September 2, 2015

What I Love About Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is the park that I have visited the least. Not that I don’t like it, just that some of the trips that I have been on were shorter and time wouldn’t allow it. The first time I ever visited Walt Disney World, Animal Kingdom was still being built. It opened one year after my first visit, on Earth Day 1998. Even though it is the newest park (it’s still 18 years old), there are so many things that I love about it, and some things that make it different than any of the other Disney Parks. It’s a park that grows on you, and once you stop and look around, I think you will love it too.

Now onto the things I love:

Welcome to Animal Kingdom

The Details

The details in Animal Kingdom rival those of Magic Kingdom. I have watched documentaries on YouTube that take an in depth look at how Animal Kingdom was built, and they are all amazing. If you are interested in the details, I urge you to find the Expedition Everest documentary on YouTube. I had a whole new appreciation for that ride after watching it. I even looked for a certain something when you reach a dead end (watch it and you’ll know what I’m talking about!). The distressed look of the park is quite impressive considering it’s age! In terms of theme, I think Animal Kingdom is the party that cohesively fits the theme. (We will just ignore Dino-rama on this okay? Okay.) There was so much research done for this part, and I really think Imagineers pulled it off.

The Tree of Life

This park centrepiece deserves it’s own category, because of the detail alone. Every time I visit Animal Kingdom I see something new on that tree. When you learn how the tree was made, it’s even more impressive. I recommend going to see “It’s tough to be a bug!” so you can get an even closer look at The Tree of Life. It’s crazy to think that there are over 100 animals carved into that masterpiece. Want your picture with the Tree in the background? Don’t wait to get one when you first walk into the park, wait until you are in other areas where it isn’t as busy! Keep an eye out for Disney Photopass photographers, as most likely they are standing close to a picture perfect spot!

The Tree of Life

The Food

I always enjoy eating at Animal Kingdom! There are some more exotic food choices, and it’s always fun to try something new. During my trip in February, Ethan and I tried a falafel wrap and an asian noodle salad. Both were really good! It’s always nice to find good vegetarian options while on vacation so you don’t feel like you are having the same thing over and over. I’ve heard really good things about meat options at Animal Kingdom (like Flame Tree Barbecue) but unfortunately I can’t talk from experience! On your next trip to Walt Disney World, I encourage you to try the food at Animal Kingdom! Also Pizzafari has something other restaurants in WDW don’t- watch the episode of “Unwrapped” to find out.

On a side note, I feel like I have watched more YouTube videos focusing on Animal Kingdom than any other park. It really makes you want to spend more time there!

A Little Friend

The Atmosphere

Animal Kingdom is unlike any other Disney theme park. You have to explore a little. When you first walk in, you are surrounded by lush greenery. You know you are supposed to see a big tree or something when you enter, but you have to wait a while! There are so many nooks and crannies, it’s a park to really explore. It just has a different feel to it.  A lot of people find Animal Kingdom to be a half-day park (and I have definitely felt that way before) but recently my impression has changed. It’s a park that you can definitely spend the whole day at. There is so much to see, and it’s not just “a zoo”. The animal exhibits are beautifully detailed and really transport you to Africa and Asia. Kiliminjaros Safari is always fun, and there are a lot of shows to enjoy! If you are a fan of The Lion King, make sure to check out “Festival of The Lion King”! I haven’t seen it since it moved to its new home, but I hope to see it on my next trip!

The Trails

There are many different trails to explore at Animal Kingdom. It’s fun to head in one direction not necessarily knowing what you are going to see! The details in the trails are amazing, and really transport you. You feel as if you are in the animals’ natural habitats, not at a theme park in Florida! I think everyone should take it slow when visiting Animal Kingdom, because you never know where you can wander! Hint: there are even some trails that aren’t listed on the maps! And you can sometimes find some characters along the trails! You know, just around the riverbed? Can you tell I saw Pocahontas last time?

The Future

There are so many exciting things coming to Animal Kingdom that I can’t wait to see! Avatar-land is coming soon, and so is a nighttime show! There was a lot of construction happening in February so when I (hopefully) visit next year I hope a lot has changed! It will be interesting to see a nighttime show at a park many people deem a half day park, and especially one centred around wildlife. I really can’t wait to see “Rivers of Light”.

Elephant

 

What do you love about Animal Kingdom? Make sure to let me know in the comments!

Have you seen what else I love? Check out what I love about Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Walt Disney World!

Thanks again for reading!

Kelsey
July 15, 2015

What’s In My Bag?

Being prepared at Walt Disney World is very important. Knowing what to have on hand in the parks can save you money and stress. During my trip in February I carried one backpack with the essentials while my boyfriend Ethan carried a backpack holding both of our Canon DSLR cameras and extra lenses, among other accessories. We found this really worked well, and I think we would do the same thing on our next trip.

Ethan

Ethan carrying the camera backpack

Here’s what I keep in my bag at Walt Disney World:

Water

When in Florida it can get HOT! It’s important to stay hydrated, especially because you are walking so much while in the parks. I hate the taste of Dasani water, and unfortunately that is all they sell in WDW. I use a filtered water bottle so in a pinch I could fill up my water bottle using the sinks in the hotel room or even washroom sinks at the parks. There are many drinking fountains in the parks, but it’s a bonus to have the filter if needed.

 

Sunscreen

Again, in Florida it’s hot and sunny! Make sure to bring sunscreen with you, and apply it often! I would apply sunscreen while getting ready in the morning, and every couple of hours throughout the day. I’ve learned the hard way that some sunscreen is not waterproof (thank you Splash Mountain!), so make sure you are wearing a waterproof sunscreen! Sunscreen takes 20-30 minutes to start working, so applying it when you are in shade would be a good idea. That’s also a reason putting it on while getting ready in the morning works!

 

Sweater/ Change of Clothes

During our trip in February it really cooled down at night, so I always made sure to carry sweaters for both Ethan and I. Even when we usually travel in May I bring a sweater, because the buses have the Air Conditioning blasting to keep the windows from fogging up with the humidity. I get cold pretty easily so I’m comfortable in a hooded sweater at night.

Also think about bringing a change of clothes if you are heading to a park that has water rides you are wanting to experience. Or bring a poncho! At Magic Kingdom there is Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean (which you rarely get soaked). Animal Kingdom has Kali River Rapids (you WILL get wet!). If you are planning to head back to your hotel to change after, don’t worry about bringing a change of clothes. If I’m only planning on spending half a day at Animal Kingdom, I will experience Kali River Rapids last before heading back to the hotel so I’m not walking around soaked all day. I’ve learned from experience with this one! In 2007 my mom experienced Kali River Rapids in denim shorts. Needless to say she spent 20 minutes in the washroom attempting to dry her shorts under the hand dryers!

The Great Movie Ride

Sunglasses

You’ve protected your skin, make sure to protect your eyes as well! Make sure the sunglasses you are wearing have UV A and B protection, and polarized is a plus! Your eyes will thank you! I wear glasses so I make sure to change to prescription sunglasses when I can and carry both cases for rides I don’t want to lose my glasses on! (I’m looking at you Tower of Terror and Rock n’ Rollercoaster!)

 

Medications

Being at the parks all day can be tiring. Overcast skies can give me headaches, so I always keep Advil on me. I’ve also learned that I have a sensitive stomach when I booked dinner reservations at different times every night to eat at the restaurants I wanted. I went from feeling really hungry to sick fast. Pepto Bismol capsules have saved me. I keep them with me all the time as well, and they sure come in handy. And other medication would be good to have on you, because you never know what you might need in the park. It’s always better to have something and not need it than need it and not have it.

 

Band-Aids!

The parks all have First-Aid stations, but if you feel a blister forming you may not want to walk all the way across the park to get there! I find that having them on me usually means I don’t need them, but it’s always good to be prepared! First Aid might have some Advil as well, but you could also buy it in one of the many gift shops.

 

Cameras!

These were technically in our other bag, but it’s really important to capture the memories you are making! Disney Photopass service is available at all of the parks, but if you bring your camera with you the photographer will usually take a picture with your camera as well. I feel bad asking, but if it saves me money on buying prints, I’ll do it.

 

The Bag(s)

Lastly, the bag I keep everything in! On my trip in 2013 I brought a huge Mickey bag that my Mom purchased on another trip. After a few hours in the Magic Kingdom, my shoulder was killing me. Ethan didn’t want to be seen carrying a shoulder bag (I don’t blame him) so we headed into the shops on Main Street. We purchased this backpack, and it worked well for us.

The backpack we purchased in 2013

The backpack we purchased in 2013

We travelled in May in 2013, so the needs changed when we went in February this year. I brought the 2013 backpack hoping it would work, but after packing it full, we realized it was too full. We headed to Main Street again and bought this backpack.

The backpack we bought in February

The backpack we bought in February

It’s larger but not too large, and was made of a thicker material. It even had a pocket on the side for my water bottle which I loved. I also purchased the matching wallet later that day. 🙂 I think that having a backpack is important, to even out the weight of all of the things you need. It’s also helpful if other members in your party are willing to wear it!

Both backpacks side by side.

Both backpacks side by side.

There is not a huge size difference between backpacks, but it did make a difference!

Now on to the camera bag!

 

Ethan's Backpack

The backpack with pockets open.

The backpack with pockets open.

This is the camera bag we used. It’s a Vanguard Adaptor 45. As you can see it has pockets on either side and one on the top. One side we used for Ethan’s Canon Rebel T5i, the other we used for accessories and extra lenses, and the top fit my Canon Rebel SL1 perfectly. We have found that it works perfectly for us! It’s not too big, and even has a strap for a tripod if you don’t want to carry one!

An Epcot Afternoon :)

An Epcot Afternoon 🙂

And as a reward for looking at pictures of backpacks, here’s a nice photo of Spaceship Earth !

What do you bring with you to the parks? What can you not live without? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading!

Kelsey