Thursday, September 8, 2016

Disney World: Day 5 ~ Animal Kingdom, Boma Restaurant

Day 5 we were at Animal Kingdom.

I think we were fading a bit.

But we did make it there at a decent hour, at a little after 9:30 am.

Animal Kingdom is divided into five areas: Dino Land U.S.A., Asia, Africa, Oasis (at the entrance) and Discovery Island (the island in the middle).

As usual we had planned out our day.

Expedition Everest was the prime ride here, and the first ride of our day. To get there you have to enter Asia.

As with all Disney attractions there is a story, let's just say that this one involves a yeti and mountain climbers.

I got to sit with My Sweetie.

This was a neat beginning to the adventure.

Think Matterhorn on steroids.

Well, obviously we took a wrong turn.

 Some of it is in the dark, and you really don't know where you are going to end up as you twist and turn.

The ride comes out with a nice big drop...

and ends with a giant curve.

This was our favorite ride at Animal Kingdom.

Next, we headed into Dino Land, U.S.A.

And the Dinosaur ride.

This area was okay - there was a big play area for younger kids and the Dinosaur ride was kind of just there.

There is this carnival like area in Dino Land for kiddies. The kids wanted to try a carnival-type ride called Primeval Whirl, so while they were on it, My Sweetie and I sat for a bit and then got them a couple of snack credits.

We then headed back to the center of the park and the Tree of Life.

A Bug's Life is here, one of our favorite rides when we were at Disneyland.

It was lunch time so we got lunch at Flame Tree Barbecue (counter service)  and were impressed with the serving sizes.

Next we headed back through Asia and to ride Expedition Everest with our Fastpass...where the line was 45 minutes long. Our plan of doing Fastpasses in the afternoon was working well.

We headed to Africa.

 For some reason, this did feel like Africa.

Maybe one reason is because they were playing some African type music there. 

We wanted to see the Lion King show so stood in line for a bit, and didn't have too bad of seats, even though we did not have Fastpass.

This was a great show with lots of acrobatics and actors.

We headed back into Africa and walked around a bit.

Since we were here we decided to walk the Maharajah Jungle Trek.

There were a few bridges to cross.

We got to go into an aviary and see lots of birds.

There were other animals to see....deer, tigers, water buffaloes, and this guy.

We headed to our next Fastpass - Kali River Rapids.

We decided to do this around 3 in the afternoon because, well, obviously it was a water ride, and we were hoping to get wet.

The whole bunch of us.

The boats seated like 12 people, so in our boat there was a family visiting from England. We talked a little bit during the ride and loved their accents.

It was actually a more mild ride, for some of us. One side of the boat did get a bit drenched.

We stopped for some snacks on our way back over to Africa.

Our final Fastpass we used for the Kilamanjaro Safaris. At the time we went (April 2016) Animal Kingdom closed at 5pm, so we did our Fastpass at 4. I did this because I had done my research and had read that the latest safari is a good one to go on, because the animals can typically be more lively since they are getting fed soon, in the cool of the evening.

We boarded the safari cars, met our guide, and were off.

And we did see lots of God's creatures.....


Elephants. Obviously.

Pretty flamingos.

This rhino was hilarious. They were just feeding them, and he was totally high-tailing it into the other area.


And as we we passed the lions our guide told us that not many people had seen them that day, but they had just come out in the last hour.

This was a baby giraffe. Right next to our car!

The safari was really neat. You traveled all over the area, seeing different species. And there were no visible fences, but we did drive over grates when passing through different areas.

On the path out of the safari we met with a cast member. He was from Botswana and had a few things from his country that he was describing. We spent a few minutes talking with him and asking him questions about his country.

Throughout Animal Kingdom there was a scavenger hunt type activity for kids to do, but there were at least 40 places you needed to hit and get stamped for being at, so we only did a few. This cast members' station was one of them, so Nutsy got her passport stamped.

By the time we walked out of Africa, Animal Kingdom was closing. This is a thing of the past now - I knew before we went on this trip that very soon after our trip they were going to begin extending the hours at Animal Kingdom to 9pm, but I did feel that we were able to see the whole park.

For dinner that night we were headed to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and to one of the restaurants there, Boma. We took the bus from Animal Kingdom to the lodge - it is too far to walk.

We had about 45 minutes to kill so we walked around the lodge for a bit. I can't believe I didn't take any photos, but the rooms to the back of the lodge all back up to a preserve. We were able to walk out in the back and see giraffes, impalas, and some foxes.

Boma is an African Buffet.

Here is my plate:

There were lots of interesting things to try... a Nigerian peanut soup, different fruits, salads, and other dishes.

Here is my dessert plate.

It was a fun meal to eat. The atmosphere was nice and there was an African feel to the place.

We headed home that night to our hotel, knowing it was our last night of our vacation.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Disney World: Art of Animation, Landscape of Flavors

I am going to take a break from describing our trip to talk about our hotel.

We stayed at Art of Animation, on the southern part of DW. Art of Animation is unique in that most of its rooms sleep 6.

Perfect for our family.

The front of the hotel really stands out.

You can see the bus lines off to the left, looking in the other direction of the photo above.

The lobby is dedicated to animation.

I loved the tiles on the floor.

There was this really neat rainbow effect through the whole room.

There are these art easels in the lobby with paper that you can draw on.

Nutsy drew something and then turned it into the lobby. That night we found this in our room:

Even dad got to animate:

The hotel grounds are divided into four sections:The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Cars.

We LOVED Cars land in Disneyland so choosing to stay in the Cars section was a no brainer.

The path to this section of the hotel.

The buildings themselves have great facades.

If you have ever been to Disneyland's Cars then you'll feel right at home here. It felt just like Cars Land.

The entrance to one building.

Our building - at the very end of the property.

This building was in the center of the Cars area. In here there was a coin laundry and the entrance to the pool.

One day we had some time so we explored the Cars pool.

These have got to be the most creative shade covers I have ever seen.

We also went into the Finding Nemo pool, which at this time was the largest pool at any Disney resort.

There was a sloped area where little kids could play and water play structures.

And a very cool feature in this pool was that you could hear music underwater!

There were organized games, lots of pool chairs, and a snack bar where you could get munchies and drinks. Really, a whole day could be spent hanging out here.

The architecture was amazing.

And we were also told in the lobby that they had movies under the stars here, three nights a week. (Disney movies of course.) We were too busy at the parks to enjoy that though.

Now for our room:

There were two rooms: in the first room - the larger room and the one you walked into off of the hallway, there was a very cool table.

A table, that very easily turned into a murphy bed!

The three girls slept here.

The other part of the room, kind of at the other end, had a sofa, coffee table, chair, and TV.

 The TV stand.

A Car's suite chair.

The sofa turned into a double bed.

Mr. Lego slept here.

The full bathroom, with a tub/shower combo in the room to the left:

 There was another room that had another bed and full bathroom.

I forgot to take a photo of this room - but you can see parts of it here.

There was a large screen TV in here too.

The lamps were awesome.

The bathroom in the bedroom:

Out in the living area by the sofa, was the teeny kitchenette.

There was a microwave, sink, and a small fridge/freezer. On the shelf were plastic utensils, plates, bowls, and cups. In the cabinet were paper towels, soap, and extra toilet paper.

The fridge was a good size and had a small freezer too.

We had decided that we were going to have breakfast in our hotel. We had researched and decided that the best place to help us do this was Garden Grocer. A couple of weeks before our trip I went onto their website and 'shopped' for our groceries. I got fruit, yogurt (soy yogurt for Nutsy), hard boiled eggs, cereal, milk (and rice milk), granola bars, and a couple of boxes of frozen sausage and egg muffins.

I also ordered some snacks for the evenings - cans of soda, water bottles, microwave popcorn, and chips. I found the prices to be competitive and compared to what we would have spent buying our breakfast, we only spend a fraction of the cost. We chose our order time for the day we arrived. Time slots were filling up so I would order closer to a month before your trip.

Our flight was delayed by about 3 hours but the bellboy put all our groceries away for us, including all perishables.


 Everyone at the resort got those mugs that you see with the colorful lids. First thing in the morning, we would take those down to the quick service in our hotel and fill them with free coffee. They only work at resorts so we didn't take them into the parks.

At night all of the area was lit up so well.

Silly photo bombers.

 We also ate at the counter service at Art of Animation, Landscape of Flavors, on the day we were leaving. We needed to use up some credits so we ate there for breakfast and lunch.

Breakfast was bleh.

These waffles looked really cool, but the eggs were pasty, bacon chewy, and the food was pretty tasteless.

We had to be ready to be picked up that afternoon so were planning on eating at Landscape of Flavors again for lunch and I was dreading it.

For lunch and dinner Landscape of Flavors is like a big food court - you can choose from lots of options. There is an entree area, where they have stir fries and curries. A pasta and pizza station, a burger grill area, and then sandwiches, soups, and salads. We all got our food and took it outside to eat.

This was probably the best burger I had had all week.

 Bookworm went to the pasta area and got to choose her pasta, sauce, and toppings. She chose a white sauce shrimp penne pasta and said it was one of the best counter services of the trip.

Desserts were cute little cupcakes.

And we used up the rest of our meal credits by buying food to take on the plane, since we were not landing in California until almost midnight Florida time.

So take my word for it and eat at Landscape of Flavors for lunch or dinner, not breakfast.

So bottom line: we really loved Art of Animation. It was great that it slept six and we LOVED the grounds and decor in the rooms.

A couple of issues:

After our first day, we used up the six plates and forks they had provided and the next day room service did not replenish them. We left them a note, with smiley faces but on the third day they were still not replenished. So we went to the front desk and on the fourth day, there was enough paper goods for a small army.

Also, our kids slept in the larger room, with the two beds, where the front door emptied into the hotel hallway. Each morning they were awakened early, by running feet and squeals of joy of little ones headed to the Happiest Place on Earth. Back in our bedroom we didn't hear a thing, so make sure you put the adults in the back room.

We would totally stay here again! Especially since we can all be in one room. Staying in Car's Land really made our Disney World trip that much more fun.