Walt Disney World 2000 Day 5: Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Pool

Tuesday September 12, 2000
Our trip has hit the half way point as we finally hit the fourth theme park at the Walt Disney World Complex – Disney’s Animal Kingdom. My first impression of the park was man are there a lot of plants. My second impression was man there are a lot of bugs here! The setting and theming of this park were magnificent. I was very pleased with this park until I ventured into Dinoland USA – Sponsored heavily by McDonald’s. There was a McDonald’s Restaurantasouras, and the big attraction – DINOSAUR (formerly Countdown to Extinction) included a prominent “This experiment was funded by a generous grant from the McDonald’s Corporation”). Now I have no problem if Mikey D’s wants to have a restaurant, but I think they crossed the line with Dinoland and the Dinosaur ride. It seemed more like a McDonald’s theme park that a Disney one. As for the big attraction, it is the Indiana Jones ride system from Disneyland with a great queue area, but the attraction itself was mostly dark with nothing of the level of Indy. A big let down.
Moving over to the Africa section of the park, we hitched a ride on the Kiliminjaro Safaris. It was an interesting ride – full of great animals who seemed to be enjoying life roaming the range. The approach that Disney went with this ride was not a Sea World approach, but rather as just a plain attraction. It is like the Jungle Cruise with real animals and trucks instead of boats. The tour guide was too quiet and didn’t enunciate enough to get anything across. We did get some great animal shots, though. Next to the Safari, was one of the “walks” – the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. The guide said gorillas were on the trail, but we didn’t see any. Some good shots of hippos and some interesting birds. From the trail, it was onto the Conservation Station area – accessed by a train which took us through the backstage of the Safari ride. We did get to see some of the attendant areas for the Rhinos, Hippos, and Giraffes. I had thought all the animals were roaming freely (as implied by the promo materials), but a good portion of the animals were in their pens. I wonder how animals get stuck in the back or put onto the savannah. Conservation Station was a bunch of exhibits about saving animals and pushing the Disney Wildlife Fund. The only thing worthwhile was meeting Tarzan and seeing some of the pre-natal care areas. Some spy cams of the animals were cool as well. There was a petting zoo ( or “Affection Station” as Disney calls it.) which the kiddies seemed to enjoy, but by this point it was extremely hot out. I suggested to Roger we head to Asia and go on the Kali River Rapids. So it was back to the train and then off to Asia.
The Kali River Rapids was your standard River Rapid ride with some kick-butt themeing. I managed to get doused pretty good and loved every minute of it. It was then off to another trail – this time to the Maharajah Jungle Trek. This trek was well worth it as we got up close with tigers and some reeeealy large bats. After the trek, we realized we had hit all the attractions in the park, save for the shows. Camp Minnie-Mickey was basically a big meet and greet area with a Pocahontas show. We hopped in for a quick peek and then left.
As we left the park and headed for the Magic Kingdom, I had some final thoughts on the Animal Kingdom. It reminds me a lot of the Disney/MGM Studios in its early years. It was real pretty, but there was not a lot to do. It is a beautiful park (well save for Dinoland and Camp Minnie-Mickey) and it has a lot of potential. I suggest yanking the Living Seas from EPCOT and building an Oceania area of the park – however don’t do the Dolphin/Whale show thing, but rather give them some kind of respect like they do on the safari.
Bussing over to the Magic Kingdom, Roger picked up some swim shorts for tomorrow’s Typhoon Lagoon outing, and then we rode Haunted Mansion (man was it nice to be inside a cool building) and then Space Mountain. It was an E-Ticket night at the MK, but we both felt it was silly to pay 10 bucks for 3 hours to ride the best of the parks rides since a) we already shelled out a wad of cash for our passes and b)the longest line that we had to wait for anything was the Dressing room at the shop in Adventureland. Every thing else has been at most 20 minutes.
After MK, we relaxed at the hotel and sampled the pool. Then it was off to bed in preparation of our Character Breakfast in the morning and Typhoon Lagoon during the day.