As usual, I awoke early and headed to the food court for the morning bagel and coffee. Denise and I met the boys at the bus stop around 8:15, and we were soon on our way to the Animal Kingdom. Sean and I were looking forward to Expedition Everest and couldn't wait to share the experience with Josh and Denise-- several times, ideally.
We headed directly for Asia after being admitted to the park, and found there was only a 15 minute wait for Everest. The last time I had ridden this attraction, the Yeti had been fully operational-- this was back in 2007-- and I had been reading various reports about the now de-evolved "Disco-Yeti." I was hoping that we'd at least get a good look at him (or her...?), even though he/she is now motionless.
Well... Denise and Josh loved the ride (we knew they would) and although I had a great time also, I couldn't help being disappointed that I didn't see the Yeti. I did try... I knew when and where to look, but the flashing disco lights in the otherwise pitch black cavern didn't afford even a glimpse. It's probably just me... Sean said he saw him/her/it. In any case, we jumped back on for another ride, and then picked up fast passes for later. All whining aside, I do love this attraction. I think it still might be my favorite WDW ride.
After EE, we wandered into Dinoland and got in line for Primeval Whirl... a first for all of us. I'm not a big fan of the little carnival area... seems out of place in an otherwise beautiful park. Just my opinion. In any case, the four of us squished into one vehicle and we proceeded to whirl. Whee.
The Dinosaur ride was next, and it was a walk-on. I always enjoy this, despite the rough turns and overall jerky motion. It's just so much fun. Sean wanted to hit Kali River Rapids next, but the ride was temporarily closed. Ah well... On to Kilimanjaro Safari!
I must mention here that I had a mission to complete on behalf of Sean's younger sister, Rebecca (or Becca, as we call her). Becca was working on a report about okapis and had asked me to get a picture of one while we were at the Animal Kingdom. Not that you can't find hundreds of okapi photos online, but her father thought it would be cool to try to get a shot, and have Sean in the photo also. ("This is a picture of my brother, with Myron the Okapi!") Now up until a week before I left, I knew virtually nothing about okapis. I had no idea what these guys even looked like. Now however, I can safely say that I have gleaned enough information to satisfy the basics of any sixth-grade science report. Seriously. Ask me anything.
We boarded the safari ride after a short wait, and lo and behold... Okapis at three o'clock! Immediately! I whip my phone out-- Nope-- not my brand new Fujifilm camera... I have to text the photo because the report is due before we return from vacation. I position the phone and... forget to zoom in. So I have a nice picture of some indistinguishable animal in the African underbrush. Drat.
I did remember reading that okapis could be seen on the Pangani Forest Trail, and Denise agreed to accompany me. The boys, however, were itching to get back to Disney Quest that afternoon, so... no pic of Sean and "Myron the Okapi." We finished the safari ride, managed to save Little Red the baby elephant from the evil poachers, and after the harrowing journey, decided it was time to rustle up some grub. We had dinner reservations for Boma that evening, and had originally planned on counter service food for lunch. We wandered around for a few minutes, not really seeing anything that beckoned to us, and Sean made a request that we try to get into a table service restaurant. The group all thought this was a great idea, and we made our way over to Tusker House to see if anything was available. We approached the podium and before I could even speak, the cast member asked if I had a reservation. I shook my head and after being told there were no tables to be had, we made a hasty retreat.
It turns out that this was a bit of serendipity, because we ended up stumbling into Yak and Yeti and were told we could be seated in about five minutes. And oh my... what a lovely meal it was. I ordered the duck with Anandapur glaze and it was wonderful. Can't remember what Josh and Denise ordered, but Sean was excited to see that a Kobe beef burger was on the menu. I think that experience has ruined normal burgers for him, because he is still talking about how delicious it was. I had the sorbet trio for dessert, while the rest of the gang inhaled dishes of fried cream cheese wontons, pineapple, and vanilla ice cream. I declined a bite of this bit of this, although I was assured that I was making a horrible mistake.
Kali River Rapids was open by the time we finished lunch and Denise, Josh and Sean went for a ride while I browsed the shops. I am not fond of water rides that have the potential of soaking me to the skin. After Kali, the boys bailed in favor of a power nap and a return trip to Disney Quest. Denise hung back with me and we took to the Pangani Forest Trail in search of the okapis.
Turns out my luck was a little better on the trail, as Denise and I immediately spied two okapis having their lunch. At one point, one okapi sauntered up behind his buddy and I frantically began snapping photos as quickly as I could, not paying too much attention to what the animals were actually doing-- just trying to get some good shots of them. One picture was better than the rest, in terms of composition and clarity.
Unfortunately, this stellar photograph depicts one okapi with his nose firmly planted between his companion's hindquarters. Guess which picture didn't make the final cut?
After this brief interlude with "exotic photography," Denise and I each grabbed a hot cup of tea from the Royal Anandapur Tea cart, and I had my first taste of Vanilla Rooibos. It's now my official favorite hot tea. Flights of Wonder was starting in a few minutes, and after making sure it was okay to bring our drinks into the theater, we settled in to enjoy the show, which turned out to be a lot of fun. For some reason, I found myself getting a little misty-eyed when they brought out an American Bald Eagle toward the end of the presentation. I don't think I'd ever seen one in person before.
When Flights of Wonder was over, we had about four or five hours to kill before our dinner reservation at Boma. I asked Denise if she might be interested in checking out the Boardwalk resort, and she was agreeable to the idea. We caught a Boardwalk bus, and after being dropped off, we spent some time exploring the resort and checking out the gift shop. Since it was still a bit early, there really wasn't much going on in the way of Boardwalk entertainment, and I was a tiny bit bummed. It was actually eerily quiet. I had visions of magicians, jugglers and fire-eaters wandering around, so I think it would be a good idea to return some other time at night, when the place is hopping.
We picked up a boat to Hollywood Studios, and spent some time wandering in the shops. Here, I picked up a stuffed "Agent P," for Rebecca, who is a huge Phineas and Ferb fan. We took in the Muppets presentation, which I always enjoy-- even though I was disappointed that we missed the pre-show. After Muppets, we noticed that there was a 10 minute wait for Star Tours and got in line. To our delight, Denise was tagged as the rebel spy for this trip.
We wrapped up Hollywood Studios with some more window shopping, and then hopped on the bus to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I had been hearing so many positive things about this resort and about Boma, and I was really looking forward to checking the place out. While on the bus, I was exchanging text messages with Sean, and learned that he and Josh were still in Downtown Disney, waiting for an AKL bus.
Denise and I spent some time wandering around, and then took a couple of chairs in the lobby while we waited for the boys. I have to say that the Animal Kingdom Lodge is really, really beautiful. I won't go into detail about the layout and decor, since so many others have written about it before me (and probably with more finesse than I could muster). I'll just remark that I found it breathtaking and would stay here in a heartbeat.
Sean and Josh were running late, and we barely made it in time for our dinner reservation. Boma was very crowded and quite loud, but the food was amazing. Again-- others more eloquent than I have described the exotic offerings at this restaurant, so all I will say here is, if you haven't been to Boma and are planning a trip to WDW, make time for Boma. Yes, it is a buffet, but the food is fresh and interesting and oh... so utterly delicious. I was trying to take tiny portions so that I could try everything I was unfamiliar with still couldn't sample it all. I will be back.
After dinner, we picked up a Magic Kingdom bus, and then transferred to the POFQ. I was dragging, and more than ready to hit the sack.
Next installment: Islands of Adventure, Butter Beer, and the Ride to End All Rides.