April 30, 2007

year of a milion mice - trip 2

Day 1

Mickey trip number two this year was a spur of the moment choice, spurred on by two frequent flier tickets on Southwest that were ready to expire. We decided early on that this would be our "cheap trip..." and we did pretty good on that count.

Thursday afternoon, we flew down to Orlando, rented our discounted car from Budget (thanks again for those years in the Navy, Dad) and checked in to our luxurious accomodations: the Econo Lodge Polynesian. Lydia summed up our feelings about the hotel when we got back, "I didn't feel like I had to change hotels in the middle of the trip." That's about as nice as it got. The upside: HOT showers. The downside: too many to mention... but no washcloths and "bring your own shampoo" come to mind. Luckily, we were focused on park time, not "resort" time... but we did end up having a great Polynesian experience in a different location.

Friday morning, we headed for Disney's Animal Kingdom to do something we'd been trying to do for about a year: ride Expedition Everest. It was first on our list, and an awesome experience! Disney's "imagineers" are famous for taking a ride concept, a food concept, a hospitality concept... whatever... and, to use a Walt Disney term: "plus-ing" it. They don't just put a newspaper in the lobby of the hotel at "Tower of Terror," they make sure it's a reproduction of a paper of the time period, with interesting stories and real copy. They don't just give you a waffle shaped like Mickey Mouse, they put it on Mickey Mouse-shaped sprinkles that melt beneath it and create rainbows in the syrup left on your plate. Everest's "plus-ing" is evident in every dimension... from the elaborately designed queue to the innovative ride system itself.

The rest of the morning we spent doing some of our favorite rides - Kilimanjaro Safari and Dinosaur, and then we went to the newest attraction at the Kingdom, Finding Nemo - The Musical. Disney has always done a great job with shows that build on their movie properties, and this one is no exception. From the clever, yet simple pre-show that had kids yelling, "Nemo!" to the amazingly fluid and believable puppet/person combinations for all of the characters, it was a fantastic experience.

We retired to our posh hotel for a breather, and returned to the AK resort area for dinner at Jiko, the Animal Kingdom Lodge's marquee restaurant. Because our Advance Dining Reservation noted that we had a member of our part with lactose intolerance, we were presented with a special menu created especially for Lydia... not just an explanation, but a complete menu! We began with the "Taste of Africa" appetizer, and split the Lamb Shank for our entree. The combination was more than enough for the two of us. Jiko was, and will probably be a highlight for future visits to the World.

(three more days posts coming...)

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