Saturday, November 6, 2010

Disney Travelogue #5 (Free time)

When we went to Disney World 4 years ago, we were there for Thanksgiving (2006). We ate Thanksgiving Dinner at the restaurant in Germany (in the World Showcase at Epcot), and they had a dance floor & an Oopa-loompa band. The kids had such a great time running around like crazy and dancing.  As we watched them enjoy the freedom, we wondered if, even though we were having a wonderful time, the kids couldn’t use a little more free/down time.

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(Our only free time 4 years ago…Look how shrimpy Luke & Alyssa were!)

So this time, we planned a free day in the middle of our time at Disney. I would totally do this again. It was hard (with all the different options – particularly the water parks, which we didn’t visit) to keep it a mostly free day, but we managed to. We slept in, then went to breakfast at our hotel already wearing our swimsuits and headed to the pool.

(Incidentally… I checked my phone that morning, and it was the first below freezing day in Lincoln. I was ridiculously happy to be in Florida, headed to the pool.)

After several hours in the pool, we got cleaned up and headed to Downtown Disney – Matt & Luke went to Disney Quest (3 stories of video gaming and virtual reality games), while Mom, Tobin and I had a great lunch and went shopping.

For dinner, mom had made reservations for us to attend a “Grand Gatherings” meal at Animal Kingdom. If you have a group of 8 or more, there are some special perks available – one of them is choosing one (or more…we ended up going to 2) of the Grand Gatherings meals at each of the parks. The Animal Kingdom Grand Gathering includes special seating for the Safari (at the end of the day, when many animals are out), then dinner at the Tuska Restaurant.

The kids loved the Safari (although Luke was not impressed by the fakey “poachers” emergency, including an animatronic baby elephant rescued from the poachers. Of course when we asked Tobin what his favorite animal was of the ones we saw? The baby elephant.)

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The meal was excellent, and included African musicians (and a conga line for the kids) and a surprise visit from Timon and Rafiki from The Lion King.

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In the advertisement, they said there would be animals in the courtyard of the restaurant during dinner – one of the selling points of this meal for my mom. It turned out to be a lizard and a tarantula.

But the kids were impressed. :)

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And I learned that Tarantulas aren’t poisonous. Actually no animal is poisonous, since poison is something you ingest – spiders are venomous. But Tarantulas aren’t venomous – no one ever, in the history of time, has died from a tarantula (according to the lady holding the spider, that is.) Another mom standing with us asked, “How did they get such a bad reputation then?” (I was wondering the same thing.) The guide’s answer? “It’s a big hairy spider.” Oh. I get it. :)