Well, this day didn't start bright and early like the previous days. After going to bed late because I was finishing my blog entry and getting my pictures converted and uploaded to my Flickr account, I was having a bit of difficulty getting up this morning.
After eating a bowl of cereal in the room, we finally got out around 10:30AM. We decided that today was the day to go to Animal Kingdom. So we parked our butts at the Grandstand bus stop and waited for the bus to Animal Kingdom. As Murphy would have it, all the other parks came by the bus stop first.
I took a few pictures of my wife on the outside of the Animal Kingdom park. I was really expecting more security since today marks the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, but it was the same old bag check at the gate.
We grabbed a times guide and it was decided that my wife's desire to see the Festival of the Lion King was going to win the contest of "what are we doing first".
We made our way over to Camp Minnie Mickey. At this point, I'd like to comment on how good the signs are in The Animal Kingdom. You can almost get anywhere without consulting a map, if you know what land it's in.
Both my wife and I enjoy the Festival of the Lion King. Those tumble monkeys are just amazing to watch, but I think the thing I like the most is the flying birds of paradise (I think that's what they are). The work the female does on the rope she is hoisted up with is just amazing. I am terrified of heights and could never imaging doing such a feats of gymnastics.
Of course, I attempted to take some pictures of the festival and burned through a good 80+ pictures. I'm sure very few of them came out because the lens I was using wasn't the easiest to manage in low light conditions. I switched to a lens better suited for low light half-way through the show but the downside to the lens was that it was fixed at a 50mm zoom which meant everything I was going to take pictures of was going to have a close-up feel.
After the Festival of the Lion King, Enchanted informed me that she was a bit hungry. Since we had a 9:00PM ADR for Raglan Road we couldn't eat a full meal or we'd be starving before it was time for dinner.
It just so happened that there was a soft serve ice cream station outside the Festival of the Lion King location and I got a root beer float while Enchanted picked up a soft serve in a waffle cone.
It turns out the young lady taking our order was at Disney World on the College Student Program and she attends the community college down the road from where we used to live in Houston. This is the second person we have met on this trip that is from our old neck of the woods.
After the ice cream, my wife said we needed to head to see Finding Nemo: The Musical. I wasn't too enthused since the idea of converting Finding Nemo into a musical didn't appeal to me.
I must say that the amphitheater is huge and Disney crams the spectators into the space. Some people even have to stand. This time, I started out with the "faster" lens and took a lot of test shots to get my settings right. I think I may have gotten a few good pictures but they'll need a little cropping so people will see the details.
What is my opinion of the show? Well.......it was OK. They really zoomed through the story just like they do for the Little Mermaid show they do at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The songs were very seamless with the story and they didn't really stand out as not belonging with the story. Plus, you really don't focus on the fact that the puppeteers are very visible and even do some acting themselves. You seem to instinctively just merge them into their giant puppets and view them as one object. Their body language and facial expressions help enhance your perception of the puppet they are operating.
After Finding Nemo: The Musical, we decided to jet on over to The Dino Institute and travel back into time with Dr. Grant Seeker as our guide and try to find and retrieve a dinosaur he has tagged before an asteroid crashed into the planet and kills us all. I really have never been a fan of this ride. It is the same ride vehicle and track as the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland and, to me, far inferior to the Indiana Jones ride. First of all, it's way too dark. You have long periods of time where it's just pitch black and then they strobe some lights and let you catch glimpses of dinosaurs and jerk you all over the place. I found myself trying to visualize were we would've been on the Indiana Jones ride. Enchanted found that she liked the ride better after riding the attraction again. That means that I'll end up having to ride this again in the future.
After my eyes stopped rattling around in their sockets from getting bounced around Dinosaur, we headed very hastily over to Asia to take a train ride through the Himalayas and hopefully avoid the wrath of the Yeti. We were amazed to see that there was a 10 minute wait to ride Expedition Everest. In fact, the line was so short and moving so fast, I just held onto my camera and ran through the line like everyone else.
Once we got onto the train, I had to sit on my hat to keep it from flying away. I had my camera pressed tightly against my chest and was barely holding onto my sunglasses with my pinky finger. I was so afraid that I was going to bang my camera into something and break my lens again, that I was tensed up the whole time. This resulted in my getting captured by the ride camera in a humorous state. So much so, that Enchanted decided that we need to buy an 8x10. We don't normally purchase the ride photos but this was, in her opinion, worthy of the overpriced cost. Despite my uncomfortable position on the ride, I still had a blast. This is my favorite attraction at Animal Kingdom.
After exiting the sand trap of loose tourist dollars known as the post-show area, we decided to ride again. This time the plan was to take our time and take some pictures.
Unfortunately, that plan quickly scrapped because even if I stopped, people kept streaming by me and kept screwing up my composition. So, I just put the camera back in the bag and made my way to the train. This time I got to enjoy the ride the way I normally do. I got to scream like mad and keep my arms raised the whole time.
After escaping the reach of the Yeti for the second time, we decided it was time go on a safari in Africa. On our way to Africa, Enchanted saw a kiosk selling a towel she liked and decided she must have it. While she spent some more of our hard earned cash (that's said with a smile), I finished filling up the memory card (I was only a few shots away from filling it up).
We made our way to the deepest, darkest part of Africa and found that the wait time was 30 minutes. After our debacle with Soarin' at Epcot, we decided to enact our new rule of nothing over 20 minutes and turned around.
At this point we decided it was time to wander around looking for food ideas.
We stopped and watched the show with the African gymnasts. This is always an enjoyable experience for my wife. I tried to pop off a few pictures, but it was hard to get good pictures that didn't have members of the audience in them.
After a bit of more aimless wandering we stumbled across Pizzafari. The menu seemed palatable and the prices were such that I felt we'd get a good value from our counter-service credits on the meal plan. We both got the chicken Parmesan sandwiches with chips. But I got the chocolate cake for dessert and my wife got the apple pie. While sitting there, I think I found a couple hidden Mickeys in the mural on the wall. I took a couple pictures for validation purposes.
When trying to leave Pizzafari, we were blocked from leaving by Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Expedition Parade. I was in a really bad place, but I think I got some good pictures. Needless to say, it gave me something to do while I waited for the Parade to complete so we could move on.
As we were standing there we decided it was time to go home and maybe head to Downtown Disney. But before we were to leave, we needed to locate and purchase a new hat for me. The baseball cap has always been a nuisance to me because the brim of the hat always gets in the way of the camera. This would force me to need to turn it around backwards. This process of turning my hat around and around was getting annoying.
We had seen the hat I wanted in one of the stores earlier that day, but I couldn't remember which store. So we thought it was best to start in the back of the park and work our way forward until we found the hat again. As we were walking back we ran into the Parade again. This time, I was in a good position to take some pictures. I really think I got some good ones.
After the parade made it's way by, we continued onward. Where we had planned on stopping was the Kilimanjaro Safari because that's the farthest back we had gotten earlier.
When we finally got to where we were going, we found that the parade caused the safari lines to get down to next to nothing. So we changed our plans and decided to get in a Safari. So, we hopped onto Simba 1 and with the help of Wilson in the sky, we went looking for some animal wildlife. This ride is very jerky and starts and stops quickly so it's a challenge to get pictures. I may have gotten one or two good ones amongst many blurry ones.
After returning from our Safari we continued on our mission to find my hat. As we worked our way toward the park exit, I continued to take pictures as I saw compositions that caught my eye.
Now that our mission has been completed, it was just a matter of getting out of the park. But, we kept finding good picture stuff. We ducked into one of the little side trails and I was able to get a lot of close-up shots of the carvings in the Tree of Life. This was nice.
Eventually, we found our way out of the park. As we were standing there thinking if we wanted pictures of anything, I spotted the guy from the NASA Q&A session who my wife was talking to while I snapped pictures.
We went over to say hi and got into a conversation about what we were up to for the rest of the day. We told them that we were going to Raglan Road which he wasn't too familiar with. He told us that he was with his daughter and he's almost confident she has an opinion on the restaurant. Sure enough she said that she loved it. Somehow the conversation got onto the astronauts again and she mentioned that she was getting to go to Cape Canaveral with her husband who got permission somehow through his blog. I asked her if her husband wrote a NASA blog. She informed me that it was a Disney blog. I asked her which one because I read a lot of Disney blogs. She said, "The Disney Blog". I asked, "As in John Frost's blog?" She just laughed. Sure enough I was talking to John Frost's wife and yesterday, my wife had unknowingly been talking to his father-in-law. We chatted for a bit and then went our separate ways.
We found our bus back to Saratoga Springs was just waiting there when we got to the bus stop and hopped right onboard.
We came back to the room where my wife took her much needed nap. Animal Kingdom is exhausting. I needed a nap too, but for some reason I avoid them like the plague.
After accidentally letting my wife sleep 30 minutes longer than she wanted, we got showered and headed out for dinner in Pleasure Island.
Unfortunately, it was slightly raining. We decided to take the boat since it was much closer to our room than walking to Downtown Disney. Unfortunately for us, the boats stopped running when the lightening started to fly and we didn't know that. So after sitting there for 30 minutes we started walking. Fortunately, the rain had stopped at this point so it was a nice dry walk.
We got to Downtown Disney with just enough time to spare for a quick spin through The Art of Disney and the Scrapbooking store.
We got to Raglan Road in time for our 9PM ADR and were sat relatively quickly. We didn't really have a good position to see the musical group that was playing but we could definitely enjoy the music.
What is my opinion of Raglan Road? Well, you must really, really like traditional Irish fare to like dining at Raglan Road. Granted you can get a steak and I decided to forgo that in order to try some traditional bangers and mash while my wife enjoyed the shepherd's pie. But no trip to an Irish Pub and Grill would be complete without a pint of some fine Guinness Stout. It was especially nice since this Guinness is imported from Ireland. None of that pale weak US version of the stuff.
I forgot how much I hated drinking Guinness while eating. I must either eat or drink but I cannot do both at the same time. My poor taste buds just don't know what to do.
But, if anything I would have to say that if you like Irish music, go to Raglan Road around 9PM for the music alone. This is what made the joint. We had a ball. The music was AWESOME and it brought back many a memory from my days of playing Rugby in Colorado and our having the post match get together at the local Irish Pub. Guinness was always, always the drink of choice. I am a sucker for a good Irish Pub with good Irish music.
If you like this kind of music you cannot help but stomp your feet and clap your hands and maybe even sing along if you know the tune. Plus, they periodically brought out a talented young lady to do traditional Irish dances while they played.
Well, we actually paid out of pocket for this meal since we are burning through table service credits with our meals at Signature Restaurants. I think we ended up spending something around $72 for a Guinness, a Chocolate-tini, 2 entrees and a dessert.
We hauled butt out of there to try and get to the World of Disney before they closed. My wife had some money burning a hole in her pocket that she needed to get rid of. But all kidding aside, we've been trying to find the fast pass holders that are on a zip line. All we could find was lanyards and we hate them. We did finally find them at The World of Disney. After snagging those, my wife found some stuff for her kitchen and some more much needed scrapbooking supplies.
Our total was enough that we were able to snatch up a framed coin set they were selling for $15 if you spent more than $50. I like the collector's coins so this was a nice addition for my Disneyana collection.
At this point, it was almost midnight and the shops were either closed or fiercely kicking everyone out. So, we slowly worked our way back to Saratoga Springs. I took pictures on our way out (of course).
That is how our day ended. I must say that the two highlights had to be riding Expedition Everest twice and the Irish music at Raglan Road with the music coming very close to topping the list.
Today, I came to the conclusion that despite George and Andy's (The Disney Geeks) opinion that the first step to becoming a Disney Geek is books, I find that if you have a good camera and an eye for detail you can start on the same path to geekdom.
Stay tuned for more adventures of The Grump and his Enchanted Rose. It looks like we may be going to the Magic Kingdom tomorrow but it may change.
As usual folks, keep it Grumptastic! Grumpy signing out.