Our Disneyland Passes allowed us to enter four theme parks: Magical Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studio (It was called MGM Studio when we were there.) and Animal Kingdom. We had two days to tour around four theme parks.
We visited Animal Kingdom, followed by Epcot in the afternoon as there would be a round of spectacular firework display throughout the night.
To go Disneyland, we need to take designated buses to the theme parks as the hotel shuttle bus would only stop at the theme park bus terminal. We were impressed to see that the buses could be lowered or “kneeled” by the bus operator and were equipped with a wheelchair ramp for the disables.
My first thought of Animal Kingdom was just another zoo, but it’s definitely more than a zoo! We were already there queuing up before 9am to beat the lines for the rides.
Finally, we entered the park and were ushered to a big open space where Mini, Goofy and Pluto greeted us and introduced the icon of Animal Kingdom – Tree of Life, a 14-storey and 50-foot wide tree with the swirling tapestry of 325 animal carvings.
In Animal Kingdom, there are six attractions: Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Asia, Dinoland U.S.A, Oasis, Camp Minnie-Mickey and Discovery Island.
Our first stop was Dinoland U.S.A. It is like another Jurassic Park, where there are dinosaurs and big dinosaur bones hanging around.
We took Dinosaur – just another kiddy ride; but children might enjoy it if they don’t cry! There is a camera attached at a certain point where the climax takes place to take the facial expression of the riders. Photos are sold at the counter.
Saw this antique at the exit of the ride.
We were totally immersed in the settings of Himalayas – the scenery, the colours, the building structures and even the smell!
Our first ride for the day was Expedition Everest. It was a high-speed train ride toward the peak of Everest and then, the best part was we rolled backward at a fast speed. The mountain’s full of surprises and there is a big Yeti at the mountain too.
We “challenged” the Kali River Rapid and rafted down the so-called turbulent waters but only got ourselves all wet, not thrilling at all! That’s it. We were soaked for the day after the second ride and I had to wring out the water from my clothes in the restroom.
Apparently, this extraordinary tall “creature” was from the grape vineyard.
We were greeted by a group of colourful and friendly performers. They were beating the drums, singing and tribal dancing with the tourists. An African man tried to pull me into their tribal dance and I insisted to turn down the invitation as I thought we had no time to dance yet (plus, I was shy)! We still had got so many rides to go.
We queued up for Kilimanjaro Safaris and while in the line, we were reading signboards that prepared us for the safari ride. I had been to the Night Safari in Singapore, but never had a daytime safari yet.
We climbed aboard an open-sided safari vehicle for the exciting expedition.
The driver was a lady who narrated the tour. We watched animals roaming freely across the savannah, rivers and rocky hills. Sometimes we wondered if some animals in the far, the uprooted trees and termite hills were real or just a back lot.
The lady-driver was a good actress too. She pretended that the vehicle was stuck in the mud while crossing the puddle; and she communicated with her co-actor on the speaker about poachers in the Harambe wildlife reserve hunting rhinoceros for their tusks and how they were later caught by the park rangers. It was a joy ride in the “wild”.
The Poachers’ campsite and a van full of rhino tusks.
After the safari ride, we made our way to the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in search of gorillas. Along the way, it was a nature walk filled with Nile hippos, birds and fish. We entered an exotic bird aviary, an underwater hippo viewing area, a savannah overlook, and had an intimate up-close encounter with a magnificent troop of gorillas.
I can always remember the name of this African animal vividly. It’s called Okapi. It resembles the giraffe, but smaller and with a much shorter neck; it has distinctive stripes on its four limbs.
These gorillas are huge with very big faces!
Rafiki’s Planet Watch
The endangered cotton-top tamarin primates at Habitat Habit!
At the Rafiki’s Planet Watch, we boarded the Wildife Express Train and travelled the savannah for a behind-the-scenes journey through several animal housing and care areas of the park and to the core of the park’s conservation center. We went to the Conservation Station where Disney promotes wildlife conservation awareness.
The “researcher” in the lab, observing the gorilla in the monitor screen boringly.
A team of “researchers” were performing a surgery on a deer laying motionlessly on the operation table in the room while two “researchers” were standing next to us, “seriously” discussing about the sick deer.
And finally, the Star of the Planet Watch – Rafiki, the endangered mandrill with a blue butt. Mandrill means “Man-Ape”, the world largest species of monkey.
We watched a 3-D show – It’s Tough to be a Bug! It was a stage show dazzled with amusing insects starring the show. At one part, we were like the housefly being hit by a housewife and we were even sprayed by white smoke (supposed to be DDT). Once we were even stung by a bee – we were actually being poked by a stick at the back-rest of our chair! Our legs were also being brushed by something that simulated insects running around us. It was an experience with full of surprises!
Leaving Animal Kingdom…
We walked back to Disney’s bus terminal and took the designated bus to Disney Epcot.