Our day at Animal Kingdom was one of our best. None of us had ever been to this park before and I suppose that added to our fun. We arrived by bus just in time for the welcome ceremony.
You can see the mass of people walking in slowly.
Then we quickly made our way to Dinoland, USA, where Cozy and I both rode the Triceratop Spin with Jackson.
There was a really cool roller coaster right by it called Primeval Whirl that I would have loved to have ridden, but Jackson wasn't tall enough. He nearly had a meltdown when I told him he couldn't ride it, so I figured it would be mean of me to do it myself. Oh well, maybe next time!
Here's my sweet girl - always along for the ride!
I think I've failed to mention until now that I had been praying for weeks before our trip that Jackson would reach 40 inches in height. I actually didn't know how tall he was but I figured he was pretty close. At 40 inches a whole new world of rides opens up to you. It wouldn't have been the end of the world if he didn't make it, but it would have added to our fun. So a week before our trip, Curt measured our boy. He was 39 inches flat footed. So close! When we measured him in shoes he was 39.5 inches. Now that was so close it was almost heartbreaking. We resolved to try to get Jackson to 40 inches. So Curt went out and found some really humongous tennis shoes that he thought were cool and I thought were hideous. (We never agree on shoes.) He bought some heel inserts to go in them. That put him right under our goal. Then my Dad came though big time by making another heel insert with some cardboard. That did it. Forty inches he was! And let me tell you, he rode all those rides with gusto!
The one time we regretted taking advantage of this contrived height was when we road a ride called Dinosaur. Jackson is totally into dinosaurs and we really wanted him to see the animatronic dinosaurs on this ride. Looking back, we definitely should have ridden it first before taking him. Y'all, it was hands down the scariest ride I've ever been on in my life. It starts out okay but halfway through it gets very intense and loud.
For the first half, you should have heard how obnoxious Curt and I were when we would point out a dino and celebrate it wildly and happily as we tried to keep our guy from being scared by how real it all looked. Halfway through, I knew there was no salvaging it. I just covered my baby's eyes until it was all over.
Honestly, there is no way I can describe how scary this thing was. At the very end, as the t-rex was roaring about 5 feet from our faces and blowing hot air while our vehicle was shaking like crazy and lights were flashing, I nearly started bawling because I just wanted it to end already! I felt so horrible that we had subjected our three-year-old to it. Jackson was a little shaken up but he didn't cry. He certainly did not want to go on it again. (If you click on that link above, you can watch a short video of the ride. I know, we should be horse whipped.)
Curtis is so great with Jackson. He kept telling him afterward how brave he was. For the next few days he kept saying, "I'm brave! I'm very brave!" That night I told Curt how awful I felt and that we should start saving for his therapy. Curt said, "Amanda, he probably doesn't even remember it. All he knows is that he's brave." The next day Jackson said, "Daddy, there are no more monsters because I'm brave!" How much do I love that kid?
After Dinosaur, Curt, Jackson and I went on the Kali River Rapids. It was one of my favorite rides of the day, but I left my camera behind so it wouldn't get ruined. We had a ride like this at Astroworld called Thunder River when I was growing up. I specifically remember going on it with my Memaw. Basically, you get in a big floating tube with a bunch of other people and you go through a river and get very wet. Curt let me wear his hat to protect my hair. We had so much fun. When we got splashed really big at the end, Jackson's eyes got really big and he looked like he was going to spaz out about being soaked. We had a two-second window to convince him that getting wet was awesome, so Curt yelled, "Yeah! We're all wet!" Then his face lit up and Jackson said, "Yeah! I'm all wet!" Way to go, Hubs.
Next we did the Kilimanjaro Safari. Here's Jackson waiting to go next. You can see how wet he got. This was a great experience. I'll let the pictures do the talking.
I'm not sure if the disturbance in the water was some hippo gas or if it was the pond's aeration system.
I was trying to photograph a bunch of lazy alligators, but my camera focused on that little lizard instead. I never even saw that thing until I uploaded the pictures on my computer.
I remember seeing a picture of a tree like this from my parents' Africa pictures a couple years ago.
Sorry, UT peeps. These guys pretty much put Bevo to shame. They were enormous!
This guy came out from between the rocks right as we drove by. It was awesome!
Here he is with his woman.
Here are some ostrich eggs that we all thought were probably fake.
After the safari, I had to go feed Annabeth. The baby care facility in this park was amazing. I even had a private nursing room there. Not to be gross, but Annabeth hadn't pooped in 3 days and I was on high alert for a blow out. Nothing yet. While I was there, Jackson got to play in The Boneyard (dinosaur playground) with Daddy and Nana.
Then we had some really great pizza at the Pizzafari.
After lunch, Annabeth's little bowels woke up from their long nap and we narrowly missed a blow out. It was back to the baby care center for me!
Here's the back side of the Tree of Life. This is when we also saw a modelesque woman covered in green vines who hangs out in the trees. A little weird.
Next stop, Expedition Everest! That mountain housed an awesome roller coaster. I was so much fun. We three adults took turns going on it.
The scenery and atmosphere in this park were absolutely amazing. I felt like I had visited several different countries in one day. That truck was a snack shack.
By this time we were very hot and getting a bit cranky. Orlando was having record highs and we were in the mid to upper 90's. This is not unusual for a Houstonian to experience, except I would never choose to be outside in it for hours on end unless I was swimming.
Anyway, here's Curtis trying to entertain Jackson with his race cars while we waited for the bus to pick us up.
I have no idea why I took this.
After we rested back at the hotel, we went to the pool. One thing I remember about the pool was that a little boy - probably 5 years old - started talking to me and telling me all kinds of stories while I was watching Jackson from the side of the baby pool. When Jackson realized that another kid was taking up my attention, he was bent on getting it back. Then he looked at me with this priceless expression - like he loved me so much. It was a very sweet moment between us, right there in the urine-filled baby pool.
This was a wonderful day. It either tied or came in slightly under Magic Kingdom. Next park: Hollywood (MGM) Studios!