A Lovely Day at Animal Kingdom (Part I)

20 Nov

I haven’t posted anything here for a while, but it’s not for lack of good intentions . . . I spent a very good part of the last couple weeks working behind-the-scenes at a conference in Tampa. (Bonus points and a special gold star to any of you who can figure out which conference that was! And no, it doesn’t count if you’re related to me by blood, marriage, or 25+ years of friendship.)

But joy of joys, miracle of miracles, I found myself with 24 hours free in central Florida last weekend — and you won’t be surprised to know that I used this opportunity to exercise my WDW Annual Pass. After 9 long (but wonderful) days in the Tampa Convention Center, it was a real pleasure to wake up at the Sheraton Safari in Orlando, ready to spend the day at Animal Kingdom. (I don’t usually spend much time at Animal Kingdom; it’s been my least favorite of the Orlando parks. But it’s also my son’s least favorite, so it minimized my guilt about going without him!)


I’d booked the Sheraton Safari room on Priceline the previous morning, and quite frankly I wish I’d checked biddingfortravel.com, as I think I could have gotten the room for less than the 50 bucks I’d paid. The place wasn’t that great . . . I found the building a bit run-down, and the room not as clean as I’d become accustomed to. I even found a (grossness alert! proceed with caution!!) very large toenail clipping on the floor of my room. But the location was good, the registration staff super-friendly (bordering on flirtatious, really), and the billing staff readily fixed a problem with my folio in the morning.

And so it was that I rolled out of bed without an alarm for the first time in recent memory, and watched a little Disney Resort TV before heading over to the World. Dunkin Donuts was across the street to meet my coffee and bagel needs. I was in Downtown Disney before I knew it, following the signs to Animal Kingdom.

At the main plaza in front of the turnstiles, I met Wes Palm, who seems to be a close relative of Push (the talking trash can in Tomorrowland in both Anaheim and Orlando). I grabbed a quick video, so you can get a sense of his general schtick; it’s on YouTube now for your viewing pleasure.

I love Kilamanjaro Safaris, so I headed right over. It’s best to get there in the morning, for primo animal viewing. It was a lovely way to start the day.


But then, the real treat of the morning: I fell in love. With, well, a piece of foliage. You Animal Kingdom fans and Disney geeks already know who I’m talking about: De Vine.

(If you’re as smitten as I, you may want the high-res version of this image to use as your computer desktop.)

I found a video on YouTube that gives you a taste of her performance, but truly the camera just can’t do her justice.And then the day continued, next with a run to Expedition Everest . . . I’ll post more on the rest of my visit to Animal Kingdom as the week goes on. For now, I’ll leave you with more desktop-friendly images, of Expedition Everest and its surroundings.

Expedition Everest
(Link to full-res version for desktop wallpaper.)

Expedition Everest with train
(Link to full-res version for desktop wallpaper.)

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