We were quite tired day 3 and it made getting to Animal Kingdom at their opening at 8 AM pretty difficult. It was closer to 9 AM when we finally arrived. By then Avatar Flights of Passage was an hour wait. We knew this ride was worth it and hope sincerely it is an option on Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane. Yes that will mean paying for it but as crowds rise I suspect this ride will return to an 2-3 hour wait. The line is pretty cool and I saw things I had never seen using the Fast Pass lane. But an hour was more than enough to make me realize that I would be more frustrated and have less fun on the ride with a longer wait. Of course it is one of the best rides in existence and certainly the best at Disney World. You really should do it at least once.
After our hour long wait we headed to one of our favorite restaurants in all of Disney World, Satu'li Canteen in Pandora. More details on that to come. Next we headed to Expedition Everest which appeared to be moving slowly but when I grabbed a drink for the line (fully outside), the line started moving rapid pace and we had to chug basically. Everest is a fun roller coaster that goes backward and forwards and Scarlett dispieses it. We love it. We followed up Everest with a trip to the Kilimanjaro Safari. This ride was amazingly only a 20 min wait and it was basically the time it took you to just walk through the line. We saw all the animals but the lions. Fortunately we have two beautiful ones here in Baltimore. But this is where the heat started to get to us.
For reasons I can never explain, Animal Kingdom always seems 10 degrees hotter. My hair held up on Saturday, but melted immediately on Sunday. We had lunch reservations at Sanaa, a fabulous restaurant over at Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village. Unsurprisingly we were once again too full for anything but wine and the fabulous bread service appetizer. We decided to hit the pool after lunch, only to be dissapointed with a rain storm. It passed quickly but we used the opportunity to head over to the Grand Floridian to try their newest cocktail lounge, Enchanted Rose. It was a lovely little lounge with stellar, pricy cocktails but you can not beat the view. We took a bus from our resort to Magic Kingdom and then planned on taking the Monorail but it wasn't running so we took the new walking path. It's a nice walk with a good view of the lagoon but it's a little long.
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We headed back to the hotel to get ready for an epic dinner at the California Grill with two excellent old friends. We were seated just before the fireworks began and it was absolutely spectacular. The food was as delicious as it was expensive but it was an amazing experience. I have several complaints though about the Contemporary Resort in general though. When we arrived we had hoped to grab cocktails at the bar. It was at capacity and there was no waiting list. We were instead directed to the main lobby bar which was half lobby lounge and half sports bar. We felt out of place all dressed up for a signature dining experience. It was loud, the view bad due to construction and there were a lot of kids in there waiting for their tables to be ready at Chef Mickey's. The good news was our table was made ready earlier so only one drink was had at Outer Rim.
The chaos of getting back to the Animal Kingdom Lodge was no minor inconvenience. In retrospect we should have asked our friends to drive us. Instead I thought taking the monorail out of contemporary would be fun. I knew there was an after party happening and the buses should have been running so all we needed to do was get to Magic Kingdom. I won't bore you with the details but no they weren't running, yes we did get off at the wrong stop, yes we did have to Uber, and yes I got blisters from walking too far in my Jimmy Choos.
Day 4 came too early. Hollywood Studios opened at 9 AM. Our plan was to get there at 8:30 AM. We didn't make it. Tower of Terror, my favorite ride, and Rock'n'Rollercoaster were still short waits and we did them quickly. We followed it up with Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway because it was the only ride left with a reasonable wait time. There are consequences to sleeping in with no fast passes. We proceeded to hit Baseline Tap House for a pretzel and a flight and then found all the fun halloween snacks. With no lines left we were willing to wait in and our promise to Scarlett not to step foot in Galaxy's Edge we got out of there and picked up the Skyliner headed to Epcot.
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As a travel agent I feel it's important I know a little something about every resort. We stopped at Caribbean Beach Resort and the Rivera Resort. We stopped for a little snack at Le Petit Cafe in Rivera for Mimosas and Madeleines. We then moved along to check out BoardWalk In, Yacht and Beach Club, all accessible via the Skyliner and the International Gateway to Epcot. I really hope that Disney doesn't continue to restrict park hopping till 2 PM. We stood outside the gates for a good 15 mins and it would have been more if we hadn't resort hopped. It had always been a strategy in the past to leave parks when we were no longer having fun and now that's simply not possible.
Once in Epcot we were ready to start eating again. We had done about 1/3 the first day and we hoped to get another 1/3 in that afternoon but alas our stomachs betrayed us again. A little tip I want to mention is that you can buy a little gift card on wristband that helps you keep track of your spending at Food & Wine and it's super quick for the cast members to scan. We reloaded it each day. With our bellies full we headed to Test Track. Pat and I had never ridden it because it has always been closed for rain. I think Scarlett will love the experience but we found it a tad bit juvenile for us and we got stuck in a car with a very large man making seating quite uncomfortable.
Once again we found ourselves headed back to Mexico for margaritas and the very air conditioned Grand Fiesta Tour ride for a little recharge. We enjoyed it so much in there we decided to make a reservation for the following day. The we ate, and ate and ate some more. I will point out that it is rather difficult to drink too much at Food & Wine. The portions of food relative to beer and wine keeps your stomach full. We ate many things we loved and merely sampled beer and wine from around the world. We sufficiently stuffed ourselves to leave before the fireworks.
Overall, Animal Kingdom Lodge is a truly beautiful and serene resort but we did not love that our favorite resort bar, Victoria Falls Lounge was crowded with football fans watching Monday Night Football. We took our drinks back to our room and had some tasty desserts from The Mara I had purchased earlier as it closes quite early. We ended up taking turns massaging and icing our feet as we were averaging 25,000 steps a day. Very shortly after we crashed. Hard.
This was our departure day but I booked an evening flight so we could have one more day of Disney bliss. We start with a quick dip in the pool to help with our sore feet. It's not my favorite pool on property but it is surrounded by beautiful vegetation and feels serene. We packed up and headed out for our last day at EPCOT. We still managed to get there before opening and decided to do Frozen Ever After to stay cool while waiting for the Food & Wine booths to open. We also saw Anna and Elsa from a distance who I was able to chat with and Aurora who I sang to and got a great picture.
I am sorry to report we did not eat at every booth. In the end we could not handle any more eats, especially after our lunch at San Angel Inn, which we quite enjoyed. Stay tuned for my food review. We then returned to Animal Kingdom Lodge, changed our clothes and headed back on the Magical Express. Except it wasn't the Magical Express, it was just a bus, driven by a non-cast member, with zero magic. I really regret not book MVP People Mover for the trip back and will be using them from now on. If you want a great experience driving around Orlando, let me know because this is the way to go.
We were ready to head home and the flight back was empty. My anxiety once again almost got the better of me and from now on I will bring more music and more tv to watch. Fortunately Pat let me lean my head on him and soon enough my brother-in-law whisked us home to see Scarlett. I was so proud of her for how she handled us leaving her and masking around her until we had received negative tests. We had a fabulous time and will absolutely make this trip again with just the two of us. We'll probably be using those annual passes with Scarlett, but Disney isn't going anywhere and we can't wait to return.