Posts Tagged by Disney’s Animal Kingdom

New to Me – Disney’s Animal Kingdom

DAK

Last week we celebrated the 15th anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom…oh how fast the time has gone.  I’ve loved this park since it’s opened.  The details are amazing and scenery is just beautiful.  It’s like stepping into another world.

The park is often touted as a “half day park” because of the lack of things to do.  Yes there aren’t a TON of attractions and I must say that I have actually done most things in this park, but I definitely don’t think it’s a half day park.  I could spend a few hours wandering through the Maharajah Jungle Trek alone!

Speaking of the Maharajah Jungle Trek, I noticed something on my last trip about my favorite section in there, which of course are the temple ruins where the tigers live.  I had dreamed of getting married there, but that’s a story for another day.  One thing I love in there are the Tibetan prayer flags hanging over the suspension bridge, but I noticed that they were seriously faded.  So I went back in my photos to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind and low and behold I was not.

Tibetan Prayer Flags 2010

Tibetan Prayer Flags 2010

Tibetan Prayer Flags 2013

Tibetan Prayer Flags 2013

The faded colors are much less impressive.  Ritual states that these flags should be replaced during the Tibetan New Year, which just happened in February, so here’s hoping Disney livens up the area for 2014.

Ok…back on track.  Things I haven’t done yet in Animal Kingdom.  Like I said, there aren’t many things, but I did come up with a good list.  Here we go!

Flights of Wonder

I have never been intrigued by this show.  I’ve heard it’s amazing and quite funny, but something about giant birds swooping over my head freaks me out.  I mean has there ever been an accident where they poop on someone???  That someone would probably be me if it’s never happened before.  However, I do LOVE watching hawks in the wild so I would probably enjoy this.  Maybe I’ll don a poncho and head in next time 😉

TriceraTop Spin

To me, this is just another hub-and-spoke ride like Dumbo and the Flying Carpets of Aladdin, but without the spitting camels or nostalgia.  This is a great attraction for kids, but not something I would ever wait on line for.  Actually, if I ever get to experience Animal Kingdom at night, I think this would be much better a midst the lights of Dino-Rama.

Dino-Rama from the 2012 Wine & Dine Half Marathon

Dino-Rama from the 2012 Wine & Dine Half Marathon

Restaurantosaurus

I think that with Flame Tree BBQ so close to this restaurant, I just simply overlook it.  I also have some strange connotation with it because a while back it served McDonald’s food, which doesn’t appeal to me AT ALL.  But even though I really don’t want to eat here in the future, I definitely need to make a point to go into Restaurantosaurus and take a good look around.  From what I hear, it is one of the most elaborately themed areas in the entire park.  I’ve listened to numerous podcasts devoted to it and read many blog posts, but still have not ventured inside.  One day…

Dawa Bar

This needs to be done!  I love the look and feel of this bar and it seems like the perfect place to enjoy a pint in the afternoon.  But I always find myself in Africa in the morning for the safari and never seem to venture back here later in the day.  Oh how I wish I was there right now!

Wild Africa Trek

Wild Africa TrekWell who wouldn’t want to do this.  Frankly, the price tag is what has kept me away but I really hope to do this someday.  I was fortunate enough to go on the Sunrise Safari during our honeymoon, but this seems like it will give an even closer look at the animals!  And lunch in that hut overlooking the Savannah…sigh.  Anyone want to get me an early Christmas present???

I mentioned earlier that I have never been to Animal Kingdom at night before.  Well, not without running through it.  This is something I REALLY want to do.  Everest at night looks amazing.  The scenery is so cool at night and I would love to take my time wondering around and not trying to keep pace.

Tree of Life at Night

What attractions and restaurants are new to YOU at Disney’s Animal Kingdom??  

Have you ever been to Animal Kingdom at night??

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? 

A Look at the Walt Disney World Half & Full Marathon Courses

We are now just under a month away from the start of the 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend!  I’m not sure if I’m excited or incredibly nervous about running my first full marathon…maybe a little of both with some “what the hell was I thinking” thrown in there.

I received a few questions about elevation for the race, so I thought I’d take a look at both the half and full marathon courses and map out their elevations using Map My Run.  Let’s take a look:

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

I haven’t run this race, but I did run the Princess Half Marathon which is on the same course.  It is mainly flat with a few hills on the overpasses, but they are manageable.

Miles 1 – 4 are almost completely flat with a small downhill going onto World Drive.  This is a great stretch to start the race with because it is fast and there is usually a good amount of entertainment on World Drive.

Pirate Ship on World Drive During Princess Half Marathon

You will encounter your first hill just before Mile 5 as you go under the waterway between Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake.  Be careful here because the course is narrow and it tends to get very crowded.  Good news is you’re about to enter the Magic Kingdom!  Sadly, you are only in the Magic Kingdom for about 1 mile, but it’s the best mile of the race.  You will hit Mile 6 while in Frontierland and by the time you leave the park you will be halfway done!

**TIP: Make sure to use the bathrooms while you’re in the park to avoid the Porto Johns!!  You will thank me for this later :)**

Miles 7 – 9 continue to be flat.  Here you are heading down Floridian Way, past the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts and back onto World Drive.  After Miles 10 & 11 are where you will hit your next set of hills…it’s like a cruel joke that these come towards the end.  The first is the worst.  It’s a slanted, circular on ramp leading to the overpass that takes you back towards Epcot.  Then just after Mile 11 you come across an even steeper overpass…yikes!  But that’s it, you’re now in the home stretch and get to run through Future World and to the finish line.  Don’t forget to enjoy the gospel choir right at the end…they are amazing!

Walt Disney World Marathon

From the looks of it, the marathon course seems to have a lot more elevation changes…oh boy!  As if I wasn’t worried about the distance, now I have hills to worry about!  Ok, maybe I’m overreacting here…humor me 😉

Miles 1 – 8 are basically the same as the half maraton above.  During mile 8 you enter a new part of the course, the Walt Disney World Speedway.  My hope is that it will be on the inside portion of the course that is flat and not along the banked track…that wouldn’t be fun.

After the Speedway, the next 3 miles are spent on Bear Island Road heading towards Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  I’ve never been down this road, but from Google Maps it looks very wooded and isolated.  You also run past some sort of environmental treatment plant…nose plugs anyone?  My hope is that they will have a fair amont of entertainment back here to keep us occupied on this long stretch.

Just after mile 12 you enter Animal Kingdom in a backstage area near Rafiki’s Planet watch.  The next mile is spent running through Asia, past Expedition Everest (take a ride if you dare!), through Dinoland USA and out into the parking lot.

Expedition Everest During Mickey’s Halloween 5K

Good news is, you’ve just completed a half marathon.  Bad news is, you have to do it all again!  Hopefully a 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) wind will kick in at this point and you will continue on strong for the next 4 miles as you head out of Animal Kingdom and down Osceola Parkway towards the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  Be warned that the steepest overpass of the entire course is here on Osceola Parkway, so pop that Gu before hand! 🙂

The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is new to the marathon this year for the 20th anniversary celebration and we will be spending 3 miles here winding all throughout the complex.  runDisney has been tight lipped about the 20th mile celebration that they have promised for the 20th anniversary which will be taking place in Champion Stadium.  I know I can’t wait to see what this surprise celebration is…any guesses on what it will be?!

You will pass the mie 20 marker as you are leaving the complex and the next 2.5 miles take you over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  There is a great downhill here (of course followed by an uphill) so use that to your advantage as you start fading at this point.  Well maybe you won’t be fading, but I know I will be!  You enter the Studios by Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, run up the Streets of America, past the Great Movie Ride and down Hollywood Boulevard as you exit the park.  There is only about 1 mile that is run through here and most of it is backstage, which is a bit disappointing since they got about 3 miles out of the Studios for Wine & Dine.

Sorcerer’s Hat During the Tower of Terror 10-Miler

Only 2.5 miles left as you exit the Studios and head along the pathway towards Crescent Lake and Epcot!  The pathway narrows as you pass the Boardwalk and gets congested with spectators, so be prepared to slow down a bit here.  I love this resort area in the morning as they are waking up and it is starting to get bright out.  Unfortunately, I probably won’t come through here until close to noon so it will be lunch time for me!  But for you fast runners, make sure to appreciate the sights for a second as you zoom through.

Gorgeous!

Two final (and killer!) uphills here.  The first is as you are leaving the Beach Club resort and heading into Epcot, and the second is after you pass through the International Gateway and up into World Showcase.  Good news is that there is only 1 mile left after this and it is all spent through Epcot.  The course heads right and you get to run around all of World Showcase.  By this time, the park will be open when most of us are going through so I know having all of those spectators in there is really going to help push me though!

Running Through World Showcase During the Wine & Dine Meet Up

You exit Epcot in the same area as the half marathon and out into the parking lot to cross the finish line!! Oh and don’t forget about the gospel choir 🙂  I have a feeling that those last .2 miles are going to be the longest ever.

Well I don’t know about you, but after going through the course in detail and seeing all of the amazing things that are in store, excitement is actually taking over!!!  Yes, I haven’t been training like I should be but I still think I can do this!  Who’s with me?!?!

What are you most looking forward to on either the half or full marathon courses?

**Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a bunch of runDisney and RAD swag!!  You have until Sunday morning to enter…do it now!**

Product Review: Conscious Box

A few weeks ago, I was lucky to win a giveaway on In Her Chucks for a Conscious Box.  If you’re scratching your head wondering what a Conscious Box is, don’t worry, I was doing the same thing before I looked into this super cool product.

Straight from their mission statement, “Conscious Box is dedicated to introducing you to the most ethical, sustainable, and honest businesses that create the purest products available. We scour the marketplace to find those that stand above the rest. Discovery defines the Conscious Box experience.”  Um, yes that is right up my alley!  The service is a monthly subscription where you are exposed to new products every month.  The items range from cosmetics, to food, to cleaning products.

A Conscious Box in a Box

So here’s what was in my box:

All Natural Face: “Offers a huge selection of mineral-based cosmetics, which are free of artificial ingredients.”  This was a gorgeous Vegan Eye Shadow in Lemon Ice shade.  It is glimmery and great for a natural summer look.

Aura Cacia: “For over 20 years, Aura Cacia has been sourcing the purest, most authentic essential oils Mother Earth has to offer.”  I didn’t actually receive essential oils here, but an Aromatherapy Deck to “guide me through my own aromatherapy experience.”  Ok, I’m not sure I’ll have an “experience,” but the deck is pretty cool!

Aura Cacia Aromatherapy Deck

Just Great Stuff: This is a “delicious gluten-free, vegan, and organic super berry acai ‘Just Great Stuff’ bar – it’ll tingle your taste buds while providing a power house of antioxidents and dietary fiber!”  For me, it was super sweet and I couldn’t eat more than one bite.  However, I’m not a sweet fan, so I might not be the best judge of this product.

Naturally It’s Clean: This product “helps freshen your home without worry of leaving behind chemicals or toxins.  No fumes, no phosphates, no acids and no petroleum to worry about!”  I must admit, I haven’t tried this product but I love cleaners that are healthier for my family and my pets!

Jadience Herbal Formulas: How fitting to receive an all-natural Muscle & Joint cream at a time when I am constantly in need of anti-inflammatory cream for my ankles.  It combines “scientifically-proven treatments with an East-Asian recipe passed down through generations.” I tried this sample and the one small does didn’t compare to my prescription gel, but I would be definitely willing to try more of this product on a regular basis.

Look at all this stuff!

Madhava: Here we have samples of Agave Nectar (yum!) and coconut sugar.  I’m a big fan of agave and use it a lot in salad dressings, which is what I did here, but coconut sugar was a new one for me.  It’s unrefined sugar from the nectar of the coconut tree blossom.  It is a good replacement for refined sugar and has a similar taste.

Mighty Leaf: This is some of my favorite tea, so I was so happy to see this in the box!  The sample is a GIANT bag of Calypso Mango iced tea.  It is fruity and delicious, and I can’t wait to get more of this fabulous iced tea…perfect for summer!  And how cool is it that their pouches are biodegradable and free of staples and glue?!

GoGo squeeZ: I’ve seen this product in the store before, but never really paid attention to it because it seems to be marketed towards kids.  But I was wrong to overlook this clever product.  This is appplesauce (apple mango in this case) in a nifty squeezable pouch.  “No spoon, no mess, no artificial anything.”  It’s 100% fruit and is a perfect on the go snack…love it!

Tea Forte: This is a sampling of antioxidant amplifier teas, which are all green teas (my favorite) with various other ingredients.  The flavors include Cherry Marzipan for corrective repair, Cucumber Mint for youth recovery, and Honey Yuzu for natural renewal.  I’m not sure how true these claims are or how much tea you actually have to drink to recover your youth, but all I know is that I tried the Cherry Marzipan and it was quite tasty.

Sun Warrior: This is a vanilla protein powder that is made from raw plant based proteins.  I haven’t tried this yet because I’m generally not a fan of protein powders, but maybe I’ll put it in my morning smoothie one of these days.

Powbab: The main ingredient of this little chew is African Baobab fruit plup, which is apparently a superfood.  I’m most familiar with the Baobab from seeing it on Kilamanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but I digress.  This one little superfruit chews contains a daily dose of antioxidants and vitamins c & e.  It also contains acai berry and pomegranate for an added punch.  Initially the taste was good, but the chew got very tart and I really didn’t enjoy it.  I will probably just stick to my blueberries to get my antioxidants.

So that’s a lot of stuff in a little box!  It was a great mix of products and a great way to try new things.  For more information on Conscious Box and how to subscribe, visit their website at http://consciousbox.com.  Let me know if you’ve ever received a Conscious Box or plan on subscribing, I would LOVE to hear about the products that you receive!

Full Disclosure: I received this Conscious Box as part of a giveaway and did not receive any compensation for this review.  All opinions are 100% my own.