Monday, February 16, 2015

Animal Kingdom

It had been an exhausting week at work, and I needed an escape from reality.  So on Saturday I persuaded my daughter and son-in-law that it would be a great weekend for a trip to Disney's Animal Kingdom.  Approximately 45 million other people had the same idea.

It was very, very crowded. We had a good time, but the crowds were exhausting.  It was our first visit there in many, many years, and I'd only visited one time before, so we weren't sure how to navigate the park, or what activities would be most enjoyable for a three year old.  

Of course, meeting Mickey and Minnie was a highlight of her day:

She wished Mickey and Minnie a Happy Valentine's Day, and Minnie's reaction didn't look rehearsed - both famous Mice somehow managed to look touched and delighted, despite their inability to change facial expressions.  

We went on a safari ride in an open bus-like vehicle, which was pretty cool.  We saw a baby gorilla! The cutest little thing ever, but the aforementioned crowds made taking pictures damn near impossible.

Lunch was delicious Asian fare, eaten picnic-style, sitting on the ground in an out of the way corner. Delaney enjoyed our picnic very much.   We concluded that three, even a precocious three, is possibly a bit too young to truly enjoy Animal Kingdom. There are rides, including a spectacular roller coaster, but she's still too small for nearly all of them. It's a lot of walking and looking at animals, like any zoo, and there are shows. We had a fast pass for the Lion King show and blew it - we lost track of the time.  Did I mention the park is a lot of walking? 

Though it was crowded and full of screaming children, there are many side paths to explore, and unexpectedly beautiful corners of nature tucked away from the madness.

Below: The Tree of Life at dusk. This was taken while we wandered the quiet side paths in search of the Pocahontas meeting spot, which was not easy to find.   Do click the photo to see the detail of this massive sculpture, complete with waterfall.

Delaney was most insistent on meeting Pocahontas, so we wandered the back paths at 5:30, tired and grumpy, looking for her.  We found the meeting spot, tucked away on a side path, and got in a thankfully short line for the photo op. It turned into one of the most charming character meet and greets yet.

Pocahontas clearly got a kick out of talking to Delaney. They discussed a variety of topics from the plot of her movie to teaching a dog to fetch. (Delaney took credit for teaching Layla to fetch: "I throw the ball and she brings it back, and I give her a treat!") The chat went on and on, and other people were waiting, so we had to gently nudge Delaney to say goodbye and give someone else a turn.  Pocahontas was clearly in no hurry.  One of the nicest parts of these character encounters is the amount of time they allow each child to chat - it's more than a photo op - but this one ran long, even by Disney's generous standards.

Yesterday was a crash back into reality - taxes, housework, grocery shopping, laundry.  And now it's freaking Monday again, and I do not get Presidents Day off.

Murphy is about the same, no new updates there.

Happy Freakin' Monday.

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