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Old 22 Jun 16, 05:24 PM  
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The "Years in the Making" Trip - Day 5 (AK, Tusker House, AoA and Pop Resorts)

We were up pretty early again today as we were aiming to get to Animal Kingdom during EMH…. and we had a surprise in store for Thomas! We had a very quick breakfast before we left - largely because Thomas can’t really function without eating something as soon as he gets up, and we didn’t have any actual plans for breakfast!

Today was the first day that I drove to a park. I’d already driven the car… hang on, it was really a bit of a bus! I drive a VW Tiguan at home, which is not exactly a small car, but our seven seater Chrysler Town and Country was in a different league! I probably could have done with some reversing sensors, but I guess at least there isn't quite so much reversing to be done when parking in the US as there always seems to be in the UK. Anyway, I’d already driven around OKW a couple of times, so this time I volunteered to get us to Animal Kingdom. You'll be pleased to know that we made it in the same number of pieces as we started out!

We were through the gates not too long after 8, but then we need to wait a little for Thomas’s surprise. We had some Photopass pictures taken and spent a lot of time taking pictures o the tree of life and picking out all of the different animals in the trunk. We had told Thomas that he was going to meet a surprise animal and had him guessing what it might be. The guesses ranged from a hamster to an elephant and everything in between, but nothing came close.

The surprise was held up at the gates with some magic band issues, but eventually appeared behind Thomas…. it was my brother, also known as Uncle Simon!

My brother has lived in San Francisco for more than ten years, so obviously Thomas does not get to see him that much, but he absolutely adores him when he does. When we were first planning the trip, my brother had said that he would definitely try to plan to meet us there for at least part of the time. He’s laid back to the point of horizontal though, and so plans did not get made with any great speed! As a consequence, we didn’t tell Thomas that he would be coming, in case it all fell through. As it turned out, the plans weren’t made until about two weeks before. Despite living in SF, his girlfriend and her son currently live in Fort Lauderdale, so the original plan had been that they would all come for the weekend, and then my brother would stay for the remainder of the week. Unfortunately his girlfriend’s son was ill, so in the end only he made it up. This meant his plans had been more closely aligned to ours for the rest of the week and he hadn’t even attempted to sort out the same Fastpasses or dining reservations as us for today, so we'd be winging it a bit.

But no matter, he was here (and this was the first time we’d seen him since last summer). Thomas doesn’t look all that happy in the photo above, but I think he was just really surprised as it obviously hadn’t occurred to him at all who might be coming!

We headed off to start our day over at Kilimanjaro Safaris. We did have a FP for this a bit later on, but as the standby wait was currently only 10 minutes, we jumped on so that Simon could also join us. It was actually pretty much a walk on. Our guide seemed very good (although we had nothing to compare it to!) and we did see quite a few animals. Giraffe are my absolute favourites, and sadly there weren’t too many of them about this morning. My other favourite animal is the giant anteater, so obviously none of those either. But I am also rather partial to a zebra, and we saw plenty of those. Plus we did get lucky and see not one, not two, but three lions out on the rocks, including the male who was busy “chuffing”. Nope, not throwing up chunks of meat. Apparently “chuffing” is the sound they make that isn’t a roar. It sounded a lot like a bark. We also got the bridge shaking effect. Thomas really enjoyed this, spotting all the animals and pointing them out to us in case we hadn’t seen them.

(Sorry for the photo overload here, I'm sure you've all seen the animals all before, so feel free to scroll right on by.)

We next headed through the Pangani forest trail, where we saw lots more animals. So of course there are a few more pictures!

By now we were pretty hungry, so headed for some refreshments at Kusafiri Coffee shop. We had coffees, juice, croissants and elephant ears between us. In total 12 snack credits worth of stuff. My brother was staying at AoA for the weekend, but didn’t have the dining plan, but we used our snack credits for him too. When I told the CM on the till that we wanted to pay with snack credits, she raised her eyebrows and said “for all of it?” When I then scanned my Magic Band she laughed and said “Oh yeah, you need to use those credits”. At this point (on day five) we still had around 90 snack credits left (we started with 102 - we were not in our eating stride at all!) Commenting on the number of credits we had was a bit of a reoccurring theme!

The elephant ears were pretty good, but now that I’ve had one I’m not sure I’d be desperate for another, if you get what I mean! Thomas really enjoyed his chocolate croissant though!

Next up was our Fastpass for Kali River Rapids. Thomas was a bit reluctant, but surprisingly easily persuaded to try - we reminded him how much he liked the Congo River at Alton Towers. Simon didn’t have a fastpass for this, but we decided to see if they would let him on anyway. I’m sure that quite a lot of people on the Dibb would be up in arms about our cheek! The thing is, I find it funny that the people who get all upset about people asking for an extra person to join an ADR or FP are the same ones who enjoy “Disney Magic” as much as the rest of us. And I view this as just another form of Disney magic, the same as being given an extra chocolate cake or chosen to ride the tea cups with Alice and the Mad Hatter. We asked with absolutely no expectation that we would get a yes, but because it couldn’t hurt to ask. At the end of the day, we were a group of six with five fast passes - it’s not like we had one fasts and wanted to bring a huge group on! I get that if everyone wanted to bring an extra person, it would be unworkable. But the truth is, most people don’t. And that means sometimes the CMs can sprinkle a bit of pixie dust on those who ask nicely. And in this case it was a yes.

Anyway, Thomas was measured and made it above the height required for the wristband to indicate that he needed the special seat. We popped his poncho on, as we weren’t sure ho well he would take to being soaked. It took a few minutes and we were loaded up. In actuality, my brother being with us made no real impact as we were loaded with another group of six, wo there would otherwise have been one empty seat anyway! Although Thomas hadn’t been given a wristband, I’m really glad that he got a seat with a pull down bar anyway. I honestly think that kids quite a bit taler than Thomas, especially the more nervous ones, could all benefit from having this bar to hang on to to be honest! Thomas was quite nervous, but sitting with his Uncle Simon to encourage hm seemed to help and he definitely enjoyed it all, other than the splash of cold water to the face! Mum and Dad ended up facing backwards going down the slope, so they got the worst of the water, whilst Ian and I stayed pretty dry!

The "Years in the Making" Trip Report - Apr/May 2016 - unfinished, but hopefully soon!
Our Japan Adventures in the Have Child, Will Still Travel... to Japan! Trip Report - In Progress!
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Old 22 Jun 16, 05:26 PM  
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Next up we headed over to Asia as Ian and I had a FP for Expedition Everest. Now it was at this point that I’d made a bit of a mess up with the Fastpass bookings. Our FP was for 11.20, and I’d made one for my Mum and Dad and Thomas to go to Finding Nemo at 11.30, on the basis that it was close by. However the 11.30 FP for Finidng Nemo is for the 12 o’clock showing. And we had an ADR at Tusker House at 12! A FP isn’t strictly necessary for finding Nemo, so we simply decided to skip out on that one. We did have a look at changing it to something else, but there weren’t really ant suitable options. When we’d booked our Fastpasses at 60 days, it was still a requirement to book 3 for each day. Had the rules already changed so that it was only necessary to book one or two, I don't think I’d even have a booked a Fastpass for them at this time in the first place (bearing in mind Ian and I also wanted to see Finding Nemo anyway!). There isn’t a lot to Fastpass at AK, and because the shows don’t really need Fastpasses, and we had another day planned with thinks like the Mickey Meet n Greet planned in too, it was actually a bit of a struggle to pick things.

My parents, Simon and Thomas got a spot opposite the drop to wait and watch for us coming down. I could see them as we went up the climb and did wave, but unsurprisingly they couldn’t see us! Never having done the ride before, I’m not entirely sure how it is supposed to work, but I know I’ve read lots about the yeti not really working. all I know is that there is a yeti above you that lunged down at us. Ian completely didn’t see it, but I swear it was there, so who knows?! I also don’t get the hairband thing? What is with that? Answers on a postcard please….

By now it was almost time for our Tusker House ADR, so we wandered in that direction via the musical instruments where Thomas had a good ten minutes of fun.

We managed to drag him away and get to Tusker House. As before, we hadn’t added Simon on tot his as he’d been expecting to do something different. As he now had no particular plans, we decided to ask if he could join us. If the answer was no, he’s have gone and got himself a Quick Service and rejoined us later. However it turned out to be no problem. Again, for anyone up in arms, my guess is that tis was because it a) wasn’t super busy and b) we were a group of 5 who would have been allocated a table for 6 anyway, so we actually took up no more room (and made Disney extra money, of course!) The waiting area for Tusker House was one of the best. None of the overcrowding and manic-ness (totally a word!) that we encounter in so many places. It was large, had shade and iced water provided.We waited about ten minutes before we were shown to our table.

We really enjoyed the food (and Tusker beer, naturally) here. There was a really good variety and the buffet was well laid out to avoid the overcrowding that often happens. We had some great character interactions, especially with Daisy, who Thomas was very taken with. They played peek-a-boo and pulled silly faces and she couldn’t stop giggling at him. It was the first time we’d met Donald and Daisy so far, and they both got huge hugs! Thomas also joined in with the parade around the restaurant twice, clapping and dancing all the way. Here comes another photo overload:

After lunch we headed for the Wildlife Express over to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Being a train, Thomas was very excited about this one, although he was a little puzzled by the fact that we were travelling sideways and could only see out one side.

When we arrived we joined a fairly short queue to meet Chip 'n' Dale. unfortunately they headed off to get a nut snack immediately before our go, but it was s per speedy turn around. It was another fantastic interaction too, and I got plenty of hugs as well.

The "Years in the Making" Trip Report - Apr/May 2016 - unfinished, but hopefully soon!
Our Japan Adventures in the Have Child, Will Still Travel... to Japan! Trip Report - In Progress!
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Old 22 Jun 16, 05:27 PM  
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Inside we all had the opportunity to stroke a snake, and Thomas was very easily pleased by listening to the “sounds of the rainforest” in one of the booths here. There was a also a display all about animal poo… what four year old wouldn’t love that?! (Sorry, not sure there has been a single day in this tripe that hasn’t featured poo in one form or another yet!) There was another short queue to meet Rafiki himself, and we were the last family to do so before he headed off for his snack. I’m not sure that Thomas knew quite what to make of Rafiki. But then, I’m not sure we did either! He is incredibly soft and lovely to snuggle next to though!

We headed out to the affection section and Thomas grabbed a brush and got stuck in to some goat cleaning. One of the goats ducked under the rope and trotted away (do goats trot?) and Thomas was very keen to find a member of staff straight away and tell the that the goat didn’t want to be brushed anymore and had run away. Thomas worked up a bit of an audience and everyone kept telling us how cute he was.

We were all pretty hot and tired by now, so we caught the train back to the main park. Thomas instantly struck up a friendship with a five year old called Jackson, telling him about when his birthday is, and where we were staying. Sadly for Jackson and his family it was their last day.

Back at the main park we had a brief wander on to the Maharajah Jungle trek. By now it was half past three, we were all flagging a bit and it was much later than we’d really intended to stay, so we headed out of the park. we walked past Tamu Tamu on the way out, so I stopped and used some more snack credits (we were doing well on those today) to get us some Dole Whips. We found some shade just after the bridge and sat to eat the. It was roasting by now, so they really hit the spot. There is a good reason why they are a Dibb favourite. (If we hadn’t had to share with Thomas, I’d have gone for the rum version!)

We drove back to OKW and picked up our swimming stuff before heading over to Art of Animation where Simon was staying for the weekend. As he was originally meant to be with his girlfriend and her son, he had a Cars Suite, which I fancied a nose at.

Now, swimming in other resort pools is another one of those subjects that gets people up in arms (I’m going for it today - joining the FP queue without a FP, adding people to an ADR at the door and swimming in other pools - there is a hayrick of naughtiness!) However we specifically asked if, as guests at another resort, it would be ok for us to swim in the pools at AoA with a family member who was staying there. The answer was yes. I can see the situation could be different if you are a guest at another resort and not visiting guests at this resort, or if you are not a Disney resort guest at all, or if it is peak time and the hotel is full to capacity. But if you are visiting someone at another resort and want to swim together, once again it can do no harm to ask. If we’d been told no I guess we could have popped to Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach for a bit, but in all honesty I doubt we’d have bothered.

We had a good nosy at the resort. It is really well themed and is probably the resort that most screams “Disney” rather than just being a well themed place. The other resorts have great theming, but they wouldn’t necessarily have to be in Disney, and if you just woke up there one day, I’m not sure it would be immediately obvious you were in Disney. At AoA there is no escaping it!

We swam in the Little Mermaid pool first. As I said in yesterday’s report, Thomas has always been quite reluctant in the water, but having Uncle Simon to “show off” to really brought him up another level. Simon was pretending to be a sea monster and catching Thomas’s legs, to a whole lot of shrieking and laughter. After a while he asked to go to the quiet pool by Simon’s room - the Cozy Cone Pool, so we wandered over there. Including four of us, there were only about eight people in the water, so it really was quiet! The traffic cone cabanas around the edge here were really cute.

Time was getting on and tummies were rumbling so we all got changed in Simon’s room and then headed to get some food.

We had a quick look in Landscape of Flavors but it was absolutely manic in there. I thought it might be that we’d hit peak family dinner time, but Simon said it had been the same much later on last night. There just seemed to be more people than the space could cope with and it was impossible to see what food was actually on offer. So we decided to wander over the bridge to have a look around Pop Century and see about eating there instead. It was a lovely walk across the lake and Pop Century is another really well themed resort. The Baloo bear really is gigantic!

Everything Pop felt much more laid back than Landscape of Flavors and we all chose some food, using four QS credits with some swapping of drinks and our resort mugs. Both Thomas and I had our first Mickey Premium bars of the holiday… and the verdict was good!

By the time we’d eaten darkness had fallen, so we wandered back across to AoA to pick up the car and headed back to OKW to bed. It was around 10 by the time we got Thomas to sleep and we followed straight after as we had an early start the following morning heading out to Kennedy Space Center.

The "Years in the Making" Trip Report - Apr/May 2016 - unfinished, but hopefully soon!
Our Japan Adventures in the Have Child, Will Still Travel... to Japan! Trip Report - In Progress!
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Old 22 Jun 16, 06:29 PM  
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Sounds like a really fun day. Fantastic that your brother could join you.
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Old 22 Jun 16, 08:28 PM  
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Another fab day and again so many beautiful photos!

So wonderful that your brother got to join you, what a wonderful surprise for Thomas! And so pleased he was able to join your for the rapids and your lunch at Tuskers... Disney magic for the win

Excited to see your photos of KSC!
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Old 22 Jun 16, 09:14 PM  
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Oh my goodness Uncle Simon and Thomas look like two peas in a pod! So glad he could join you at Tusker and how lovely was Daisy with Thomas? So cute! 💖
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Old 22 Jun 16, 09:36 PM  
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Another great day with a lot packed into it. What a lovely surprise for Thomas to see Uncle Simon. There is nothing wrong with asking if 1 other person can join you, if you don't ask you don't get and if they say no fair enough. Go for it I say

Edited at 09:38 PM.
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Old 22 Jun 16, 09:46 PM  
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What lovely photos! Sounds like a great day you all had

The Cars part of the hotel looks amazing i love when Disney do themed hotels it really brings the Disney magic
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Old 22 Jun 16, 10:48 PM  
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Your photos really are beautiful! You obviously have a good eye and a good camera

Holy moly, I didn't see llamas when we went! I bloody love llamas! Booooo!
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Old 23 Jun 16, 07:23 AM  
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How lovely to meet up with your brother and that you were all able to ride and eat together

Cars rooms look fantastic, I think if we were only stopping for a short stay they would be lovely to stay in, as it is I'm glad we've booked OKW as the space looks fab.
Xx Juliet xX

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