Disney World October 2009

Disney World Pictures

Animal Kingdom Entrance

The following pictures and commentary describe my brief two day Disney World trip after having completed my cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. This was the final part of my brother's super honeymoon described more on the Caribbean page.

Wilderness Lodge

Wilderness Lodge I was extremely impressed with how smoothly the whole vacation went, and commented about this on the Caribbean page. Unfortunately the trend didn't quite make it through to the Disney World portion. This portion was tacked on at the end, with very little planning and some miscommunication about what everyone was doing. So I was able to spend one very quick night at the Wilderness Lodge, and then traveled back to Orlando the following night, before catching a plane ride the next day.
Wilderness Lodge Pool and Ducks Despite the last minute planning, I did still manage to have a good time. The Wilderness Lodge is very impressive, and I love the nature theme. You know the theme is real when it extends to Ducks hanging out right next to the swimming pool. If you live closer to Disney World than I do (which is about 90% of the country), then I would recommend splitting the vacation into two trips and not combining a cruise and Disney World. If such a thing is possible, it is too much vacation all at once, and I usually get burnt out by this time. Also, as is typical when traveling to a different part of the world, and being around a lot of people, I caught a cold and wasn't feeling very healthy at this point.
Wilderness Lodge Trees The whole area around the Wilderness Lodge is a forest with lots of beautiful trees and a small lake. So even though it was 80 degrees, with 80 percent humidity and I had a cold, I was still trying to stay in shape and really wanted to go running. I woke up that morning and did a 2 mile loop near the lake on some forest trails. During that time I passed some ducks, went within four feet of a rabbit chewing on some grass, and went within about 20 feet of a deer nibbling at the tree line. I felt horrible, yet it was wonderful.
Wilderness Lodge Towel Animals The towel animals continued to follow us around, although they weren't quite as creative for this shorter part of the trip. Here is, of course, Mickey Mouse.
Wilderness Lodge Towel Animals This is the more decorative towel animal, although I'm not sure exactly what it is supposed to be. Some sort of sea creature.
Wilderness Lodge Towel Animals Another angle of the mysterious towel creature.

Disney World - Out and About on the Lake

Disney World Lake One of the things I really like about Disney World is all the open land where the wildlife is free to roam. Especially being in Silicon Valley in California where all the available land is completely developed and the only nearby open spaces are in the mountains. The Disney World land was probably originally all swamp land, but it's pretty useful now.
Disney World Lake Going from the Wilderness Lodge to the Magic Kingdom, you can travel by boat over one of the lakes. This is one of the larger ferry boats that we passed heading the other direction.
Disney World Lake This is a picture of the Floridian Resort, which is one of the larger and more expensive of all the Disney Resorts, although I've never been inside.

Epcot

Epcot Dome Originally I was going to just get a day pass for the Animal Kingdom one day, and Epcot the next, but the nice lady at the ticket counter asked if I had any coupons or discounts. It turns out that my military ID, which only got me a 10% discount last time, got me a free five day park hopper pass this year! It also gave my mom a discount on her tickets, so overall we saved about $200. I was extremely happy and thank Disney for their support of the Armed Forces.
Epcot Dome I love the engineering behind the Dome at Epcot, so I of course have to take a couple pictures of it. Although I've always been too busy to spend much time here, so I have yet to take the tour to the top of the dome. I did finally get to go on the Soarin' ride this time, and that was pretty fun. My main reason to go to Epcot was to travel around the world and visit Chinatown, where I stocked up on some good Oolong Tea and bought a sword.
Gnome While visiting the different places of the world, we went through Norway and saw a gnome. There is also an amazing sweater/coat that my brother showed me for $550, but it's not quite that amazing, so we both had to leave without it.
Helmet The Norwegian horns also made an appearance, so my brother had to dress up for a photo. The Oakley's really blend in well with the time period, don't you think?

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom Entrance My free park hopper tickets let me go to the Magic Kingdom when I otherwise wouldn't have, so that was nice. This place was all decked out for the Halloween parties that were going on. The newlyweds went to the party later that night, but nobody else decided to splurge for the extra tickets.
Magic Kingdom Entrance The Magic Kingdom has the Buzz Light-year ride on it, where you get to ride around and shoot lasers at a bunch of aliens. It's one of the simpler amusement rides, but still one of my favorites. Although the scores this trip were about 100,000 for me, 500,000 for my brother and 700,000 for his wife. I don't know how she does it, but she continually kicks both our butts. Apparently the years of video game practice don't help us that much.
Halloween Here is the sign describing the Not So Scary Halloween Party coming up for the last night on the day I was there.
Magic Kingdom Castle The main street down the Magic Kingdom with the famous Disney Castle at the end. The road and all the shops are of course all decked out for Halloween. I wonder if they reuse the decorations in following years or always set up new ones. If they reuse them, then where does all the different seasonal stuff get stored during the rest of the year?
Magic Kingdom Castle The Magic Kingdom Castle. It's funny to think that this Castle was probably just drawn on paper one day, and no one ever thought they would physically build it somewhere. Despite that, this one looks exactly like the one in all the movies I've seen.
Magic Kingdom Castle The was some show going on when I got there, so some Disney characters were out and dancing to music on the steps of the Castle. I don't know exactly what the show was, but I believe stuff like this happens pretty often. There are shows and parades down the main street and events like that all the time.
Magic Kingdom Castle Here is a close up of the characters as I was walking around the castle.
Magic Kingdom Castle Here is side view of the castle as I'm walking towards the back of the park. It was lunch time, and I knew of a food court in the Patriotic New England part of the park, so I was heading there for some chicken strips and fish and chips. Despite only being there once before, in the dark, in the huge Christmas crowds nearly two years earlier, I was able to walk almost right where I wanted to go. I consider that a useful talent.

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom Entrance The rest of my photos all come from the Animal Kingdom. Sure, some of the other parks have better rides and more attractions, but I love wild animals, so this park is still by far my favorite. I went here on both days so that I could ride the Kilimanjaro Safari twice.
Animal Kingdom Everest Here is a very beautiful shot of a peaceful river with the artificial Mount Everest in the background.
Animal Kingdom Everest This mountain is probably only a couple hundred feet high, but compared to the rest of Central Florida that stays below about 40 feet, it really does feel like Everest.
Animal Kingdom Tree of Life The tree of life. Even though this isn't a real tree, it's still really cool.
Animal Kingdom Tree of Life Another view of the tree of life.
Animal Kingdom Tree of Life On the second day, I went to this park on my own, and then met up with my Mom later on. It took forever for her to get from Downtown Disney back to the hotel and then to this park, so I had time to walk around and explore. I never realized it before, but there are trails right below the tree that allow you to get up close and personal. You can then really admire all the detail that went into this design.
Animal Kingdom Tree of Life
Photo courtesy of Zoe Ann Stauffer
Here is a another picture of the tree detail that my mom captured.
Animal Kingdom Tree of Life One more view of the tree of life, this time from the back side of the park.

Animal Kingdom - Rainforest Cafe

Rainforest Cafe Sign I don't know why I like the Rainforest Cafe so much. It's way overpriced, extremely noisy and obnoxious, and this time our service was slow, but I still enjoy it. They are obviously doing something right in their marketing. Although, as I mentioned, I'm a sucker for wildlife, so even if all they had were the super large fish tanks, then that would probably be enough.
Rainforest Cafe Sign I really enjoy a strawberry banana smoothie, and at the Rainforest Cafe, they serve their version called the Key Wester. I've tried to reproduce various versions of this at home, but it never tastes as good. I'm still missing some important combination of ingredients, so if anyone has any suggestions, then please send them to me.
Rainforest Cafe Sign I believe this is the one and only time I've ever taken a picture of a bathroom. Although I have been tempted in some elaborate bathrooms in Vegas, but they were not empty at the time. I checked and this one was empty, so I snapped the picture. The Rainforest theme continues on in stunning detail even in here.
Rainforest Cafe Fish The supersized fish tanks are amazing. My 50 gallon one at home would look tiny next to these. Actually my whole apartment would look tiny next to these. The fish probably have more square footage than I do.
Rainforest Cafe Fish I snapped a couple random photos of the fish swimming by. I don't know what any of these ones are, so I'll call this one the red one.
Rainforest Cafe Fish Then there is the yellow fish.
Rainforest Cafe Fish Also, the grey fish, with blue spots. He needs a shorter nick name. I think he was also agitated at the time, because he was swimming in circles about 4 times faster than any of the other fish. It took me a couple passes before I could get him centered in a photo and not blurry.

Animal Kingdom - Safari Path and Safari Tour

Animal Kingdom Safari Tour Most of the following pictures are from the Kilimanjaro Safari, which is an open air car tour of a wilderness preserve setup to mimic Africa. It is weird being in humid Central Florida, and driving through African grasslands, but they do a pretty good job with the preserve. I had done this once before, and loved it, and this was the main reason I wanted to come back to Disney World in the first place. I rode this twice over two days, and the pictures are a little mixture of both days. Not all the animals will cooperate when you want to get photos, and the sarafi vehicle will slow down, but not stop for photos, so you have to be quick. Also, I don't guarantee any of the information I give. I may love wild animals, but I am by no means an expert on them.
Hippopotamus
Photo courtesy of Zoe Ann Stauffer
This may just look like a blob under the water, but it is actually a Hippopotamus. I missed this photo, but my mom got it. I'm impressed, because we zipped by this area, and she nailed it.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour This is some sort of small antelope. This is a full grown adult; they only get to about 60 pounds.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour There are fences and moats in some parts of the reserve, mostly to keep different predators isolated, but by and large the animals are allowed to roam and mingle with each other. There are chains along the surface of the roads at the gates that must discourage the animals from walking across them, but otherwise the gates are open to allow the Safaris through.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour Some bigger form of Antelope or Gazelle or Okapis or something. There is a pictorial guide in the Safari car, but for some reason I never have taken a good picture of it. Sometime, I'll have to photograph the guide, so I can later refer to it, and remember what all the animals are.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour Some wildebeest feasting down on the grass.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour Everyone seems to be feasting on the grass today. I could also probably use Wikipedia to figure out what all the different species are, but that's too much work for now.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour A close up shot of one of the wildebeest.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour The giraffes came right out close when I was here two years ago, but this time they were more elusive. They were hiding back in the trees.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour This guy almost came out closer, but then decided to walk away from us. I was also on the opposite side of the car from this guy, so I got someone's blurry head in the photo. For the most part I did pretty well keeping the animals in the photos and the people out while in a moving, bouncy safari.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour The so called upside down tree, because the branches get smaller and more frequent, making them look like roots. This tree only has leaves for a few months per year, so I've never actually seen it when it doesn't look dead.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour One of the other safari cars coming behind us, so you can get an idea of what our ride looks like.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour A termite mound, made of dirt and termite mucus. Sounds great! I guess they as strong as concrete, so elephants will use them as back scratchers.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour Lots and lots of flamingos.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour A slightly bigger bird now. In fact, the biggest bird, the ostrich.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour This picture doesn't show much, but there are three baby elephants splashing around in the water.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour An adult elephant. This seems weird to me, but apparently elephants get sunburned easily, so they throw dirt on their backs to act as a natural sunscreen.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour Another elephant walking around.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour This is a white rhino, which at first we drove by, and I would have liked to get closer.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour The safari tour guide got a call saying to stop the drive for some problem further ahead of the trail. One of the animals must have been straying to where they shouldn't be going. In the meantime, this rhino started getting real curious about us, and walked up real close. Then we got permission to move on ahead and we left him behind.
On my second trip through the safari, a white rhino was standing right next to the trail, and I guess he is used to the cars, so there wasn't much to do except drive right by him. We were only a couple feet away, and you could have easily reached out and touched him. It was really cool!
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour Pumbaa. Well, not quite, but it is an African wart hog.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour This would then be Simba. You have to look twice, but there is a lion next to the rock, doing what they do best, and sleeping.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour Here is another shot of the sleeping lion. They tend to position themselves out of the way, so I never have gotten a good picture here. The best lion photos I'm ever taken where from the MGM in Las Vegas.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour The cheetahs were a little more photogenic. This one was lying down, but at least poked its head up.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour Another one was standing and watching off in the distance. Probably wondering when dinner is served.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour This feels like almost the same stance, but in a different spot on a different day. I wonder if he is thinking the same thing as before? This is the last photo from the Safari ride itself, but then there is a path you can walk through on the way out to go by some more animals. The following shots are from that path.
Animal Kingdom Safari Path We had Pumbaa, and Simba, so we can't forget about Timon.
Animal Kingdom Safari Path This is a very skittish gazelle. I tried to get a photo without a branch right in the way, but he wouldn't cooperate. I then got distracted, because it was 24 hours before my Southwest flight departed, so I had to check into my flight on my cell phone to get a good boarding number. It somehow felt like a weird place to be using my phone, but it worked just fine, and I got a good seat on the way back.
Animal Kingdom Safari Path This is a silver-back gorilla, although you can't see too much of a silver back on this one. I think that either means it's young or female.
Animal Kingdom Safari Path This larger male clearly has the silver back, and got right up close to the window for a good show. The gorillas don't like any sudden movements, because they are extremely aggressive, so there was a park member telling people to move slowly and stay calm. Surprisingly, the children listened and complied. I guess a large animal a few feet away will get a child's attention.
Animal Kingdom Safari Path A sea otter, who was hiding in the back for most of the time, then came right out in front and splashed around in the water. I was just about to take some video of it, but missed my chance. I did at least get this picture first. He jumps off the ledge about a half second later.
Animal Kingdom Safari Path A kangaroo resting in the sand.
Animal Kingdom Safari Path A vulture of some sort. Most people don't like vultures, myself included. I don't know if it's the eating decaying flesh or their picture perfect faces that just makes them so adorable.
Animal Kingdom Safari Path So I guess this turtle thinks it is easier to eat your food if you lie right on the bowl. Funny, my parent's dog thinks the same thing. Maybe they are on to something.
Animal Kingdom Safari Path Monkeys playing around and earning the appropriate name for the monkey bars.

Animal Kingdom - For the Birds

text There were birds a plenty scattered around the park. These parrots were on the main path when you first enter.
text I have no idea what type of bird this is, although he is obviously very pink.
text Flamingos abound. I guess the flamingos are actually born a white/grey color, and then slowly turn pink due to high levels of beta carotene in their diet from all the shrimp they eat. Talk about "you are what you eat".
text Some more flamingos.
text Another bird that I don't know the name of. Although it is very showy.
text That concludes all my pictures from this trip to the Caribbean and Disney World. It was a blast and I hope to go back again for future vacations. If you haven't seen the Caribbean cruise part of the show yet, then it is available here. Otherwise, feel free to browse any of the menu options on the upper left. Thanks for reading!