Let’s Take a Vacation: Day 6

At about 6:15 AM, it was time to start enjoying our fourth (and second-to-last) full day at Walt Disney World! As always, we started to get ready for the day, and then went down to BoardWalk Bakery to pick up breakfast. Just like the day before, I got a delicious chocolate chip muffin and a cup of coffee. Since these were seemingly our last moments at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort on this trip, we felt a bit emotional while walking around the area that morning. There were lots of runners in the area, though, which was both inspiring and a way in which my self-esteem was lowered. On our way back up to our room, I went into the gift shop entitled Thimbles & Threads to purchase a BoardWalk shirt to add to my collection. I was asked by the kind cast member if I was running; my answer was clearly a regretful “No.”

After we arrived at our room, we ate breakfast and finished packing up all of our things. Family members starting taking our bags to the car, and soon, a nice bellhop took the rest of them. Right before we left, I took some pictures of the room and said goodbye to it. We then officially checked out of the resort and headed to the car.

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I love cute details
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I felt compelled to take a photo of the large TV in our room

Although I was upset about leaving my favorite Walt Disney World resort, I could not be sad for much longer, as we were then on our way to Disney’s Animal Kingdom! This was probably one of the first times in which we driven our car to a Disney park, which was interesting. I have watched countless “vlogs” of people parking at them and taking the tram, so it was not too confusing for me. We did not take the tram this time though, and instead opted to walk the portion-of-a-mile walk to the park’s entrance.

We were just at Animal Kingdom the night before and were able to go on a couple of the most popular attractions, so we were not too concerned about arriving at rope drop; we ended up entering the park at approximately 9:15 AM.

Even though we went on Kilimanjaro Safaris the previous night, we love the attraction so much that we went back to go on it again this morning. The posted wait time was thirty minutes, which did not scare us off. Once we were in line, though, we realized that it would in fact be a long wait. It was probably the longest we have ever waited for the attraction (which is proof that rope dropping is valuable), but we entertained ourselves by discussing what jobs we would want at Walt Disney World, our plans for the day, and checking the My Disney Experience App. Once we were about halfway through the line, we noticed that the new posted wait time was forty-five minutes, which was fairly accurate for us. Once we were instructed to board the vehicle, I was excited that we would be in the opposite row of last time: in the back row. It was awesome to be able to experience what both ends of the vehicle are like, and I loved both for different reasons. This time, I was all the way on the left, whereas last time, I was towards the right. Our guide was amazing this time around, as he seemed incredibly knowledgable and experienced. Regrettably, I cannot remember his name. Our safari was great, and we came to an extended stop around the area with the Nile Crocodiles. After a couple minutes, we realized that this was not just a typical stop. Our guide was able to rattle off facts for quite a few minutes, so it was not too awkward. After a few more minutes, he told us that one of the vehicles ahead of us had broken down, and that as a result, we would not be moving for a while. While we were waiting, those on the Wild Africa Trek were walking on the bridges above the crocodiles, and our guide was dryly but hilariously narrating their walks. The crocodiles were also moving around, which he narrated as well (he even anticipated a fight that did not end up occurring). In addition, he allowed the guests on our vehicle to stand up and stretch. One of my family members was getting anxious from the time we spent just sitting there, so being allowed to stand up helped. I did not stand up, but I did take advantage of my family members standing up by making them take pictures of me on the attraction. This was a rare opportunity, my friends!

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Yep.

After probably twenty minutes in total, we started to move again. The rest of our safari was wonderful, and we were able to see the newborn elephant calf, Stella, which was an “aww”-worthy moment. Overall, our safari was about fifty minutes long (for comparison, the attraction is usually eighteen minutes long), which I did not complain about. In fact, even as someone who likes to stay on schedule, I truly enjoyed this prolonged experience and our great guide.

Our Kilimanjaro Safaris experience was clearly amazing, but it did take up a lot of time. Consequently, we had to adjust our plans, and the wait times for the other attractions had

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A photo from along the way

risen quite a bit. We walked over to Dinoland U.S.A. to see the wait time for DINOSAUR, and then saw that it was already about forty minutes long. I was really looking forward to going on DINOSAUR, especially since it had just been refurbished, but I had to “go with the flow.” That was a reference to Finding Nemo – The Musical, which is shown at Animal Kingdom, in case anyone was not aware.

I made a deal with my family that since I was not going to wait for DINOSAUR, they would have to let me meet the one and only Donald Duck before we went to lunch. Donald was meeting right by the attraction in his adorable safari outfit, so I really wanted to meet him. Most of my family actually started to get lunch for us while the rest of us went to meet Donald, which was quite nice of them. The line was not too long, and after about ten minutes, I was meeting Donald Duck. I am an awkward person, especially with non-talking characters, so I was a bit nervous, particularly since the group in front of us had such a great interaction with Donald. Regardless, I gave my phone to the Character Attendant cast member and talked to Donald. I hugged him, told him I loved his outfit, and commented that a dinosaur was already right by him. He moved my hand to the dinosaur’s nose, and subsequently wiped it off for me. As we were about to get pictures taken of us, I was informed that my phone ran out of storage. This was a bummer for me, especially since I thought about that scenario while in line and dismissed it. Oops. Anyway, I said it was okay, and we took some PhotoPass pictures together before saying goodbye.

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The one picture that fit onto my phone

We then walked across the street to Restaurantosaurus, where the rest of the family was. They were sitting right by the door with our food; how convenient! The quick-service restaurant is not known as one of the best, but it is tradition that we stop there while at Animal Kingdom. I also always have my one Bacon Cheeseburger of every trip there, and this time, I had some apples with it. Our lunch was good, and it is fun for me to indulge a bit there.

My family does not care to see the various musicals at Animal Kingdom, and they were about ready to leave the park, but they were willing to follow me where I wanted to go: Maharajah Jungle Trek and Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. We first walked through Maharajah Jungle Trek, which was wonderful. It is always amazing to see tigers and walk through the bird area, and this visit was no exception. Afterwards, we walked over to Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, which is home to some of my favorite animals, such as okapis and gorillas. The gorilla family was not out at this time, but we still saw those that were called “the bachelors.”

Once we were finished walking through the exhibits, we walked around the gorgeous Harambe Market area, and ended up purchasing a Kilimanjaro Safaris coaster in Mombasa Marketplace/Ziwani Traders. In addition, were craving fruit, so we stopped at Harambe Fruit Market to get a banana, strawberries, chips, and some water. As I was being pushed (not literally, though) to leave the park, I made sure to include one last stop, which was to get a Jungle Juice Slushy. This slushy is made up of guava, passion fruit, and orange juices and is sold at Mahindi. I decided to order it in the souvenir cup, which I justified by noting that I did not purchase a refillable mug on this trip. The slushy was incredibly refreshing, and I savored it as we walked through Harambe and then out of the park. While we were walking out of the park, we walked by the area with Tiffins and Nomad Lounge; it was quite nice to sit in a comfy chair on the porch and look at the visible details of Pandora — The World of Avatar.

We finally left the park around 1:00 PM, and took a tram back to our car. It was my first tram ride in many years, and it is safe to say that I actually enjoyed it. It did not take too long to find our car, and once we did, we were surprised to see a few birds perched on various parts of the car. These did not seem like normal birds either, so we thought they may have escaped from Animal Kingdom.

Once we were inside the car, we did something that we rarely do, and I usually object to: we

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I could not resist coffee

went off Disney property. We drove around Windermere and other towns in development, and also stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts. At first, I refused to get coffee that was not from Disney property, but then I realized that I was becoming so tired that coffee was necessary; therefore, I got iced coffee. Throughout most our drive around the area, I only let myself listen to Disney music, and after a while, I was really itching to drive back to Disney property. My desire to stay on-property on vacation is because I love being immersed in the “Disney bubble” and constantly surrounded by perfectly manicured grounds and purple road signs. Being on the road for two days and being a Disney geek will do that to a person.

We arrived once again at Walt Disney World at about 2:40 PM and drove directly to the resort we would stay at for the rest of our time in Florida: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. I had never visited the resort before, but I heard good things, so I was optimistic. I ran to the bathroom as we were checking in, and heard a Jonas Brothers cover of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” playing. Let me just say that any resort that plays a Jonas Brothers song over the speakers is a great one.

After we were checked in, our bags were taken to our room while we drove over to the Lion King building. The family suites there are quite large, and much bigger than the room we usually have at the BoardWalk. We were really excited to have two bathrooms, since sharing one among our entire family is difficult at times. Once our luggage arrived, we unpacked a bit and got ready for our night at Magic Kingdom. Before we left, though, we had to try out a fun aspect of the room: turning the table near the door into a bed. It worked, and I was lucky enough to sleep on that comfortable bed later on (we agreed that it was the most comfortable one out of the three).

Some discussion regarding how to get to Magic Kingdom was had, and we ultimately decided to drive our car there. I was nervous about having to deal with traffic and parking there, but we thought it would ultimately be less stressful than dealing with the inevitably crowded buses. There was some initial traffic, but it actually did not take long to arrive at the Magic Kingdom parking lot. I believe we parked in Hook 315 (see, my memory is not too poor), and a tram happened to show up right after we parked. Being me, I was so afraid of being hit by a car that I took the long away around another row of cars to get to the tram, which resulted in me almost missing the tram. The tram did end up staying for longer than we were told it would, though, so we were fine. As soon as we arrived at the Transportation & Ticket Center, we walked past the crowded monorail and over to the ferry that was about to leave. We stood towards the front of the bottom level of the boat and enjoyed the ride and the beautiful sunset.

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Since so many people walk off of the ferry in such a short amount of time, we did our best to stay towards of the front of the pack. Luckily, the lines to get into the park were not too long, so we entered the park fairly quickly. Our FastPasses for Jungle Cruise, which was actually still Jingle Cruise at this point, were expiring soon, so we quickly walked over to Adventureland. On the way, we saw that the Dream Lights were still on Cinderella Castle; it was unexpected but amazing to see them at sunset on this day in January!

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Hello, Dream Lights!

We made it to Jungle Cruise on time, and the FastPass line was fairly short. We waited for about ten minutes, and then we we departed on our cruise while sitting on the center crates in the front of the boat. Our skipper, Jimmy, was seriously hilarious. I had never heard many of his jokes on my past rides on the Jingle Cruise, and his delivery was perfect. It seemed as though we were with a lot first-timers with us; half of them seemed confused and/or annoyed by the attraction, while the others were incredibly enthusiastic (those guests made me so happy). Overall, we all agreed it was a wonderful journey.

Our plans for the rest of the night were discussed, and when we realized that our next FastPass reservation was for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and we decided to head right over there. We cut through to Frontierland and walked to Fantasyland to get to the attraction. The FastPass line was long, but it was due to complications at the scanner, so it did not take too long for us to be admitted. I noticed that there were a lot of confused and/or mischievous guests in and around this attraction, likely because it is so popular; as a result, I felt a bit bad for the cast members. The wait to actually get on the attraction was short (about ten minutes long), and I was so excited to see that I was placed in the front row. Most people say that the back row is the best on this attraction, which I believe, but it was pretty cool to be in the front and have a clear view ahead of us.

As always, I enjoyed the attraction and had a lot of fun on it, especially since we rode it at night. It is a very short and family-friendly roller coaster and dark ride hybrid, but it is also so smooth and enjoyable.

After we exited Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, we went by Gaston’s Tavern to go to the bathroom. Our family believes that those bathrooms are the best at Magic Kingdom, although I would argue that the so-called “Tangled Toilets” may be superior.

It was then time to have dinner, so we walked over to Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. This is another quick-service restaurant with a not-great reputation, but we were all able to agree on it. Clearly, a lot of others are able to as well, because it is always crowded there. We were able to find a table with a view of Cinderella Castle, though. I was really in the mood for the Kids’ Macaroni & Cheese that is offered at the Disney Parks (likely because I am a pasta lover who had not eaten any since the day before we left for vacation, which is a long time for me), so I was happy to see it on the menu. I

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I love Disney Kids’ Meals

ordered carrots with it but was given french fries; I had no complaints about this, since I had resisted ordering any for myself during the entire week. We all enjoyed our food, and I especially found my Kids’ Meal to be a great deal; in fact, I am fairly certain that the same size cup is used at The Friar’s Nook for their macaroni & cheese. I was full by the end of my meal, and although it is not the highest-quality food in the world, it is so nostalgic for me that I love it. While we were eating, we also had an interesting discussion about how we never acknowledge that the Disney magic is going on while we are living our day-to-day lives.

Once we were done with dinner and realized that the park was very crowded, we walked over to the middle of Tomorrowland to go on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover for the second time this trip. It is really gorgeous at nighttime, and it is also much easier to see in Space Mountain at this time because one’s eyes are already dilated. Just like last time, there was a switchback line to get onto the relaxing attraction, and there were kids in front of us who seemed to be trendier than I ever will be. Their glares at me definitely took my self-esteem down a notch, but then they were held back from the line because they needed to throw away their drinks. Anyway, I really savored the trip around Tomorrowland and felt compelled to stay on the attraction as we approached the platform. The long line of people waiting to load onto the ride let me know that there would be no chance they would let us stay on, so we all exited.

And similarly to our actions during our previous Magic Kingdom visit, we utilized the walkway near the Space Mountain gift shop. The smoking section is in that area, but it is a way to avoid large crowds. We quickly walked through and ended up in Storybook Circus.

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We were confused about what to do next, as our FastPass for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was imminent, but I also wanted to make sure we saw Mickey’s PhilharMagic. I came up with a plan in which the first part was to see PhilharMagic and then the fireworks. Luckily, my family accepted my idea, but they were willing to shut it down if the wait to see the show was too long. When we walked into the waiting area, there was an announcement that the show would be starting in five minutes. I suppose they wanted it to start later so it would end in accordance with the start of Wishes, because the wait became longer. A considerable amount of guests actually left during this time, and it took some convincing to stop my family from leaving as well. The doors finally opened, and the show started. It was a lot of fun, as always; the show is a great showcase of Disney magic. Some people around us were enthusiastic, which made me happy. Right after the show ended, we quickly walked back into Fantasyland and towards our spot to watch the fireworks.

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View of the castle from the area by Gaston’s Tavern

I personally prefer to watch the firework shows at Magic Kingdom in front of the castle, as it allows viewers to get the full effect. Some of my family members like to watch near Gaston’s Tavern and Be Our Guest Restaurant, and since it was destined to already be incredibly crowded near the castle, we walked over to Gaston’s Tavern. We got some popcorn, and then stood alongside Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and waited only a few moments for the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular to start. We had not seen the regular Wishes fireworks show in years (we had seen Holiday Wishes on past trips), so it was a sentimental experience to hear the soundtrack and fireworks in person after so long.

When the fireworks show ended, we continued with my plan, which involved using our FastPass for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad before seeing the new Once Upon a Time show. We were surprised that the show was starting much later than the fireworks show (it started at 9:45 PM), but it gave us the much-appreciated opportunity to use our last FastPass in-between. The wait time for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was not too long, although the FastPass line was a bit backed up (many others must have had the same idea as us). After a few minutes of walking past the long Standby line and waiting in line for the  track on the right-hand side, we were placed near the middle of the train. This particular ride on the attraction was truly so much fun. I think the attraction is even better at nighttime, and I joyfully yelled the entire time. Once we exited, it was time to head back to Main Street U.S.A. to watch Once Upon a Time. I assume we took the cut-through to Adventureland, or perhaps we walked through Liberty Square. Either way, we stood right by Casey’s Corner and waited just minutes for the show to start.

I was a huge fan of the previous projection show, Celebrate the Magic, but I was still very excited for the new one, Once Upon a Time. It did not disappoint, and I particularly loved the Cinderella and Beauty & the Beast portions of the show. Also, seeing Winnie the Pooh on the castle was adorable, and I really enjoyed the “For the First Time in Forever” segment.

Once the show ended, a massive crowd of people exited the Magic Kingdom. We were not sure about what to do next, which was not a good mindset to be in at the time. Some of us wanted to leave and were upset that the huge crowd was getting ahead of us, while others (like myself) wanted to take advantage of the departure of the crowd in the park. While we were figuring out to do, we basically just stood in front of the light post and mailbox behind us and watched the seemingly never-ending stream of people head down Main Street U.S.A.. After about five minutes, the area was less crazy, and we decided to go on “it’s a small world” before leaving the park; we assumed that the front of the park would be less busy by then.

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LOVE.

We then walked through Cinderella Castle and entered Fantasyland, which was not very crowded at this point. Accordingly, the wait for “it’s a small world” was pretty much nonexistent, and we were soon on a near-empty boat. Our journey on “The Happiest Cruise That Ever Sailed” was fun, although the backup of boats near the end of the attraction scared us. It did not take too long to get through the rest of the attraction, though, and by 10:35 PM, we were back on Main Street U.S.A.. After some pictures were taken and bathroom visits were had, we finally exited the park before its 11:00 PM closing.

Our reason for feeling the need to rush out of the park was because we really wanted to get back to the Art of Animation before its stores and food court, Landscape of Flavors, closed at 12:00 AM. We quickly walked to the line for the ferry, which was a couple minutes long. We were near the middle of the bottom level, and after more of a wait, we were transported across Seven Seas Lagoon while listening to Disney music. After we exited the ferry, we quickly walked over to the line for the tram. We had split up at this time due to various walking speeds and the crowds all around us. The lines for the tram were pretty long, and a few trams had to arrive and fill up before we boarded one in the back row (side note: props to the cast members on the trams; they do their best to keep everything moving efficiently). After the short tram ride, we walked back to our car, which was one of the only cars left in that area of the lot.

To add to our nervousness about making it back to the resort in time, we tried to take a different route this time (that involved driving past our beloved BoardWalk Resort), but it did not go as planned. Thankfully, it still did not take too long to arrive at the Art of Animation. I believe we arrived at 11:45 PM, so we had enough time to purchase some items from the gift shop, Ink and Paint Shop, and Landscape of Flavors. Since we were planning to actually get to Magic Kingdom at rope-drop early the next morning, we knew we would not have time to stop at Landscape of Flavors before we left (the food court opened at 7:00 AM the next morning, while we were hoping to be at the bus stop right around that time). Consequently, we purchased some food and drinks at Ink and Paint Shop and Landscape of Flavors. We ended up having to carry around a huge plastic bag full of various breakfast items, which garnered some odd looks from others. Regardless, we walked by The Big Blue Pool and then to our room. In case anyone was wondering, the walk to the Lion King building from the main area of the resort only takes a few minutes.

Once we got back to our room, we put some of the items into the refrigerator and got ready for our short rest before waking up early for the day’s adventures. I probably fell asleep at around 12:45 AM, and although our wake-up time would not be the earliest we have ever done at Walt Disney World (we have woken up in the five o’ clock hour for a 7:00 AM Magic Kingdom rope drop several times in the past), it was still going to be more strict than the previous days that week.

Stay tuned to see how our 8:00 AM rope drop experience at Magic Kingdom and our last park visit at Epcot went, and have a magical day!

-Stephanie

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