Aunt Erin predicted that Animal Kingdom would be Delton’s favorite park. It may have been, but our adventure began with a major meltdown that originated while waiting in line for the Kilimanjaro Safari, climaxed with a freak-out on the floor of It’s Tough To Be a Bug and ended with a corn dog. And of course, Julia decides that she also wants a corn dog, but only after we’ve walked halfway across the park to our next ride.
Kilimanjaro had been our first stop. The wait was about 20 minutes, several of which Aleisha spent glaring at the cheerleaders who cut in front of us to join their comrades. Did we mention the cheerleading competition that was in town for the weekend? We saw lots of animals up close—giraffes and rhinos stand out in my mind—but only fleeting glimpses of the hippos, zebras and lions. It’s a shame the vehicle can’t slow down for any great length of time.
The Unofficial Guide sort of poo-pooed the train ride to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, but this was probably one of our kids’ favorite experiences in Disney. Delton loved seeing the animal labs (we saw some scientists dissecting poo!), and Julia enjoyed brushing the animals in the petting zoo. We lost track of time here and missed the window for using our Expedition Everest Fastpasses. Only later did we learn that Fastpasses don’t expire!
Next, we made our way to Dinoland and had a blast in the Boneyard play area. Keeping track of the kids here was a big challenge. One set of adult eyes per preschooler is highly recommended! The mammoth dig site was my first experience with crushed rock as a play surface—a definite improvement over sand. The amusement rides here were of little interest to us, but Julia got her face painted (our sweet, little Minnie!) while Delton and I splurged on a couple of games (so close on the Mammoth Marathon…should have practiced some more with Wii Carnival Games).
We ate lunch at Flame Tree Barbecue, which has so much seating that we managed to score a table under a shaded pavilion practically to ourselves. While Aleisha braved to long line, I enjoyed a bit of down time playing cards with the kids. It was almost relaxing after such a chaotic morning. The Safari Amber beer that we shared helped out too.
We ended our day with some ice cream and some great seats for Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade. A Dale Ferrebee insider tip®: there is a tucked-away bench directly opposite the entrance for Kilimanjaro Safari and adjacent to the large doors behind which the parade begins and ends. Get here at least 30 minutes before the parade. This was my favorite of the three parades I saw.
After returning to the resort and tucking the kids into bed, Dale and Brenda were kind enough to stay put so that Aleisha and I could enjoy a child-free dinner. Back in December, it dawned on me that we would be spending Valentine’s Day in Florida, so I made reservations for two at the Yachtsman Steakhouse. Disney probably has fancier or more “romantic” dining options, but I chose this because I know we both love a good steak. We both got appetizers and shared a sirloin (which they split into even-portioned plates) and dessert. The food was almost as excellent as the company. An added bonus was being able to see a good bit of the fireworks from EPCOT during our meal.