We started back to our room after heading to Landscapes of Flavors to pick up some of their waffles- they looked adorable and tasted good too. We ate in the room (we had some pastries left from our Epcot visit in France too) and call bell services to retrieve our bags and transfer them to Wilderness Lodge for us.
Hint one: If you would like to try a second resort during your stay, bell services will transport your luggage to your second resort- for free. Just check out, enjoy your day at the parks, then when you check in to your second resort, your bags will be waiting for you there.
We will be spending the next 2 nights in 2 deluxe studio villas inside the Villas at Wilderness Lodge as Mike will be joining us later today as are his parents, sister, and 2 nieces. This is a Disney Vacation Club Resort (Mike’s parents are members) and we decided to add the meal plan to these 2 nights of our stay.
We checked out of the Art of Animation Resort and headed to the Animal Kingdom theme park around 11am. Another hot day and this park is easily 10 degrees hotter than any of the other theme parks on property.
Hint two: Be sure to drink all day during your Animal Kingdom theme park visit (water is FREE) as the park is 10 degrees hotter than any of the other parks on Walt Disney World property. The greenery that is used here for the animals also hold in the humidity, so factor that in too and you have one hot, August, Florida day.
We are taking today super easy. We approach the gates and take a picture with the Photo Pass photographers and do the same as we approach the Tree of Life. I also hunt down the photographer who takes the “magic” shots. Here a piece of Disney magic is inserted to your pictures, in particular I was looking for a picture of the kids holding a baby Simba. We took this picture years ago before Mikey was born, and now I wanted one with him holding baby Simba. Mission accomplished.
From here we walk to our lunch reservation with Donald in friends in Tusker House after picking up fast passes for the safari- that work out to be great timing because we should be out of lunch in time to utilize the passes. They take your picture here as well (included with your meal price) and you are instructed to wait outside for your name to be called. Here there are some chairs and tables to wait, not as bad as when we were in Epcot and we needed to stand and wait. Once inside, we are seated and the chef comes out to go through the buffet with us as to what Mikey can and cannot have. This is a more diverse buffet, which is really neat and very good. While we are up at the buffet Mickey visits my mom at the table and she asks them to please return when we get back because the kids do not want to miss him. I get the kids settled back at the table and bring my mom some food, go back and get for myself and then Donald comes by to say hello and pose for pictures.
Shortly after Donald’s visit there is a parade with all of the characters in the restaurant, with instruments. Mikey LOVES this and jumps up to join in – the girls are WAY TO COOL for this. That is OK, more fun for Mikey. 😉
After the parade we are visited by Daisy and Goofy and got the check- but no Mickey. We were assured he would be coming, no worries. We waited 20 minutes for him, missing our Fast Pass time for the Safari- which really bummed all of us out. And, now it was pouring outside- so we lingered a bit hoping the rain would let up- and it did. We headed over to the safari- and it was only a 15 minute wait, so we waited. With Mom’s scooter we headed on a different tram section for handicapped guests which cut down on the time too. Now, we have taken this safari at all times of the day- usually in the morning, even taking a sunrise safari when we stayed club level in Animal Kingdom Lodge. This Kilimanjaro Safaris ride was AMAZING. There were so many animals out and about; I had never seen anything like it. My younger daughter, Katie, was snapping away on her iTouch and beaming (this is a favorite of hers- she has always loved animals and getting to see so many, so close was such an incredible treat for her) throughout the entire attraction. This is the first time we have ridden the safari since the “Little Red” portion of the ride was replaced with a zebra exhibit- which was amazing and we didn’t miss the older version at all. Our only disappointment was that the lion was sleeping and hard to see- but we did get a glimpse of him. The most amazing- an ostrich had laid her eggs very close to the safari pathway and we could get an amazing view of the eggs and expectant mommy.
After the safari, we split up. Mikey and Mom went to the Lion King show and the girls and I went to Expedition Everest. Timing worked out really well and Mikey really wanted to ride TriceraTop Spin before we went to see the Finding Nemo show. Well, wouldn’t ya know there was a mechanical problem on this ride too and the kids were so disappointed we missed the Nemo show- because by the time they got off the ride we were a few minutes late and we still had to make our way there. So, we decided to head to Wilderness Lodge. Mike had texted he was there and anxious to see us.
Now we head to the buses, and we wait. We waited quite a while, maybe 20-30 minutes for our Wilderness Lodge bus. Far longer than we waited for any of our Art of Animation Resort buses, which is odd to me. Art of Animation is a value resort and Wilderness Lodge is deluxe. One would think the latter would have better bus service, but I digress.
We get to Wilderness Lodge and check in, no problem. Mike meets us in the lobby and we are off to our rooms. My parents in law booked 4 studios using their DVC points and asked for our 2 rooms to be next to each other because Mom will have the girls and Mike and I will have Mikey. Mike’s parents are down our hall and Mike’s sister is not far away. We get settled and head to the boat launch for dinner. We are heading to the Contemporary Resort’s Chef Mickey’s with our group of 11 tonight for dinner.
Hint three: Scooters are NOT accommodated on all boat transportation. Plan ahead for this because this will increase your wait time getting from one place to another using the boats if you are using a scooter.
We arrive at the boat launch at the Wilderness Lodge so we can head of to the Contemporary, except the first boat is not scooter accessible. We send the 9 ahead and Mom and I wait for the next boat. I wasn’t expecting this delay, but what can you do. We meet everyone upstairs by the restaurant at the nearby bar. We all order a drink and our table is ready. We all head over to take a group picture and head to our table. The party atmosphere is in full mode already, load music and happy faces everywhere. Dinner here is a buffet, so it takes some juggling to get everyone settled- but we do. During dinner we are visited by Mickey, Goofy, Pluto, Donald, and Minnie each more than once. The food here is typical buffet, you really aren’t coming here for the food- it is the atmosphere. The characters are great, the servers are fun- the food is just OK.
After dinner we are treated to the Electrical Water Pageant as we are headed to the boat launch back to the Wilderness Lodge. Biggest disappointment? When a boat arrives to the launch, the driver tells us all of the scooter accessible boats are now headed to the Magic Kingdom and there would be no accessible boat for Mom. Now the only way back to Wilderness Lodge would be to take a bus or walk to the Magic Kingdom and then another bus to Wilderness Lodge. Oh, and the Magic Kingdom is closing now – so expect a wait. I am NOT happy. We go through the lobby and ask if there are any taxis that might be able to accommodate Mom’s scooter. Sure enough, there was. It was a quick 5 minute drive to the Wilderness Lodge lobby where we met Mike who grabbed our room keys and ran to get our refillable mugs (included with the meal plan) filled with drinks for us. We strolled back to our studios and headed to bed- New Fantasyland would be waiting for us tomorrow and we were all excited!