Mes Amis Les Animaux
October 6, 2005
As the saying goes, I need a vacation from my vacation. Mr. Karen and I flew down to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World (WDW) this past Thursday afternoon; five days and approximately 128,276 steps later, we came back home. I spent all day yesterday resisting the urge to take a nice long nap. I know, poor me, having to come back from yet another fun trip and write up a report and crop pictures for a photo essay.
WDW was not in our original vacation plan for this year, but then Mr. Karen saw that Kansas was going to be performing at Epcot and that was just too intriguing a combination to pass up, so we decided to take a quick trip to check it out. We chose to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL), since it was new since the last time we visited in 2000, the idea of being able to see animals on the savannah right from our room was intriguing, and we wouldn’t consider it for a longer trip because it’s a bus resort (no monorail or boat or walking access to any of the parks).
Before we could see the animals, we had to get to AKL from the airport. As part of the Happiest Celebration on Earth that’s going on this year, something called Disney’s Magical Express is included in the price of the room for Disney resort guests. Since we’d already paid for it, we figured we’d try it. It was definitely not magical. It was a regular bus (though some resorts did get buses with Mickey on the side) with a regular annoying commercial radio station playing over the speakers while we waited for enough people to show up so we could start on our multi-stop journey to our hotel.
Things got better once we checked in. There were interesting not-quite-quilts behind the desk, and once we got to our room, I opened the drapes to see zebras grazing on the savannah just beyond our balcony. Yay, zebras. Our luggage was nowhere to be seen, but we’d packed the stuff we needed most in our carryons, so we changed clothes and headed off to find the a bus to the Magic Kingdom area so we could watch the fireworks and the Electrical Water Pageant from the beach at the Polynesian, our favorite WDW resort.
Friday’s main events were the early show of La Nouba and the 8:15 Kansas performance. The only way we were able to do both was to grab a cab from Downtown Disney to Epcot–especially after we saw that the Westside bus stop by the theater was not in use. We arrived at the American Gardens theater just as Kansas started their set. Go us.
Saturday we’d booked something called a Party for the Senses, which gave us reserved seating at the 5:45 Kansas show. It was very strange to see them perform bracketed by the big globe used for Illuminations on the one side of the stage and the China pavilion on the other–those things don’t go together. The Party was bigger and louder and darker than I expected; I thought it would be more like the Grand Tasting we’d attended five years ago and found this new incarnation a bit overwhelming. There were Cirque performers there, and Mr. Karen got to talk to two of them–I wish I’d thought to take his picture with the clown who stuck a feather in his hair. (It was The Green Bird. Why she is called that when she is dressed in pink and orange and red and yellow, I do not know.)
Sunday I was very glad to wake up without a migraine–the Grand Tasting in 2000 led to a multi-day pain fest in my head, so this time I was careful to stay away from red wine and smoked meats, which I’m pretty sure were the triggers last time. Our big event for the day was Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom, which was a very pleasant and fairly uncrowded five hours in the park, with a special parade and fireworks and candy.
Monday we had no big plans, which was just as well because by this point I was worn down due to melting from the heat. This was the only day we managed to get back to the room to rest during the middle of the day, since we went to Animal Kingdom and that’s just a short bus ride away from AKL. I soaked my feet in cold water and watched the animals out the window–zebras and giraffes and elands and pelicans, mostly. Then we bused to Magic Kingdom for the non-Halloween parade and fireworks.
Tuesday before we had to get the bus back to the airport we managed to get to three of the parks, mostly because the souvenirs we wanted were spread out across those locations. If we’d had one more hour, or hadn’t done the two rides we did in Magic Kingdom, we probably could have visited all four parks in one day. I don’t think there’s a prize for that, though.