Saturday, June 2, 2012

Disney World Trip Report Day 1 Arrive/ Day 2 Animal Kingdom

We just got back from Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort and I thought I would write a review of our trip.  We had a great time and really enjoyed the resort because there was so many activities to do and it was so quiet and peaceful.  The one and only other time I went to Disney World was in 1997 and we stayed at Disney's All Star Sports Resort.  While it was a perfectly fine place to sleep I remember the rooms being really small, a lot of in-your-face huge Disney decorations and kids running around all over and it being really loud.  In contrast Riverside was very calm, relaxing and I don't think I ever heard any kids running around except for around Ol' Man's Island which was well away from our room. 

Day 1 (Arrival)
Our flight got in about 7:30pm and after we got to the Magical Express area we only had to wait a few minutes until we were loaded on the bus.  We did wait in the bus for a while and more people got on but it was air conditioned so we were fine, then finally we were off to Disney.  I knew the bus was going to make stops at other resort but I wasn't sure of the order.  The bus driver came on and said what the stops would be but he had a really strong accent and we couldn't understand him.  Turns out that Riverside was the last of 4 resort stops and I think we didn't get there until about 9:00pm.  I had used Disney's online check-in and I had called to request a room close to the bridge going over to the main building (We were in a Royal Room and there are only two choices of buildings with these rooms-Oak & Parterre) When we arrived our room cards were already made and our packet of information was all ready.  I was expecting a room in Oak because it was closer but we were put in Parterre.  I decided not to ask for a change and just see how far the room was.  It was farther away from the main building than I would have liked but it wasn't a really long walk.  I don't think we would have liked to be any farther down than where we were (Room 9561) but it really wasn't that bad of a location.  The Royal Room had excellent decorations including the foot stool from Beauty & the Beast and the flying Rug and Lamp from Aladdin.  The headboard was a nice touch and you could press a button on the side that would set off fiber optics in the scene.  I don't think staying in such a small room would have been as nice without these special touches. 

We had not eaten supper so after we found our room and dropped off our backpacks we headed back to the main building to find the food court.  The Riverside Mill (the food court for this resort) is located in the far right of the building above (the blue building in picture at top).  We had a good meal and then headed back to our room and found that our checked bags had already been delivered.  I put away the clothes and got our room setup for us while my husband and son went to go checkout the arcade.  Then after they got back we went down for the night.

Major Regrets of 1st day
* Forgot to buy Disney dollars for souvenirs from Hotel
* Didn't get pictures of main building
* Didn't get pictures of our room before we got our stuff all over the place

Day 2 (Animal Kingdom)

We got up early and tried to make it to the park when it opened for the Extra Magic Hours (EMH) at 8:00am.  (EMH is when one park a day will be open extra hours in the morning or evening for Disney hotel guest only.  You will hear mixed reviews about EMH some people say to avoid the park because there will be a lot more people in the park that day because of the extra hours and other people like them.)  I think we ended up getting there right after it opened but it was pretty fast getting through bag check and into the park.  I think I made my family get a picture by the tree of life and got our photopass card so I wouldn't forget to do that later.

Then we moved back to the Safari ride as fast as we could to get that done with before the lines got too long.  When we got there we were able to walk straight through the line and get onto the ride almost immediately.  The ride is a little bumpy but not terrible (but we were sitting in the front seat, it may have been more bumpy in the back).  Our driver was excellent and really was into the whole safari theme and pointed out all of the animals and talked about the landscaping.  Then we hit one of the trails close to the Safari ride and checkout some of the animals. 
Picture on Safari Ride
Lioness & Lion sleeping by back tree on Safari Ride

Next up was Kali River Rapids, my son's choice.  WARNING:  You will get wet on this ride.  I tried to put a poncho on my daughter (4) and once she saw she was the only one who was going to wear one she took it off.  Once we got in the raft I tried to convince her to just hold it over her, still no go.  I put my hand bag in the middle storage area then covered our backpack with the poncho.  After the first wave came over the boat both my daughter and I got a wave of water that drenched our shorts, that is when she wanted the poncho but it was too late to put it on her so she just had to hold it over her.  After the ride we all were a little wet and we had a cranky 4 year old on our hands, but luckily I had a change of clothes for my daughter to change into so she got happy again pretty fast. 

Then we headed on to DinoLand USA.  We rode Tricera Top Spin one time as a family (it was nice that you could fit 4 people in one dino).  It was a nice ride for younger kids.  One of the seats could move the dino up and down and the other seats had a lever to tilt the dino but for the last round everyone did one high round before being lowered for the end of the ride. 
Tricera Top Spin Ride

After that ride our son wanted to ride Primeval Whirl which was just going to be too much for our daughter.  So my husband and our son left to go on Primeval Whirl while my daughter and I went to find "The Boneyard."  Primeval Whirl turned out to be my son's favorite ride.  He went on it several times with his Dad and I even got to ride on it once with him. Meanwhile we found the Boneyard but all we saw was slides and climbing things and my daughter wanted to dig for the dino bones so we walked out to see if we went to the wrong area.  Finally I had to ask someone, turns out you have to go into the play area at The Boneyard then go up the stairs and over a bridge (look for a dino skeleton bridge) and that will take you to the dig area.  It was a nice shady area that was full of small gravel and they had a lot of buckets and shovels for the kids.  The bones that they try to find are actually cemented down so they can't actually dig them up, they can only uncover them but it was still fun.  They had fans & misters also when it would get a little warm and it had music which had a lot of dino related songs playing. 

I think after that we saw it was about time for the Finding Nemo Musical to start.  The seating here if I remember right was stadium style benches which were not totally comfortable but were ok.  Before the show starts there are large bubbles on the sides of the stage and we had fun trying to guess where the picture of Nemo swimming would turn up next.  Then show time, this show was a live musical where the people carried puppets of the characters and could make them do motions and change their eyes, mouths, etc.  It was actually pretty neat the way the people made the characters come to life and the colors and lighting were great.  The show was just really a short recap of the movie so if your kids love the movie they should love this show.

Next we were going to try to catch the Festival of the Lion King show.  But by the time we got over there (I think we had to stop for some ice cream) the show had already started so we took the time to do the greeting trails and try to meet some characters.  The Mickey line was pretty long and all our daughter was really concerned with was Minnie anyway so we got in the Minnie line which was a little long but it went pretty fast.  It was so great to see her meet Minnie and go up and give her a hug because the only character that she said she wanted to meet was her.  I got some photopass pictures here also and her autograph as well.  Then we hit Goofy's line which was pretty short and got some pictures and autographs with him.

By the time we got done with the characters the Lion King show was over so we headed over there to try to get in line.  We had to stand outside of the building for a while (there was a large open courtyard area where everyone crowds into).  Then finally they opened the doors and there were 3 different stadium bench seating areas (think circus arena seating).  I was wondering how they were going to do the show because all there was, was a opening in the middle of the room that was empty.  But I soon found out after the show opens they bring in floats from one entrance between the seating and fill up the space between the other 2 seating areas with the floats then they bring out a center float section for the middle then finally fill up the space where they brought all the floats out from.  All the while singing songs and dancing.  The floats have different animals on them.  One has Timon and Pumba on it (Timon is a person in a costume and Pumba is a robot), then I think the other float is a giraffe and elephant and the final float has Simba (robot) on it.  There is 4 main actor/singers who get the crowd involved by having them do an animal sound for each group then there is more songs and at one point there is some "monkey" actors that do acrobatics and things on a trampoline, it was great.  Then more songs and dancing.  This was an excellent show and was probably my favorite thing to do at Disney.  It is a must see when you go.

I think by the time we got out of Lion King it was well past lunch time so we headed to the closest eating place which happened to be Pizzafari.  I was surprised that my son liked the pizza (he is pretty picky) and the desserts that came with the adult meals (we were on a meal plan) were basic chocolate mouse or strawberry parfait in a cup but it was decent.  The most memorable part of the meal was the straws for the drinks.  They are unlike any straw you have probably ever used, I guess they are biodegradable or something because of all the animals but they were sure different.  I wish I would have saved one for a souvenir.

After that I think we headed up towards the Tree of Life and got in line for "It's Tough to be a Bug" my kids didn't really want to go in here.  First of all it is a little dark and enclosed when you get inside the tree and they had seen previews of the ride on the Disney Planning DVD and I don't think they liked what they saw.  But I finally got them inside and when my daughter started to freak out a little I took her 3D glasses away and put her on my lap.  Then when the spiders came out that was all she needed and she wanted out of there.  So we grabbed the kids and left.  I saw several other parents leaving with their kids so this might not be a good show for small kids. 

By this time it was getting close to time for the Jungle Parade most of the seating around the parade route was already filled but we got a spot by an area that they were using for a walk through to get people around the parade route.  We were able to grab some more ice cream bars before it started and were able to see most of the parade.  If you want to get a good viewing area get and find a seat early because it is hard to find one close to parade time. 

Mickey Parade Float

After that we hit a souvenir shop where I finally found a penny pressing machine.  I was wanting to get a book filled with pressed pennies from Disney  but unfortunately because I didn't find the machines until right before we were going to leave I only got a couple pennies from Animal Kingdom.  Then we left the park and headed to the bus stop.  The bus stop was pretty full, I think a lot of other people were leaving after the parade also.  I've heard a lot of people who think Animal Kingdom is small and is only a half a day park but we didn't do a lot from the park and I wish we would have spent more time here.

When we got back to the resort we took the ferry from Riverside and went to Downtown Disney.  As I've mentioned in some of my other posts the Ferry ride has a pretty loud motor so just be expecting that.  We only walked down about 1/3 of the Downtown Disney area and got our daughter a Minnie Doll she had been wanting, got the kids pictures taken by several character statues that they have setup all over the place, played at the lego store and got some pennies pressed in some more machines.  Then we got back on the boat and headed back to the resort.
One of the Lego Sculptures at the Lego Store

After we ate supper in the food court we headed to get our swimming stuff.  Because it was getting dark out we thought the main pool wouldn't be very busy but there were quite a few people and the hot tub was pretty full.  After we got in the pool we found that the water was pretty cold so we decided to try our luck with the quiet pool closer to our room (by Oak Manor) and were grateful to find that this pool was warmer.  So we spent a little time here and then went back to the room to get some sleep so we could get up early the next morning for Magic Kingdom.

Major Regrets of Animal Kingdom
* Didn't get more pressed pennies from this park
* Didn't get to try Flame Tree Barbecue (I heard it is really good)
* Didn't get to explore the stores in the different village areas
* Didn't go to Rafiki's Planet Watch area at all
* Didn't get to see Flights of Wonder
* Didn't get more Photopass pictures taken and didn't get any Magic Shots on Photopass

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