Animal Kingdom

Day Three at Disney dawned with a downpour.  We knew it was going to blow over, but not til later, so we suited up and sloshed to breakfast, trying to stay as dry as possible.

Down. Pour.

Down. Pour.

Suited UP.

Suited UP.

Oh God, my least favorite iteration of operation No Beard.

Oh God, my least favorite iteration of operation No Beard.

A bit of a sullen start to Day Three.

A bit of a sullen start to Day Three.

We milled about in the lobby area of the hotel for a while, then finally headed out on the bus, and then waded into the park.

Uncle Clif hams it up

Uncle Clif hams it up

Look closely . . .

Look closely . . .

This was surprisingly, profoundly moving - she passed her "arms" over the children's heads, in a sort of blessing, and I wanted to burst into tears and say "I'm so sorry for what we do to you, Earth!!" and weep into her prickly plant arms.

This was surprisingly, profoundly moving – she passed her “arms” over the children’s heads, in a sort of blessing, and I wanted to burst into tears and say “I’m so sorry for what we do to you, Earth!!” and weep into her prickly plant embrace.

We walked up the ramp toward a bug attraction, looking like a bunch of sentient garbage bags.

Ponchos unite

Ponchos unite

Chipper kiddos

Chipper kiddos

In case you don’t know, the central feature of Animal Kingdom – its Cinderella castle/Epcot ball – is the Tree of Life. The Tree is 145 feet tall, and 50 feet wide at its base (per the Disney World website), and is carved/sculpted with the representations of over 300 animals.

The tree of life

The Tree of Life

I couldn't stop taking pictures of it.

I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it.

The detail was lovely

The detail was lovely

Noble

Noble

Inside the bottom of it is a theater that does a 4D show about bugs – one of those things where you sit in a seat with 3D glasses on and the bugs seem right in your face, and the theatre sprays water on you or tickles your behind through the seat, so it feels like there are actual bugs everywhere.  Jack. Was. Miserable.

3-D glasses

3-D glasses

Bug eyes

Bug eyes

The bug game

We waited in line a long time for this and so there are far too many pics of kids looking silly in their glasses 

I made him stay and keep it together.  He didn’t wear the glasses and cowered with his face in my arm, but he made it through without totally losing it.  After this, it was still rainy but due to clear up after lunch, so we headed to a small building to wait and see safari Mickey and Minnie, out of the rain.

Meeting safari Mickey and Minnie

Meeting safari Mickey and Minnie

Delight

Delight

Craig loved the characters

Craig loved the characters

Hugs

Hugs

Boys' shot

Boys’ shot

Minnie x 2

Minnie x 2

The girls

The girls

Then we found a place for lunch, again out of the rain, and while we ate the clouds cleared away and the sun came out.  Jack’s feet were particularly soaked, so I ran all over the park looking for dry socks and eventually paid FIFTEEN DOLLARS for yeti-themed socks outside the Everest rollercoaster.  A ridiculous amount for socks, but a worthy investment to make Jack less miserable.

Respite under a roof

Respite under a roof

After lunch, my in-laws took the little kids and Jack to a section of the Animal Kingdom that combines dinosaurs with a state fair kind of theme, while the rest of us headed to the Everest rollercoaster.  The rain had kept people away for the most part, so the lines were relatively short.

Riding Everest

Riding Everest

Dino ride

Dino ride

Dig site

Dig site

Walking

Walking

I rode Everest with Liam, and he’s a lot of fun to ride with.  He got genuinely scared a couple of times (at one point, you ride up and a yeti rips the tracks apart, and then you fall backwards down the track, and Liam grabbed me pretty tightly).  But that’s part of the point of roller coasters and he really seemed to dig it.

After this ride, we met back up with the Littles and headed to the safari ride.  Harper asked to sit with me on this one – I happily obliged.

cousins

Cousins

Hand in Hand

Hand in Hand

The day got brighter.

The day gets brighter.

Gorgeous afternoon

Gorgeous afternoon

Safari ride

Safari ride

Safari kiddos

Safari kiddos

Lined up in the safari jeep

Lined up in the safari jeep

The animals were out and about that day

The animals were out and about that day

After the safari ended, we headed to the Animal Kingdom train, which takes you up to a nature center/petting zoo.  Inside the nature center are animals and their keepers, willing to answer every one of Jack’s billion questions, and also lots of Disney characters.

Flick!

Flick!

Jack was all about pix with the characters

Jack was all about pix with the characters

Even Doc McStuffins!

Even Doc McStuffins!

The little boys took some pix too

The little boys took some pix too

Timon and Rafiki

Timon and Rafiki

I'm running out of ideas for captions

I’m running out of ideas for captions

The petting zoo area was closed due to the poor weather, but they said the kids could go to the back and see the barn.  The animals were being fed, and it was cool to watch, if slightly less cool than petting them would have been.

The barn

The barn

We headed back down on the train to the main part of the park, and decided to spend some of our meal credits on a snack.  We got each kid an ice cream sandwich, plus one for us, having no idea that the thing would be as big as your head.

This was bigger than I expected

This was bigger than I expected

Post-ice cream pose

Post-ice cream pose

After stuffing ourselves, we headed over to a dinosaur ride, and on the way Craig fell asleep in the stroller.  I volunteered to stay out with him, and I used that time to dash around some nearby souvenir shops and buy a small gift for my niece and nephew.

Choose wisely you will.

Choose wisely you will.

I just parked Craiggers in a corner of the store and shopped.  It was hard to choose – everything is so CUTE.  Whenever I go to Disney World I imagine the team of psychologists they must have to help tap into whatever deep seeded human desires makes us lose our minds and pay $27 for a tiny stuffed animal that fills our hearts with joy.  It’s like a drug.

So when we headed back over to the ride, bag in hand and baby still asleep, we met the Prof and Jack.  Jack had freaked out and refused to ride.  Oh man, I love that kid but this got a tiny bit tiring.  But he can’t help it, he really can’t, so the Prof just skipped that one and took a deep breath and in the scheme of things it’s no big deal.

Our last event of the evening was a safari themed sit down dinner. We arrived at our reservation time and were still made to wait at least half an hour, which was not ideal with the children getting antsy.  My MIL and I staged a character-walking-contest in the corner of a courtyard, to keep them occupied.  (I.e. the kids line up and then take turns walking across the courtyard like a princess, like a prince, like Goofy, etc., and then we judged their performance.)  Craig was still asleep at this time and I dreaded him waking up grumpy and ruining the dinner . . .

Finally we sat, and were brought some drinks and set free to raid the buffet line.  The Prof and I treated everyone to as it happened to be his fortieth birthday. He really wanted dinner with Safari Donald. In the beginning, all of the Safari characters came to our table EXCEPT Safari Donald, and I kept pestering the handlers to say HE MUST COME HERE.  THIS IS THE WHOLE REASON WE ARRANGED THIS DINNER.

Gentleman Goofy

Gentleman Goofy

The grandpas with Safari Mickey

The grandpas with Safari Mickey

Doing a little dance

Doing a little dance\

I mustache you a question . . . how's it feel to be forty and also look extremely creepy? (He shaved it off the next day)

I mustache you a question . . . how’s it feel to be forty and also look extremely creepy? (He shaved it off the next day)

Craig did eventually wake up and luckily the characters kept him interested enough that he didn’t lose his mind.  It all went pretty smoothly.  Finally, Safari Donald came by when we were all finished.

The Duck Himself

The Duck Himself

Tired kiddos at the end of a long day

Tired kiddos at the end of a long day

This is all he wanted for his birthday.

This is all he wanted for his birthday.

Put up yer dukes.

Put up yer dukes.

After dinner it was time to head back to the hotel for bed.  IT had been a long, damp, exhausting, fantastic day.  The bus was very crowded and we all had to stand.  Craiggy, still a bit groggy from his late nap, was a bit wobbly on his feet.  A sweet older woman just hoisted him up on her lap and he lay his head on her chest and dozed for the forty minute ride home.  I think they both enjoyed the brief, sweet connection.

Bus Buddies.

Bus Buddies.

We put some tired little boos to bed.

Clutching his Buzz Lightyear.

Clutching his Buzz Lightyear.

Clutching his brother

Clutching his brother

And then we went to bed ourselves.  And that was Day Three at Disney.

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