Feb 22, 2011




Through the Wild Africa with Megan and Meghan


After a good nights sleep we were up early, Tom made some coffee and we both nibbled a cookie or two, while we decide on how to start the day. Our original plans were to be at the Animal Kingdom for rope-drop, but there was no way we were going to make that. So we decided that instead of heading to a park we were going to have a leisurely breakfast at Wolfgang Puck’s Express.

Once we were ready we drove over to Downtown Disney, easily found a parking spot and walked over to our favourite Counter Service spot. They had opened about 10 minutes before our arrival and there were several people waiting for their food, but no one was ahead of us in line to order, so we quickly placed our order, picked up our number and cups, which we filled with coffee and hot water for Earl Grey tea for me.  That done we went to find a nice table. Once seated a server came by, brought out the cutlery and introduced himself and after a few minutes wait he brought out our food. Tom had chosen his all time WPE favourite breakfast food, Wolfgang's Breakfast Pocket - scrambled eggs, peppers, Niman Ranch Bacon, onions, mushrooms, mozzarella and cheddar cheese baked into Wolfgang's pizza dough. He loves that and I just love their Smoked Bacon Breakfast Pizza - scrambled eggs, tomatoes, mozzarella and cheddar cheese and Ranch Dressing, so yummy!

We enjoyed our breakfast when suddenly we saw a familiar face who rushed over to greet us – Maritsa, one of their servers, who we had a few fun conversations with and who we had bought a small goody on our last cruise. Tom and I were so happy to see her and so amazed that despite the amount of guests going in and out of Wolfgang Puck’s Express, she would even recognize us after half a year of “no see”. We caught up on news and she even showed us a photo of her sweet little two year old boy. We really hope she is still working there when we return in the summer! After we had finished our breakfast and said goodbye to Maritsa we strolled through Downtown Disney again, had a look inside the art store and then finally headed back to the car.

Off we went to the Animal Kingdom, where we had an appointment to join a group of “adventurers”. We arrived there and parked halfway down the row, then the tram pulled out just as we were approaching the stop, so we decided to walk to the entrance and were there before the next tram had even reached the parking lot.

We had a few fun photopass photo taken in front of the entrance, before we finally went through the turnstiles and I remembered that they had told me to bring an ID. Now Tom always carries his driver’s licence, but all I had was my Key to the World and a Credit Card. We tried to find out if we had to go back to the hotel to get ID, but we would have cut it really close, so we decided to just try our luck and hope they would not mind. A few more photopass photos later we reached the tip-board and found out that there was nothing we could ride in the time until the Wild Africa Trek was to begin. At least we decided to pick up a Fastpass for Expedition Everest. Since we had walked to Africa first we started to walk past the drums and saw a crowd of people standing around a side entrance and staring. We stopped and low and behold, hidden in a corner was Devine. People were pointing her out to other guests and we stood and watched for a while. When we finally left and walked further down the trail we saw Baloo and King Louis doing a meet and greet.

Only a few people in line, so we walked over and asked if the line was still open. Yes, it was and in we went and after a minute or so it was our turn to have our photos taken with the characters. The reason why we wanted to have a few character photos taken was, that I had read that there were bonus photos that got uploaded once you had character photos taken. And yip, we ended up with quite a few bonus photos too!

We were not used to the heat, so we both got real thirsty and picked up a bottle of Diet Coke, which we shared before we headed over to Expedition Everest to pick up the Fastpasses.

On the way back we stopped to watch people get wet on Kali River Rapids and yes, they did get wet – BIG time! Soon enough it was time to head back to Tusker House, so after a biological break we headed over to check in for the Wild Africa Trek. There were several people already waiting and they did not check IDs, but told us to take a seat until everyone was checked in.

Right around noon everyone was there and we all got together and the guides introduced themselves, they were Megan and Meghan, so that was easy to remember. We were than taken backstage to a little “hut” where we had to put all our belongings into a locker and then were discretely weighed and given and strapped into our harnesses.

Everyone was given a metal water bottle, which they wrote the names of the trekkers on the cap. Everyone was given holders for glasses, so they would not fall, should they slip off your nose. The whole procedure took about 15 minutes and then it was time for a drink. There were metal cups and there was Jungle Juice and Water on ice and everyone had a cup while the guides told us about the Trek.

First off we had to conquer a “training” rope bridge. They told us that the bridges we would have to cross were old (Disney old! – means brand new, made to look old) and they needed to know if we were all up to crossing them. The bridge was fun, some of the steps were missing and you had to watch where you were going.

We all mastered that first task and soon we headed “on stage” out into Africa, where Megan and Meghan absolutely stayed in character and told us all about the village of Harambe. The expression on the other guests’ faces and their comments were priceless as we went through Harambe in our harnesses. Soon we hit one of the trails and entered through the exit.

We walked down the path and our guides explained the animals, their behaviour and much more. After a very short walk we came to a small gate, through which we entered the “rough” trek as Megan called it. They asked a few times if we all were sure we wanted to go the rough trek. Yes, we were. So we entered through the gate and walked along a narrow bush path.

Soon after hiking through the savannah we caught a glimpse of the hippos. We could not get close to them there, so after passing a marker, we finally came to an overlook. It was gated off and we all had to hook the safety lines onto a metal rod and then it was time to get closer to the hippos. The safety lines actually gave you a huge feeling of security, so we moved quite close to the rim with the hippos right underneath us.

Meghan took some photos of the individual trekkers and we had ample time to take a good look of the animals 10 feet below. All the time we were standing there we were in full sight of the Safari Vehicles that drove by. After about 10 minutes we left the area again, unhooked our safety lines and started walking again. Soon after we hit the rope bridges.

Up a few steps we went and then Megan hooked us up to the wire above and we slowly made our way across the first rope bridge. There were only 2 people allowed on the bridge at one time and you had to go slowly and watch where you step as some of the wooden steps were missing. But once you were halfway across the bridge, the crocodiles were right underneath you.

I think everyone in the group stopped to at least look down or take some photos. When we got to the end of the first bridge, Meghan took some more individual photos before we all lined up again to cross the second bridge. More crocodiles underneath and we all really enjoyed the view of the Safari Vehicles and the wildlife below. The whole time our guides stayed in character and told us about conserving the Savannah!

Once we had crossed both bridges we got unhooked and walked just a few more steps until we got to another overlook where we had to hook up our safety lines to a metal rod and then we could step forward to take a real close up look of the crocodiles below. There were quite a lot of them and it was very interesting to see them for our viewing area. Again Meghan took some more photos, before it was time to leave again.

We were in for another “hike” which took about 5 minutes and then we got to another gate. This is where we could take off our harnesses and boarded a safari vehicle of our own. Megan and Meghan explained what would happen next and soon we were off and joined the convoy of Safari Vehicles.

The difference between them you ask?Well, the most significant difference was that our Safari Vehicle stopped and we got to take real close up looks at the animals while our guides answered our questions and pointed out more animals to us. After we had driven along the Safari Route for a while we took a right and drove right up to the new Boma, a overlook that gives you a wonderful view of the Savannah and its animals. When we had disembarked from our vehicle and had walked onto the overlook the tables had been set up and we all had lunch. There were little tin boxes, always two stacked on top of each other and they were filled with a lot of yummy treats. The top box had three little containers, of which one was filled with the most delicious chilled balls of fruit, three kinds of melons and a pineapple one.

One container had a huge amount of prosciutto, very thinly sliced and the third one was holding a heavenly curried chicken salad. In the lower container were chilled shrimp, a salmon roll filled with cream cheese on some kind of slaw and a sun dried tomato hummus. There were also three small pita breads and a wooden spoon. On a table to the side there were metal cups, jungle juice and water to drink.

We took our containers to a small unoccupied table at the front of the outlook, sat down, enjoyed our lunch and watched the animals. Once we were done, Meghan took some more photos and then there was still time to take a look of the most beautiful restrooms in the whole of Africa. And yes, they were beautiful and HUGE! After about half an hour we boarded our safari truck again and off we went along the Safari route, but making several stops to have a look at the animals.

There were even binoculars provided in the vehicle. We could not believe that our Wild Africa Trek came to an end when we approached the unloading dock of the regular safari vehicles. We all got off the truck, waved goodbye to our driver and then walked over to the area behind Tusker House to walk back to the beginning of the tour and remove all the items we had put in the locker.

When we were back we were told that we got to keep our waterbottles and that all the photos Meghan had taken of us and all the animals would be available to us via Photopass. Our guides explained how to use Photopass and how to redeem our photos with the Photopass card we were given.

And then we were handed vouchers with a code on them, so we would be able to redeem the CD for free. One last photo of all of us and then we were off. It was past 3pm by then and our Fastpass for Expedition Everest was long past its time, we were tired and so we just left the park to go back to the resort to chill for a while. We arrived back at the resort at around 3.45 and guess what, our room was not made up yet! No, not ready yet!

We dumped our stuff in the room and left again to do some grocery shopping at Publix. While we were shopping we talked about this evenings ADR and after some thinking about it, decided to cancel it and have some dinner in our room instead. So we picked up lunch meats, bread, some spreads, some salads and finally made it back to the resort around 5.30.

Oh what a surprise, mousekeeping had finally made it to our room and it was clean again. We set up the nightstand as our dining table, with the drawer in the nightstand half open, so we could put some things in it and had a wonderful yummy dinner while lying on our beds. By 8 o’clock we went out one more time, those yummy doughnuts were calling our name again, so we drove over to the Krispy Kreme shop, making a few stops in those tourist trap souvenir shops. At Krispy Kreme we got half a dozen Glazed Doughnuts and some Doughnut Holes which were the “doughnut” of the day. We had some then and there at the shop, watching the doughnuts being produced and after some time we drove back to the resort, watched some TV and munched some more Krispy Kremes before we called it an early night.