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Our Disney Animal Kingdom Experience, Love at First Flight!

Dear Disney Diary,

So we’re off to DisneySMMC, catching the red eye is always the way to go, boarded the flight, we all fell fast asleep and woke up in Florida! The surge of excitement that I’m feeling is unexplainable. Now Kiddo is up and asking if we're at Mickey Mouse's home? Shouted a Hallelujah, YES, and with that, we collected our bags and headed to our hotel. Disney Coronado Springs, we're on our way! Here’s the thing we landed at 5:30 am and our room from my understanding wouldn't be ready till 3 pm, my plan was we’d let them know we’re here then go and play. Well, I was wrong, this is when all the great things I’ve heard about Disney cast members going above and beyond being accommodating comes into play. I checked in and they gave us our room, they saw how exhausted my dad was and had a room ready for us at 7 am. You guys this act of kindness shown to us was HUGE. We walked into our room and the three of us collapsed into our beds and took a nap. Didn’t realize how tired we were, I thought our plane sleep was enough but clearly not, lol. Woke up at noon and off to Animal Kingdom, P wants to see the Rhinoceros and I wanted to see Pandora. 

Several years ago before I had P, my mom and I had gone to South Africa on a safari and walking into Animal Kingdom I felt like I had returned in time to Durban. Where the people are kind, traditions rich, music intoxicating and animals mesmerizing. Animal Kingdom is everything you could imagine and more. Most importantly the World of Avatar is at Animal Kingdom and it will blow your mind away, the majesty of Pandora is breathtaking. Now the first ride we went on is Kilimanjaro Safari, we rode off in an open-air vehicle to tour the lush African savanna, home to real-live exotic animals. We saw the recent baby hippo that was born, OMG, the cutest little 165-pound baby I've ever seen. From the Giraffes, Wildebeest, Rhino, Hippo, Ostrich and her Ostrich Eggs (they were huge and pretty) and much more. The safari trail is quite and peaceful, filled with rich beauty. 

The exact opposite of peaceful that will get your heart pumping, Kali River Rapids, we got ready to go on a rip-roaring ride, got soaking wet on the river raft ride through a lush jungle landscape ravaged by illegal logging, we laughed so hard, I'm glad I didn't pee from laughing! Expedition Everest, Legend of the Forbidden Mountain is a thrill-seeking roller coaster ride through the Himalayan mountains on a speeding train while avoiding the clutches of the mythic Abominable Snowman, I was terrified, I mean truly scared but exhilarated. Next, up Dinoland, we ventured back in time! Walking into Dinoland, you walk under a 50-foot tall skeleton of a Brachiosaurus, it's EPIC. To the left which I couldn't get P out of for a while is "The Boneyard.” A playground for kids, more like a discovery land of bones and adventures. We went on Triceratop Spin which spooked me and P was a champ, he wanted to go again but little ole scardey cat me couldn’t do it. Then we headed off to Primeval Whirl where we were spinning and swirling on the roller coaster, so much fun!

The shows we couldn't miss at Animal Kingdom were Finding Nemo, The Musical. It was closed for awhile and thank goodness while we were there it had reopened. The show is spectacular, you’ll dive into the heart, humor, and music of this live rendition of Finding Nemo. We visited the Tree of Life, we took our time to look at carvings, the detail work is unbelievable. We watched the Tree of Life awaken in splendor, felt the animal spirits within the tree and the mesmerizing showcase of color is captivating. The Tree of Life illuminates at night and it’s marvelous.

Now that we’ve ventured through the park we left for Pandora, The World of Avatar (GET YOUR FASTPASS FOR THESE TWO RIDES). When the sun sets the world comes to life and this is when goosebumps set in. We took an expedition which begins by climbing aboard a reed boat and we drifted downstream. After coasting through a series of caves, and passing by exotic glowing plants and amazing creatures of the rainforest, we found ourselves face-to-face with the Na’vi Shaman of Songs, it was mystical. I wanted to go to Avatar Flight of passage but there was a 3-hour wait without a fast pass and none were available. The following morning DisneySMMC held a private breakfast for us at Pandora - The World of Avatar and I had the opportunity to experience Avatar Flight of Passage. Don't worry I’ll talk a lot more about our breakfast in another Disney Diary post. For now Avatar Flight of Passage was nothing I’ve ever experienced. It’s beauty and pageantry will move you to tears, I cried a steady stream of tears, it felt like I was flying and it was freeing. Flying on the back of a mountain banshee (ikran to be specific) soaring through the sky over the rivers and mountains, wild animals beneath us, the life imagined in this 3D ride was vivid, the colors were rich and bursting all around, I wish I had gone on that ride 10xs over. Next time, I'll get as many passes as I can just for this ride and ride it a million times over. Animal Kingdom till we meet again, Preston is constantly talking about the dinosaurs and most of all the safari. While my heart is with my ikran so I may soar again one day.

Now, if you’re going to Animal Kingdom anytime soon you should know that this marks the 20th Anniversary with a ‘Party For the Planet’ April 22-May 5. Rafiki’s Planet Watch will take center stage for the celebration, which will offer backstage experiences that allow guests to learn about animal nutrition, visit the veterinary hospital, or hear how Disney promotes global wildlife conservation. See below in what's in store!

“April 22 will mark the debut of a brand-new show, UP! A Great Bird Adventure featuring Russell and Dug from the Disney•Pixar animated comedy-adventure film “UP.” The show will give guests the chance to see Senior Wilderness Explorer Russell and his fuzzy friend Dug in a new adventure that includes encounters with exotic birds from around the world. This free-flying show will be performed multiple times daily.

A “dino-tastic” celebration with Donald and his friends will also premiere Memorial Day weekend in DinoLand, U.S.A. This dinosaur-themed party celebrates Donald Duck’s discovery that his bird ancestors were actually dinosaurs. DinoLand U.S.A. will feature colorful new décor and playful character greetings with rarely seen pals like Scrooge McDuck, Launchpad McQuack and more. A DJ-powered dance party will mix tunes from the truck-o-saurus stage, capping the nighttime festivities.

Memorial Day 2018 commemorates the one-year anniversary of Pandora – The World of Avatar. Here, travelers are transported to a mystical world of floating mountains, bioluminescent rainforests and breathtaking new experiences. Inspired by the blockbuster film, AVATAR, the epic land invites guests to explore a glowing landscape, encounter a larger-than-life Na’vi Shaman of Songs and soar on the back of a banshee.”

Journey deep into a bioluminescent rainforest in search of the Na’vi Shaman of Songs, only at Pandora – The World of Avatar."

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