Laurie’s Trip Tips

Animal Kingdom

Sometimes we forget about things like candy wrappers at the bottom of our purse. I started my day trip with the cleaning of my purse. I removed anything that could not be replaced like photos then removed pens that do not work, candy wrappers, trash, and old business cards. I went through my credit cards and put my credit cards, driver’s license, and AP discount card at the top of the pile.

Do you need a Publix discount card? Most people will not use their discount cards on a trip but will spend time trying to replace them when lost or stolen. Leave at home stuff you don’t need. Make a list of places you will have to call to replace things. I moved and to this day am finding forwarded mail from companies that I forgot to notify. Do you have a copy of your eyeglass prescription so you can order a new pair? I always plan as if I was tossed into Bay Lake and came out with everything lost. If you loose your eyeglass case does it have a contact number? The contact number can be your mother or friend. As for GPS always use a local site such as Dunkin Donuts as your HOME. If you are lost you can find your way home from a store or gas station near your home.  It is handy to have easy access to accounts, but in my case, someone went onto Facebook with my cellphone. There are internet sites dedicated to safety.
I placed my license and AP card in the ash tray of my van. I double checked that I had charger cords, plugs, phone, ipod, Morphie battery, and other needs. When I arrived at the tollbooth I immediately handed my cards and was zooming, 10 mph, to the parking lot. At the bag check I had all bags open and I went for a short line. Each attendant has two sides so you have to watch for hidden short lines. At the entrance I went through a short line and picked up my Times Guide. I parked my scooter out of the way and made sure there were no last minute changes. This is the time for bathrooms, rentals, asking questions, planning, and guest services. It is amazing how many people stand at the entrance while waiting for family. If you go inside then move away from the entrance so others can enter.

Navigating Animal Kingdom (AK) can be daunting like a trek through the jungle. The main hub is Discovery Island that is surrounded by Discovery River. The Tree of Life is on that island and can be seen in most of the park. AK has three themes for architecture. Dinoland is dinosaurs and roadside carnival. Discovery Island from Africa down and around to Dinoland is bright teal blue and Caribbean colors that can at times be whimsical. Africa and Asia are rustic villages with adobe buildings such as seen in Harambe Village and in Anandapur. These two town themes are very distinct and great for orienting oneself.

At the first intersection after the bridge you will see two paths. The left path follows the river into Africa and Harmbe. Going right you will come across a path to your left that bisects the island and heads into Africa and Asia. Continuing on the path you will end up in Dinoland. I stayed right and headed for Dinoland where I picked up some candy at the store, rode Triceratops Spin, and checked out the play area. Triceratops Spin is a hub of sorts. Across from it is the restaurant, Dinosaur the ride, bathrooms, and a shop. The playground has a greeter and only one way in or out. I enjoyed the Cretaceous Trail with shady places to rest and dinosaurs for kids to play on. Someday I am taking lunch back there for a quiet respite.
I left Dinoland and followed the path with the river on my left side. My next landmark was Everest but first a stop to see Nemo. This is a large theater but I had to have a fastpass (FP) as I don’t like waiting outdoors. The area nearest the stage is the bubble zone which is ideal for kids but watch your electronic devices. Fastpass is important if you want a front row seat or to leisurely enter the theater without being trampled. I sit in the back with the scooters which gives me a panoramic view. Up close you don’t see the lighting effects on the ceiling but you do get to see the magic of the puppeteers. There are dark spots and scary spots but for most people it is a safe show. I cannot stop coming back to this air conditioned theater for more Nemo. I left with a chipper heart and headed toward Africa. I passed Everest and Kali Rapids while keeping the river to my left side.

I had to stop for Flights of Wonder for an educational and fun bird show. One or two guests are chosen to hold up a dollar bill and have a bird fetch the money. Two guests are brought up on stage to sit and take pictures/videos of a large bird as it flies over their head and lands behind them. The best spots are the shady ones and the ones in the center. That is where the birds fly overhead. After the show guests came down to the stage to take pictures. I am sorry but the time of day was not in my favor as I was allowed to get close to a spectacle owl. They were letting people sit as the show started and often there is seating even on busy days. Look at the line to see how many are there and if it is getting long then hop in before it gets full. This is in front of the path that bisects Discovery Island but I took the path to the right toward Africa. Behind the carts near Africa is a back path with one covered picnic table and a few benches for a quiet escape from the crowd. This path has a stream and lots of plants.

Harambe Market

This is a food court. I love how they went into great detail on making this an old market place that has become a place for merchants and food vendors to meet. I am gluten and soy free so there was not much to eat for me. The main issue is that you stand in line, often in the sun, to get ribs then go to another line for bratwurst, and another for grilled meats. If you cannot split your party then you are stuck ordering from one window.

I tried chicken skewer, chickpea salad, and watermelon lemonade. The only other things I can have in this NEW diner is cookies I get from a store and broccoli salad. I have seen the spice mix used on the chicken and be warned. It is flavorful juicy chicken with a black exterior from grilling. There are no sauces as this goes well with tzatziki, ranch, barbecue, and fruity sauces. I was happily eating my chicken when it hit me MILK! I prefer subtle sneaky spicy chicken like at the food trucks. I would eat it again but for the time, weather, and lack of choices would rather eat elsewhere. The watermelon lemonade was a sweet, delicious blend of commercial lemonade and watermelon that is not overpowered by either flavor.  I was not very happy to see cold chickpeas. I am a believer as it was minced tomato, cucumber, and onions amidst cold chickpeas for a cooling and refreshing blend that I would eat again and again. There are few vegan items here and very limited offerings for special diets.  They are disabled friendly but not special diets and vegan friendly. However, what I did eat and drink, was quality food that was something I would eat again, just not waiting 25 plus minutes on a slow park day.

As I was on the path to Harambe, there was the market on my right, river on the left, and the village straight ahead. I had to do the Lion King show next.  I learned that the Tumble Monkeys do not do acrobatics if they do not have 4 men. It is a safety issue, sorry, it rarely happens like that day one of them was injured so there was no time to get a replacement. Disabled guests sit in the front so sign up with me on the DAS if you want front row seat. All seats have a great view except the ones right behind the disabled seating. The first row is too low so kids cannot see. the third row of disable seating is on flat ground so that guests have to peer around the guests in front of them. Fastpass is recommended unless you want to wait in line. Stroller parking is on your right by the exit. When exiting take the entire family far from the theater while someone picks up the stroller. Then you can take your quiet time loading the stroller without dealing with other guests.
My last Fastpass was for the safari. I could walk the line or wait 30 minutes for my Fastpass to kick in. I used my scooter to go through the line without stopping along the way until the disabled split. The ride is a lot smoother but still I was in the fourth row and was thrown around in my seat.  The ride does, at times, get you some great encounters and photographs. I love the ride but it is too bouncy for me in the front. They let parents take the stroller through the line until a spot where parents drop off their stroller. Turn right to head to the village and left to do the trail which has lots of cool things to see and do, except bathrooms and food. I had an appointment so I could not do the trail. I love the displays and viewing areas so much.

Other Stuff

Isle of Java is between the Dinoland bridge and Flame Tree barbecue. They offer slushies, soft drinks, coffee drinks, pretzels, and baked goods. It is easy to miss and rarely is there a line. Flame Tree has greatly improved seating. River of Lights construction can be seen from time to time and seems to indicate an awesome show coming with new areas for guests viewing. The construction has little affect on guests besides blocking the view of the river. Avatar Land has buildings and features rising above the treeline. Stay tuned for more information as it is available.