This past week, I went to the happiest place on earth. But while Disney World may be the happiest place on earth, it isn't necessary the most relaxing place on earth. Fortunately, with a little planning, we were able to enjoy our day at Animal Kingdom.
The key to our day was getting to Africa first and early. We arrived at the parking lot about 830 am. Even though the park didn't officially open until 9am, we were able to go through ticketing and get halfway into the park, past Oasis and deep into Discovery Island well before 9 o'clock. We then waited in a crowd at the giant tree in the center of the park, roped off like the Disney cattle we were.
When the clock struck nine, we raced off like marathon runners into the heartland of Africa. Our number one priority was getting to the Safari ride before 920 am, when wait times significantly increase. Going on the Safari ride while the morning was still relatively cooler also helped keep the kids in their happy place. The safari was a lot of fun, and definitely a highlight of the park. I enjoyed the jeep like feel of the ride and the open fields. However, I wish we saw some more exotic animals that I don't already see routinely at zoos. Also, there wasn't a lot of opportunity to stop for pictures.
After the Safari ride, we headed right into the first show of The Festival of the Lion King at ten o'clock. This show was spectacular, filled with songs from the Lion King, costumes, circus performers, and fire. My kids said it was their favorite part of the park. After the show, we went to the Tusker House for an African buffet. This was the best food I have ever eaten at a Theme park. My kids enjoyed taking pictures with Mickey, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy. Unfortunately, my kids enjoyed taking the pictures much more than the actual characters did, who seemed to be in a rush to move onto the next table.
Getting one solid meal was a key strategy to keeping the kids happy. Another important factor that helped keep the kids from going to their unhappy place was having a reliable portable snack in the ready. For this trip, I made PB&J balls. This no bake snack is simple to make ahead of time and ideal for packing on trips.
After lunch, we made our way across Asia. We used our fast pass to bypass the eighty minute line for Kali River Rapids, and I'm glad we did. The ride was fun, but quite short. It was still worth it in the end, because my brother got absolutely soaked. We got in line at Finding Nemo a half an hour before showtime, which turned out great since they quickly let us into the air-conditioned theatre. This was a visually stunning show featuring amazing puppetry. After Nemo, we hit dinosaur land. We also used our fast pass for the Dinosaur ride. I thought this was a fun ride, but it was a bit too scary for the five year old and seven year old kids in our party.
We finished up our day visiting Discovery Island and seeing some more animals. All in all, we had a great family vacation at Animal Kingdom. My kids literally were skipping as they left the park. Indeed, both myself and my kids reached our happy place.