Day 2 - Animal Kingdom
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|Thu, 04-03-2014 - 7:32pm|
Day 2. Saturday, March 22, 2014
Chapter 2. Ticket Trouble and Temper Tantrums
We were up early, ready for our first park day - Animal Kingdom! We went down to the Mara for breakfast. It wasn't busy at all when we got there, but we must have just beat the crowd because by the time we were paying, there were at least 10 people in line to order food.
Heading to the bus stop, Owen took off running ahead and it was lucky that he did. We all ran to catch up with him, and a bus to AK was just about to pull away! So he kindly waited for us. We would be there plenty early now.
Brian was surprised that there were so many people in line already, it was still 30 minutes until park opening. We had an ambitious plan for the morning though, so at least we wouldn't be too far back. We were in line right next to an elevated planter, and the kids had fun playing around the tree while we waited. At one point Owen asked to go potty, but it was right as the CMs were coming to the gates and I was afraid we wouldn't make it back in time, so I asked him to hold it for a few minutes.
They did the welcome announcement and started letting people in about 10 minutes early, and the line moved quickly. However, when I tapped my magic band to the Mickey head, it turned blue instead of green. I had just been commenting to Brian that I hoped everything was set up and working correctly since we hadn't used these tickets or the bands yet. He thought I was just being my usual pessimistic self, but it turns out I was right to worry.
We were escorted over to guest relations, and everyone kept insisting that I hadn't linked the tickets yet, but I knew I had. They even showed up just fine in the MDE app! The agent helping us was a nice older lady, but I really don't think she knew what she was doing. She tried re-linking our tickets, but was still having trouble. Somehow she could see them under our account, but the entry system wasn't recognizing them.
The kids were getting very antsy, and even Brian, who is usually very patient, was becoming quite frustrated. And Owen still needed to go potty, but was now refusing. Finally, after about 20 minutes, she called another agent over. I don't know what the first lady had done, but apparently it very much annoyed the second agent because it couldn't be undone, and had messed things up even further.
We were all just about beside ourselves at the point. The kids were melting down, Brian was verbally demanding that they "just let us into the park", and I was devastated that after going to the effort of getting there so early, there were now hoards of people piling into the park every minute ahead of us. Lily was checking the app on her phone, and the rides all had waits already. And we were still stuck in Guest Relations.
The two agents were now arguing about what to do, the first one starting talking about sending us up to some other office, but fortunately the second one vetoed that idea, and ended up giving us cards that supposedly now had our tickets on them, and told us to figure out the magic band issues later. I wish they had just done that to begin with. It was almost 9:30 by now.
The first agent was feeling bad about everything, and did give us two free fast passes, which would help with the fact that we had now missed our rope drop advantage. Everyone was still having trouble shaking it off as we left, and I tried valiantly to lift their spirits. After all, we were IN now, might as well make the best of it.
After much persuasion before the trip, I had convinced Brian that we needed to rent a stroller for Owen. We were planning to go all day without a mid-day break, and there was no way he would make it without some kind of rest. Brian thought we should wait until he was ready for a nap, but I didn't want to have to come all the way back to the front of the park later. So he was a little grumpy about that too, on top of the already stressful morning, but I stopped and rented one anyway.
Now we were ready to set off for Dinoland! By the time we got there, everyone was mostly happy again. I had never gotten to ride Dinosaur, so Lily and I headed there while Brian took Owen to Triceratops Spin. He was technically tall enough for Dinosaur, but there was no way he would have tolerated something that scary.
It was fun, but actually not as intense as I had expected. I knew it was a lot of animatronics, but for some reason I thought the ride itself was wilder. (I guess I was mostly basing that assumption on the fact that when we took my ILs a few years ago, MIL was upset that everyone tricked her into going on a "roller coaster") Glad to have finally gotten to do it, though!
We found the guys afterwards, they were getting ready to ride their 4th time! Owen was done after that, and wanted to go to the Boneyard while Brian went to Dinosaur with Lily. In my initial plans, the playground wouldn't have been open yet while we were over here, so maybe our late start had some advantage. Or at least it seemed that way at the moment. We would be cursing the playground soon enough though!
He would actually be perfectly happy if the parks had no rides, just the playgrounds. He was having a blast, running all over. I usually had no idea where he was, when I could catch sight of him, he would just yell "bye bye " and run off again.
Our fastpasses for Everest would be open in a few minutes, so as soon as Brian and Lily were back, I went to find the stroller and told Brian to get Owen ready to go. We had to make sure we got over there with time to ride twice (with rider swap) before lunch. I waited just outside with the stroller, but they weren't making any progress toward the exit, so I had to park it again and go in to fetch them. Owen was giving Brian a hard time about leaving.
And so it began. The second temper tantrum of the trip, and barely the second day. No amount of pleading, threats, or bribery would sway him. He wanted to stay at the playground, period. And was letting the whole world know it.
I of course, have become well used to these fits in the past couple of months, and since they tend to happen in the afternoons when I am trying to get Lily to swim practice, or picked up from, just grab him and go, screaming and kicking ignored. Now I'm not saying I've become an expert at knowing how to handle them, but I've gotten fairly good at not letting them interrupt things, or get me too rattled. Brian didn't have the advantage of that experience, and was still flabbergasted that he was capable of throwing such a fit at all.
So about halfway to Everest, Owen still screaming his lungs out in the stroller, Brian pulled over and told us to go ahead if we wanted, he couldn't deal with it anymore. He was convinced that he could talk Owen down if he just had a minute out of his stroller. I knew better, but wasn't willing to give up my Everest FP, so if he was determined to stop, he was on his own.
Lily and I went on to EE. On the way, I was able to change Brian's FP to after lunch, the only time in the whole trip I had any luck changing FPs at all. I refused to let Owens current state ruin the ride for me, this was the main reason I wanted to do this trip. I had managed to miss Everest on each of our previous 3 trips, and the last time was mostly because Owen was tired and needed to go back to the room early. Not this year, I was riding come hell or high water, lol!
I didn’t really expect my MB to work for the FP, so I had the card ticket handy, but I tried my band first just in case, and it turn green! At least something was working on there. I could definitely see how the ride was so popular. It is lots of fun! I love the backwards part and the stuff with the Yeti. Worth the 6 year wait, I suppose :)
Afterwards, I called Brian. They were still in the place we left them, and I could still hear Owen screaming in the background. So much for just needing a minute. Not going to bother with the "I told you so's" though. We met back up with them, and Brian looked completely defeated. He wanted to just give up and go home, convinced the rest of the day was ruined. I managed to talk him down, and somehow the commotion seemed to snap Owen out of his rage, and within minutes he was just sobbing quietly on my shoulder instead of screaming and flailing.
We decided to try to make it to our lunch ADR at Yak&Yeti, though Lily was determined we were going to be late, and in full stress mode. Which is disastrous itself. She and Brian then got into it a couple of times as we were walking, the combination of both of them being on edge, a very bad one.
I was trying very hard at this point to not lose all hope in the day, and the whole trip. But it definitely was not how I had pictured this morning going.
Chapter 3. Things Start to Turn Around
Lunch was actually very good, would end up being one of my favorite meals of the trip! I got the veggie lo mein, nothing fancy, but some of the best I've had. And Owen, who almost never eats anything, ate almost all of his hamburger. Maybe there was hope for the afternoon?
So we were all feeling better by the time we left. Brian and Owens FP for Everest was open now (of course Owen couldn't ride, so Lily was "borrowing" his to get a second ride) There wasn't much else to do over there for Owen, so I told them to meet us at Rafiki's Planet Watch, since he wanted to ride the train. I had really wanted to meet Mickey and Minnie that morning, but the line was long by now and our special FPs said they couldn't be used for character experiences. Oh well.
We had a nice and uneventful walk over to the train station and then ride to RPW, which was a relief after the events of the morning. Owen was convinced that the train was taking us to Africa, and now thinks that’s where all trains go, lol! On the path to the main building, he stopped at the area for the Wilderness Explorers game. We picked up a book, and though he had fun looking for some of the animals on that stop's mission, he got bored with it long before finishing, so we moved on.
Chip & Dale were out, but he didn't want to meet them. He had enjoyed seeing all the Rafiki statues along the path, so I was hopeful that he would meet him inside, but when our turn came he got shy and wouldn't move, so we just waved from a safe distance instead. Not willing to induce any more meltdowns. It was cute that he kept pronouncing it "Rafinki".
We explored the petting zoo, and he did really like that. Before long, Brian and Lily caught up with us and we looked around inside with them. The kids both enjoyed a quick show that one of the naturalists did about tarantulas, and we did the sound theater again. (After finding it for the first time last year)
I was thinking we needed to get going to make it back for our Safari FP, but on our way out Lily wanted to meet Chip & Dale. They were just about to take a break, so we ended up having to wait a bit. But we even got Owen to go up there this time, and he seemed to really enjoy the experience. So I'm glad we stuck around for it. And we would just barely be able to make it to the Safari still.
There was quite a line just to enter the FP queue, but it moved pretty quickly and we were boarding within 10-12 minutes of first arriving at the line. Standby wait was over an hour, so I was pretty happy with ours. The safari was great as always. I can't even remember all the animals we saw, but they were everywhere and the kids were amazed, so it was a success.
Brian wanted to do the Pangani Trail next. Lily wasn't enthused, but I convinced her to go along somewhat willingly. He would have happily stayed there all day, but Lily's patience was growing thin after about 40 minutes, so he agreed to move on. Saw some cool stuff, just not enough to hold her attention right now, she wanted to RIDE! I had hoped to see the parade, but just the mention of committing the next 40 minutes to it got me an exasperated glare, so I gave it up. To ride, it was.
But first, she wanted a snack and drink. And Brian wanted a beer, lol! He actually suggested an ice cream and beer cart, and Lily got a little huffy because she assumed he was joking. (He is extremely anti-sugar, in all our trips to WDW we have never just randomly stopped for ice cream, or anything mildly dessert-ish) But we quickly took him up on it before he could change his mind. We sat on the window ledge of Tusker House, and the kids thought it was funny that they could see Mickey Mouse inside.
We still had our two FPs that we had been given after the fiasco with our tickets that morning, so we decided to use one for Kali. Now, Owen was actually tall enough, but we were not at all sure he would like it. So we described it to him, and let him decide. At first he said no, then yes, back and forth a few times. Finally he wanted to go.
The first time we took Lily on it, when she was 4, she had loved it right up to the part where two of the seats in the boat get soaked (while the rest stay dry) I had hoped to goodness that time that she wouldn't get the "wet seat", but of course she did. And it pretty much ruined the rest of our day there (which was the day we were leaving to go home) Please, please, please, I thought, I begged the universe, don't do this to Owen on his first ride too...
Well you can probably guess the ending. Owen ended up in the soak seat, and the rest of the passengers, all dry as a bone, felt pretty awful for him as he sobbed for the rest of the ride. WHY??? WHY does this always have to happen? Does the universe just hate us or something??
Well at least this time the situation was somewhat salvageable as I had a dry set of clothes for him. He calmed down once I got him changed. And actually seemed proud of himself for having done the "scary boat ride", so I was thinking that maybe all was not lost. Though it would come back to bite us in a few days at Epcot.
We still had one more FP and decided to use it for a second ride on Everest. Fortunately they let us trade it in for a rider swap so we would each be able to go. The second ride was just as good as the first, and again the FP line moved pretty quickly despite looking long.
We had FPs for Nemo at 5:30, but had some time to kill so we headed back to Dinoland. Brian and Lily wanted to try Primeval Whirl, so I took Owen on Triceratops Spin again. Afterwards, he really wanted to go back to the Boneyard. I made him promise about 15 times that he wouldn't argue when it was time to leave. He had a blast again, especially when Lily joined him and they ran circles around the place together.
I was really impressed with his physical capabilities. Once when he was starting to go up one of the high cargo net ladders, I thought he surely wouldn't make it without help and wondered if I should go up there, but before I could finish the thought, he was at the top already, having flown up it like a spider crawling up its own web! Crazy kid.
Despite my pessimistic predictions, he left without a huge fuss when it was time, and we headed for Nemo. The FP line was almost full already when we got there, and it was still 15 minutes until they let us go in. We had picked up some popcorn on the way so we munched on that while we waited. We still got great seats, front row of the middle section so we had a perfect and unobstructed view.
Everyone really enjoyed the show. We had always ended up seeing the Lion King show before and so never had time for this one. Owen got just a little nervous during a few of the scary parts, but never really got impatient or restless. He usually does really well with live performances, thankfully.
We slowly started making our way back to Africa. It was amazing the difference in the park now, it had really started clearing out. Not empty, but not the packed-in-like-sardines that it had been all day. As we went by Discovery Island, the CM outside mentioned that Pooh and Tigger were still there with no wait! I'll never turn down a chance to meet Pooh :) He was right, it was totally deserted down there, so Pooh and Tigger were very happy to see us. Lots of hugs and cute pictures.
It was about time to head to dinner now, at Tusker House. Our last experience there, for lunch, had been awful and we almost swore it off forever, but I suspected that dinner might be a calmer affair and was willing to give it one more shot. We stopped on the way for the kids to buy some souvenirs. Lily picked out a stuffed Turtle puppet, and Owen got one of those spray-fan bottles. Seriously, a store full of toys and that's all he would even consider.
We checked in at TH, as I had hoped it was almost completely deserted outside, a sharp contrast to the chaotic lunch of last year. We were called after only a few minutes, and the scene inside was just as tranquil as it had been outside. I could already tell that this was going to go well!
The restaurant was only about a third full, and very quiet. I commented to the hostess that this was much nicer than the character meals. She responded with a knowing smile and nod. The food was really good, our server was great, and it ended up being a very enjoyable and satisfying meal. Very glad we decided to give dinner a try, I think we will do this from now on at AK! It was definitely nice to be leaving the park feeling refreshed instead of exhausted.
We hadn't been in any rush to leave since dinner was going so well, so that by the time we did head out, it was completely dark and the park was long closed. I for some reason hadn't thought about this being the case. Not that we were planning to do anything else, it was actually a pleasant surprise. It had been packed shoulder-to-shoulder all day, and suddenly it was empty and peaceful.
Plus I realized that I had never been in AK after dark before. It was really quite beautiful the way everything was all lit up. As we got closer to the entrance it got a little busier, but still nothing like the day crowds. There was still a Photopass photographer in front of the tree, so we stopped for our first family picture of the trip.
We made it out of the park and back to the resort pretty quickly. A full and eventful day. While it hadn't started out with much promise, we ended up having a lot of fun. We still didn't get to do nearly everything, proving that 1 day, even park-open to close, is simply not enough. Gives us an excuse to come back though :)