Animal Kingdom: I Love Today!!

Animal Kingdom

After my first trip to Disney World in 2001, Epcot was my favorite park. After going in 2005, it was Magic Kingdom. Now, I think it might be Animal Kingdom. I realize that I take the most photos in Animal Kingdom, and I really enjoy the lush beauty of the park. Lots of plants, birds, animals, and gorgeous scenery. Even when the skies are grey, like they were when we went on February 26.

Welcome to Part 2 of my February 2013 Disney Trip Report. You can read Part 1 here! :)


Meer Cat

Animal Kingdom

{I have to laugh because the buses are rarely in our favor. On our first day, we waited and waited for a Magic Kingdom bus while 99,000 Hollywood Studios buses went by. On our second day, we waited a while for an Animal Kingdom bus while 99,000 Magic Kingdom buses (and a random “Jasmine” bus) showed up. Yea, it was that kind of week for Disney transportation.}

Despite the best efforts of Disney transportation, we made it to Animal Kingdom before 10am. We grabbed a Fast Pass for the Safari (because going on in the morning is the best, just so you know). I’d woken up with a strong craving for ice cream for breakfast for some reason, but none of the ice cream carts were open yet! We walked some of the trails and looked at animals while waiting for our Fast Pass window to open, which really wasn’t that long at all. Then it was time for the Safari, which was different from what we were used to. The poacher storyline has been removed so it’s more like a straight safari. I liked it.





We made our way over the Expedition Everest, where the posted wait was 10 minutes. (It was actually much shorter than that). When it was our turn, the rain started, hard and cold. IT WAS AWESOME. And the yeti at the end was working again. I’d never seen it before and it scared me! By the time we got off, the posted wait time was five minutes, so we walked right back on. By this time, the rain had stopped. We ended up going right around and riding it AGAIN. After three times in a row, we were done for a while, so we got our picture taken in front of the coaster.

Expedition Everest

Then we had lunch at Flame Tree BBQ. Yum.

After lunch, we made our way over to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. You have to board a train and they take you over, and you get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the going-ons of Animal Kingdom. You get to see where the animals sleep at night, for example. I didn’t take pictures because it’s hard to do so on a moving vehicle. It was also beginning to rain again. In fact, by the time we made it off the train, there was a hard core downpour!

So, we hung out in a covered area and I did my work. :) Easy peasy. Once the rain let up a bit, we made our way to Conservation Station and I learned a lot of neat stuff and saw a few neat animals, like this guy:

Animal Kingdom

We watched them change a bandage on a poor little turtle who’d gotten caught in some construction netting. He was a frisky little bugger, waving his arms and legs around. His cut was really deep. He was a wild turtle, endangered even. Disney will take care of any animal that wanders onto the property, which I think is neat. The poor little turtle won’t be able to go back into the wild for months because it takes reptiles such a long time to heal.

After we were done there, we headed back to the “mainland” and headed over to Dino Land. Dino Land is kind of sad because the dinosaurs make all sorts of jokes about their impending demise. It’s kind of macabre. But oh well. I grabbed a carton of Edy’s Dibs because I was still craving ice cream and especially Nestle Crunch ice cream and that’s what they had. Perfect. As we made our way to Dino Land, we talked about how there were some rides we’d never tried because we either didn’t know they were there or the lines were way too long. We got to try out Primeval Whirl (one of those “wild mouse” coasters), and we rode Dinosaur, which was SCARY but fun. The waits for all the rides were 10 minutes or less by this time. Actually, it was pretty much like that all day except for early morning with the Safari, where the wait was 20 minutes. I wonder if the rain scared a lot of people away. As you can see, it takes more than some hard rain to drive Adam and me from a Disney park! :)

After Dinosaur, we made our way over to Pizzafari so I could do some more work. And then it was time for the Jammin’ Jungle Parade, for which we were not selected to be in this year. Hee hee.

Jammin' Jungle Parade

Jammin' Jungle Parade

Jammin' Jungle Parade

I had so much fun, dancing (and remember how I’m obsessed with this parade? I may or may not have memorized some of the dance steps. The cast members seemed to get a real kick out of seeing me do the steps with them and a few of them came over and gave me high-5s!) and taking pictures and just really enjoying the parade that when it left our section, I went to another section in the park to watch it again. Told you I was obsessed!

After the parade finally ended, we headed back toward Expedition Everest. I was distracted by the Bhangra DJ Dance Party and well, I had to dance some more.

Bhangra Dance Party

Bhangra Dance Party

That was awesome. Then we finally made it to Expedition Everest where the posted wait time was again, five minutes but was really more like zero minutes (we think they must account for the time spent walking through the queue to get to the loading station even though by this time they’d closed the regular queue and had everyone go through the Fast Pass queue). We rode it, and then we rode it AGAIN. While I was in line, a lady told me that I was a really good dancer! :)

By this time, the park was closing. Wah wahhh. We made our way to the front, taking photos and enjoying the scenery.



I do love flamingos. They’re pink and they stand on one leg. What’s not to like?

Black Swan
pretty black swan

After our awesome day at Animal Kingdom (seriously, Expedition Everest FIVE TIMES, yo!), we made our way to Beach Club resort for dinner at Cape May Cafe. We met up with our friend Joe and had a delicious dinner and an even more delicious dessert. I sampled all of them.

Dessert #1 Dessert #2

Words really can’t express how much fun I had that day in Animal Kingdom. Short wait times, ice cream, seeing the parade twice, dancing, animals, and loveliness. I can’t wait to go back in June! :)

We ended the night with a dip in the hot tub, and early to bed because Epcot was the next day and well, Epcot rules. We got to try out the new Test Track, experience Soarin’, and see some previews for the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. (I got to go in 2005 and it was beautiful. Sure would love to go again someday….)

Til next time! :)

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Magic In the Magic Kingdom

Cinderella Castle

These February Disney trips were a stroke of genius, an idea devised by Adam during the fall of 2011. He knows how depressed I get with too much cold and snow (although I have to admit this winter hasn’t been that bad) and he knows Disney World is the happiest place ever for me. So, off we go, every year, to enjoy a piece of summer in the winter months.

I’ve decided to break the trip report into parts because it will just be too long for me to do all of the days in one post. So, without further ado, let’s start with Part One: Magic In the Magic Kingdom.

Please note: Adam and I are the worst tourists ever. We don’t tour the park in sections; we criss cross back and forth several times throughout the day. I like to get the exercise, and we do most stuff on whims. So those of you who have been and are wondering WTF, that’s why our day is all over the place.

We started off by waking up at Disney O’Clock (3:15am) for a trip to Midway Airport. The cab was picking us up at 3:45am. By the time we got through security, we both had time to scarf down a hash brown before it was time to board! (Surprisingly, I hadn’t been already up from the night before! I actually tried to get a decent night’s sleep so I wouldn’t be half out of my mind at Magic Kingdom like I typically am on the first day of my Disney trips.)

I slept most of the flight, but I do remember waking up and eating some of Adam’s cinnamon roll graham crackers because well, I had to. I also remember having to pee constantly and being really cold. I was SO looking forward to that 80F waiting for me in Orlando!

After a freezing cold ride on the Magical Express to our resort Port Orleans French Quarter, and a wait behind some slow pokes in the check-in line, we dropped off our carry-on bags with luggage storage, I did a bit of freelance work, and we were in Magic Kingdom by noon. Of course Adam was already hungry! So we had lunch at Columbia Harbour House, stopping to take pix along the way, and to listen to the band.


Main Street Philharmonic

After lunch, we headed to the new Fantasyland to see what we could see. And this is what we saw!


Gaston and Me

He told me to put my arms around him and try not to faint. I heard him ask the girl behind me if she liked his teeth. My what a guy, that Gaston.

Gaston and Me


Fantasyland was super crowded, so we looked around a bit and headed to Tomorrowland. Had to do Carousel of Progress, because they have this awesome kitchen scene:


I want that kitchen.

We puttered around Tomorrowland before popping into some gift shops. I love taking pictures of merchandise and snacks.


I think this popcorn is so pretty. We saw three people spill their popcorn during our vacation. I’m sure the gulls were happy about that.

Mickey Butts

These Mickey Butt mugs crack me up.

We headed back to Liberty Square for Haunted Mansion and Hall of Presidents and random wildlife.


HAD to do it’s a small world. Had to.

It's A Small World

It's A Small World It's A Small World

It was in here that Adam and I wondered what it’s like when they turn on these massive attractions. Does it start off all slow and warped like a record on a record player, or do things just instantly light up and they’re good to go? And none of those puppets were dusty. That means there are people TO DUST ALL THE PUPPETS in those rides. HOLY CRAP.

After it’s a small world, we headed to Be Our Guest for dinner. OH MAN. They really do it up, you guys. They escort parties in one by one. And they open these big doors. IT’S JUST LIKE WALKING INTO THE MOVIE. It’s beautiful!!

Be Our Guest

Grand Ballroom at Be Our Guest

We ate in the West Wing.

Be Our Guest

Be Out Guest

It was dark and a thunderstorm roared through every few minutes. Torn tapestries and paintings were everywhere. It was definitely amazing.

On top of all that, the Beast pops in the bow to his guests. And the food was super yummy. I had steak with pommes frites and truffle mayonaise. Yummy! :) For dessert, they roll a cart to the table with all of the selections right in front of you. I had a lemon meringue cupcake. Delicious. We also got to try The Grey Stuff.

The Grey Stuff

The Grey Stuff really IS delicious. But only for people who are having celebrations. And maybe for people who ask nicely but probably not usually. We were lucky. Personally, I think everyone should get to try it, but it’s not my restaurant so….

Be Our Guest

We met our host after dinner.

Be Our Guest

These guys were talking but I have no clue what they were saying. One of them was sleeping and snoring pretty loudly.

Be Our Guest

I feel VERY lucky that we got a chance to experience Be Our Guest. The place is booked for a solid six months, and the lunch line usually runs at least 45 minutes during peak times. I am not sure when we’ll get there again, but I’m glad we got to do it once.

All in all, a very lovely day at the Magic Kingdom. The weather was hot and muggy and I loved it. I was wearing shorts and a tee-shirt. Even though I had to do some work, it was nice to sit on a bench in the Magic Kingdom rather than a freezing cold office. It was way more crowded than I’d like, so most of the rides we love had lines that were way too long, but as we were going to Magic Kingdom later in the week, I didn’t fret about it.

Tune in next time when I talk about our AWESOME DAY at Animal Kingdom, where we got to see a baby elephant poop and pee, we got to watch an injured turtle get a bandage change, and we got to ride Expedition Everest FIVE TIMES.

See ya! :)


I Went to Disney World!

Cinderella Castle

Seven trips and it never gets old. Even though I spent the first day half crazed out of my mind due to lack of sleep and being hopped up on energy drinks. Magic Kingdom was as magical as ever, with rides, yummy food, fireworks, and of course, Mickey Mouse.

*warning, lots of pictures ahead!*



Mickey and Minnie

We experienced the PeopleMover, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Carousel of Progress, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (where I got to be on the big screen and use my psychic powers to convince the monster onscreen that he could know which number I was thinking of), and it’s a small world.

Characters met: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pirate Goofy, Ariel, Belle, and Cinderella.
Restaurant: Liberty Tree Tavern (dinner) and Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe (snack)

Challenges appeared that evening when I realized that my luggage hadn’t turned up (typically, Disney will retrieve it and bring it to our rooms, but there was some snafus early in the process, and in this case, it completely broke down). The next morning, I still had no luggage and I was developing a migraine. We nipped that in the bud with a cocktail of Bayer, Extra Strength Tylenol, and an energy shot. By the time we got to Hollywood Studios to meet my friend Keri, the headache was gone.

Keri and Me
keri and me

I was too chicken to ride Tower of Terror (also, my stomach was queasy from aforementioned drug cocktail) so I passed on it. I did, however, ride and LOVE (as usual) Rockin’ Rollercoaster.

Rockin Rollercoaster!

We watched the Pixar’s Countdown to Fun parade, which wasn’t as good as the Block Party Bash used to be, but it was still neat.

Countdown to Fun Parade Countdown to Fun Parade Countdown to Fun Parade

We experienced Rockin’ Rollercoaster, Star Tours, the Beauty and the Beast stage show, and Muppet Vision 3D, which is the best 3D show in the parks (although I do love me some Mickey’s Philharmagic!)

Restaurants: ABC Commissary (lunch) and Kona Cafe in the Polynesian (dinner)

Day Three = still no luggage. Disney was on it, though. They were going back and forth with Southwest, and I finally had to come to terms with the fact that my stuff might be gone forever. Keri had brought me some clothes, and because I was running out of underwear that I’d packed in my carry on, I knew that I’d need to buy stuff later that evening. Whatever. We headed to Epcot and the first thing we did was grab Fast Passes for Soarin’. Then we got in line because Soarin’ only had a 25 minute wait which is UNHEARD OF. That attraction almost always has at least an hourlong wait. At least.

Spaceship Earth

While I was in line for Princess Aurora and Prince Philip (the princes were out!!), I got a call from someone who had my bag! It had gotten picked up by someone who thought it was a friend of theirs, and was in Gainesville. The girl I talked to was very sweet, but between us two, the airline people, etc., we realized that I’d not get my bag back in time to finish out my vacation. Oh well. I continued to have fun anyway.

Me at Epcot

Princess Aurora and Prince Philip

Imagination Pavillion

Duffy Bear

America, Frick Yeah!


Mickey Mouse and Me

Sad Face
at dinner, we had the most scrumptious red velvet dessert
this is me with the last bite
i really didn’t want it to end

We experienced Test Track, Mission: Space (Green, for Less Intense), Maelstrom, Captain EO, The American Adventure, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, and Soarin’ (2x!). I also got some Jammie Dodgers!!

Jammie Dodgers and a Fez
jammie dodgers and a fez
now i am ready to take on the world
/doctor who reference

Characters met: Princess Aurora & Prince Philip, Snow White & Prince Charming, Mickey Mouse, Pluto, and Chip & Dale
Restaurants: Bakery in Norway (for a snack) and Garden Grill (dinner)

Day Four, we headed to Animal Kingdom. I always forget how much I enjoy Animal Kingdom until I’m there. It’s the prettiest park of all of them, with all its greenery and wild animals. Love watching the animals.

Tree of Life




Expedition Everest is an AWESOME roller coaster. Just sayin’.

Expedition Everest

Of course, the highlight of this day was the fact that THEY ASKED ADAM AND ME TO BE IN THE JAMMIN’ JUNGLE PARADE.

We’d just had lunch at Pizzafari, and I said “Let’s go to Camp Minnie-Mickey.” There isn’t really anything to do there, but the Festival of the Lion King is there and a show was about to start. We were debating going in (it really is an excellent show) when a cast member named Robb stopped us, asked if it was just the two of us. We said “yes” and he said “would you like to be in our parade?” So, we had to be back at the hotel at five, so time was of concern. But the parade started at 3:45, so we were all good. Once it sunk in, I was like…

Because I’ve always wanted to be in a Disney parade. I would LOVE to be a parade dancer, but I’m probably way too old for something like that. But still. Eeeeeee!!!

Jammin' Jungle Parade

Jammin' Jungle Parade

Jammin' Jungle Parade

Jammin' Jungle Parade

So yeah. THAT HAPPENED. And one of the cool things is that one of the dancers–I’d recognized her from other shows at Disney World. She seemed flattered and amazed that I’d done so. :)

Jammin' Jungle Parade
sara’s the dancer on the left end
she’s the one I recognized from other disney shows
crazy, huh?
it was so neat to meet her

So, in Animal Kingdom, we experienced the Kilimanjaro Safari, Rafiki’s Planet Watch (where I got to hold poop!), Expedition Everest, and I GOT TO FREAKING BE IN A PARADE AT FREAKING DISNEY WORLD, Y’ALL.

i’m holding poop!
(don’t worry, it had been baked and coated)

So, despite the lost luggage, I had an AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING trip! And if I had to choose between not having lost luggage and having just an OK time, or losing the bag and being in a parade, I’d lose the bag every time. Hopefully it won’t come to that again, though.

My bag is safely with me now. Disney got UPS to pick it up in Gainesville and they overnighted it to me. So I won all over.

And I cannot wait to get back to Disney World!!!

Cinderella Castle

And just in case there weren’t enough pictures in this post, there are loads more here: [LINK]

Psst! I have a giveaway happening here. You should enter it.


Autumn and Ohio (Lots of Pictures!)

Gourds Happy Autumn!

Now that it’s here, there is no good reason to keep fighting it, right? Getting out of Chicago and to Ohio to visit friends and family really helped me remember what I love about autumn. First of all, the colors. The glorious colors! We were in Ohio for six days and every day I watched the trees get more and more brilliant. Then, harvests and pumpkins and apple cider and all sorts of neat things. So, yay for autumn. Just wish winter didn’t have to happen after. But not gonna dwell on that. Instead I’m going to dwell on the fun trip to Ohio I had this past week!

I got to eat yummy Mexican food and drink a delicious margarita, I got to feed a giraffe, see a camel up close, and ride a horse. I met a friend who I’d been emailing with for years, and I saw Andy, one of my best friends. Chris and Matt brought up Aidan and we all went to Amish country, where I bought lots of pies, cookies, and cheese. My camera was on hand, and of course I got loads of photos.

We hit the Amish country in the middle of the state. First place we stopped was Hershberger, where there was lots of good desserts and breads, and animals (including a HUGE Clydesdale) to pet. Then we went to the cheese barn, and then to Berlin. Adam and I agreed that the more authentic Amish/Mennonite places were better because they weren’t mired in touristy gimmicks. Just yummy food.

Aidan and some Pumpkins Aidan and some Pumpkins Aidan and some Pumpkins
Pumpkins Galore!

I got to ride a horse for the first time ever. My friend Amy (who I’ve known for years but only through email) arranged for us to get together at the stables. There, she saddled up Jessy and let me and Adam take turns riding her. By the end of the ride, I was going a pretty good job of getting Jessy to walk and go in the direction I wanted her to go in. We also go to ride Pablo bareback. That was neat, too.

I'm on a Horse!

Horseback Riding! Horseback Riding! Horseback Riding!

We got to eat good food, have good laughs, and have good times. The Mexican restaurant, El Camino, was delicious. I had an enchilada and a tostada, and a yummy raspberry margarita. Delicious!

Mommy My Magarita Hi Aidan!

Mommy and Greg

Most of my extended family is in Cleveland. I don’t get to see them often, so a lot of us used this trip to reconnect. It was good. Some of these people I hadn’t seen since 1996. I hadn’t seen all of them for many years. That’s a long time. It was nice to see them again.

My Cousin Mazayron and Me Aunt Geneva Falandos
Good Saturday Night

So many new experiences. I got to feed a giraffe! Do you have any idea how much I love giraffes? They’re so graceful and beautiful. They’re definitely in my top five of animals. Getting so close to one was amazing. Also, I never knew how gorgeous camels were until I saw them close up. Petting zoos are cool, especially when they have animals like emus and llamas and zebras.

Aidan and his Grandmommy A Big Chair! Aidan Playing in the Corn Pit

UM Camel

Another really cool thing. I am an Ohio State alumna, but I had very little OSU clothing. I’ve been slowly, slowly building up a collection of tee-shirts, but I really wanted a hoodie. They’re expensive, though! Well, we went to Marcs to get snacks and groceries (and my BBQ Fritos and Snyder of Berlin chips that are not sold in IL) and they had OSU gear. CHEAP OSU gear. So, I got three sweatshirts and two tee-shirts for a grand total of $40.00. I’m wearing one of the shirts in a few photos above. I really, really, really wish we had a Marcs in Chicago. I’d go all the time. I love that place.

Anyway, I had a great time. What a wonderful way to start off autumn 2011. It’s just gonna get better! :)

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