Patty Winter's
Walt Disney World Trip
December, 2004

Day 10 (Saturday, Dec. 11)

  • Animal Kingdom
  • Musical interludes
  • Animals, animals, animals!
  • Dinner at 'Ohana
  • Cheshire cats
  • (Click on any image to see a larger version of the photo. Click on links to see additional information or photos.)

    By Dec. 11th, I'd been at WDW more than a week and had not yet made it to Animal Kingdom, so this was the day. However, I didn't get up at the crack of dawn. Well, by my standards I sort of did: I got there about 10:30 a.m. I immediately headed for Dinosaur, which I had never ridden. The line was so short that I did the ride twice in succession.

    After Dinosaur, I stopped at the Dino Bites take-out window to get some yogurt and a muffin. As I was heading out of Dinoland, the Village Beatniks percussion group showed up and started playing, so I stood with others and watched them for a few minutes. A good reason not to go into commando mode at Disney World; you get to stop and enjoy the street entertainers.

    Then it was off to Asia to try Kali River Rapids for the first time. I checked the wait time, preparing to get a FastPass if necessary, but the wait was only five minutes. So I went to a nearby bench, got out my nylon poncho and rain pants, and put them on. I was already wearing sandals, so now I was all waterproofed and ready to go! (Not everyone was. I saw a woman at the KRR entrance read the warning sign, talk to a CM, and then tell her kids that they couldn't go on the ride because she didn't have any extra clothes for them to change into afterwards.)

    It turned out the "five minutes" wait was simply the time it took to walk through the long queue building. People were getting onto rafts as soon as they got to the loading area. The queue for KRR is certainly beautiful, as is the ride itself. I was a bit disappointed to find that there's only one drop in the river, but I still enjoyed the ride a lot.

    At the end of the ride, I was just about to get out of the raft, planning to walk back out the queue just far enough to find a place to turn around and come back to the loading area, when one of the other people in my raft asked whether we could stay. There was still no line, so the CM said that would be fine, and all five of us stayed on. After the second ride, we got off. I walked back about 20-30 feet where there was an opening in the rope, and asked the CM there if I could go back. He said sure, no problem, so off I went to board another raft.

    After the third trip, I exited the ride. I spent a few minutes on the bridge near the end of the ride, watching people trigger the elephants that squirt returning riders. For some reason, Disney didn't build an equivalent squirting opportunity on Grizzly River Run at California Adventure, which is unfortunate in my opinion.

    Since I was in the Asia section of Animal Kingdom, I decided to head over to the Maharaja Jungle Trek. My favorite part of this trail is the tigers. Although it was early afternoon, they were all awake having a snack (some sort of bone with meat on it). The Komodo dragon was sunning himself on a rock, making him easy to spot. The bats were, of course, hanging asleep. One of the Elds deer was lying just beneath the deer mural, as though posed. Both of the wildlife trails at AK are wonderfully done, and all of Animal Kingdom has amazing landscaping.

    On my way to Africa, I stopped at the Chakranadi Chicken Shop to get some lunch. I had the potstickers in Asian spicy broth, which were very tasty. Here comes a "small world" story: I found a space to sit at the end of a table, and when the family at the other end left, a lady sat down to hold spaces for a couple of friends. I got to chatting with her and discovered that her son works for a friend of mine at a hospital here in the Bay Area! Weird...

    I finished my potstickers about 2:00 p.m. and walked through Harambe Village to the Kilimanjaro Safaris ride. The posted wait was 45 minutes, so I got a FastPass for an hour later. I then went back to the village and enjoyed performances by the Kobake drummers and Karuka acrobats until my FP time arrived. It's also fun just to sit in the middle of the village and look around at the details that make it look so realistic: the "cracks" in the walls, the laundry hanging to dry on the rooftops, etc.

    Upon entering the Safari FastPass line, I was handed one of those cards that Disney uses to track wait times. I arrived at the loading area only nine minutes later (after having merged with the standby line). There was a delay of 2-3 minutes at the boarding area for some reason, but it gave me a chance to chat with CM Donna, who is active on some Disney discussion boards and was participating in some of the Mousefest/RADP events that weekend.

    We saw plenty of animals on our ride. One of the hippos surfaced and wiggled his ears, just as though he was part of the Jungle Cruise. ;-) I had to remind myself that this one was real! Only the male lion was visible, and he was mostly hidden behind a rock. We did see a couple of cheetahs, and there were plenty of giraffes, zebras, tommies, etc. We even had to stop for a minute to wait for a couple of rhinos to move off the road.

    The Christmas version of Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade was just starting as I left the safari ride. I would have liked to see the parade, but it was already 4:00 p.m. and I wanted to get back to AKL and rest for a while before heading over to 'Ohana for dinner with friends. So I walked quickly to get ahead of the parade closure zone and left Animal Kingdom.

    However, rather than catching a bus for Animal Kingdom Lodge, I decided to do a little sightseeing. One of my goals for this trip is to see as many of the Disney World moderate and deluxe resorts as possible--partly to enjoy their theming and Christmas decorations, partly for ideas on where I might like to stay in the future. So this time, I hopped a bus that was going to the Caribbean Beach Resort, then connected to a boat headed for the beautiful Wilderness Lodge before working my way back to AKL. (I was amused at Wilderness Lodge to see a traffic cone that said "Sleigh Parking Only." Unfortunately, it turned out to be for the hotel's horse-drawn carriage/sleighs, not for Santa. :-))

    After resting in my room for a while, I took a bus to the Magic Kingdom and caught the resort monorail to the Poly. There were supposed to be six of us, but by 10 minutes after our PS time, only four of us had shown up. We were a bit worried about the others and tried to call their cell phones, but didn't get answers, so we went ahead without them.

    For those who aren't familiar with 'Ohana, the food is served family-style. There's a lazy susan in the middle of the table that holds a variety of appetizers, along with rice and salad. I took an immediate liking to the shrimp and vegetable wonton and had a bunch of those. When the skewers arrived, I focused on the grilled tiger shrimp. The other items available on the skewers were turkey, beef, and pork. There were also several dipping sauces. I was too full for a big dessert, but did have a couple pieces of the pineapple with caramel sauce that comes with the dinner. We finished dinner a little after 9:00 p.m.

    One of the women at dinner had just been shopping at the Contemporary hotel and showed us some cat toys she'd bought. They included a couple of Cheshire cat items that I hadn't seen at Disney Tails (the pet store at Downtown Disney), so I decided to go to the Contemp after dinner and get some.

    A bit of background information: I have a British Shorthair--the breed that was supposedly Charles Dodgson's inspiration for the Cheshire cat. See how the whisker pads give a grinning appearance in this photo of Portia, and you'll understand why that may indeed have been the case. (If the link keeps working, you can see an even better example of a grinning Brit on this page.) On occasion, I've even threatened to paint pink stripes on Portia to enhance the resemblance. :-) So I'm a sucker for Cheshire cat toys.

    I took the resort monorail from the Poly to the Contemp. Since the monorail only goes clockwise, that means I had a lovely ride around Seven Seas Lagoon past the Magic Kingdom before arriving at the Contemporary. I got off at the hotel, bought the cat toys, then hopped back on the monorail and looped around the lagoon to the Magic Kingdom again. Yeah, I could have walked from the Contemp to the MK, but why do that when you can ride a monorail? :-) I was even lucky enough to catch some of the "Wishes" fireworks during the trip. From the MK, I took a bus back to AK Lodge for the night.

    Pre-planning | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 |
    Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Days 11-12 and Tips for Solo Visitors

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    Text and photos (c) 2004-2006 Patricia F. Winter, unless otherwise noted.

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    Last updated 2/5/06