Over the holidays I went to Disney Animal Kingdom in Orlando with my family and it was the best Kingdom out of all the Disney Kingdoms in my opinion. First of all, the only reason why I wanted to go to Animal Kingdom was to go to Pandora. Yes, while it is true that I do love animals, Pandora was high on my list. The most anticipated ride I wanted to go on was the Avatar Flight of Passage, but first, let me start from the beginning.
We originally wanted to get to the Animal Kingdom as it opened, however that didn't happen. Where did we go wrong? We took the shuttle bus from the hotel instead of driving. The shuttle made 1 stop at another hotel after picking us up and trust me when I say it felt like we were waiting FOREVER! Finally after about 15 minutes waiting for the bus to load we made our way to Magic Kingdom. Magic Kingdom was like the hub for transportation so when we got there we had to wait for another bus that would take us to Animal Kingdom. Basically by the time we got there, Animal Kingdom was already opened for an hour and the lines were ridiculously LONG!
The first line we had to join was the security line where they check your bag and you go through the security door. After that we had to join another line to scan our Disney card (instead of having a paper ticket, you are given a card with a magnetic strip and you just put it up against Mickey's outline on a special post and then it turns green and your given access to the park.) So once we entered the park I wanted to go straight to Pandora to join the line before the wait time increased, however my family had other plans and it was called mother nature (aka they had to go to the restroom). While waiting I checked my Disney app where you can actually check the wait times for each ride you want to go on. Would you believe me if I told you the app told me the wait time was eight hours? EIGHT HOURS!!!!! I couldn't believe it! I was crushed and sad for a while but then I was determined to make the most of this Kingdom.
So finally the family is ready to explore the Kingdom. From the entrance we walked to Discovery Island where we saw the most beautiful tree I have every seen (clearly man-made) but I didn't care, it was amazingly beautiful. The tree had beautiful carvings on it and had various mini waterfalls and rivers surrounding it. From where I stood it was fenced in and everyone was cramming to get pictures in front of it. The tree on the map was called Tree of Life and rightfully so as the tree truly looked majestic.
After taking pictures by the tree we started walking around some more. The day was overcast and slightly cold as it occasionally drizzled throughout the day. We were there from about 10 am and we left the park around 9:30 pm but we'll talk about that later.
We made our way to Pandora and oh my gosh I felt like I was truly there. I was beyond excited! (Side note: I had my brand new SLR camera to take photos and when I was ready to start taking photos I realized I left the battery charging back at the hotel :( Imagine my disappointment!) Remember in the Avatar movie where in Pandora they had what looked to be floating pieces of land? I kid you not that's how it looked.
Since we couldn't go on the Avatar Flight of Passage ride we decided to go and wait in line for the Na'vi River Journey which was about a two hours wait. Believe me it sounds long but it was a better wait time than 8 hours. The wait was long and my sister saw other people in the line playing charades with their phone. Eventually she downloaded the app and we started playing the game as a family to pass time. One person would hold the phone on their forehead and the rest of us would describe the word we were seeing on the screen. The person holding the phone on their forehead would try and guess the word before the time is up. It was actually pretty fun and other families and friends were playing the same game. Before you know it we were at the start of the ride.
The ride was really a boat ride. We were basically just gliding on the river in Pandora at nighttime. The plants and animals glowed and you could hear various bugs and soft music. Eventually we saw an Avatar (Na'vi) singing in the forest. Sounds boring but you would have had to be there to experience the magical time on Na'vi river. Check out my video below of our journey on the Na'vi River.
After the Na'vi River Journey we ventured to Africa to go on the Kilimanjaro Safari. The wait time for this ride wasn't bad. We waited in line for about two hours. The line for this ride was like a trick on your mind. The line was ridiculously long and when you think your at the end you turn the corner and your back at square one but just on the other side and you say to yourself "hey remember when you were over there?" When we finally got to the end we got into a cue to wait to go on a truck. The truck seats about 20 people. Got an introduction from the driver and we were off to see some animals. We saw lions, elephants, giraffe's, a hippo even walked along side our truck. It was a nice little 30 minutes journey that the whole family enjoyed. Check out some of the photos from the safari below.
After the safari we walked over to Asia and checked out some of the animals there like the monkeys, tigers and exotic birds. Then we went to Dinoland U.S.A and waited in line for the Primeval Whirl ride. Luckily we had a fast pass for this ride so we only waited 20 minutes in the line. From the outside we thought it was just a kids ride (the parents don't like "fast rides") all the same we went in and myself, my sister and brother were in one car and the parents in the other. Our car went first and it took a drop and then my sister said "oh crap mom's gonna hate this", we started laughing and continued laughing for the entire ride. The ride took drops and twirls and for a "kids" ride it was actually fun and after the ride we were still laughing till tears came to our eyes. My father said to us "you guys lied! this was not a slow ride".
By the time we finished that ride it was about after 5:00 pm. I checked my Disney app once more to see if there was a miracle that the wait time was less for Avatar Flight of Passage. Jackpot! The new wait time was 190 minutes. We can make it! Only my sister was down to wait with me in the line. My brother had to leave to meet up with his friends and my parents were tired and decided to go back to the hotel. So it was just my sister and I in the waiting game. We rushed back over to Pandora and joined the line. The wait time was excruciating. Our feet and back hurt and every chance we got we found somewhere to sit. Nighttime came and I must say Pandora at night is absolutely beautiful! We literally were in one area for more than an hour. Eventually we made it into what looked like a cave. We thought okay we're almost there. Wrong! turned the corner and the line had more turns. Eventually hunger sets in and everyone started complaining and saying oh they wish there was a vending machine and a water fountain there because boy were we hungry and thirsty! Eventually we saw a water fountain and I was thankful! Another hour passes and we make it to what appears to be a lab. We thought for sure we are at the end. Nope! But the lab was interesting. There was a room with an avatar in a tank and on the screens displayed how to fuse a human brain to the Avatar. Another hour passes and we finally get to a room where they send us into a cue. We are in that cue for another 10 minutes and finally we enter a room and an attendant sends directs us to stand on a number. I was #15 and my sister #16. There were 14 other persons in front of us. All 16 of us were then directed into another room where it seems like it was an instructional video. A scientist came up on the screen and talked about what we would be doing on the flight. We then went through this recognition process where we had to wave our hands so the "machine" could count us (I think). We were in there for what seemed to be a long time but it was probably just 5 minutes. Then we were instructed to go into another room where another attendant greeted us and told us to put our things in the lockers that had our assigned numbers. Now I had no idea what I was in for. I put my things away and I turned around and saw a what looked to be an exercise bike. I was like what the hell is this and my sister looked at me with the same puzzled look. I waited 3 hours for this?
Check back next week for Part 2 to read what happened next.