As I've mentioned several times before, making sure that everyone was well-rested during our trip was a priority for us because we knew that well-rested children would mean a better experience for everyone. We were in Orlando for seven days (not counting travel days) and scheduled two of those days as rest days.
Day three of our trip was Sunday, February 3rd, and it was one of our scheduled rest days. We did this so that we would be able to attend worship services as a family and then take it easy the rest of the day.
Our friends, Ross & Tia, arrived in Orlando on Saturday while we were at EPCOT, but we didn't see them until we arrived for worship service on Sunday morning (we went to church in Ocoee at a place that they always attend when in town). The kids thought it was great to see familiar faces!
After worship service, we all went to eat at Benihana (a Japanese Hibachi grill). We had never taken the children to a place like this before, and they LOVED watching the chef cook our food in front of us! However, they weren't too impressed with the food as they barely ate a thing, haha. I wish I would've taken a few photos at lunch, but it was a bit stressful trying to keep the kiddos from touching the grill or getting too wild in a nice restaurant :-).
Naptime back at the hotel immediately followed lunch, then we headed back to Ocoee for evening worship service. Then, we went and got a few groceries for the week as we would be moving to our suite on Disney property the next day and it had a kitchen (we wanted to at least do breakfast at the room everyday). I didn't mention this in yesterday's post, but Brenson lost one of his shoes at EPCOT somehow. SO frustrating! So, after getting a few groceries, we headed to the outlet mall to find Brenson some shoes. We were certainly successful and ended up not only buying shoes for Brenson, but a bunch of clothes and two pairs of Sperry's for me. Oooops :-). It was a great outlet mall! The kids went down great that night and I was so thankful as we were really looking forward to our day at Animal Kingdom the next day!
Monday, February 4th was vacation day number four and we headed straight to Animal Kingdom first thing in the morning. We got there right at 8:00am, so it was pretty busy getting into the park. I really wanted to stop and take a family photo in front of the Animal Kingdom entrance, but Chris was so excited he wouldn't stop! This cracked me up coming from a guy who was not excited to go to Disney World!
Here I am with the kiddos in front of The Tree of Life (the HUGE handcarved tree behind me):
As soon as Chris snapped a quick photo at The Tree of Life, we high-tailed it to "Africa" and got in line for the Kilimanjaro Safari. I'm SO thankful that we did this first thing as we only ended up waiting in line for about 20 minutes!
On the safari, we rode in an open air jeep through the "African jungle" where we saw real animals very up-close and personal! Brianna kept wanting to hang out of the jeep, so I held her tight!
I didn't really know what to expect as far as animals we'd see, but we saw a TON!
This bird was perched on an Alligator's back!
This guy came so close to our jeep that our driver couldn't stop to let us photograph him. If the animals get too close, they are required to keep the vehicle moving.
Chris laughed at me for taking a photo of a cow (hello, we see them nearly everyday at home!), but really I was photographing the jeep . . . just to remember how it looked (we were in a whole line of them).
Another giraffe . . . I just love them!
The elephants were fun to watch as well.
There were so many of them . . . I think we saw close to 15 in a herd.
This lion (and his lioness) were perched atop these rocks and were hard to see. This photo is blurry because I was zoomed waaaaay in.
Following the safari, we walked back through "Africa" where we got to see a street dance. It was fun and loud, so of course the kids ate it up! Then, we headed over to Camp Minnie-Mickey to meet some characters.
However, right at the entrance of Camp Minnie-Mickey is a little trail that leads to a building where Festival of the Lion King is performed. A castmember was standing at the entrance of Camp Minnie-Mickey letting people know that there was no waiting for the Lion King show. It was scheduled to begin in about 3 minutes, so we booked it over there to enjoy the show.
Excitedly waiting for the festivities to begin!
Brenson was getting super sleepy by this point and was unimpressed with us trying to take his photo.
Bri couldn't wait for the show to begin!
Let me tell you, the show DID NOT disappoint! It was spectacular! We were amazed with the costumes, talent, and animations!
Brianna thought these trapeze artists were amazing (and, she was correct!)
Upon leaving the show, we stopped for a quick snack and some hydration, then headed over to meet Donald Duck (again!). We did have to wait for probably 35 minutes in line for him, but it was worth it!
Brianna immediately started dancing with him when she saw him!
We loved watching Brenson meet the characters! He was precious!
Meeting Donald instantly zapped Bren out of his bad mood . . . even though he was still sleepy!
This is a fun family photo :-).
After meeting Donald, we waited in a (thankfully) short line to meet Chip and Dale. They acted completely goofy and wild with Brianna so of course she loved them. There was a huge fan blowing on them (they were standing in the sun), so that's why my hair looks crazy in this photo.
Pocohontas was also close to Chip and Dale, but right as we got in line to meet her, she went on break. Brianna didn't even really know who she was, so we weren't willing to wait until she came back.
Instead, we loaded the kids in the stroller and walked over to "Asia" to take the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Our goal was really to keep the stroller moving as we knew Brenson needed a nap. Sure enough, BOTH Brianna and Brenson fell asleep before we even began walking the "trail". We went ahead and walked through it (including really neat ruins and more animal sightings), then parked ourselves at an outdoor table. While the kids napped, we mapped out our "must-dos" for the rest of the day. As soon as the kids woke up (after just about 45 minutes), we went to Pizzafari for lunch.
Ross & Tia had been golfing that morning, but met up with us at the park after lunch. As soon as we met up with them, we all headed over to Dinoland U.S.A and rode the Triceratop Spin. It was a super-cute ride that was made for littles so perfect for me and the kids :-).
My daredevil riding partner and her scaredy cat Momma!
Ross is a thrill-ride rider, so he and Chris decided that they wanted to ride Expedition Everest. They had grabbed a Fastpass for it before we went into Dinoland, so we all walked back over to "Asia" and they got on the super-scary and crazy looking rollercoaster. While they were riding, Tia, the kids, and I happily treated ourselves to some root beer floats. Of course, you have to remember that in between all of this is a lot of walking and potty breaks and stopping to reapply sunscreen, etc. Things just don't move too fast with littles.
By this time, it was about 3:00pm, and Animal Kingdom was closing at 5:00pm this day. Because of this, Chris and I decided to just stay at the park until it closed and not go back to the room for afternoon nap time. It ended up working out fine since the kids had napped a bit in the stroller and were able to go to bed early.
To finish out our day, we took the Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki's Planet Watch. This photo was at the train station:
At Rafiki's, there was a huge petting zoo. Brianna jumped right in and enjoyed the animals.
She was very serious about brushing their hair. While brushing, a castmember asked her where her home was and girl-child began telling the dude her lifestory (including that she was from Oklahoma, her name was Brianna, her brother was "over there", and she was two years old but would be three on her birthday on February 18th). Cracked me up!
Brenson wanted to pet them too, but then he would only touch them with his little pointer fingers!
We also explored the Conservation Station (where the vet clinic for the animals is located, along with many educational exhibits), then met Rafiki himself.
We then boarded the Wildlife Express Train and headed back to the main area of the park to exit. It was about 4:30pm by this time, and both kiddos fell asleep in the stroller on our way out and continued to sleep in the car. We woke them up as we arrived at Saratoga Springs where our suite for the rest of the week was located.
I have photos of Saratoga Springs that I'll post later, but we loved our suite! It had two bedrooms (each with their own bathroom and secluded from one another), and a common living room, dining area, and kitchen. It also had a washer and dryer (lifesaver for us!). Our room had two queen beds and a pack-n-play for Brenson. The suites were roomy and set in a wooded, scenic setting. We are sooooo thankful for our friends' generosity in allowing us to stay there with them!
We settled in our suite a bit, then headed into Orlando with Ross & Tia for dinner. I don't remember the name of the place we ate, but it was a little local hippy type place that served burgers, fries, sandwiches, etc. The food was good, but the service stunk.
After dinner, it was back to the suite where we crashed out pretty quickly for the night.
Tomorrow: Our first time EVER to Magic Kingdom!