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The Walt Disney World Adventure
-Day 4: &*%$ that's a big tree

Written : 06/22/04

FOREWORD: There will probably be many spelling errors. As much as I hate them, I'm way too lazy to go through and fix 'em all, so deal with 'em.

Three days of adventure had passed, and it was a toss-up on the fourth day of whether we were going to go to Epcot or the Animal Kingdom. After some coaxing on my part as to how much better the Animal Kingdom would be (and remember, the last time I was here, that park didn’t exist), we finally made our choice and were ready to plan for the day. So after my morning ritual of disgusting shower and getting my breakfast delivered, we were off on our adventure. But today, I had a sneaky little plan, and it worked out quite well, as far as I’m concerned.

You see, while Disney World now has the most excellent Fast Pass system, they’re only for the really big rides that nobody wants to miss. And then there are all the other, less important rides for which you’ll still have to wait in line. They might not have queues as long as the big ones, but some can still take a long time, as we’d learned the day before at the Great Movie Ride. So today I brought my Gameboy to the park. You might be shocked that I brought the thing to Disney freaking World, but if you really know me, you’d be more surprised that I hadn’t brought it to the parks on the two days prior.

Since you’ve got a good idea of how the pre-park part of the day goes down, I can just pass off the summary up above as good enough, and move right on to the good stuff. But before that, I should probably mention that these are only going to get shorter from here on in, as the third day’s article was going to be the peak for length. It’s not that we really did less on the other days (bar 7 and 8, which will be together and sans-photos), but I’ll have to go into less detail about some smaller things like the mornings and evenings that were pretty much the same for every day.

Now to get back on track, we arrived at the Animal Kingdom in good time, and got in quite quickly, as our parking spot was closer to the main gates than usual. Before we actually got in though, there were scads of characters waiting to sign autograph books, so we had to get those before we could move anywhere. On the upside, a few had already been acquired, so it didn’t take very long at all. Also, there was no visible gift shop right at the entrance, so there was no goods-browsing before we got into the park. That would be saved for later. Much later.

I suppose you’ll be wanting to see a map of this place, as you’ve seen with the last two parks, so there’s the link. Click and enjoy. Now you know what I speak of. Kinda. Anyway, right on the inside was this little place called The Oasis, which really wasn’t much. It was kinda like a tiny little zoo of rare-type animals. There were parrots and turtles and all sorts of wild boars. I was not impressed, as I’m rarely impressed by simple animals. And this being the Animal Kingdom, that tidbit will come into play again later on in the day.

After little debate, our first destination that day was Dinoland U.S.A., which is located on the southeasten part of the map. The decision was really easy to make, as everyone was most hyped about the Dinosaur ride, and that really swayed our votes. Before we could make it to Dinoland though, we had to stop off to a riverside cabana-type thing where we got autographs from Pooh and friends. It was awesome, because when my bros were posing for a pic with Pooh, he jumped in front of them and got the picture all to himself. That was easily one of the funniest parts of the trip, and the ass-kickingest character we met up with.

So back to Dinoland. Up above is a pic of the huge set of bones that adorned the entrance to this part of the park, and it seems all too appropriate. As you may have guessed, we ran over to the dinosaur ride and picked up the Fast Passes, and then started to wander the park while we waited for them to come into effect. There was a lot to do, and it seems that fortune was smiling upon us, because we had just enough time to get everything in before the ride.

First and shortest stop: the huge play structure. And when I say huge, I mean really freaking huge. This thing dwarfed the one at that bigass McDonald’s, and I had thought that one was big. There were nets, ladders, tubes, and everything else that makes a good play structure, and it was all themed as a sort of archaeological dig. Yes, I’m pretty sure that that’s the word I’m supposed to be using. And then there’s the best part about this part of the park. In every park, there are speakers or some kind of music making device creating a sort of background music to your day in the park, and this was easily the best of them all. Everywhere else was Disney music or something of the sort, but here they were playing all sorts of old 70’s-ish tunes. And to top it all off, when we walked in, they started playing “Walk the Dinosaur”. Man I love that song. Boom, boom, ackalackalacka boom!

Next, we ventured over to some sort of dino display, where obviously, there were dinosaur statues on display. It was a good place for pics, but overall, there wasn’t anything particularly interesting to see here. So that’s all I have to say about it. Really.

Ah crap, I got my facts mixed up a little here. When we got into Dinoland, we got Fast Passes for this ride here, the Primeval Whirl. And when those ones had expired, then we got the Dinosaur passes. I could have just as easily gone and fixed my error, but then I’d have to change like a whole paragraph, and I’d rather just leave it and go on as it is. So waiting for this thing, yadda yadda, played Gameboy whilst younger half of siblings went on boring merry-go-round. It was gonna happen eventually, and right now was the perfect time. I had a few minutes to kill, so I played a little Gameboy while listening to the Beach Boys and such playing in the background. All was good.

So now that the Primeval Whirl passes were good, we skipped over to the Dinosaur ride and grabbed those passes, then went on this ride that seemed to involve a lot of spinning. And oh my, it did. And the way the seats and track were configured, I got sacked by the seat every time we went around a corner. Not hard, but enough to make the ride uncomfortable. Other than the groin pain and the ride being far too jerky, it wasn’t all that bad. I like spinning rides, so I’d have had a good time if it had been just a little smoother.

Uh-oh. Strength testing game. I tried to weasel out of it with all of my might, but the combined nagging of the family and the people operating the booth was just too bothersome, so I decided it’d be funny to laugh at my weakness. On the upside, I did beat all of my brothers (just skirted loss of honour on that one), but I only got rated as a “brawnosaurus”. You know, I’ve played this kind of game before at a local carnival, and this one had a very heavy hammer compared to what I remember. This made it hard to swing, but I suppose the extra weight made the hit harder? If it’s (mass (velocity x 2))/2 = kinetic energy, then… Well it’s probably the same in the end, so I’ll just blame it on the game being rigged.

Finally, we got to the Dinosaur ride. As far as I can remember (and the earlier slip-up is a bad show of my memory powers), this was the best part of the whole day. Not to say that the Animal Kingdom park was bad, but it’s just that none of the rides were quite as good/intense as this one. See, it’s more or less a weak, non-roller coastery roller coaster, and the premise it that you need to go back in time and steal a whatever that blue dino up there is called. There’s just one catch, you’ve got about one minute until a huge ass meteor storm smashes the Earth good. You know, aside from the Tower of Terror’s, this is probably the best “story” of any of the Disney World rides. Not like these things need stories, but whatever.

So it’s pretty much the cart on a track, going through the dark, and every once in a while there’s some light and a dino. The cart scans the dino and tells you about it (ooh, learning!). After a few herbivores pass by, we meet the Allosaurus. He’s quite large and rather frightening, even if it is only an animatronic. And you get to see him several times during the ride. At one point, he pops up out of nowhere and blasts your ear drums with a very impressively loud roar, and then the obvious flash of the on-ride camera goes off, and you know you’ve been owned if you were scared at all, and everyone else will know too. And right at the end, well, I’m not going to spoil it, but it’s really awesome. Overall, it was a good ride. It made me jump a couple times and really scared the crap right out of you at one point. Kinda. If it weren’t such a theme park ride, it would have been truly scary, but the whole desensitization thing doesn’t really add to the goodness of the ride.

After that one, we decided that we’d skedaddle and head for a less prehistoric setting, and I grabbed this last pic of Dinoland. On the way out, it was getting close to noon, so to tide us over, we got some ice cream. This was my first run-in with the giant cookie sandwich, and as anyone who know me knows, it wasn’t my last. Honestly, I tink that the giant cookie sandwich is the best frozen treat ever, barring out even those delicious Jell-O Pudding Pops (which, incidentally, have just made a big comeback). Oh, how I love the giant cookie sandwich. I wish I had one right now…

This here is the hub of the Animal Kingdom, the Tree of Life. This is clearly the absolute biggest tree ever, as it just towers over everything else. Seriously, it’s amazing. And there was water around the base and all of that good stuff, so I spend a good part of my time near it searching for the Mana Sword (If you haven’t played Seiken Densetsu 3, then you may as well just ignore that joke.). And the most amazing thing about this tree is that there are over 300 animals carved into it. Now, it may just be me, but that sounds like a bit of overkill. Then again, everything is over the top here, so I guess it was to be expected. And you can see these things all over the tree, even the huge birds that are carved into the branches way at the top. Certainly is a lot more impressive than any of the other landmarks.

Now, the most painful experience in the Animal Kingdom (aside from walking in 90°F heat all damn day long. Deep inside the Tree of Life is another of those fantastic 3D shows. And to tell the truth, this one is probably the worst. It’s clearly about bugs and such, and what kind of defence mechanisms they have to survive in the wild. Now, most of these are fun, but this one hurt. At first it was just the usual sprinkle and fan treatment, but then, then it got ugly. Throughout the show, I was stabbed, stink bombed, and violated; all by things that were actually supposed to be there. This show is not a fun experience people, it’s a torture room in disguise. If you ever go to Disney World, go ahead and check this out if you want, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Now, you’ll be able to tell without me giving the hint, but I running out of steam. I mean, writing’s cool and all, but I really want this one to be done with. The rest of the day really isn’t that interesting, so I’ll try to wrap the rest up in less than 1000 words. It shouldn’t bee too difficult, as there aren’t many pictures to help me along the way.

So after we were done in the Tree of Life, we moseyed on over to Camp Minnie-Mickey. Stupid name, and eventless place. There really wasn’t much to see here. Mostly character signings, and that’s all. So we wandered around for a bit and then left. Top where? The pizza shop! Yay! You see that rainbow-trimmed building southwest of the big tree? That’s the place. And boy is it big in there. About twice the size of Pizza Planet, and without the games. Kinda funny, cause they had the exact same menu. Hmmm… Well, that’s not a really important stop, so it’s onto Asia!

Up in the northeast corner of the park (orange trails), is the area devoted to Asia. It’s got… you know, stores and junk. Plus a river tube ride. We went on that, expecting to get soaked, and it turned out well for me. Everyone who wanted to get wet stayed pretty dry, and those who hoped to keep the dryness got soaked good. And me, I got some droplets on m’ shirt, but it wasn’t too bad. Cool ride though, I recommend it. After that, we decided that Africa was going to be our last stop for the day, as Rafiki’s Planet Watch (very upper right) looked like a boring place aimed at the hippie demographic. Damn hippies.

So after trucking on over to “Africa”, we found that it was little more than a village mock-up with more stores and stuff. This Animal Kingdom sure was skimping on the rides. But we had come to see the Kilimanjaro Safari, so we went to see the Kilimanjaro Safari. Seeing as I don’t want to describe all the different animals we saw on said safari, I’ll just put up all the pictures I took (most are a little off, the animals weren’t too social) and you see if you can figure out what the hell each one is supposed to be.

Ooh, all the pretty animals. There were a lot more, but like I said, a lot of them were either in hiding, or victims of really bad pics, so they weren’t able to show up today. The safari ride itself was pretty weak, much like the Magic Kingdom’s river cruise ride. The guide was telling all sorts of lame jokes, but not too many, and there was even a little make-believe story about poachers and scientists and crap. Like any poachers could even get close to these animals. I guess it’s one of those “suspension of disbelief” things. Oh well, it was an interesting ride, to say the least, and I did get to see one thing that got me going…

This, my friends, is a baobab. If you’ve never read “Le Petit Prince” or one of it’s many translations, you probably wouldn’t really give a damn about seeing one of these, but I thought it was cool and such because I recognized them even before the guide started rambling on about ‘em. Yup. Good ol’ upside-down trees.

And that’s really about it. I’m out of pictures and that means there’s not a lot I can remember about what we did afterwards. One thing I do remember, was that on the way back, we passed a huge candy shop. It had everything from super-sized (like 3 feet long, at least) sugar tubes to Disney-themed Altoids to some kind of coloured coffee mix. I was immediately captivated by the giant lollipops, and demanded I get one. Unfortunately, all my brothers ended up getting one as well, so I didn’t feel that proud of mine any more. Oh well, it was a good lolly.

During our week’s stay in Florida, this day was probably when the temperature peaked, so it was a really long day for everyone due to the uber-intense heat, so we decided to beat it and recover our bearings back at the hotel. But as you may have picked up from the previous parts of this trip log, we’re not the kind of people to stay cooped up in a hotel room for very long, and we ended up doing quite a bit of shopping. We traveled back to the outlet mall and I found two stores that I spent quite a bit of time in. One was the KB Toys outlet store, where they had a great deal on… well, that’s for another article. And then there was the music store, where I was able to find some more goods that I wanted to call my own.

We did something else that night, but I can’t quite remember what it was, so I’ll just assume that that was the night that we spend mostly in the hotel room eating junk food until it was sleepy time. Yeah, it was a pretty slow day compared to some, but all in all it wasn’t bad. I enjoyed most of the stuff we saw at the Animal Kingdom, and even came home with the first of the few things I could find that were on my shopping list. So there was no way I was disappointed with today, even if there were some things built into a bench prodding my ass for a small part of it.

~Ryan
E-Mail: Mr_Hotshot64v2@hotmail.com

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