Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Orlando trip - February 16, 2011 - Animal Kingdom and dinner at Boma

This was our full day at Animal Kingdom. We'd been there the day before for a few hours as part of the Wild Africa Trek tour, but other than riding Expedition Everest, we didn't do anything else.

We had considered going to the Festival of the Lion King show because one of the performers in a group that I like had been in the show the previous day, but unfortunately, I didn't find out until too late that he was in the early shows that day as well, so I missed it. I've seen the show before, and I like it ok, but it's not the same as the Lion King Celebration parade that Disneyland had, even though some of the floats from that parade are used in this show.


We went to the Pangani Forest to see the gorillas for a little while. The baby was out and about with his mother, so they were fun to watch. After that, it was time to go in search of breakfast. At first, we thought it might be a futile effort like it had been at Disney's Hollywood Studios, but then we saw a sign in front of Pizzafari indicating they had breakfast items, so we went inside to have a look. And we were pleased to find that they did indeed have a nice breakfast platter, so we had breakfast there.



Breakfast platter from Pizzafari.




After breakfast, we wandered around and spent some time looking at various animals and then made our way to the back of the Asia section. On our visit in 2007, I had picked up the roundie yeti, which I loved, and I was happy to see a new yeti plush that I liked. It's actually part of a collection that I can neither spell nor pronounce, but I like to refer to him as Flat Yeti.



Flat Yeti - the only one in the series I like. Yep, he came home with me.




We then got in the stand-by line for Expedition Everest because we wanted to go on the ride again, but we also wanted to see the queue again, with all its details. I love this ride!

Afterward, we looked at the other animals in the Asia section, and we spent some time with the tigers. There was one tiger in particular walking in front of the windows that we watched for a while.















Another tiger in the same enclosure came by, and there were other tigers in an enclosure on the opposite side as well. We stayed and watched them for a while, and it was also interesting to watch one of the tigers watching the tigers in the other enclosure, including trying to look around us to see the other tigers because we were inadvertently blocking his line-of-sight.


After a morning of communing with the animals, it was time for lunch. On our first visit to Animal Kingdom, in 2007, friends had introduced us to Flame Tree BBQ, which we had loved. They were unfortunately closed for refurbishment during our August 2010 trip, so we were happy that they were open this time. The food is really good, and if you walk all the way down to the bottom section of the seating area, you get a great view of Everest across the water.



Lunch at Flame Tree BBQ - half a BBQ chicken. Yummy, tender & juicy.




The husband had the half slab of St. Louis ribs.




Our view at lunch at Flame Tree BBQ seating - majestic Everest.




After lunch, we wandered around the Africa section to look at some more of the animals there and took a train to Conservation Station for a little while before making our way to the Kilimanjaro Safari to use a Fastpass we had gotten earlier. We usually do a late morning safari but we decided to try a late afternoon one this time to see if there was a difference in the animals there were to see. And we discovered that there was a difference - in the late afternoon, you don't see too many animals. Our tour was within the last hour or so before normal park closing time, and the animals have been conditioned to return indoors for the evening. It seems that they can tell from the location of the sun when it's about time to go inside, so they actually wait outside the gates to the back sections - which is why they're not roaming around the savanna for safari guests to see.

Our safari driver was funny, though. We were sitting on the right side in the very front, so it was easy to hear him, even when he wasn't speaking too loudly or wasn't speaking on mic. He pointed out all the "exotic" squirrels we saw - I don't know if he normally does that as a joke or if it was because there weren't many other animals around, but it was still funny. He was also good at spotting the few animals that were out but perhaps difficult to make out. We did see a whole group of them gathered at a gate to go backstage for the night. Disney's Animal Kingdom - the only Disney park were even the ANIMALS line up!

The best part of our safari was seeing father and son white rhinos fighting each other while mom came to intervene. Then a fourth white rhino considered charging our truck but decided against it when he realized we weren't in fact another rhino. And all of this happened while a cheetah was watching with great interest. Beautiful cat, so sleek and graceful.

After our safari, we went to look at the remainder of the animals who were still out in various locations, waiting to be taken in for the night.



Painted stork.




The park had extra magic hours that evening from 6pm to 9pm, and we just wanted to be there long enough to be able to ride Expedition Everest again at night. That's the tradition - we go on Everest twice, once in the daytime and once at night. When you're going up the long hill, you get a beautiful view of the surroundings (provided it's not cloudy, of course), and the view is different between the daytime and the nighttime. We browsed inside some stores to kill more time, then did our ride and went back to our car.

We had a dinner reservation at Boma, but we ended up at the wrong Animal Kingdom Lodge building at first, so we backtracked to get to the right building. We were a little early for our reservation, so the husband sat in the hotel lobby while I was on my cel, talking a co-worker through a work emergency. That done, we headed to dinner. I thought the experience was just ok, but both the husband and I found that the flavors of the buffet offerings weren't entirely to our liking. They weren't bad, and it's hard to describe what exactly didn't work for us. I also was a little annoyed that there were no signs above the buffet to say what things were. I like that normally anyway, but for food that's a bit more ethnic and not exactly run-of-the-mill, I would think signage would be more important. The CMs said it was fine to just ask the chefs, which I did for a couple of the items (even the soups weren't labeled), but they were busy, and I didn't think it was cool to take up their time to go through each thing on the buffet with me. Usually, we don't have any trouble finding at least a few things on a buffet to satisfy us, but this time, it was a bit more difficult. The service was also a bit spotty and the dining room wasn't as clean as I'm used to with Disney standards. I can't say that I envision ever returning to Boma.

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