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Old 23 May 20, 09:12 AM  
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Silver Anniversary Trip, Day 20

Friday, January 31st, Animal Kingdom, Universal Studios and Manny’s

Fair warning, today is a long one with lots of pictures, lots and lots of pictures.

This was our last full day and we wanted to pick up a few things that we’d managed to miss so far on all our trips to the parks. Unlike our usual last day run around we were only hoping to get to two parks today, once again the early closings had removed the evening visit options. Julia and I were going to Animal Kingdom for the morning and then Universal after our afternoon break. Sandra and Brian were coming with us to Animal Kingdom and then spending the rest of the day at Disney, not having Universal tickets.

I don’t think I’ve shown you the view out of our front door yet? Here’s the pool we never used.

Those of you paying attention will have spotted that this was 15 days after we had first used our 14 day Disney tickets, having first entered Epcot on Friday January 17th. This question always seems to come up on the forums, “Can I use my Disney ticket on my first and last day?” Yes you can, we did it today with no issues at all and did the same thing in 2016 with the 21 day ticket. I will admit that we’ve never tried it with the 7 day ticket, but I can’t see it working any different.

We were out of the door about half eight and soon at Animal Kingdom, where our first stop of the day was the Safari to pick up a DAS return time, before we backtracked to Starbucks for some coffee while the clock ran down. On the way in, as we were passing the Tree of Life, we noticed a bit of a crowd around the animal enclosure in front. Sandra insisted she’d seen a kangaroo and so I went to investigate.

The lesser known Floridian Winged Kangaroo, or a vulture as it is more commonly known.

There was just time for a quick picture of the Lion King theatre as we crossed the bridge into Africa.

I don’t think we waited more than about half an hour for our safari, the first of the pictures I’m about to subject you to is timed at twenty to ten.

Regular trucks passed us by while we waited for the disabled one to fill.

It may look like a badly coloured in zebra, but is in fact related to the giraffe.

Some animals were still on their way into work.

This rhino wasn’t feeling photogenic this early in their shift.

It was cool enough that the hippos were not under water for once.

Nor were the crocodiles.

The painted dogs were enjoying a lay in.

Giraffes grow up quickly, this one was new-born last time we were here.

The elephant was posing for pictures.

This giraffe was kind enough to show us one of the hidden feeding stations Disney use to encourage the animals to stay in sight.

Not sure where this rhino was in such a hurry to get to, maybe they too were late for work?

You can play spot the cheetah.

We had to pause for a rhino crossing.

For once one of the lionesses was not asleep.

Unlike her friends.

Not sure what Pumba was doing down on his knees.

One of those strange desert scimitars that never drinks.

Once we had finished with the safari Julia and I turned left out of the station and went for a walk around the gorilla trial. Sandra and Brian had to take a walk back to the facilities in Harambe before they came and caught us up.

Mr lizard was also in a posing mood.

The weaver birds were very busy making themselves new nests, flying from one end of the aviary to the other to tare strips off leaves to build with.

They are fascinating to watch and we stood for ages with them.

A white zebra with black stripes, as opposed to a black one with white stripes.

We also watched mum and baby for quite a while.

After a while mum needed to be elsewhere and baby hitched a lift.

Dad was keeping well out of it.

Not the easiest monkeys to photograph against the bright sky.

By the time we’d walked the whole trail I was getting peckish and so on the way to the other trail we called into Zuri’s Sweet Shop opposite the end of the Harambe Market for a cookie.

I doubt this counts as a hidden Mickey. Also this area opened a lot later than 1980, anyone know the significance of the date?

Not the greatest cookie I’ve ever had, it was quite dry and the icing tasted of nothing really.

I love details like this around the park, the effort that went into creating the back of a shop is incredible.

The main marketplace wasn’t open yet.

We once again found the Photopass photographer down on the old boat landing had no queue.

They even had some Magic Shots available.

I took this while Sandra and Brian got their pictures done.

The theming changes as you walk from Africa to Asia along the path.

We stumbled across another quiet photographer.

This one had a snake, much to Sandra’s horror.

Just a random bit of theming.

Around the corner the Monitor Lizard was out at the start of the tiger trails.

Sadly there was only one tiger out and that was right at the back of the enclosure.

I’ve always said the temple in the tiger trail is one of the best themed areas in Orlando’s prettiest park.

Water Buffalo are not what most people consider pretty on the other hand.

The aviary entrance continues the temple theme.

Just look at the effort that went into these.

Odd looking pigeon.

These bird tables are absolute works of art.

The pigeon appreciates them, he’s put his best hat on to eat there.

The other thing we spotted on the tiger trail, but didn’t photograph, was a massive crane reaching over from way out the back to somewhere over the rapids ride station. The ride itself was down for its annual maintenance so I guess they were working on the station itself with the crane. It was quite the beast with a very long reach indeed.

Continued Below

Edited at 09:37 AM.
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Old 23 May 20, 09:13 AM  
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Even though we were quite early we went and took our seats in the bird show and had a chat about eating options. Julia was keen to go back to Satu’li Canteen and since we all had enjoyed our first meal there everyone else agreed that was a good idea. After a while the theatre started filling up and the animal handlers started putting the treats they use to reward the birds around the place, with a fair amount of feathered assistance.

This was our first time seeing the current version of the show. I’m glad that tour guide finally found the exit.

The chicken sorted out the pre-show music.

The owl kept an eye on everything.

Does anyone know where that tour guide went, they were less annoying than this lot.

I’m pleased to say the parrot duet is still a highlight.

Sadly my camera wasn’t quick enough to capture this huge bird in flight.

Not all Disney cast members are paid peanuts, this one is paid grapes.

”I’m the star and don’t I know it.”

He’s certainly a big lad.

The owl does have a part in the actual show as well.

As I said I actually think the lost tour guide was slightly less annoying than the Up characters. I know it’s Disney and everything has to have a story, but please does everything need to be so ridiculously over acted?

We let the crowd go and then made our way down to the path to Pandora, taking the long way round by Tiffins to avoid the horror of the boardwalk path on the ECV wheels. While a restroom break was taken I walked over to see the otters and was delighted to see them out and very active. There was initially a squirrel in their enclosure as well, but they soon chased that off.

Squirrel! Someone else has seen the bird show.

Mum and two daughters according to the cast member stood at the fence next to me.

The slide looked a lot of fun, these three certainly seemed to be enjoying it.

Once everyone was rested and had also watched the otters a while we set off for lunch, only to pause again when I spotted the photographer by the Lion King backdrop had no queue.

Not sure about the dodgy pose.

If you look very carefully on the walk to Pandora you can still see a remnant of what the area was originally designed to be, Beastly Kingdom.

Pandora was busy, not helped by the guy in the mech suit just finishing his act.

One last picture of the floating mountains this holiday.

Satu’li Canteen was busy, as normal.

To be fair it wasn’t as busy today as it was in the rain a few days ago. I’m not sure why we didn’t use mobile order today, I suspect because it wasn’t busy enough to bother. Julia and Sandra once again found a table while Brian and I queued for the food.

Having tried the blue dessert the other day today I had the chocolate version, it’s also very good.

My chicken on noodles.

Julia ordered the beef and then gave me most of it as it was far too rare for her. I also had the Pandoran Sunrise speciality drink.

Once we’d eaten we sadly made our way out of the park for the last time this holiday, pausing for one last Photopass picture outside the entrance. We left Sandra and Brian at the park entrance, where they went over to the bus station to go off to another park. We arranged they would give me a call when they were done and if we were also finished we’d pick them up on our way home from Universal.

One last look at the amazing theming around Pandora, just think how much work it took to make this simple wall look this old.

We really should have pulled unhappy faces for our last Disney picture of the holiday.

We got back to Orange Lakes about quarter past two and only took a short break today as we knew Universal wasn’t open very late again tonight. We left the hotel about half three and had a slow run up to Universal on a damp I4, getting there about quarter past four. There were loads of people leaving in the light rain, which suited us just fine.

No time for crazy golf today.

I think we were the only ones heading into the park.

Having not managed to see it yet we were happy to find there was one last Horror Make up Show scheduled to start soon and so headed inside the theatre and out of the rain. We really enjoy this show, with the right cast and audience ‘volunteer’ it is hilarious. I’m happy to say today’s cast, especially the lady, was spot on and very funny indeed. The chosen audience member was from Morocco and although her English was fluent she didn’t get some of the cultural references, which just added to the comedy. I was surprised to hear the pre-show announcement still asking you to silence your pager, this one had not been updated since the place opened I guess.

Not the dry explanation of makeup techniques we were expecting to find on our first visit years ago.

We’d gotten seats dangerously close to the front.

This was our last full day and still we had not managed to pick up Julia’s friend’s Starbucks mug she’d asked us for, so once the show finished we took a walk over to the coffee shop to see if we could get one today. It wasn’t to be, they only had the park version and not the general Orlando ‘You are Here’ she wanted. As we walked there was a group of suites walking in front of us doing a course inspection for the parade. Although the rain had died down they obviously didn’t like the look of the ground and moments after one of them lifted their radio the announcement went out that the parade was cancelled.

ET was showing a 25 minute wait, but there was no one in the outside queue area at all and so we joined. I was quite disappointed to see the video that plays while you are waiting is horribly stretched from its original square aspect ratio to today’s widescreen. This is another thing left over from the park’s opening obviously.

Yes that planet should be round, E.T. is trippy enough, without living on a rugby ball.

Once we got inside and gave our names we found quite a long line in the forest and so the estimated wait time was actually quite accurate. This set is superbly done and lit, it is easy to see how it could pass for a real forest in a film.

I’ve never really noticed the animatronics in the queue before, I don’t think we’ve ever waited to be honest.

Once we were back from planet hippy we had a quick look at the Universal app and saw that Men in Black was only showing a 10minute wait and so called in there on our way to ride the Hogwarts Express.

Night was beginning to fall.

There was no queue for Men in Black, but it was still properly dark by the time we got to London.

Kings Cross was far too quiet for this time of the evening.

The pride of the East Coast Main Line.

This was the first time we’d managed to ride the train this holiday and we enjoyed our trip between the parks. I still say the cleverest displays here are on the inside of the carriage with the action in the corridor, despite the dreadful Emma Watson impression.

We had hoped to see the light show on Hogwarts over in IOA, but it had already started by the time we got there and rather than see half a show we simply turned around and rode back to London as we’d not seen the action in that direction either this trip and the trains would have stopped before the show finished. We got told off on the way back, for trying to keep each other warm. We had a compartment to ourselves and since once again the air conditioning was set to full summer super freeze (yes I tried the controls in the compartment, they are just for show and don’t move) Julia came to sit on my lap to keep warm, but the door soon opened and she was told she had to sit on her own seat. Next time you’re on the train see if you can find the camera.

There weren’t many people trying to travel 2 minutes before the 7pm park closing.

Kings Cross is normally busier than this at 3am, let alone 7pm.

Both parks were closing at 7pm that night and so we had nothing to do other than walk out once we got off the train. The lagoon show was running when we got there and so we were held for the fireworks just beyond the San Francisco pier. We did kind of watch the show, but it certainly is not designed to be seen from this angle.

Not much to see from here.

Once the show finished we were set free and made our way to the exit, passing the newly built French Quarter Courtyard, that was still having the finishing touches applied for the first of the Mardi Gras events the next day.

No beads for us this time, we couldn’t afford a long enough trip to cover both our anniversary and Mardi Gras.

Goodbye Universal, see you next holiday.

Still no Voodoo doughnuts for me, I wasn’t waiting in that queue.

We had been exchanging messages with Sandra and had arranged to pick them up from Hollywood Studios on the way past. This was quite simple as they had made their way out to the ride share area and we just pretended to be an Uber, sadly this didn’t include getting paid. They had not eaten and so after dropping Julia back at Orange Lakes for her customary bowl of Frosties we three continued a short way up the road to Mannys on the 192.

Not a subtle exterior.

It was quiet for a Friday night.

We had perhaps left it a little late to eat at Mannys at nearly 9pm and found they had run out of many items, despite being open until 11pm. Sandra asked for Prime Rib, they hadn’t got any left, I fancied ribs, but they’d all gone. In fact, even after our orders had been taken our waiter had to return and tell us they were out of mashed potatoes.

Service was good and what food we were able to order was good, but I didn’t bother to photograph a simple steak and baked potato on a white plate. Presentation is not what you go to Mannys for. The rolls were still freshly baked and the salad tossed at our table as usual.

We didn’t linger over our meals and there was no room for desserts and so we were soon back at Orange Lakes where in a shocking break with tradition I did the bulk of our packing before we turned in for our last night in Florida. On every other trip packing for the trip home has always been left until the last morning or even the afternoon before an evening flight.

Back to the index.

Edited at 09:15 AM.
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Old 23 May 20, 11:18 AM  
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As you said lots of photos but all of them are lovely I like seeing other people’s photos of different parks a good last day

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Old 23 May 20, 03:14 PM  
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Originally Posted by mick View Post
As you said lots of photos but all of them are lovely I like seeing other people’s photos of different parks a good last day

Thank you,

Yes it was a great day.
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