Day 1: Animal Kingdom

After checking in to our room and using one of our quick-service dining vouchers at our hotel for lunch on Monday, we headed to Animal Kingdom.  Geographically, Animal Kingdom was the closest park to our resort and gave us the best opportunity to meet Pocahontas.  More than the standard princess favorites, Emma really wanted to meet Pocohontas; she feels that they are connected by their intense love and respect of nature.

We also thought that we could see everything we wanted to see at Animal Kingdom in our shortened arrival day. (You will later see that we were wrong!)

Our first attempt at tracking down Pocahontas was a bust – Joel and I both had different Disney Parks apps that were supposed to help you find characters, check wait times, etc., but Pocahontas’ listing always indicated that she was not greeting guests today.  We did meet Pooh Bear, Eeyore and Tigger.

I had to bribe Aedan with lemonade for autographs and pictures – he insisted throughout the trip that he was only there to see Jake The Neverland Pirate.

Saw a parade.

Played in an archeological dig site, filled with dinosaur bones, slides, climbing nets and tunnels.

Rode on a train.

That lead to a petting zoo.

And Rafiki.

And conservationists with live creatures, who said that they had never seen a girl so excited to pet a snake!

Went on an amazing safari ride!

Used a table service dining allotment at the Tusker House, where the buffet held all sorts of African and Middle Eastern dishes.  Aedan stuck to the kiddie buffet of mini corn dogs, pb & j, chicken legs, green beans and fresh fruit, but Emma was quite adventurous.  Mommy and Daddy also sampled some South African wine/beer.  We also had the most amazing bread pudding, and went back for seconds while the kids danced.

Feeling refreshed and energized, we hopped a bus to Hollywood Studios to catch Fantasmic – an outdoor water and lights show with tons of classic characters.  Aedan fell asleep in line and remained sleeping for the entire show and bus ride home.

Emma, Mommy and Daddy were glad we were able to catch the show – it was amazing!

We all slept soundly, and the most amazing hotel-issued blackout curtains kept us all sleeping until Daddy snuck out at 9 AM for a run.

Two tips:

If you purchase your Disney tickets in advance, you can map out the park attractions that interest you and order custom maps from Disney.  You can get one set of maps per year, and print your own copies as often as you like.  We felt fairly organized and oriented before heading to each park because we mapped age-appropriate attractions before we left.  If you have Verizon, consider one of the park apps as well.  I have an Android device, so I could get the official Disney app.  Joel purchased a third party app for his iPhone – both helped us navigate efficiently and check wait times, etc.

Also, take a backpack.  We were nervous about this and weren’t sure what the parks allowed.  We took bottled water in our bag, sunscreen, sweaters for the evening, snacks, sunglasses, hats, autograph books and our big camera.  I saw families bust out picnic lunches while waiting in line for rides and shows.  Your bags are searched as you enter each park, but they are only looking for weapons and such.