Animal kingdom was the very first park we were visiting, so it was important to get there early to arrange the DAS pass for Michael. We were parked and on the tram by 9:00AM! I had only been to the Animal Kingdom one time back in 2000. I was so excited to get there and experience it all! The weather was awesome! It was in the low 80’s and cloudy, but a perfect weather day for exploring.
We found guest services rather quickly. After getting Michael’s DAS pass (I’ll write more about DAS in a future post), we headed to our first fastpass – Meet Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost.
This was my first time using a fastpass! We were able to get right in and there were only two families ahead of us. We started talking to the family in front us and it turned out we had a lot in common. Both of their children were autistic and visiting for the first time. Animal Kingdom was their last park to visit and they shared some tips that helped them get through their week.
When it was our turn to meet Mickey and Minnie, I had no idea what to expect with Michael (or Alex). The very first thing Michael did when meeting Mickey was to grab his nose! Poor Mickey! He was happy, smiling, and it was very clear to me that he recognized both Mickey and Minnie. The photographers were great too. They really allowed us to take our time with them, taking so many pictures to capture the moment. After having that time with Mickey and Minnie, it was obvious to me this was going to be a vacation with a lot of magical moments.
From the Outpost, we started to make our way around the park. We stopped and stared at the beauty of the Tree of Life. I honestly don’t remember it being so beautiful. I don’t recall stopping on my first visit to really take the time to truly appreciate it. We were fortunate enough to be there at the same time as another family, and we took turns taking pictures of each others families. Every time I look at that photo, it brings a smile to my face. Who am I kidding? Every photo from our Disney trip brings a smile to my face.
We had some time before our next Fastpass for the Kilimanjaro Safari, so we took our time walking around. Some of my family members had different fastpasses during the day, so we just did our best to meet up when we could. Alex enjoyed getting his autographs and pictures so much with Mickey and Minnie, that we spent most of the time chasing down other characters the rest of the day. It was fine with me; I enjoyed it just as much!
While Gabe had the boys shopping, I took a few minutes to enjoy the Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe. They were very entertaining. The dancing and drumming really was a lot of fun to watch. I love how they invited everyone to join them. Of course, just as I was about to jump in, my son, Alex, asked me about a souvenir he wanted to buy. I told him he just ruined my chances of being a part of the show!
I think Africa was one of my favorite areas in the Animal Kingdom. I enjoyed shopping at Mombasa Marketplace as did the boys! Alex wasted no time in picking up more character plushies along the way.
We decided to eat lunch before heading over to our fastpass for the Safari. We stopped and had lunch at Flame Tree Barbeque. I looked over the menu and was about to order a typical lunch item for myself, the Smokehouse Chicken Salad. Then I decided no, I’m going for something different and ordered the Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Pulled Pork. First, I’m not a huge fan of BBQ anything, never mind pulled pork, but this was delicious! I finished the entire thing! Alex was super happy considering he was able to order his normal food – a hot dog!
By the time we finished lunch, it was time to head over to the Kilimanjaro Safari for our next fastpass. My entire family was able to book the same time, so we were all able to ride together. I love this photo of us all, enjoying the ride together! It was so nice riding in the open vehicle, seeing all the animals and watching the excitement in my boys’ faces. We were having such a good time! A few times, I was worried that the driver was going to tell us all to settle down. My family can be a bit loud sometimes. LOL!
After the safari, we were able to get a FastPass for Finding Nemo, The Musical. This was adorable and very interesting as to how they were able to move the sea creatures under the sea. It was funny, the music was great, and Michael was calm and relaxed sitting through the show.
Our next fastpass wasn’t for a few hours for Na’vi River Journey. Since we had some time, we all decided make our way over to ride the train to the Conservation Station. It was a nice short train ride and my favorite place was the Affection Station. I have a confession to make. I was never a huge fan of touching or getting too close to animals at petting zoos. But, after watching Fixer Upper and becoming obsessed with their farm animals, I’m all about the goats these days! After spending time at Conservation Station, it was time to head back on the train for our next FastPass.
I was disappointed that we weren’t able to get a fastpass for Flight of Passage but, by no means, did the Na’vi River Journey disappoint. Michael stared at everything while smiling and giggling along the way. We only made one dining reservation and it was at the Rainforest Café. Although, we have one here in New Jersey, the boys had never been to it. I thought it would be a great place for us to have dinner. Once again, everything was very good.
Our last attraction for the night was the River of Lights! I’m so happy that we were able to see it. I had watched so many vloggers and seen so many pictures; then, to see it person was just breathtaking. I must admit, I was a little teary-eyed. Just sitting there, relaxing, was the perfect way to end our day.
After the Rivers of Light show, we took a quick stroll around, snapped some more photos and did a little more shopping. It was such a great way to start our vacation! Alex was happy with all of his autographs and pictures. He made sure to show every single person when we got back to the house. Of course, he did some shopping too. He set up his plushies in his room at our rental house; and, to be honest, it was just the best feeling to know that my boys had the best first day at Disney.
Like I said before, I just love our pictures, especially from the Memory Maker. It’s nice to have so many wonderful memories captured to look back on. It’s so hard to choose a favorite park but I would have to say that Animal Kingdom is high on my list! What I wouldn’t do to have another shot at dancing with the Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe! What I wouldn’t do to taste the Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Pulled Pork at the Flame Tree Barbeque again. What I wouldn’t do to look back at my family all enjoying the Kilimanjaro Safari together. What I wouldn’t do to go back in a heartbeat!
These are a few of the last pictures we took at the Animal Kingdom. I can’t help but smile when I see them. It was a very happy and magical day for all of us. Have you been to Animal Kingdom? If so, what are your favorite attractions, rides or food to eat. I’d love to hear in the comments below!