In case you missed it:
(Taken in the Primeval Whirl queue. I didn't notice the "two thumbs up" until I looked back at the photos later!)
Animal Kingdom day began with us running behind our usual schedule after being out so late at the Magic Kingdom. It was at least 10 AM before we entered the park.
The line for Primeval Whirl gets long in a hurry, and it is not enclosed/air conditioner. Since everyone rides that, we went there first, before even trying to do FastPass+ at a kiosk, but the ride had broken down (common for this ride). As in, they were sending everyone out of the queue, people were walking down the sides of the coaster, etc. From an engineering perspective, I actually think getting to walk down from the coaster would be fun to do once, but not the loss of the time it would take.
Our next ride attempt was Expedition Everest while DH took the tickets and did the FastPass+ kiosk. Because we were running late and we had made a stop elsewhere on the way in, there was already a 30+ min standby line. We hadn't waited in the real queue in ages, and we even had to go out into parts of it that were uncovered (first time ever!). It would be brutally hot and stifling in the middle of the summer. (What is up with the no pictures?!)
We met up with DH afterwards. We ended up with FastPass+ for Primeval Whirl at 2, Dinosaur at 3, and Expedition Everest at 4. And with that very little accomplished, it was already time for lunch! We tried a new to us restaurant that I had only heard raves about: Flame Tree BBQ. And it really was excellent! Naturally, there was nothing Luke would eat there, plus all of the nearby seating is outside (it wasn't that hot, but skin cancer people need to avoid even ambient UV rays), so Mom and I ordered and carried the food over to Restaurantosaurus. Yes, carried it on a tray all the way over there. It wasn't far at all, and we didn't get drinks. DH was getting those along with Luke's chicken nuggets so that A) we didn't have to try to carry them while dodging other guests, and B) Restaurantosaurus has drink dispensers and free refills!
Next up was our favorite show: Finding Nemo, the Musical. We sat closer than usual this time, just across from the walkway that extends out into the audience. Sorry for all the pictures of this one (like every year!). It's just so beautifully done.
Apparently, fish, sharks, and turtles are as bad about closing their eyes for photos as my husband is. It was hard to find ones where everyone had their eyes open.
After Nemo, we queued for Primeval Whirl, then FP+'d it.
We wanted to go ahead and do Dinosaur, but Luke needed some calories, so we did a super quick snack and rest break. Dinosaur was followed by real snack: popcorn for Luke, ice cream for husband and Nana, and a Coke for me (I needed the caffeine).
We then finished off our visit with one more ride on Expedition Everest. Can you see Luke and Nana?
No? How about now?
Due to the limit of 3 FP+ per person per day, we couldn't get any more FastPass+s. The park closed at 7, so there wasn't much time to eat and then do anything, and we were all so tired and dragging. We decided to seek dinner elsewhere. One of the reasons like our favorite off-property hotel so much is that it is within walking distance of a Walgreens (for drinks, snacks, and emergency supplies) and at least four good restaurants.
The original plan was to get Luke chicken from Steak n Shake and take it to El Patron, the Mexican place nearby where Mom had eaten dinner Wednesday night while waiting for us to arrive. One small problem: Steak n Shake was closed for remodeling! Um, uh, now what? Maybe the Italian place? In all the years we'd been there, I don't think we'd ever tried it. We checked out the menu and it looked good, so we took a chance. The name of the restaurant?
Giordano's. Now, all of my friends who live north of the Mason-Dixon line are probably dying laughing right now. Understand that this is the only Giordano's that I know where it is. They are much more common in the north-central US. Their specialty? Chicago style deep dish. Two layers of crust filled with toppings and cheese, with the tomato sauce on top. They tell you in advance that it will take 40 minutes to cook, and I was skeptical that it would be worth the wait.
Holy sheep, it was GOOD!!! I'm talking swoon-worthy. I'm not sure you're really grasping the full amazingness of this pizza. Here's another picture, with my hand for scale. (Note, I am actually touching the pizza; it was huge and fantastically yummy!!)
With our bellies stuffed full of pizza perfection, we crawled back to the hotel. I know I was in bed by 8 and asleep before 9. I'm pretty sure even Luke was up a little later than that.
As is tradition, we ended our Disney trip with a trip to Downtown Disney on Sunday. Parking was an absolute nightmare with so much of the lot taken up with building the new deck. I'm sure hoping they will be able to Disney-fy it somehow when it's finished, because it could not be uglier. I know they had to; land is too valuable to expand with "flat" parking, especially while expanding/converting Downtown Disney into Disney Springs. I'm sure similar conversations when on when converting it from Lake Buena Vista to Downtown Disney in the first place, so hopefully it will be worth it, but the interim is going to be a pain.
Anyway, we did a little shopping, then had our traditional lunch at he Rainforest Cafe. Our "safari guide" (waiter) is from Buffalo, NY. We asked him how he was enjoying the weather, since I knew New York State had just had over a foot of snow dumped on them while we'd been soaking up the sun. "Well, I've been here 5 months, and I think I might be starting to get used to sweating in February." Oh no, honey, you ain't seen nothin' yet! I hope he doesn't die come July.
We actually didn't even go into the World of Disney this time. (We did do the LEGO Store, of course; duh!). Consequently, we completely forgot to get Luke a 2014 photo album! It has become a bit of a tradition to get him one since the first year he asked, and then I get pictures from the trip printed for him. I can't believe we forgot! I'll have to see if I can find one somewhere or find a friend who is going and pick one up. And with that, we headed home.
Currently feeling: properly "moused" for another year