[One of my favorite shows, Wipeout, does this thing where they start off the show with a random quote from the show. Then we, the audience, will hear the quote again later in the show, in context. I liked the idea, so I'm borrowing it.]
"Maybe I'll see my family there!"
I left the house at 7:05am and made good time -- enough to make a leisurely visit to the newly-renovated McDonalds on West Buena Vista Drive. I really like the changes. The inside had a very clean and healthy look with contemporary furniture and bamboo motif. There were also prints above and around that represented an active lifestyle -- sailing, skateboarding, climbing, etc.
Anyways, I had a great great cashier -- I think her name was Jonelle. She had a wonderful smile and a very attractive disposition. Plus, she was camera-friendly. I think that she was my favorite Cast Member (are they considered Cast Members here?) of the day. Absolutely fantastic.
I'll post pictures of the McDonald's in a separate post. [UPDATE: It's done. You can find the post HERE :)]
Getting back on task, I met up with Jack at the Disney's Animal Kingdom gates at 8:30am, and we easily made rope drop. It was my first time being right at the front, and we actually almost got chosen to carry the rope leading everyone to Africa.
Anyways, we headed over to Kilimanjaro Safaris first, where many of the animals were out and about. The Giraffes were close, the rhinos were... sleeping, and there was a brand-new animal (I can't remember its name, but there's a picture of it below). It was here that we heard the driver say, "Next up, Monkey Island" to which a little boy behind us said, "Maybe I'll see my family there!" Ha!
By the time we got off the ride, the queue for KS stretched all the way past Tusker House and almost to the bridge!
We decided on the 10:00am Festival of the Lion King show but Jack took me on a quick detour before leaving Africa. He pointed out the Pwani View Guest House behind Tusker House and how the signage had evidence of "a change of ownership" -- a subtle back story and example of Disney's attention to detail.
Anyways, we had no problem getting into the 10:00am FOTLK; was less than half-full (or more than half-empty). We sat in the warthog section, which provided a good view of what would be a niiicely casted show. My favorite prince and favorite tumble monkey were there (yes, I am shameless). During the performance, I finally discovered the waterfall at the front of the Elephant float. I wonder what I'll notice next time.
After FOTLK, we made a quick stop by Dinoland U.S.A. to check up on the Primeval Whirl queue... 40 mins SB w/no FP today (no thanks). So we walked right into the Theatre In The Wild for the 11:15am Finding Nemo: The Musical. We sat in the front right section (just to mix things up), and it definitely provided a new perspective. I was able to better see the actors' expressions which was really endearing.
We were really hungry after Nemo and given the choice of Flame Tree BBQ and Pizzafari, I chose Pizzafari (Cheese Pizza!). And there, I'll just say that we just talked for a long time.
Afterwards, we made our way to the exit, where Jack was heading home, and I was heading to my next park (while I'm out and about, right?).
To Disney's Hollywood Studios! (by car)
I got to DHS around 5:15pm, so enough time to make it into the 6:00pm AIE show. But I was hungry and wanted to be more sure about getting into the grand finale show. I had a hard time deciding where to eat since Jack's suggestion, Starring Rolls, was already closed for the day. I went for nostalgia and went to the Backlot Express.
I had the chicken nuggets. I sat in a corner of the "dirty" industrial warehouse of sorts, looking out, and it was another one of those "new experience" moments. It would also be a great source of scavenger hunt material. And they misspelled "receptacles" on one of their signs -- them: "recepticles".
There was still time, so I went on the Great Movie Ride. This attraction needs some love and updates. It'd be cool if they could turn this into a Spiderman-ish 3D/4D action ride... or let the Muppets take over.
Anyways, by the time I got off GMR, the AIE pre-show staging area was almost full. TOM! Being a single, I managed to squeeze my way in, and I had pretty good neighbors. The host was Shawn, and the judges were Rainne, Carol, and a female "Simon" whose name I didn't catch.
At this AIE Grand Finale show, there was only one really good singer in the bunch -- a girl who sang "Breakaway". Another person and I gave her a standing O, and I'd like to think that that made a difference. She rightfully won on a day that didn't have much competition. Still, I was very happy with the results.
Afterwards, I didn't want to battle the crowds out. There was still a good 30-40 mins before the park closed. So I walked down Sunset Blvd and rode ToT. There was a lots of mist in the gardens area, which was pretty awesome, and there was also a CD who just happened to be the same elevator car. And it was on the ride that Stitch had his last photo taken (more on that on the upcoming PH Fireworks post [Saturday]). And that was the end of the day at the parks for me.
I had originally thought that I'd be out of my second park by early afternoon to catch a showing of either The Hangover or Outrage but plans change. 8:30am to 8:30pm... 12 hours at the park... not bad. Asides the nice visit to the newly refurbed McDonald's and making it into the AIE GF studio audience, I was happy that I was able to spend some good time with a new friend.
Pictures from Friday's visit the parks can be found after the itinerary:
Here's what I did this visit:
McDONALD'S for Breakfast
DISNEY'S ANIMAL KINGDOM (UNICORN 21)
- Rope Drop
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Festival of the Lion King (niiice)
- Finding Nemo: The Musical (upfront)
- Pizzafari (cheese pizza meal)
CAR to DISNEY'S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS (40)
- Backlot Express (chicken nuggets w/french fries)
- Great Movie Ride
- 7:00pm American Idol Experience Grand Finale (Tom, Shawn, Rainne, Carol, new female "Simon")
1. Spence Heard "Walkin In Memphis"
2. Scott Fields "Drops Of Jupiter"
3. Danielle Sullivan "Big Girls Don't Cry"
4. Payton Sherry "Reflection"
5. *Carrie Robertson "Breakaway" (my choice!)
6. Christie Briscoe "This Is Me"
7. Mark Crichton "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" (2nd place)
- Twilight Zone's Tower of Terror (CD)