Aug 15, 2011





Adventures in the Animal Kingdom and a leisurely dinner at the neighbours


Since we had gone to bed early the night before we were up early again. So we decided to do something we had never managed on any of our earlier trips, head for Morning Extra Hours. Tom made some coffee and we had some sandwiches which we prepared from things out of the fridge and when we were done and had put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher we headed out to the Animal Kingdom.

Cars were just trickling in and when it was our turn to park our car we were motioned to start another row – thanks, but NO thanks. We drove past the parking assistant, drove to the exit, went through the entrance again and joined the line for parking again. This time we were assigned a parking spot in the lower third of the row – okay, I don’t mind walking that far. A half empty tram just pulled out when we approached the loading area and a new one was no where to be seen, so we decided to just walk to the entrance. Getting through bag check was easy and so was getting through the turnstiles. Right after we got in we were asked if we would agree to do an internet survey – yip, we would do that, they took an email address and off we went.

It was just 10 minutes into Morning Extra Magic Hours and there already seemed to be quite a few people, we didn’t mind and took our time up the path to the Tree of Life. There we decided where to go – Safari or Expedition, and the Safari won.

So we headed towards Africa, picked up a Fastpass and since there was only a 5 minute wait we got in line right away. Five minutes later we found ourselves on the back of a Safari truck and off we went. There were lots of animal along the Safari route this morning and Tom got a lot of good photos. 20 minutes later we got off and had a little time to spare until we could ride again. What better way to use the time than walk over to Expedition Everest and pick up a Fastpass for that ride. But before that something I really wanted, caught my eye. A cart selling Mickey Bars – the perfect snack. So we walked over, I used a snack credit and the sweet Cast member told me to have a look and a feel of the ice-cream, as sometimes they melt too easily in those carts.

I did as I was told and deemed the Mickey Bar perfect. We walked over to the self service restaurant opposite Tusker House, there were lots of unoccupied tables and one of them was now occupied by us. I tried to eat my ice-cream as quickly as I could, but it was so hot, I really had a hard time finishing it, before it had all melted.Then we were on our way over to Everest, picked up a Fastpass and went straight back to the Safari. This time the standby wait time had increased a lot and we were happy to be in the Fastpass line. We were assigned another perfect spot on the Safari truck and again, Tom was able to take a lot of photos.

Once we were off the ride it was time to head over to Everest to join the Expedition via Fastpass. We took a short bodily break and after that we spent another snack credit on a Diet Coke to share. Refreshed we walked all the way over to Everest and saw them stall the standby line as there were an aweful lot of people in line. We were welcomed to the Fastpass line and within 3 minutes were up to the Cast member who assigns the rows. We asked if we could wait for front row and had to step aside, but we got front row on the next train out. The view from row one is breathtaking and I really love to take photos, so it was perfect!

When we got off the ride, we noticed that the park had filled up quite a bit, so we decided to leave. But before that we spent ample time in some of the shops and it was quarter to 11 when we went through the turnstiles again. We were both hungry and thought about where to have some lunch. Since we were so close to the Animal Kingdom, why not try the Mara. We waited for the tram to the car, got in, drove over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and parked the car. Once inside the lodge we spent a little time browsing the shop and taking in the lobby, then we walked down to the table service restaurant area and checked the menu for Jiko, where we had a reservation later on in the trip. Around 11.30 we walked into the Mara. We took a good look at the menu, got in line and ordered with a Cast member who was at the very start of the line.

She handed us a beeper and we then proceeded towards the self service area to pick up desserts. We were at the check out getting ready to use some of our counter service credits when the beeper went off and Tom went back to pick up the food. Tom had ordered the African Stew, which was served in a breadbowl and tasted much better than it looked and I had ordered the Chicken Flatbread - with corn, mozzarella and zough drizzle. We shared both and both were really nice. Before we started on dessert Tom went back and picked up some more Diet Coke. Tom enjoyed his Fruitbowl while I enjoyed the Carrot Cake I had ordered. Once we had finished our lunch we walked back into the Animal Kingdom Lodge and headed for the store. Long hair and a convertible just don’t go together all that well, and I had seen a hat I liked and that suited me, so we went to buy it. Then it was time to walk back to the car. We got in, opened the top and off we went. It was hot and we did not feel like going to a park so we decided to do a little shopping. We went to Kissimmee and strolled through several of the tourist trap shops, not buying anything, but browsing and exploring. At around 3pm the clouds started to roll in, so we drove back to Old Key West. We made it into our villa just in time for the heavens to open up. Since the early morning started to catch up with us we parked ourselves on the couch and watched a little TV, enjoying a few snacks out of the fridge.

We had a reservation at Jiko that night, but neither of us really felt like eating there, so we cancelled the reservation and had a look at what else was available close by. We were happy to find that Boatwrights had availability and made a reservation for later that night and decided to rest a little bit more before our ADR.

About 40 minutes prior to our reservation we drove over to Port Orleans Riverside, parked the car and walked over to the resort. We spent quite some time exploring the shop and taking in the lobby. Riverside is not a new resort for us, but it has been years since we last stayed there and it was nice to refresh our memories. We still were 10 minutes early when we signed in at Boatwrights. They told us to wait a few minutes until our table would be ready which seemed funny as the restaurant was half empty. But it only took a minute or two until we were called and led inside the restaurant, where we were seated at a four top. We were left with the menus, which we had just started to study when our server arrived.

He made a few recommendations on the menu, then left us to fetch our drinks and to decide what we wanted to eat. It didn’t take very long until he returned with our Diet Cokes and a basket full of Cornbread and Butter. We placed our order and started on the cornbread, which was still warm and sweet and wonderful. It didn’t take long for our main courses to be delivered. Tom had ordered the Grilled Pork Chop with Amber Ale Barbecue Sauce, Cheesy Grits, and Onion Rings and the Grilled Tenderloin Medallions, served with mac and cheese, Crayfish beignet and red wine Demi-glace had peeked my interest. While we were still taking photos of our food the waiter came back offering to take our picture so we could finally get a taste of the food.

We really enjoyed our dishes and even though we were full after them we had to order dessert. Tom tried a traditional Southern favourite, the Pecan Pie, which was served a la mode. I have a soft spot for breadpudding, so when I read on the menu that it was a dessert option, my mind was made up. I ordered the New Orleans Bread Pudding, with rum raisin ice cream and fosters sauce, which was very nice. Unfortunately neither of us was able to finish dessert, the portions were just too big. We finally settled the bill using our Disney Dining Plan Credits and “rolled” towards the exit. It was just a short walk to the car and then we were off, back home to our resort, which was just down the road. We parked the car and headed upstairs to our villa, plopped down on the couch and rested for a while until we realized that the message button on the phone was blinking. So we listened to the message which told us that we had two packages waiting at the front desk. Tom picked up the car keys again and off we went to the front desk. Since there were no other people checking in, a cast member was on hand right away to help us.

And while he went back to the store room to pick up our packages, we came across the sweet cast member, who had checked us in. She was just finishing her shift and she told us that we looked familiar to her, so we told her that she had checked us in two days earlier. She was very chatty and we had some fun until the other cast member came back. He handed us the packages, never asked for an ID, we finished our conversation and went back to the car to drive back to our villa. Once back at the villa we opened the packages. They were from another wonderful DISboards member. And inside the packages there were two spray bottles of Neutrogena sunblock! I couldn’t get over the fact how thoughtful my DISfriends were.

In one of my posts I had stated that I easily burn in the Florida sun, and here was someone who read my posts and had sent us sunblock to use at Castaway Cay! Thank you again, Ellen, for your thoughtful gift. Once we had gotten over the surprise, we settled in front of the TV instead of going to Extra Magic Hours at the Hollywood Studios. After such a wonderful meal we just couldn’t be bothered to “mix and mingle” with the masses at the Studios. Around 11.30 we called it a day and finally went to bed.