Posts Tagged by circle of life

Animal Kingdom’s 15th Anniversary

On Monday, April 22nd, I had the opportunity to attend Animal Kingdom’s 15th Anniversary celebration!  This also happens to be Earth Day, so it’s a dual celebration 🙂

01 AK 15th

I arrived shortly before 8:00 am and was surprised by the lack of people there.  I was expecting lines and chaos as I’ve seen at other anniversary celebrations.  I met up with my friends Rick & John and we headed in.  We were given special 15th anniversary buttons and park maps, then waited on line for about 20 minutes until we could enter the park.

02 AK 15th LineOnce inside, everyone was instructed to head to Discovery Island for a special ceremony that would begin at 8:40 am.  It was quite congested in that area, and being short didn’t help to see anything.  Short people problems!

04 AK 15th Ceremony_1There were puppets on display from Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade and a few announcements were made.  Then the ceremony began with a processional of banners from the different lands and some characters made an appearance.  All of the characters (including Chip ‘n Dale) were the new characters that blink and their eyes move.  I’m still a little creeped out by these…

05 AK 15th Ceremony_2

Josh D’Amaro, VP of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, began the ceremony which was very brief.  He also informed us that Joe Rohde would not be joining us, which was a HUGE disappointment.  There was an audible sigh among the guests.

06 AK 15th Ceremony_3We were then given some information on the Conservation Fund and the ceremony concluded with one of the Festival of the Lion King performers singing “Circle of Life.”  Yep, that was it folks.  Oh wait, then the GIANT earth came out and was tossed around like a beach ball…that was actually pretty cool.

07 AK 15th Giant Ball

You can see the entire ceremony here on Travel with Rick where I’m a special guest!

I have to say I was a bit underwhelmed by the ceremony and would’ve hoped they’d do something more.  I just felt like this was the “forgotten park” and they did this because they had to.  One highlight though was that I got to meet Josh D’Amaro who was genuinely one of the most down to earth people.  Here’s my Disney nerd coming out…

08 AK 15th Josh D'AmaroAfter the ceremony, we headed towards Africa and couldn’t believe the lines for the special 15th anniversary merchandise.  It was insane…stretching from Camp Minnie Mickey, up into Africa and back again.  So instead of dealing with that, we headed straight to Kilamanjaro Safaris to take a ride.  We walked right on and were able to get some great sightings since it was so early in the morning.

010 AK 15th Giraffee

On the way to Asia after our 2 week safari, we came across Devine!  I had never seen her before and I must say, she creeped me out a little.  Rick kept trying to get me to go up and get my picture with her and I just couldn’t…creepy.  I’m glad I finally saw her though.

011 AK 14th Devine

We went through the Maharajah Jungle Trek and I got to see my favorite tigers who were doing what they do best…sleeping!  Once in my life (over 10 years ago) I was able to see them playing in the water with a giant ball.  It was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen and I’ve been dying to do seen it again…no luck.

012 AK 15th TigersThe plan was to ride Everest, but the line was super long, so we headed to Dinosaur instead.  I know this attraction gets a bad wrap, but I always think it’s really fun.  “We’re not gonna make it!  We’re not gonna make it!”

014 AK 15th DinosaurWhile in Dinoland, we came across these great shirts…I kind of wish I got this now.

015 AK 15th TRexTo commemorate Earth Day, or Earth Week, there were numerous information tables set up around the park, as well as special cupcakes for the event.  Worms in Dirt anyone?

016 AK 15th Cupcake03 AK 15th Party for the PlanetWhile the ceremony for the 15th anniversary was nothing special, I’m glad I was there to wish Animal Kingdom a happy birthday.  I also had a really fun time in the park.

What’s your favorite thing about Animal Kingdom? 

New to Me: Epcot’s Future World

Future World

Epcot is probably my favorite park.  I spent so much time here in the EPCOT Center days that I used to be able to recite Journey Into Imagination (the original!) from memory!  Now as an adult, Future World has a retro feel that I love, but it will still never life up to the days of Horizons and World of Motion.  Sigh…

So if it’s my favorite park, how are there things I’ve missed in Future World?!  Well I think it’s because some the attractions can often be overlooked because they are tucked away and when it comes to dining, I always head into World Showcase.  Here are some things that are still New To Me in Future World.

Circle of Life

I don’t think I’ve ever even stepped foot in this theater!  I’ve heard this is a great film, but I am generally not one for films (which you will see when we get to World Showcase!) and head to the unique attractions.  Living with the Land is one of my all time favs, go I generally head straight there when I’m in The Land pavilion.  The last time I was in there, my friend Amanda even tried to get me to go in and I just brushed it off.  This is definitely on the to do list…I mean how can you not love Timon and Pumba?!

Behind the Seeds Tour

Behind the Seeds

Speaking of Living with the Land, did you know you can actually walk around the gardens?!  Well, you have to have a guide with you, but how cool is that?!  This tour is something I’ve been wanting to do for years, but never seem to make the time.  I love fresh vegetables and I find their gardening techniques fascinating, so this is a no brainer for me.  And with the $18 price tag…hello?!?  This is on my priority list for my next trip.

Garden Grill Restaurant

And to round out things that are New to Me in The Land pavilion, Garden Grill Restaurant.  There are 3 things about this restaurant that don’t appeal to me:

1. Family Style Dining.  I’m never a fan of this (well excect for a big breakfast skillet at Whispering Canyon Cafe) as there is generally something I don’t want and it seems like a waste of food because there is always a TON leftover.

2. The Rotating Dining Room.  I know it doesn’t spin super fast, but just the thought of moving during my meal doesn’t sit well with me.

3. The Cuisine.  With a name like Garden Grill, I would expect local, farm fresh cuisine.  But what is on the menu is more like classic, home-style cooking.  There is nothing wrong with that and if I was going somewhere like Liberty Square Tavern in the Magic Kingdom, I would expect that, but not here.  There is so much more they could do with the menu to make it innovative and really showcase all of the wonderful local produce!

Sum of All Thrills

Another attraction that I’ve been really wanting to do for the past few years, but always forget about!  I think this is due to it’s location.  I very rarely walk through Innoventions, so I never think of it.  I think a sign outside would really help!  I’ve done the roller coaster simulator at Disney Quest and loved that…this seems like it would be kicking that up a few notches.  Maybe I’ll set a reminder for myself to do this next time so I don’t forget!

Coral Reef Restaurant

This restaurant has always intrigued me, but the lackluster reviews have always kept me away.  A little secret you may not know about me is that I wanted to be a Marine Biologist when I was younger.  I realized early on that it probably wasn’t the right career path for me, but I still have a love of all aquatic life.  I could stare into the aquarium at The Seas all day.  So dining at Coral Reef seems really cool, I just haven’t wanted to waste a whole meal there if the food isn’t good…you know how important food is to me!  I’ve decided that on my next trip, I’m going for lunch to test it out and check out the atmosphere.  I’m really looking forward to it!

What attractions and restaurants are new to YOU in Future World at Epcot??