl. Rachel and I had things too numerous to mention.
The main buffet area of Tusker House is modeled after (I suppose) an open-air African market and it’s quite lovely. After we finished eating and paid our bill, I used the men’s room while Rachel took the girls just outside this main area.
I then went outside with the girls while Rachel went back inside to use the bathroom. About 60 seconds later, a server opened the door we had just exited through and yelled to some of the outside staff in a stressed voice, “Is the manager out there?” which was greeted with a “No?” reply. I looked back inside and watched a parade of staff cross back towards the small dining room to the left, which is also where the bathroom area is. I told the girls to stay where they were and went over to peer through a window into that dining room and could see that the commotion was in the dining room and not in the bathroom area. I though to myself, “Okay, it’s not about Rachel, but she’s probably involved now, lol.” She came out a few minutes later and we gathered the stroller and headed to the Kilimanjaro Safaris.
But I was right!
As we walked, I said “You were involved in that, eh?” and she said “Yep.” which of course caused Aly to want to know everything that happened. Apparently a diner in that room was having some kind of heart trouble and the staff was freaking out, not knowing what to do, which completely surprised me. Disney trains their people on everything, and Disney guests (apart from the marathoners, who have mostly left town) are popular with cardiologists. As part of her job, Rachel is trained in CPR, first aid, and use of AED’s so she went over and asked if they needed assistance with the situation. As it turned out, within a few tables, there was both a pediatrician and a neurologist, so she let those two medical doctors take precedence over her DPT and slid out to rejoin her Animal Kingdom programming already in progress.
Aly was being her usual cranky self, claiming to hate the safari ride and that I was ruining her day by making her ride it. Regardless, I made her do it anyway, and let her pick the outside seat as we got on the ride.
Leah was on the other side, mostly on Rachel’s lap and a bit freaked out, but she used the overhead animal guide as a matching game to entertain herself until the animals starting trying to get in the truck with Aly later on.
First, the Ankole Cattle, or Ankole Cow as Aly is calling it, just as nephew Will does, tried to get in the truck with Aly.
Then two (two!) giraffes were so close to the truck that we had to stop several times. We also got to see them running alongside, which we’d never seen before, and I bet we’ve been through this safari at least 20 times over the years.
After the safari, despite Aly’s promise of more hatred, we walked the Pangani Forest Trail, which is right next to the safari exit. It started with a grumpy gorilla that had a white hotel towel (apparently they give them these now because the gorillas like to use them as capes and other role-playing things) and was giving us dirty looks from the top of a hill and the finally covered his head with the towel and then walked away. Both girls liked that. After that, we moved onto the research station where Aly was impressed with the dung beetle and a giant African toad. That let out into a bird and fish area where Leah loved the fish.
It wasn’t until we left this area that we realized that one of the birds had really left a mark on me, which of course meant Aly now loved the Pangani Trail.
Next up was another group of gorillas that were keeping an eye on the kids.
In this section we crossed the bridge where a really grumpy gorilla had once flung poop at Rachel and I many years ago, a story that Aly has never really believed. We asked a CM about it who was passing us on the bridge and he said “Oh yeah, we warn the guests about it all the time. Don’t do things like beating your chests or try to mock the gorillas, but we can’t make them listen. Do stuff like that and you’ll find out how far they can throw.” Of course, on the day that Rachel and I saw the poop-throwing gorilla, he had already coated the bridge before we arrived, so he was having a bad day and they had stationed an employee warning people to hurry across the bridge, so we were not the cause.
The girls wanted to head to the playground known as the Boneyard, so we made our way in that direction, with a bathroom break and a quick stop at a well-hidden character spot that had less than one minute of wait time.
We all jumped with Tigger for that second-to-last picture, which was a lot of fun. From there to the boneyard, where Leah loved the kiddie slide, except when flying gnats were around the slide, or other kids were around the slide. Did I mention that our kids are somewhat difficult at times on this trip?
Rachel was doing what all parents do when their kids are at a playground: (to be fair, I may have been too, but I’m the one with a camera in my hand lol)
If you’d like to know how Leah feels about that:
Aly enjoying her moment of happiness at the Boneyard:
We moved across to the other part of the Boneyard, the Dig Site:
Both girls love the Dig Site, but both girls forget that they can’t stand to be in there with shoes on, which is the rule, seriously enforced. So that didn’t last very long, which it never does. From there we headed over to Triceratops Spin, which is the DinoLand version of Dumbo, and usually a hit with both girls. It was just starting to drizzle again, for the 4th or 5th time of the morning, but there was no line at all, so we walked right into the holding pen as they launched the group ahead of us.
And then emergency-stopped it
because a girl who was probably about six was on the pavement outside the ride cars, having somehow fallen out of her family’s dinosaur right as the ride started. We didn’t see exactly what happened, and we don’t think she was very hurt (or hurt at all), but she definitely fell at least a bit and the ride operators saw it immediately. Unlike the people working at the restaurant earlier in the day, these people knew exactly what to do. One of the CM’s took the little girl by the hand and walked her over to the other side of the ride to a gated area by the main operation board and then closed the gate behind her. He then circled the entire ride to make sure it was clear, signaled the main operator and returned to his station so that they could bring the dino-cars straight down to the ground, then offload all the riders. The girl who had fallen out was in a seat with her mom and a younger girl and their seatbelt had not been secured (and the girl was obviously not sitting on the inside), and they had about 8 other people in their traveling party. All of them were escorted somewhere away from the ride by someone from Disney management right away and are likely already reprogrammed and employed at 10 different locations around the resort. All the other people that were on the ride were put in a holding pen while they cleared and reactivated the ride through its safety procedures.
Once that had happened, they reloaded those people and gave them their ride. Because all of that took sooooooooooooooo long, Rachel and Leah got out of line and got in line to see Goofy and Pluto. Aly and I rode without falling out as we watched them move closer and closer to the characters, and then joined them in line just as they hit the front of the line. Perfect timing!
I want to call your attention to that guy who is behind Leah but his head appears to be just above hers. He’s going to get a blog post of his own next week.
Right as we exited the character greeting, the DinoLand Dance Party started, where the kids can boogie down with Flik, Rafiki, Daisy, and more characters. If you recall, yesterday’s Tomorrowland Dance Party didn’t go so well, but Leah was game today, so Rachel took her over for an Electric Slide with Flik:
That earned her a high-five:
And then that CM in the orange hat asked Leah if she wanted to dance with Daisy, and I think you know what Lele said to that question.
Obviously, today’s dance party went over much better than yesterday’s. We left that and headed back into Asia for our lunch at Yak & Yeti. As we passed Expedition Everest, I tried to bribe Aly to ride it with me by offering her another Duffy bear, but I could not buy her. We got to lunch and were seated right away, on the first floor for the first time every in our 10+ times eating here.
Aly had the vegetable lo mein with fries and brown rice:
She’s also adventurous enough to eat her whole meal with chopsticks, starting off with french fries:
Leah’s meal? You guessed it:
Rachel ordered the lettuce cups:
I had the honey chicken:
We finished with the cream cheese wontons skewers:
The whole meal was fantastic, which is always is. This is our favorite place to eat in AK. After lunch, we headed back to Discovery Island and took both Aly and Leah into the Tree of Life for their first viewing of It’s Tough to Be A Bug. It’s a 4D movie featuring all kinds of stinky and creepy crawly stuff and both girls handled it pretty well. Aly was dying the whole time, and Leah didn’t freak out all that much. From there, it was back to look for the anteater (another miss), to the car, and back to the hotel.
They’re trained at this point
The kids get to the Hawaii building and head into the lounge, find the kids’ furniture and just park themselves, even if we tell them we’re going straight to the room. Case in point:
Here was one of the afternoon snack offerings from today:
The green things are little Wasabi peanuts and they’re spicy as hell! I don’t normally like Wasabi, but this is one tasty mix. I flopped on the bed and started editing photos, then decided to check out for 30 mins or so, after giving Leah present #2: a stuffed Minimus from Sofia the First.
We headed to Downtown Disney this evening because every trip to WDW needs a visit to DTD. We started at the Once Upon A Toy store, where Aly picked up (with her own money!) her fifth Duffy and the girls did some coloring on the floor with a very cool CM, who also gave them a coloring he did to take home.
We also hit Goofy’s Candy Company and the World of Disney store before returning to the Poly and getting the girls to bed. I got to watch the Electric Water Pageant from the lounge while working on this post, which is very cool, and now I’m overdue for bed again.