Disney World’s Animal Kingdom -Vacation Day 3 – Troubles

Disney World's Animal Kingdom, Orlando, Florida
Disney World's Animal Kingdom, Orlando, Florida
Early in the morning, the Boyz getting ready to ride the Expedition Everest Rollercoaster. Already The-Youngest is having a hard time keeping his eyes open

I had thought that our first day at the Magic Kingdom would be our toughest. We’d be jet-lagged, we hadn’t figured out how things worked, and we had no idea how the weather would affect us.

But I was wrong. It would be the day we spent at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.

A day that almost became a disaster.

We actually managed to arrive at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom in time for the ‘rope drop’ (opening time) and made our way to our first ride. We had 3 booked for today. Expedition Everest at 9:10. Kilimanjaro Safari at 10:20. Avatar: Flight of Passage at 5:00.

So, first up, the Expedition Everest rollercoaster which had terrified me when I’d gone on it in my Joe 1.0 life. Now, older, a lot wiser, a lot less comfortable with plummeting 10,000 feet, I had zero desire to risk a heart attack, complete paralyzation or listening to myself scream like a little girl. So, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and I stayed behind.

The Boyz, however, were super keen to test it out.

They soon found out that this ride was not for the faint of heart. The-Oldest had to shut his eyes as it tore downwards like a rocket plunging to earth, and while The-Youngest said he had fun, he declined to go on it, again. Ever. Like never, again. That Yeti had really terrified him.

Still… First ride: A success, I say, a success!            

However, by 9:30, it was already getting hot and humid, and morale began to plunge like the stock market during a trade-war with China. Yesterday’s crazy day of theme-parking and a night of little sleep had left us all weary.

Hoping to shift the mood, I talked the boys into doing the Kali Rapids (since it would get them wet and cool), while we adults chose a nice, dry bench in the shade.

The rapids weren’t that great, according to The-Youngest, but they did get SOAKED with a capital WET.

But by the time we reached the Kilimanjaro Safari ride, grumpiness was settling in like a spaghetti stain on a good dress shirt.

There’ll be lions, I said. Giraffes. Elephants. Hippies. Unicorns.

But the best I got was a shrug and a look that said I’d rather be sleeping (The-Youngest) or playing the piano (The-Oldest).

The safari wasn’t quite like the San Diego Safari, this was a large zoo, somewhat like the Calgary Zoo, but with only the most popular animals on display, (yes, I’m sure there was a survey done and those poor, ugly warthogs were left out.)

Lots of pictures here!

No matter. I loved seeing the animals, I won’t lie. The giraffes were magnificently elegant. The lions were sleepy but cute. The rhinos were content that no one was trying to murder them for their horns.

Crocodiles lurked menacingly in the water. The boy elephants play-fought each other for fun. And the hippos submerged themselves waiting for a moment when you thought they looked cute and wanted to pet them, then they’d bite your freaking arm off. Those buggers kill more people in Africa than any other animal due to them being complete assholes.

Vids here.

As well, the tour guide was lovely, if very scripted, but the real bonus was that we could do this ride sitting down.

Disney World's Animal Kingdom
Tired and hot, by 11, the boys were done, so it was time to implement the NEW PLAN

Sadly, though, the animals didn’t raise the spirits of the Boyz so we went in search of food. Food usually perks them up. A bit.

I found the Dole Pineapple Whip counter which made my day since it was on my Disney Bucket List. I had mine without rum. Maybe a mistake. It was still very yummy, even if it melted all over my hands and I became that sticky, chubby kid everyone hates.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World had a dole float, which was far less messy and (surprisingly) she also had hers without alcohol. The boys, being now thoroughly in a bad mood, refused any food. They grumped at each other, at the weather, and at the food. Everything became either boring or stupid.

Oh oh.

Time to put our brilliant new plan into effect. Time to head home. Time to rest in a nice AC room. Or float in a pool. Then head back to do Avatar, maybe get some food, or maybe even see the River of Light show.

But when we got back, we found something even more fun! The arcade was open and it was free!!! (we had no idea why but weren’t going to look a gift-arcade in the coin-slot), so the Boyz played Guitar Band, raced motorcycles and zapped aliens, forgetting how grumpy they’d been.

While the boyz played, I caught up on my writing at the Pop Century cafeteria, and the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World got to spend some boy-less time alone, meditating and thinking girl thoughts.

For the moment, everyone was happy.

But would it stay that way? Would the rest of our trip to Disney World’s Animal Kingdom be doomed?

Pop Century Resort Disney World Orlando Florida
The-Oldest and The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World battle it out on an old-school game. Space Invaders. The day was saved. We were back at the resort, cool, and having goofy, good fun

As always, thanks for reading about our adventures! Please like or follow for updates.

Disney World’s Animal Kingdom – Vacation Day 3

Disney World Vacations 2019 theme parks Animal Kingdom
Disney World Vacations 2019 theme parks Animal Kingdom
This is the early morning crowd, all rushing off to get in line for the most popular ride. Due to early entry, by the time this crowd arrived, the wait on Avatar: Flight of Passage was 2 hours! We went for Expedition Everest.

Forecast for Disney World’s Animal Kingdom? Lightning and Thunder possibilities around 2. Chance of sore feet? 100%. Chance of barely bearable humidity? 1000% Chance our new plan would work? I gave it 100%.

We hoped that the whole ‘chance of thunderstorms and lightning’ would not happen. Like yesterday. While that kind of storm was fun when we arrived, the thought of us standing in a line while a billion tons of water fell on us was about as appealing as taking a shower in our clothes. For 90 min. While other people watched.

None of us slept well, so getting up on time was a small, but delightful miracle. I went through my new morning routine of getting up: I banged my leg on the protruding sides of the bed about a hundred times as I gathered supplies for the day, dressed, shaved, gelled my hair so I’d look cool, packed extra waters, and stuffed our rainproof gear into our backpacks.

I had a feeling that if we carried around the rain gear, it wouldn’t rain, like primitives who crossed their fingers for good luck.

As I said in the last post, our plan for Disney World’s Animal Kingdom was a little different than yesterday’s plan for Magic Kingdom. We had Fastpasses for the Expedition Everest rollercoaster at 9:10, the Kilimanjaro Safari for 10:20, and finally the #1 ride in the park, Avatar’s Flight of Passage at 5:00.

Now, at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, there were also walks to go on, gorillas to see or other safari walks to take, but we’d learned from yesterday that by noon, the crowds were bad, and being in the sweltering heat for 90 min drained all the fun from us.

Plus, we knew from looking at the wait times, that the most popular rides like Avatar’s Flight of Passage, The Expedition Everest or The Kilimanjaro Safari could only be done on Fastpass.

So we came up with our new plan.

What if, I mean, seriously, what if we just went back to the hotel around 11, and rested up? The boys could be in the pool, I could catch up on writing or take a nap, while The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World could rest her feet, have a cleansing shower or maybe hop into the pool with the boys.

Then we could head back in the late afternoon. Yes.

Disney World Vacations 2019 theme parks Animal Kingdom
The Tree of Life. Seeing it lit up at night was on my Disney Bucket list. This is the early morning crowd continuing to march toward their own goals.

On MY bucket list. 2 things. See the tree of life light up in the evening and taste a dole pineapple ice whip.

On The-Youngest’s? He HAD to ride the rollercoaster, Expedition Everest… And survive that Yeti. He wasn’t terrified of a roller coaster dropping 100’, like I was, no, he was worried the Yeti would give him nightmares.

The-Oldest? he wanted to ride the Expedition Everest without closing his eyes. I don’t know if that meant no closing them for the entire 8 min ride or not closing them when they plummeted downward at 1000 mph.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World just wanted to see the animals, eat some Yeti ribs, and have a more relaxing day. Oh, and not murder us.

So, fingers crossed, we slicked on sunscreen and boarded the bus. Outside, the weather was HOT, the skies blue, but inside, the bus was wonderfully air-conditioned.

We had hopes of another successful day, but fate had some twists for us.

What To Do In Calgary

Calgary tower in Downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada

in Downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Tower of Terror, AKA the Calgary Tower

When in Calgary, why not do the Tower of Terror?

Our zoo experience couldn’t have been better, unless, you know, the pandas danced or sang Oh Canada or re-enacted the battle of Waterloo. The weather had turned nice. The crowds were light. And the animals were mostly out and about doing animal things. We had fun.

And the day wasn’t done.

Next up, if we had time, was to see the Calgary Tower. Now, back in my day, it was the tallest building around and my Uncle Jim would take us there for ice cream for a very special treat. Today, though, it sits in the middle of downtown Calgary, nestled amongst the new buildings of glass and steel.

Now, why go here?  I mean, it’s a tower. In the middle of a city. No pandas up there. No waterslides. No pianos.

But it did have something that it didn’t have back in my day. A glass floor extension out from the observation deck. It’s the kind of terrifying thing I try to avoid in my elder years. Being petrified of heights, I can think of a lot more fun things to do like scoop my eyeballs out with a stained crack spoon or see how many fire ants I can eat while juggling flaming scimitars.

However, both The-Youngest and The-Oldest boy wanted to go. Both of them. That is like Di Vinci and Michelangelo agreeing to spray paint the Sistine Chapel. Or (to quote The-Oldest) “Like Stravinsky and Prokofiev agreeing to compose together.”

So, after finding a great area for restaurants (in a very trendy, former warehousie area of downtown Calgary that reminds me of Yaletown), we marched off to see the tower. The elevator that took us didn’t have any windows, which is like a car not having windows (which I guess is a van) but that’s what this elevator felt like.)

On the observation deck, I had to face my fears and go walk out on the glass floor that was at least 10,000 feet from the ground below. (Truth update from The-Youngest, it’s 525 feet down.) As I walked out, everything that could clench, clenched. Even a few things that normally don’t clench, clenched. Had anyone asked, I could have pooped out diamonds.

Calgary Tower glass floor
The glass floor in the Calgary Tower. In my mind, I stepped out a lot farther

But I did look down. Shaking. Dizzy. My stomach filled with angry butterflies, I did it.

Then I walked off it and went in search of a bar. Finding none, I decided to read all the plaques.

Honestly, that glass floor aside, it was an amazing view of the city and they’d done a great job on making the information about the various locations interesting.

Glass floor on the Calgary Tower
Overcoming your fears is part of growing up. I guess I am still growing up

The boyz, however, couldn’t get enough of the glass floor. The-Youngest, when he actually stood on the edge of the glass, had serious second thoughts that stepping out onto the glass floor would be a good idea. Like Oppenheimer looking at the explosion of the first nuclear bomb and thinking, “oh dear, can I take that back?”

Calgary Tower
The-Oldest is fearless when it comes to heights.

But when his brother walked out, fearless as always, being the younger brother, he had to do what his older brother did. And when he overcame his fear, he wouldn’t leave the area. He sat down on the floor, lay down on it, and even took about a hundred selfies. Only when he started jumping up and down on it did we stop him.

The real success, though, was getting The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World to step out onto the extension. Like me, she was terrified, but unlike me, she is not motivated by overcoming her fear, of not being shown up by her children, or by needing to write a blog about something.

But when The-Oldest took one of her hands, and The-Youngest took the other, they were able to lead her over to the glass floor. She had that same look on her face that she had on her first date with me, that is to say, one where she wasn’t sure she was going to make it out alive.

She didn’t stand long on the glass floor, but she did try and I love her for trying.

In the end, part of any good adventure is doing stuff you simply wouldn’t do at home.

Tomorrow would hold more of those adventures.

 

 

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Why Does the Calgary Zoo Matter?

Calgary zoo alberta 2918

Calgary zoo alberta 2918
Zoos can bee punny!

The Alberta Zoo

There is a move these days to get rid of zoos. It comes from good-hearted people who have not thought through the idea. Oh, they FEEL the idea, for sure, but they miss a fundamental concept.

Zoos connect people with animals, many of which are in danger of disappearing.

Now, we’re not talking about zoos that treat animals cruelly, those should be reformed, but zoos like the Calgary Zoo allow people (kids in particular) a chance to see something real. Not something on TV. Not something on YouTube. Not a poster somewhere of something that once existed.

Too often now, we make choices that distance ourselves from the real world. In a sense, we are putting ourselves in a cage.

Think about it.

Ok, ranty-rant over.

Back to our regular programming.

After the pandas, The-oldest joked had an attack of pun-iness. “I was expecting total pandemonium. Or at least a pandemic.”

To be fair, considering his usual puns take 3 mins to set up, (“so if I was a lion and it was telling me a story, and I didn’t believe the story because it wasn’t very truthful, then, you could say it was lion), those panda puns were good puns. As was his remark about Himalayan Deer ‘they must be very valuable because they’re dear.”

His favourite animal, though, was the markhor deer. It had curlie horns and looked like it was about to shed about 40lbs of fluff. I think the Taliban ride them into battle. He tried to talk to it. A lot. But it didn’t respond so we moved on.

alpakas in the calgary zoo 2018
Alpacas! Perhaps the most cuddly of the camel family.

The-Youngest hated that all the food stands were closed, and he didn’t get any cotton candy, however, he did get to see the alpaca that looks a lot like our spazadoodle. He, too, tried to talk to it, but it wasn’t in the mood for a conversation and simply pooped.

For The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, her best time was at the panda exhibit. She loved how the pandas snuggled, but I think she enjoyed watching the baby gorilla explore his world, play with his food and look for things to play with.

lions at the calgary zoo 2018
The Lion does not sleep tonight! I am not lying. They were not lion around.

Me? I liked hearing the lions roar and watching them stalk about the cage. I haven’t seen lions move much (they mostly pull a panda and nap most of the time), but they were magnificent creatures this day, powerful but not as elegant as a leopard.

The highlight for all of us, though, was our time in the lemur cage.

See, this is where my whole zoo-is-good thing comes to fruition.

The zoo had set up an enclosure with nets overhead and Fort-Knox-like gates that allowed people to BE WITH the lemurs, you know, those cute little things that appear in Disney movies.

We were told not to move too fast or touch them or feed them or talk to them about Liszt, but we could watch them as they watched us, get close enough to them to touch them (but not, you know, actually touch them) and have a chance to see real live animals up close, no bars, no windows, no metal mesh separating them from us.

It was fantastic, even if one idiot did try to touch them.

One lemur even took a liking to The-Youngest, and if you want to see how he reacted, check out the video.

Hippos at the Calgary zoo, alberta 2018
Hippos! They taught the pandas what to do

But we all loved seeing the animals (though no one seemed to appreciate me singing “Walk with the animals.”)

We scouted out the tigers. We waved at the giraffes. We shook our head at hippos that looked suspiciously like me after a turkey dinner. We watched momma gorilla look after her little one.

And then I think the family pranked me with the idea that porcupines shoot quills. They were so convincing that I had to load up wiki-thing to show them otherwise, and then they all just smiled at me and giggled.

So, go see a zoo some time. Spend time with the animals. Make a conscious decision to experience an amazing part of our world instead of watching a documentary about our friend the lion or leaving it up to Disney to show us what animals are like.

 

And hey, thanks for reading this!  

If you like what you’re reading, please follow on FB, subscribe to my blog, or check out my coming-soon newsletter. Or, heck, just tell your friends, your baker, your accountant and your barista. 

 

 

Traveling With Kids – San Diego Safari Park – Mini Adventures

10 Mini adventures at the Safari Zoo

1)IMG_2090IMG_2095IMG_2093 After we saw the gorillas, we measured ourselves up against the gorilla. The oldest, “You’re nearly as big as the gorilla, Joe.” Ah, thanks. A lot. Then we did the gorilla pose outside of their area. (I used the picture yesterday). It’s fun to do interactive stuff, even if we make it up ourselves.

2) IMG_2099     We ate looking out at the bird lagoon. The youngest continued his photobombing of everyone while the oldest was sure he was being stalked by a red-eyed bird. (The youngest even photobombed the bird shot). We ate, hot dogs, as promised and though it’s not exactly news worthy, I could actually bite one (something I couldn’t do for nearly 2 months due to stupid-ass braces.) Oddly enough, that bird, or one of his cousins, seemed to appear everywhere we went. Hmmm. Maybe the boys shouldn’t have shouted at the ducks. Apparently there is a bird mafia.

3)      Let’s remember how important bathrooms are. Not that I want to talk about what goes on it in there or the adventures we had, (though they youngest is obsessed with wanting to put his face in the air dryer), but it’s vital to not be far away from one at all times. For some reason I don’t yet understand, at 1:10, they don’t need to go to the bathroom, even when asked. At 1:12, they need to go NOW!!!! So we’ve developed a routine, like eating little bits throughout the day, go bathroom throughout the day.

4)      Elephants rock. They’re the Morgan Freemans of the animal world, stately, majestic and likely to kick anyone’s ass who messes with them. Despite the fact it poured with rain for about 5 minutes, we lovIMG_2145ed watching them lumber around their enclosure. One little elephant played with a barrel while mom watched and occasionally showed him how to roll it. Plus, afterwards, the best picture of me EVER was taken. I almost look good (and yes, I am that vain.)

5)      Lions do not rock. They should. They are the most beautiful of creatures, but for the entire time we were they, they snoozed. This is what they do. For ¾ of the day. It would be like someone watching me for a whole day. The boys were massively disappointed though I think if they had to see a lion take down a gazelle and tear it bloody limb from bloody limb, they might have different ideas. As it was, not matter how much the youngest yelled at them to do something, or the oldest muttered how bored he was, the lions refused to perform.

6)      We had a race up the stairs to the top of the observation tower. The oldest and I bet we could beat the youngest and the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world who took the elevator. I nearly had a heart attack. I beat the oldest but he claims, (and is somewhat justified) that I said it was a race when I was already half up the tower and he was at the bottom. Luckily CPR was not needed though I won’t be doing that again any time soon.

7)      IMG_3542 (600x800)We took the free tour through the African savanna. I could watch giraffes running forever. They are so graceful. Again, seeing these creatures live, in their own habitat, doing their own thing (mostly munching on leaves or trying to find a way to eat bark from a tree protected by extensive fencing wire), allows us to connect to them on a whole different level. We care about them more. How could we not?

8)      The boys loved the rhinos which, I have to say, kinda look like me on a Sunday morning, all grey and grumpy and looking to bang a head into something. The rhinos didn’t do much. Much to my disappointment, they didn’t charge the tour or stand on two legs or sit at a computer writing out a novel, but, again, they were magnificent creatures to see.

9)     IMG_2119 Lemurs are stinky. Skunk stinky. We walked into their enclosure and it smelled bad. Apparently, like skunks, they spray nasty-ass stuff on people they don’t like or who bother them. We kept the youngest far, far away from them. But they kept an eye on him, let me tell you. Sure htye looked like they were sleeping, but they’d heard from the birds, this little guy was trouble.

10)  IMG_3494 We saw the most amazing thing. To calm cheetahs, the animal, not the yummy, orange snack, they’ve introduced dogs to them. DOGS!!!! Big, hairy, very calm dogs. Apparently, the two species bond. Dogs are great at bonding with a variety of animals, small cats, turtles, horses, sheep, Dennis Leary, but big-ass cats? Who would have guessed?

So, despite the fact we couldn’t do the Asian savanna tour, we had an incredible time. I didn’t have a meltdown, the boys had some amazing experiences seeing the animals and we only got partially wet. Nothing was rushed in the end. We found an Applebee’s to eat at, and while the youngest had a small meltdown over something we never did figure out, the day was a success in my books.

IMG_0223We even got to bed at a reasonable time. We watched Ender’s Game, learned a thing or two about war, and then went to sleep.

Tomorrow, though, we HAD to make it to the Safari Park by 10:40. We’d booked that tour and despite having the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world with us, (she was not against using her powers of pretty to get people to make exceptions to the rules), we were told it would leave on time with or without us.

How hard would it be to make that appointment?

******

Wow that took 4 hours to post. The site kept crashing. Anyone had problems like that?

It does take a bit of time to write and load pictures for a blog, but usually only an hour or two depending on how distracted I get looking up pictures of Scarlett Johansson in a bikini for my blog. 

So, hey, if you like photobombs or would like to see more pictures of Scarlett J. Lemme know. And please share the blog. Peace out (yes, I just said that!)