Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hello, and Welcome to Soarin

A tired start to a fun day, we headed to Animal Kingdom to enjoy the Early Extra Magic hours.

An 8:20 start, and already the parks were packed. After gaining a Fast Pass for Expedition Everest, we headed over to Kilimanjaro Safari to venture through a glimpse of all the animals in their natural setting. We saw so many animals from antelopes to giraffes to elephants. It was about as close to an African safari that you can get to on this side of the world. Some of the animals even came right up to our safari vehicle! Unfortunately, our two week safari had to be cut short because of poachers, but we still had a blast.

After we got done on the safari, we stayed in Harambe for a cinnamon roll. Authentic African cuisine at its finest.

With full bellies and a sugar high, we headed over to Dino USA to go back to the Cretaceous period and see some dinosaurs on...Dinosaur. We obviously made it back alive, hence you reading this, but trust me when I say it was a close call.

As if we hadn't been traumatized enough already by scary dinosaurs, we walked over to Asia to ride Expedition Everest. I guess the Yeti was more scared of us than we were of him because he appeared to be scared stiff when he saw us.

We passed on getting a Jalapeno- Cheddar pretzel and decided to leave early. We took the bus over to the Swan/Dolphin. We needed to pick up our rental car and being able to do that at a Disney resort was awesome. Neither one of us had ever been inside the Swan or Dolphin, so we took advantage of the situation. Both resorts were gorgeous and the theming was very well done.

We took our car (Chevy Malibu) and departed for a grocery run to Wally World. Why would we leave Disney to go to Walmart, you ask? Because we got 24 bottles of water for only $15...compared to $3.50 per bottle for the same thing on Disney property. Well worth the money spent on a rental car if you ask me.

After unpacking groceries and snacks in our room, we hopped on the Disney bus to EPCOT.

Our good friends, Jeremy and Jennifer Behling, were going to meet us at Space Ship Earth, something we had been looking forward to since we planned the trip. Right after walking through the entrance we made our way to the giant "golf ball" to wait for them. A nice gentleman approached us for a Disney survey and we said yes. Just our luck, Jeremy and Jennifer walked up shortly after we started the survey. So it was a little awkward watching them stand there waiting on us to be done.

Finally, survey done, we got our hugs in and trekked over to the Land to get some Fast Passes for Soarin'. Most days this would be unheard of, but the crowds were light, thus allowing us to get early evening Fast Passes. Next, over to Living with the Land to get a brief view of the amazing greenhouses at Disney World. Neither Jeremy nor Jennifer had ever been on this attraction before, so it was a treat for them. After our relaxing and educational boat ride, we decided to walk through the countries starting with Canada and going counter-clockwise.

You've got to love EPCOT, something for the right side of the brain as well as the left side. Each country is perfectly themed and so inviting. We walked through jolly old England and toured a side street in Paris, where we also caught a performance. Then past Morocco and Japan and we were at the grand center of World Showcase. I think a blind person would be able to make their way to The American Adventure if for nothing else other than the smell of funnel cakes. Lucky us, we walked up just in time to catch the last song or two by the Voices of Liberty, who always give us chills. It was also good enough to remind Jeremy and I how long it has been since we were in choir together.

Melodies and harmonies done, we headed into the giant theater to watch the greatest audio-animatronic show ever created, The American Adventure. It gives some people chills and puts others to sleep, I'll let you guess who in our family falls in which category. Seriously though, it doesn't get much better than the Golden Dreams montage at the end, even if it still has Tiger Woods in it. What better way to follow up a fantastic show about America than to eat authentic pizza in Italy...right? Via Napoli is one of our favorite restaurants in Disney World and it's easily our favorite pizza place anywhere. Trust me, eat pizza there one time and it will ruin every other pizza you will ever eat. Jeremy and Jennifer got the Piccante (tasted like authentic Italian spaghetti on a pizza) and we got the Prosciutto and Cantaloupe pizza. Don't turn your nose, it is actually really good. It has the perfect combination of sweet and salty. I would be remiss if I didn't talk about the fantastic Sangria they have there. That stuff is so good, I believe it could bring about world peace if everyone had a glass.

After stuffing ourselves with Italian fare, we walked back over to the Land to use our Soarin' Fast Passes. I've ridden it before using the standby line, but that was a long time ago. Only Fast Passes for us. When we got to the front of the line, the CM let us wait to the side so we could ride on the front row of the middle section. Trust me, you want to do this if at all possible, because the experience is a million times better than on a lower row or a side section.

Once our flight over California was done, we walked back to the front of the park and Jeremy and Jennifer drove us back to our resort. It was sad parting ways with them, but we really enjoyed our time together. We'll definitely have to come back down to visit them again.

Tired after our first full day at Disney World, we cleaned up and headed to bed to recharge for the next day.