After visiting the Cinderella Castle Suite, it would be tough to match that moment on the rest of the trip. Luckily on the D23 Magic & Merriment 2011 itinerary was a visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, in many ways my favorite Disney park. With lush greenery and theming it is a cozy atmosphere filled with grand adventure. And in the last two parts of this series we will take you from Kilimanjaro Safari to a spectacular nighttime experience of Expedition Everest. It is the best of Animal Kingdom and it’s waiting for you just after the break.
After a little refurbishment love the cafe is looking incredible…
…the next part of D23’s Magic & Merriment takes us backstage.
Sadly cameras are not allowed beyond this point…
…but you are going to have to take my word for it, you aren’t missing much but that is a topic for another day.
So through the magic of the internet we move along to lunch at Pinocchio Village Haus.
Even with all the crowd managing techniques Disney employs here, it can be quite possibly the most hectic lunch spot because of the crammed ordering area and location in Fantasyland.
The theming here is simple but pleasant.
Looking for pizza or a meatball sub than have I got the place for you 😉
As mentioned above, it can be quite a hectic ordering process, so I recommend getting away from that and into a more peaceful atmosphere on the second floor seating.
Not only do you get a wonderful view of the restaurant below but also of the wonderful murals beside you.
After a quick lunch it is time to meet the rest of the D23 gang over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
But the MK is an eventful place and look what we find on our way out.
Why it’s Peter and Wendy. Oh and you can’t forget Alice and the Mad Hatter!
A royal Beast.
Love this shot of Ariel on her way towards Cinderella’s Castle.
Princess Tiana giving us a grand smile 🙂
Looking at some of the Christmas Decorations under the Christmas tree on Main Street USA.
Every Christmas tree needs a train going around the base…
…but this isn’t just any train set. It is here to honor Walt. You see the Carolwood Pacific R.R. is the miniature sized railroad Walt famously built in his own backyard!
Walt’s passion for trains is well documented and its really neat to see such a nice touch added to the park during the holidays to honor the man behind the magic.
Walt named his miniature train set the “Lily Belle” in honor of his wife.
Something that is always here but no less special is the Magic Kingdom dedication.
40 years later…
And now we march our way to Animal Kingdom.
Welcome to a partly cloudy edition of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Animal Kingdom’s Christmas Tree has some of the coolest ornaments on property.
D23 is meeting in Africa for the last ride of the night on Kilimanjaro Safari!
It is such a great feeling when you catch that first glimpse of the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom.
Just a mesmerizing icon and wait till you see it at night! (Make sure to look for our final Magic & Merriment post tomorrow that features Animal Kingdom at Night)
How many animals can you spot?
Well I spy one Giraffe…
There is undoubtedly a ton of walking to do at Animal Kingdom but it helps to set up the adventures.
As you step closer and closer the anticipation begins to build.
There are some views within Disney’s Animal Kingdom that are just plain stunning and no matter how many times I walk on through this bridge I can’t help but pause with awe.
Isn’t he striking?
I can’t be the only one who thinks Wild Africa Trek sticks out like a sore thumb. It is one of those, “this doesn’t belong here,” moments. It’s not totally jarring of course but it does take away some of the magic of the story of the actual ride.
Still this remains such an incredible attraction…
One of a couple hundred infamous extras in the Lion King.
Wild Africa Trek’s buildings are nice and do blend in, just not into the storyline, whatever is left of it anyways. (More on that in a second)
Nature is awesome.
Not shy at all…
Hungry? Why wait?
Elephants are so impressive on their own that I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Perhaps the average guest doesn’t notice this but I think that is selling them short because I’m sure they notice it as well.
These geysers may be going the way of the Dodo bird, because Disney has announced that they will be removing the Poacher scene along with Little Red to make way for a new Zebra-filled Savannah scene.
No more chasing poachers…
…good bye Little Red.
Stay tuned for the final post in this series where we tour Disney’s Animal Kingdom at night!