And you know what’s especially unhelpful when trying to tackle an undertaking such as this? When I go to look at my notes written on that day, and they’re borderline illegible and at best cryptic. Thanks, drunk January me.
Either way, we must forge on. So here we go… four days of reporting left… Today, I give you: Saturday, February first.
Number of pins traded for: 42
Number of miles walked: 6.77
This morning, we decided to act responsibly and take advantage of the free breakfast offered at the Concierge Lounge. Not to be too critical of free things that we were blessed to be mysteriously/magically upgraded to, but I’m going to go on record as saying that the free breakfasts at Hampton Inns are better than Club Level Disney. Sorry.There just isn’t much there. It’s continental to the T. No waffle maker, no watery scrambled eggs, no wilty bacon — so sad. Instead, there are danishes and bagels, good coffee (do not ask me what brand — I’m oblivious to such details), cereals, and the one saving grace: the world’s best oatmeal. Hands down. Best. No contest. I’m pretty sure the secret is substituting water for heavy cream and miracles?
First up on the itinerary was to head to Animal Kingdom to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris; always best to harass animals first thing in the morning. From there, we decided to try some new things instead of our usual routine of Safari, animal treks, Everest, Dino, exit. I would never make the claim that Animal Kingdom is a half day park, yet somehow, I don’t seem to end up spending full days there. Clearly, that needs to be remedied.What’s new to us? Well, for starters, Wilderness Explorers! As we all know, I love free things, so I was appropriately pumped for the pretty little booklet and the many colourful stickers out there to earn! Only negative: you have to like, interact with people? And like, learn things? And do stuff? Ugh. This was not going to be as easy as I’d hoped. My first realization of this happened on the Majarajah Jungle Trek, where I was hoping to be handed a sticker for simply staring at bats for awhile (which I always do, as they have oddly obvious schlongs, and this makes me giggle). But no — the cast member wanted me to like, answer questions, and draw something. The nerve!
Luckily, I’m a former artist, so I whipped up a pretty sick bat
house castle. Sticker: achieved.
Next new thing: Nemo the Musical. As a general rule, I’m not much of a fan of the shows. Being at Disney World really brings out my inner child, and apparently that child has a serious case of ADHD. The thought of waiting in a line to get in a theatre to then wait in a theatre for a show to start and then wait for that show to finish is just far too daunting when there’s a whole park out there to explore. However, in the name of newness, we walked on in.Here’s my review: It was okay. It was a musical. People sang. There was music. People pay for this kind of stuff on Broadway??? To each their own.
Okay, fiiiiiine, it was cute, the actors are clearly talented, the sets were neat, and I liked the school of fish and their fun shapes. But that’s about the most you’ll get out of me, and I’m pretty sure I’m good for another 10 years of not seeing this show. SORRY.
We decided to break up the day by exiting over to Sanaa for lunch mid-day. As per usual, the bread service was killer. I ended up ordering the appetizer sampler for two for one as my lunch. What can I say? Musicals really bring out my appetite. The items on the platter (potato and pea samosas, lamb kefta sliders, and butternut squash bisque) were all pretty tasty, though I found the samosas and sliders to be a bit on the dry side. Luckily, I had nine accompaniments in front of me to remedy this.
After lunch, we relaxed at Kidani for a bit, pretending to be nature photographers. Not too shabby, right? (Just say, “right”).Once back at the Animal Kingdom, we headed over to Dinosaur to use our second FP+ of the day. Sadly, we instead encountered the ominous Human Chain of Cast Members that always indicates an attraction is down. (Why is it that Disney thinks they need at least a dozen CMs to convey this message? Do they anticipate riots? Someone running through the chain, screaming “I’M GOING IN THERE NO MATTER WHAT YOU SAY!!!”? We may never know).
From the best I can decipher of the remainder of my notes for this afternoon, we rode Expedition Everest twice (both times waiting for the front row, a tip given to us by My Mother’s coworker, and I tell you — it’s amazing. Just do it. Always. All the freakin’ time. Once you go full frontal Yeti, you don’t go back), something about my getting pins and a kid didn’t(?) (haha!), and I guess it was in the afternoon that we went through the Majaraja Jungle Trek, not the morning (my bad for the revisionist history, like you even care).
Animal Kingdom was open until 7:00 or 8:00 that day, and I was really trying to make it a point to stay there after dark to experience the park (and Yeti) at night since I’d never done that before. Yet some time around 4:00 or 5:00, we found ourselves a little tired and decided that rather than force ourselves to do something just because it’s on the itinerary, we’d take a more relaxed approach and head back to the hotel to wing the rest of the night.With no set dinner ADR, we contemplated testing the magical powers of the Concierge Level Concierge (last minute Be Our Guest dinner spot? MAKE IT HAPPEN, JEEVES). Ultimately, we decided to create our own version of a pub crawl around our resort, starting with the Concierge Lounge, obviously. At that hour, it was “light apps and wine.” We stocked up on snack mix and beer and headed back to the room. Once there we actually consumed some of our hoard (thank god; it was starting to require its own suite). After moderate satiation, we ventured out to the Territory Lounge for cocktails. And then from there, it was full circle back to the Concierge Lounge, now full swing into its cocktail hour.
I managed to choke down some more Courvoisier (if it’s free, I’m going to like it, damnit) before we headed off to the final stop on our tour: the beach in front of our room for our nightly Electric Water Pageant viewing. Perfection.
Ultimately, it was one of those days where the never-ending mental battle between emphasizing relaxation versus accomplishments makes my head hurt. You’re on vacation — it’s supposed to be fun and leisurely. But it’s Disney World, and it would be a waste of time and money to spend hours sleeping in, or lounging by a pool, or doing anything that you could so easily do elsewhere.
This really brings me back to my thoughts during my recent weekend — I now have the luxury of being able to go to Disney World once a month or so, but that still does nothing to ease the guilt I feel if I don’t pack my day to the gills.
Two weeks ago, over the span of two and a half days, I only went on six attractions. I know some locals who are in the parks on a weekly basis rarely go on attractions anymore, and wear such a declaration as a badge of honour. But they’re the ones with the luxury to know that “there’s always tomorrow.”
For those of us who only get Disney World once a year (or less), we don’t have that gift of time. Now that I’m closer to being in the former category, I’m trying to adjust, but I still feel like a Depression-era baby at a free all-you-can-eat buffet. Or me at a free all-you-can-eat buffet.
I’ll get there, I know I will. But it’s days like this day in February, back before I ever knew I’d be living in Florida, that I literally have in my notes, “I did everything I wanted to do, but leaving before the park closed felt wrong. Should we have kept going?” That’s a level of institutionalized guilt that isn’t going away over night.