Monday, August 3, 2009

Dizzy World

We left early from the last-night karaoke and dancing shindig at the Friends convention. It would've been fun to stay, but since we'd booked everything long before we knew the agenda for the convention, we had a room booked at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge that night. It took us about an hour to drive from Tampa to our hotel outside Orlando.

The first thing that struck me was just how busy the Animal Kingdom Lodge is. Its gigantic lobby was bustling with people at 9 o'clock at night. This photo was obviously not taken then.Next, the bellman seemed to take us on a long, long journey down a few hallways to our room. The resort is just enormous! So, enormous, in fact, that after going out to play with some night vision goggles at the savannah overlook, we couldn't remember our room number or how to get there and had to stop back by the bell desk and ask. Duh.From the windows along the corridor, I could already see zebras and giraffes roaming around the grounds. This was just what I'd been hoping for. I mean, I don't know if I'll ever get to go on a safari in Africa, but it's fun to pretend at least! It made it super exciting to be there.I sat on the balcony for a while that night. It was fun to watch white shapes in the dark distance and wonder what they must be. Off to the right was a flock of huge white birds roosting by a watering hole. To the left, in the distant trees, I could see huge white branch-like things moving around, but couldn't tell what in the world they might be attached to. Morning cleared everything up.Well...almost everything. I think we were also treated to a rare view of the exotic African bunny wabbit from our window. Hard to know with all those crazy creatures roaming around. After a yummy breakfast, we headed out to Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park.We picked up some FastPasses for the jungle rapids ride, then stood in line for the Safari ride. The safari was fun, but kinda silly...and a little disturbing now that I stop to think about it. It's really just a wild animal park and you ride around in a big safari jeep looking at the animals, which was a lot of fun, but they make it needlessly bumpy and included a silly story line about poachers and a bridge that fakes falling apart as you go the fake savannah with real animals.Still, I enjoyed watching the giraffes walk in front of the jeep and the lion and lioness up on their rock (Pride Rock, no doubt). The Tree of Life, the centerpiece of the park, is really pretty remarkable in all the detail on its trunk.Before getting onto the raft ride, we met up with Scott's college buddy Brian, who was best man at our wedding and moved out to Florida shortly after Scott and I got married. There, he met Jill, who accompanied him to meet the strange creatures from California. Neither of them had ever met the kids, so even though they'd been to the park before, they'd never really seen this particular Animal Kingdom exhibit. Jill has a great facility with them, so it made things comfortable and fun. And as a couple of certified Dis-nuts, they had great information and recommendations about the park.By the time lunch rolled around, the clouds were beginning to roll around too. We'd fortunately picked a covered table to eat at. At least the adults thought that was fortunate. Having gotten fairly moist on the jungle rapids ride, the kids weren't content to leave fairly moist alone. Not ones to let a little torrential thunderstorm ruin their fun, they were barely done with lunch before they were gone from sight. All I could hear was Mam squealing over the noise of the rain and thunder.After the rain let up a little, the kids, Scott and Jill decided to give Expedition Everest a shot. It's the only roller coaster at Animal Kingdom. Not being a big fan of such things, I hung out with Brian while they waited in the hour-long line. Just as it was coming up on an hour, the rain started again. Empty cars started heading up the roller coaster. Thunder rumbled. Brian and I took shelter in the gift shop, texting Jill and Scott about their status. Another 15 minutes later, having been at the front of the line, the would-be riders gave up and we all headed for drier ground.

By that time, the soaked children were getting cold. Not that it was cold out, of course, but being soaked to the skin will do that to you. And all the indoor areas were air conditioned, so we instead opted to head back to the hotel and dry off.

It cleared up again, of course, and we got to enjoy more of our savannah view. Brian and Jill joined us for a yummy dinner at the big buffet restaurant downstairs...where I ran into an acquaintance from home. (It's a small world after all, you know.) Later, the kids talked Scott into taking them to the pool, where there was a great little water slide for them to play on. Ahhh...
We only had two nights here and I was sorry to leave, but on to the Magic Kingdom we went...

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