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Walt Disney World Day 3 Report

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Trip Log:

Started off the morning with a 6:30am wakeup call and then headed for Everything Pop and breakfast at 7am when it opened then off to the Animal Kingdom.  Arrived around 8am and had 40 minutes to kill waiting for the checkin time for our African Safari Trek.  They came out to get us about 8:30 so it turned out not to be that long.   Signed our waivers and headed out to Africa to get our harnesses and check out bags.  Did a short test bridge then headed out through Harambe and then out to the brush just before the overlook in Pangani Forest.  Hiked up the trail a bit and then to the hippo pool.  Then we continued up the trail along the river and to a series of two bridges.  Crossed the bridges and visited a Croc overlook before finishing our forest trek and boarding a special truck for a ride through the Savanna.  Reached the new outpost on the hill and spent some time roaming around there and eating before reboarding our truck to finish the route and tour.  Once back disembarked and walked back to the checkin area to get our bags and conclude the tour.  After the tour grabbed lunch at Pizzafari then hopped on a bus back to Pop Century.  Dropped off some gear and repacked the bags for the rest of the day before heading off to the Magic Kingdom.  I wandered down Main Street, stopping for a picture with Mickey and through Adventureland on my way to Frontierland.  Hopped on the steam train and rode around to Main Street.  Missed the parade due to a water stop on the train so walked briskly up Main Street and cut through Adventureland and managed to get in front of the parade near the Country Bears.  Watched it and then caught a little of the Pirates Adventure before heading  over to the Contemporary via the Resort Monorail to rejoin the rest of my group (they slept in, went to Downtown Disney, then had a 1:30 fishing excursion out of the Contemporary so met them when they returned at 3:30).  Took the monorail to the TTC then the Ferry to the Magic Kingdom.  Transferred to a bus to the Boardwalk and headed to ESPN Club for dinner.  After dinner walked over to the Swan and hopped on a boat to the Studios.  Walked with some of the group down to get Rockin Rollercoaster fastpasses and then met the rest at the Great Movie Ride.  After the ride walked by Toy Story, then through the Streets of America.  At this point left the group since they were wrapping up and heading back to the hotel.  I made a bee line for the busses and back to the TTC and Express monorail to the Magic Kingdom.  Made it to the park with an hour to spare before the MSEP.  So wandered down Main Street and stopped by the Hall of Presidents.  Made a quick run out to Haunted Mansion to check out the queue and then found a spot in Liberty Square to watch the parade.  After the parade it was back to Main Street for the Magic, the Memories, and You!  After the show headed for the bus back to Pop Century.

Thoughts & Observations:

  • This morning we went on a relatively new tour at the Animal Kingdom. It started in January and is called the Wild Africa Trek.
    • This is a three hour tour that takes you to parts of the Kilimanjaro Safari that have previously been off limits. You get some incredible views of the animals and savanna.
    • As described above in the log the trek has four sections.
      • The first is a walking portion where you go through some forest areas, visit a hippo overlook, cross two great suspension bridges, and a croc overlook.
      • The second is a leisurely ride through the main savanna of the attraction, the advantage being your truck pulls off to the side and you can stand up and move around plus you are able to pause and watch the animals for several minutes.
      • Next up is a stop a the new outpost that overlooks the savanna. From up there you get a panoramic view of the savanna, can go out on a boardwalk to view the Lions and Rhinos and there is food available.
      • The final portion you are back in the truck and visit the big cats area stopping with a great view of both before wrapping up the tour.
    • Overall I really enjoyed this tour. The pacing was great and I never felt rushed. The guides were friendly, knowledgeable, and more than willing to help you out in any way they could. Our group had 12 guests and two cast members/guides, which I think is the max, so it is a 6 to 1 ratio of CMs to guest so you really have some personalized attention.
    • One of the best parts for me was the CMs made sure to tell everyone to take their time and enjoy the sites. Do not just rush through the experience. I followed their advice and took in the sites from the bridges, etc.. as well as a ton of pictures along the way. The only regret I have is I did not shoot more video... oh well maybe next time.
    • I thought the concept of having the guides take pictures along the way was great, even though it did feel like we had paparazzi hiding in the bushes with us. They verified our mailing addresses and we were shipped a CD copy of the original images to do what we wish with. The only word of warning was the CD contained everyones photos not just your own. (Our CD showed up at our house about a week after the tour, unfortunately it contained the wrong images so we had to call guest relations. A new CD with the correct tour showed up two days later so it was not really a problem, just a slight delay). I had read initialize it was done via Photopass, but now it is now. Looks like they just copy the pics and burn them to a CD for you.
    • The tour is immensely popular and the CMs said come summer they were ramping up to 11 tours a day, wow.
    • Now for the down sides. I think the tour is on the pricey side, currently just under $200 a person and no discounts. I was also disappointed that there was no pin and/or that the water jug we were given did not have the tour name on it. So in the end you have no take home gift to say you were on the tour (a silver water bottle just does not cut it for me). My last frustration was that I could not get my camera gear to the outpost so I was limited in what I could shoot. I did manage by strapping a second camera to another person so I would at least have two to use on the truck and outpost put I would have much rather had my lens bag.
    • FYI the total mileage from the room, the tour, and back to the AK bus stops was 3.1 miles so it is not that extensive of a walk.

  • After dropping the water bottles off back in the room and the second camera I did not need anymore it was off to the Magic Kingdom. The park had a rather light feeling crowd this afternoon which was great. I had a couple hours while the rest of the group finished up a fishing excursion.

  • I saw there was only a 5 minute wait for Mickey at the Town Square Theater so I hopped in line to check out his new digs and get a picture. I have to say his dressing room has more to look at than I could squeeze into the short time there. There are so many references and details it was amazing. It operates just like any other meet and greet. You queue up and are then ushered into a waiting area then into a room with Mickey and Minnie. The Fastpass line is merged in at the small waiting area. Since there was no line it was the same for standby as fastpass when I went.

  • I caught the Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade! and have to say it is time for the Magic Kingdom to get a new parade. Yes this one features a lot of characters, but its basically the same parade that has been running for what feels like a decade now. The name keeps changing, the music changes every couple years, and the floats are tweaked but it is more or less the same thing.

  • I rejoined my group and we headed off to the ESPN club for dinner. The main dining room was not open yet when we arrived so we opted to sit in the bar area. I had not done this before, but in the end it turned out to be a good move. There was no wait, it actually seemed easier to carryon a conversation in there, and the service was much better than what we have had in the other room recently.

  • The rest of the crew wanted to go to the Studios so I decided why not.. maybe Star Tours would be testing or Toy Story. The park seemed very crowded compared to the Magic Kingdom and the lines bore this out. So after taking in a couple of attractions. The rest of the group was tired at this point so I left them and headed back to the Haunted Mansion to squeeze in a couple of attractions and see the Main Street Electrical parade.

  • I checked out the Haunted Mansion queue to see it after dark. I found it interesting the only option this evening was to go through the new interactive area. The wait was longer than i could afford so I took in a quick look then moved on.

  • Watched the Main Street Electrical Parade from Frontierland and managed to find a spot where I could get some decent shots of it rounding the corner in Liberty Square. I really enjoy this parade and am curious if it will ever return to Disneyland.

  • Watched the Magic the Memories and you from the far end of Main Street, to see if distance from the castle makes a difference. it sort of does. The projection effects look ok, but you cannot really make out the pictures from back there.

  • The bus ride back to Pop Century took forever. I think our driver either missed the turn or forgot where he was going. We ended up driving by Coronado Springs, Blizzard Beach, and then doubled back toward Pop Century. It seemed like he was heading for All Stars. I was standing in the front of the bus and the navigation system or whatever you want to call it kept flashing off route but he ignored it.

Pedometer Information for the day:

Steps 25,949

Miles 9.8

Moderate 19,299

Walking Time 168