Sunday, January 24, 2010

Trip report: WDW & The Half Marathon, Pt. 8

They say you can "never go back," but I just don't listen. In this first picture from my last day at WDW, I attempted to recreate a shot of me from back in 1978. I think I need more sleep! And I am sure George is wishing I had the hat. Fortunately, that bit of 70’s "fashion" is long gone.

It was sad to know that I would be leaving soon, and of course my mind was racing trying to figure out how I was going to squeeze in everything that I wanted to do during these last hours. My original plan was to spend only enough time in Animal Kingdom to get a few shots and experience Everest, and then I’d head back to The Magic Kingdom to get a few shots that I missed over the previous few days.

This plan changed when I found that Animal Kingdom was much cooler than I thought, and Dough liked it, too.

Each park has an icon, and for this one, it’s the Tree of Life, which really is somewhat awe inspiring. The sculpts of the animals into the "bark" of the tree is breathtaking:

The theming and landscaping in this park are stupendous. Extremely lush, it is an inviting atmosphere that beckons the guest to take a more leisurely pace and to enjoy the nature and wildlife at a slower gait.

All I could think about was Everest; I really wanted to experience it and didn’t want to have that be one that was on my unchecked list! My heart sank when I saw that it was not working on my initial attempt. No time for tears though, as I wanted to do the Dinosaur attraction as well. On the way, I passed through (as quickly as possible) the Dino-Rama area. This seemed as bad as the original Paradise Pier at DCA; obviously trying to have something to passify the kiddies and thrill-riders, this section is very out place here. It seems somewhat tacky and not in keeping with the beautiful theming elsewhere in the park.

The Dinosaur Dark Ride was fun, even if the track was obviously the same as Disneyland's Indiana Jones attraction.

The queue has a very nice mix of edu-tainment, which I felt was a nice addition to many of the areas in the Animal Kingdom.

Since I would only have time for one ride-through, I put my camera away and decided to enjoy the attraction. The animatronic dinosaurs were fantastic, and I do regret not having any shots of them, but sometimes, the camera just needs to be put away!

Flights of Wonder Bird Show was next. I really enjoyed this one; it was great to sit down, but it was also great to see a show that didn’t exploit the animals, but instead, focused on behaviors that were natural to them. It seems Disney is afraid to present anything too educational as it might bore or offend, so they added in a very stupid storyline to the show about a tour guide who is afraid of birds to attempt to heighten the excitement. Note to Disney: these beautiful and talented birds are just fine on their own. I like "corn" as much as the next guy, but the "corn" detracted from this show.

These amazing creatures do just fine on their own; no silly supporting cast necessary!

Time was running out as I was already over my guestimated allotted time for Animal Kingdom. Still, I wanted to make one more attempt to ride Expedition Everest. SUCCESS! The line seemed a little long, but not as long as waiting another 8 years or so to come back!

The queue was extremely well done; interesting artifacts (the majority of them general), art pieces, and educational information were presented in a way that kept the long line (about 30 minutes) much more bearable.

Once again, I made the decision to enjoy the attraction and put the camera away. Yes, I have regrets, but am glad I got to experience it without having to worry about getting the perfect shot. Was it worth the wait? Yes. It is the Matterhorn on steroids! Probably one of the best rollercoaster-type attractions that Disney has put together for a long time. Fantastic theming, thrills to take away your breath, and it actually seemed to last for a fair amount of time, too. Unfortunately, the infamous Yeti was not working. THAT was a bit of a letdown. Hopefully Imagineers will be able to find a way to get that thing working consistently (at a pricetag that the pencil pushers will allow!). By the time we exited the ride, the line for this attraction was crazy, and probably would have made for at least a 90 minute wait. Talk about timing!

Time for the Magic Kingdom! First up, no ifs, ands, or buts, was the train. Hard to believe I hadn't an opportunity to ride it yet. I was determined to get on that contraption before I left (the night before it had been closed early).

The station is beautiful, but as I've said many times before, just doesn’t quite have the smaller scale & authentic old fashioned charm of Disneyland's.

One other thing that Anaheim has in spades over Orlando is 100% theming. Even a train trip at Disneyland has things to see along the way; very rarely do you get a backstage glimpse that breaks the wall of Fantasy. Not so in Orlando; there are constant reminders that this is a theme park and operations are nearby. The Frontierland train depot seems to lack an authentic flavor as well.

The riverbanks are beautiful, and it's nice to see them uncluttered by all the equipment of Fantasmic or the Pirate overlay that Anaheim has. For once, Orlando has the leg-up on "charming."

I’d still take the Twain over the Liberty Belle though!

A quick lunch back at Main Street afforded the opportunity of hearing the Dapper Dans—yeah!

One more trip on the Jungle Cruise (Dough hadn't been on the WDW version yet) and then it was time to leave.

Another good JC Skipper (2 for 2!) and this time, in the daylight, I was able to get a few more shots that I’d missed on my previous ride at dusk.

A dark one from the tunnel:

And the east-coast version of Trader Sam:

Dough actually preferred the WDW Jungle Cruise; I like many of the elements (especially the tunnel!), but don’t know if I prefer it or not.

And that folks is the end of my trip report. It was a rush back to the Polynesian to check out and head back to the airport. It really was an excellent trip, and I only wish I'd had 2 more days to spend more leisurely time in Animal Kingdom as well as a day to lounge at the Polynesian—it truly is a wonderful resort. Hope you enjoyed my trip as much as I did!

See more WDW Animal Kingdom photos at my website.


Major Pepperidge said...

More great photos... glad you got to ride Everest, which looks fantastic. With all of the hype the giant Yeti got initially, you'd think they would fix that thing.

The train station feels like an ornate "big city" station... it's huge! Very nice though. Does the WDRR have a Grand Canyon Diorama? I don't even know.

Daveland said...

Major - I am ashamed to admit that I didn't do a full-lap on the train. However, I am 99% sure that WDRR doesn't have the dioramas.

TokyoMagic! said...

Was the bird (eagle?) working on Expedition Everest? I had heard that both the bird and the Yeti broke quite a while ago...I can't believe they still haven't fixed the Yeti. Can you see him and he just doesn't move, or did they just turn the lights out on him?

You are right, WDW doesn't have any dioramas. Paris has only the Grand Canyon diorama and Tokyo has only the Primevel World diorama. Anaheim is the only one with both!

Loved this series, Dave! Thanks for sharing your trip with us.