November 3, 2005: Animal Kingdom Day

Another day of bad or no Internet access. As I write this there is no access at all. It has been sporatic ever since we first tried to use it. Three days at ten dollars a day and they can’t get it to work in the least. For the amount of money that they are making they could afford to start their own ISP!

I was very surprised when Min and I managed to wake up at 9:00 this morning and got ready quickly and out the door in time to catch the 10:10 shuttle to EPCOT. From there we hoped the first park bus that came by which happened to be the Animal Kingdom. We had been planning on going to Disney-MGM Studios today but that bus wasn’t there when we were ready to go so we went to what was available first. Dominica has never been to the Animal Kindom so that was pretty cool for her and only half of the park was built the last time that I was here so quite a bit of it was new to me as well.

We started off in Africa where we took the slow but pleasant train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch which is an interesting “behind the scenes” look at the operations of the zoological part of the park. It was interesting but mostly targetted towards the younger set. Next we did the safari ride. This ride was hugely improved since the last time that I was here. Last time the ride had a really involved and really stupid storyline about poachers. Now, because of insurance I am sure, the park is no longer allowed to do the violent show and it is much better. Now there are animals as well. Last time we were lucky if we saw a single animal on the entire safari. But this time there were lots of them and many were very close to the truck. It was really cool. We had a good time. We were getting a little hungry and it was around noon so we went to the restaurant in Africa and got some lunch. It was an upscale counter service restaurant with a nice outdoor seating area. That was nice.

Then it was off to Asia. I have not yet seen anything in Asia as the entire area was not yet built with Eric, Mark and I were last down here. This area was really well done. We were wary of doing the Kali River Rapids since everything that we had read about the ride had talked about how wet you can get on the ride. We didn’t want to spend the day wet and have to go to dinner like that but we decided to chance it. I was very careful about where I sat on the ride carefully gageing how heavy all of the different passengers were and picked my seat accordingly. I ended up being almost completely dry by the end of the ride. Min was a little wet but not bad. The other people on the ride with us were completely soaked. But they were having a really great time and were just laughing and laughing. So it all turned out well. After the river rapids we went on the Jungle Trek which was fun as well. Mostly it was just a nice exhibit and habitat for the Bengal tiger, Komodo dragon and the large bats. But it was done most excellently. We could not believe what an incredible job they did on the tiger habitat making it look just like south east Asia.

We did Dinoland, USA very quickly as there is very little there for adults to enjoy. The only ride that we did was Dinosaur which is a thrill ride. It is a really rough ride and I don’t think that Dominica was really prepared for just how rough it was going to be. But we enjoyed it and I was glad to hear that they had turned the volume down a little on the ride so that it is not so ridiculously loud anymore. It would still be very frightening to small children.

After Dinoland we left the Animal Kingdom and headed to dinner at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We took a little time after arriving at the lodge to check out the private wildlife preserve that they have there just for the lodge patrons. It wasn’t anything like the Animal Kingdom but it was awfully expansive and nice. Very cool. After checking out the preserve we had some time to kill before dinner so we went to the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Victoria Falls lounge for a drink. I got myself a G&T and hung out the desk overlooking Boma that I nursed until it was time to check in for dinner.

Dinner was at Boma. Boma is a buffet style high class African styled and flavoured restaurant. Our reservations were for 5:10 and the place only opens at 5:00 so it was empty as we were seated but the lobby where you could wait to be seated was packed to capacity. Our waitress, Maureen, took us on a tour of the buffet talking us through the selections as there were so many and they were so eclectic – eclectic unless you are African then maybe they are like good ol’ fashioned home cookin’, what do I know? Maureen set us up with a plate of chocolate mousse and a plate of hummuses and flatbreads to get us started with and then showed us to our table. We tried as much of the food as possible. There was a huge selection of salads and lots of vegetarian friendly options. The final word is that this is definitely one of the finest if not the finest restaurant that either of us has ever eaten at. The food, the service and the atmosphere were absolutely amazing! We worked very carefully to pace ourselves as it was very, very easy to just gobble up the first items that we came across and that would have meant missing a lot of really awesome items. It was tough to choose what to try and what to bypass. We ended up sitting for an hour and a half at a buffet in the hopes that we could fit a little more in. We just couldn’t stop eating. Every single thing that we tried was just so amazing. And to make matters even better the price was fantastic! For the two of us to eat an all you can eat gourmet buffet was only $53.23 after taxes! That is a pretty sweet deal for eating on property in Walt Disney World. That is the same price as the all you can eat Garden Grill Character Dinner that we did but we both agreed that Boma inched passed the Garden Grill in total quality although both were just fantastic. If anyone is planning a trip to Disney we highly recommend that you take the time to go out to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and try out Boma. It is a dining experience that you are not very likely to forget anytime soon.

After dinner we returned to Epcot as full as could be. We were stuffed to and beyond capacity. We got to Epcot and realized that Future World was still open and that we could ride some rides there. That worked out really well so we called the shuttle company and told them that we were staying late in the park. We rode Spaceship Earth because Dominica wanted to ride it again. Then we ran over to The Land and rode Living with the Land TWICE before they closed down the rides. Dominica puts up with a lot because she loves me. I did manage to video record the entire agricultural section of the tour from either side of the boat so if anyone is really interested in finding out more about it just drop me an email and I will get you some information on that. I have lots of still images as well from the ride but I didn’t want to put them all up on Flickr for all of you who just don’t care.

We still had one final thing in the World Showcase that we hadn’t gotten a chance to do yet so we ran up there and just barely made it in for the final show of O Canada at the Canadian Pavilion. The show has not been updated since 1982 and it shows. It is a good movie but the film is getting old and the subject matter is pretty outdated. But we had fun.

After the movie we were ready to head out of the park. So we packed it up and got ourselves back to our hotel. Look for pictures, videos and the podcast. There is a lot to see and hear from today.

[Edit December 2009: For some reason I forgot to mention where we had lunch on this day.  Dominica and I ate at Tusker House in the Animal Kingdom.  It was a counter service lunch and the food itself was nothing special.  The location and design of the restaurant though were superb, so much so that I took a fairly popular picture from the seat where I ate in the courtyard, and at the time I mentioned to Dominica how disappointed that I was that Tusker House was a counter service restaurant rather than a full service location.  In November 2009, almost exactly four years later, we ate at the Tusker House that is inspired by the flavours from Boma.  Fortunately I took the picture and was easily able to find it on Flickr that allowed me to pinpoint the date and time that we ate here.]

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