Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Walt Disney World 2015 - Animal Kingdom!

December 8, 2015 ~ About 6 months ago we begin making plans to go to Walt Disney World for our family Christmas. My sister, brother-in-law and nephew would be experiencing this magical adventure for the very first time! (Our dad doesn't fly but luckily Granny does because she would be going on this trip too!) After many months and the final countdown today was the day of our big adventure!

We flew from Columbia, MO to Dallas, TX then on into Orlando, FL via American Airlines. We enjoy flying from Columbia because it's close to home and not 2 hours away! We got up really early and you can tell from Jaxon's face he was still a little sleepy! 

We finally arrived to Coronado Springs Resort on Disney Property! (We didn't want to rent a car for this week and if you stay on Disney property you get extra hours at some of the parks as well as free shuttles) Jaxon was really excited to check this place out! 

Animal Kingdom would be our very first stop! They would be closing this park early tonight but we figured we could check it out within a couple hours! (This is my least favorite park out of the 4 parks located here however you have to come check it out as Walt Disney World does an amazing job of creating uniqueness in each of their theme parks!)

I love the Tree of Life!

Behold the breathtaking artistry of a sculpted tree that wordlessly expresses the intricate balance of nature. Located on Discovery Island, the Tree of Life vividly commemorates all living things—and the place they share—in the great Circle of Life.
 At an impressive 145 feet tall and 50 feet wide at its base, the Tree of Life is home to over 300 meticulously detailed animal carvings throughout its massive trunk, gnarling roots and outstretched branches—invoking the diversity, beauty and interconnected nature of earth’s many creatures.
Animals that appear to magically emerge from the tree include:
  • Lion
  • Deer
  • Eagle
  • Monkey
  • Pelican
  • Rhinoceros
  • Hippopotamus
  • Bear
  • Tortoise
  • Lemur
  • Scorpion
  • Dolphin
For a close-up view of the animal carvings, take a stroll along the picturesque Discovery Island Trails which encircle the great tree. You may even discover a famous mouse hiding among its branches!

Our first ride would be Kilimanjaro Safaris, a fun tour aboard a bus to see some of the wildlife living at Disney's Animal Kingdom! (Jaxon loved checking out all these animals!) 

A fun tour that I would recommend doing! You get a glimpse at real animals in their natural habitats during a 20-minute expedition into the Harambe Wildlife Reserve.

Climb aboard an open-air safari vehicle and hang on tight as you take off on a guided tour into the African outback—where over 34 different species of exotic African wildlife seemingly roam free. As your bumpy transport makes its way through rugged terrain, glimpse an array of exotic animals in a variety of unique habitats, your helpful guide providing you with valuable information during the journey.

Some animals you may encounter during the tour include:
  • Antelope
  • Mandrill
  • Black Rhino
  • Cheetah
  • Crocodile
  • Elephant
  • Flamingo
  • Gazelle
  • Giraffe
  • Hippopotamus
  • Lion
  • Okapis
  • Ostrich
  • Warthog
  • White Rhino
  • Wildebeest
  • Zebra
Jaxon's very first roller coaster style ride was "Dinosaur"! It was kind of a scary ride as you ride through the almost dark environment with all kinds of dinosaurs around you and just as you get to the end a scary dinosaur jumps out to scare you! He sat in the middle of my sister and I and had his back planted against the back of our Time Rover. When the ride was over he said " Man, that was scary" followed by "That was not cool! We shouldn't have rode that ride!" At 4 years old and 48" tall  (he will be 5 in February) he was able to ride just about any ride he wanted on this trip and although this was just the beginning he hung in there like a trooper!

This is our picture from the Photo Pass (highly recommend getting the Disney's Photo Pass prior to arriving to Walt Disney World so that you can take advantage of almost all photography from photographers scattered throughout the park and pictures from rides)
"Aunt Shell, this is what that scary dinosaur was doing... trying to scare us!" 

Next up was time for dinner! We had reservations for Tusker House Restaurant which was a unique dining experience with Disney Characters! This was a buffet style restaurant and the characters would make their way around the entire restaurant so that each table could take photos! 

Daisy was there too but when she came to our table everyone was getting their plates and she wouldn't make it back over before we left. Jaxon wasn't quite sure about these characters at first but soon warmed up to them! 

Since Disney's Animal Kingdom was closing as we were finishing up with dinner we decided to head over to Disney's Hollywood Studios to watch Fantasmic! (Check times of shows when you are going to Walt Disney World as this is not something that is done nightly)

A Night When Dreams Come True

Witness a show that brings together favorite Disney heroes, princesses and villains!  Fantasmic! takes you into the colorful imagination of Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice. Join Mickey as he invokes the characters and spirit of such favorite Disney classics as:
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Peter Pan
  • The Little Mermaid
  • Cinderella
  • Aladdin
  • The Lion King
But when the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs gathers Ursula, Cruella de Vil, Scar and a larger-than-life Maleficent to turn Mickey's dreams into a nightmare, leave it to Mickey and the power of imagination to save the day.

It was a great show and Jaxon fell asleep on the way back to the resort. (I highly recommend bringing a stroller for children 5 and under - as they will get tired and they are too much to carry throughout the park - it was nice to push him around to get to the spots we needed to get to in a hurry!)

Jaxon almost didn't fit in the stroller! Little did he know Aunt Shell had a surprise up her sleeve....

You see our friends stopped by to bring a few gifts to welcome us to Walt Disney World! They brought lots of snacks, sparkling grape juice, chocolates, Mickey glasses, beach towels, pin trading lanyards and pins, Mickey Mouse hats, pillowcases and luminaries! Mickey's 4 foot prints in each room were mouse pads! It was really cool to see their super tired faces get really excited about this little special surprise! 

I normally don't count mileage on my Fitbit however this trip we would certainly be walking a ton and we totally earned every single step! Day 1 is complete with 20,268 steps and 8.59 miles! Shew!


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