Hello everyone! This is the fifth and final post in my Disney vacay 2K17 series.
Our last full day in Orlando was spent exploring Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This park was, in its own way, a fun experience. It was different from what I typically think of as ‘Disney.’ Animal Kingdom was part amusement park, part zoo and I thought that the animal exhibits were well-integrated into the park. Conservation was also a theme present (as it was at Epcot).
Not to miss attractions:
Pandora: the World of Avatar
The newest land in Animal Kingdom just opened at the end of May 2017. It is stunning in its design. There are two rides, Navi River Journey and Flight of Passage. The river journey was a slow-moving boat ride set against the bioluminescent backdrop of the rainforest. It was well done, and very pretty, but it did not compare to Pandora’s main attraction, Avatar: Flight of Passage. This was a breathtaking 3D experience simulating a ride on a Banshee. It was incredible! We were lucky enough to get Fastpasses using the MyDisney Experience app, but it would have been worth the average two-hour wait. We had dinner at the Satu’li Canteen, which was very good and reasonably priced.
Asia and Africa had some fun stops. In Asia, you’ll find the adventure thrill ride Expedition Everest, along with Kali River Rapids. We enjoyed both rides, especially Expedition Everest. We did not spend quite as much time in Africa. Kilimanjaro Safaris was fun, but what ended up being a two-hour wait when the estimate was 40 minutes put a damper on the experience. We also went at night when many of the animals were sleeping. The lions were up, and it was cool seeing them.
For school-age kids (4 and up), there is a Wilderness Explorer program. The kids get to find things throughout the park and earn “badges” in their workbooks. Some of the Disney guides were really knowledgeable about their subjects. This actually helped us to see more of the park and notice details that we would usually miss.
In all, it was a fun day. There was less air conditioning than at the other parks, but more frequent stops and plenty of water helped us keep our energy. We did not visit Hollywood Studios on this trip, as we were only in Florida for a week. There just wasn’t as much to do currently, and I did intentionally schedule downtime so that we would be at peak energy and mood for our visits to the parks.
A shopping tip:
Like most visitors, we did drop a more than a few dollars at the World of Disney at Disney Springs and at the shops on Main Street in Magic Kingdom. But the husband found a great place to purchase souvenirs: Disney’s Character Warehouse at the Orlando Premium Outlets. The shop is located at the Outlets on Vineland (not to be confused with the Outlets on International Drive). The mall itself is lovely, with many of our favorite name brands. But the Character Warehouse was great! We purchased an estimated $400 in items for $86 including tax. We found Tsum Tsums for 0.99, ornaments for $2 and under, tote bags and shirts for $7. All items are authentic Disney merch; it looked like many of the items may have been past season. The discounted prices helped us to stay close to our budget and buy for the grandparents and our adorable niece and nephew. There is a Coach and Kate Spade, both of which have collaborated with Disney. I didn’t find any discounted Minnie Mouse Kate Spade, but I did find a cute Mickey crossbody at the Coach outlet. Normally $348, I purchased it for $116 including tax. It was a perfect souvenir and birthday present for myself, up until Emily claimed it for herself. 🙂
Vacation costs can really start to add up, and it’s easy to go over budget. Feel free to share your money-saving tips while on vacation in the comments below.