We got to the park just as it opened at 8am, and it was empty. I guess all the party animals were still sleeping off last night's festivities. It was pretty great. All morning, there were virtually no lines for the rides, so we were able to tackle most of the big-name rides early on.
Expedition Everest: This was the first ride we did. I was a little iffy on roller coasters, so I thought it would be best if we did this before we ate - that way, if my stomach reacted poorly there'd be nothing to come up. It's a pretty cool ride. I was really impressed with the 'set dressing' Disney had prepared to make it seem like you were really in a mountain outpost on the edge of civilization. The roller coaster is fun without being overwhelming. The one thing that Sean and I were really disappointed about is that NEITHER OF US SAW THE YETI THAT SUPPOSEDLY SWINGS HIS ARM OVER THE COASTER. We'd seen it in a travel video about the park, so we knew to look for it...but nothing! We didn't spot it the stupid animatronic monster anywhere. Lame. We probably should have gone on the ride again while the line was non-existent, but I was hungry.
We had breakfast at Tamu Tamu Refreshments - your basic bagel sandwich with egg and cheese.
Kilimanjaro Safaris: This was really fun. There was no wait, and the ride itself is quite long. We took tons of pictures of the animals we saw...since Disney puts the food really close to the road, the animals come up really close to the vehicle as you drive by. There's a silly little storyline to the ride - you're looking for poachers on the safari - and to that effect there's a camp set up in the corner of what is otherwise a glorified zoo. It's a little weird.
Taking pictures on safari.
It's Tough to Be a Bug!: Sean and I totally expected this to be cheesy, boring little semi-educational film about bugs. We didn't realize that the show was interactive, with a theater that 'reacts' to the action on the screen! I mean, it's still cheesy, but much better than we expected.
I'm a bug!
The Festival of the Lion King: Not bad. It's an extremely condensed version of The Lion King. It seems rather strange while you're watching it because Simba is the king presiding over the festival, but it references scenes that happen in the film loooong before Simba was an adult. The costumes reminded me of the Broadway show, but the cheesy animal floats that help separate the audience sections are pure Disney theme park. Entertaining, but honestly? If you've seen the actual Broadway show, you can skip this one.
Kali River Rapids: I love water rides like this one, so even though it was cold this was pretty fun. It seemed really, really short though. Also, poor Seanie got SOAKED. (Funny thing about theme park disclaimers: In California, the signs say 'You May Get Wet'. In Florida, they say 'You WILL Get Soaked'.)
Finding Nemo - The Musical: This was my favorite part of the park. They used puppets and there was singing and dancing - all standard Disney musical stuff, but the difference is that Finding Nemo wasn't a musical movie, so all of the songs were new and exclusive to the show. This made the musical seem a lot more special than the abbreviated version of The Lion King we saw earlier, or the shortened Aladdin musical still playing over in California Adventure. It secretly delights me that the musical's songs were written by one of the creators of Avenue Q.
DINOSAUR: If Finding Nemo was the visit's highlight, than Dinosaur was the big disappointment. The ride is so dark that we could barely see the dinosaurs in the ride, and the vehicle so jerky that it gave me a headache. I got that it was supposed to be a thrill ride, but it'd be a lot scarier if I could see the friggin' dinosaurs!
After the ride, we had a late lunch at Restaurantosaurus - because how could we not eat at a place called Restaurantosaurus? On tap they had a giraffe beer, but we didn't notice it until after we'd ordered. Oh well. Food was crummy but what can you do?
By early afternoon, we'd done everything we wanted at the park so we went over to Downtown Disney to see what that was like. It's huge compared to the one in California. The shops themselves aren't too exciting, though. The wait lines for most of the restaurants were painfully long, so we ended up going back to the resort for dinner and an early night.
Sean carousing downtown with Goofy