My Wild and Artsy Trip


Sweeney Todd - original cast incl Angela Lansbury, was the first musical I saw live on Broadway. Broadway, and musicals, are not my thing particularly, though I enjoy them now and again. But that ST production was quite memorable.
Wow Mark, I am so jealous! The closest I've come to that was watching the video of the tour production (Landsbury was in that as well). I also got to see her sing A Little Priest at the Hollywood Bowl at a birthday concert for Stephen Sondheim about 15 years ago.


Feb 5 - Animal Kingdom, Rope Dropping Flight of Passage

My 7:30 arrival meant breezing through bag check and arriving at the tap-stiles to see 4 lines, of about 15-20 people each. To the left, they were letting people with ADRs through, and the right side of the entrance (so, half of the tap-stiles) was still roped-off. I knew, though, that each of those lines was really supposed to be TWO lines - one on either side of the stanchion. The farthest right line had a little clump of people at the beginning and then a line stretching back on the left side. Knowing that there were really supposed to be two lines heading toward this stanchion, I walked right up to the front of the right side. It looked like there was 1 guy who knew what he was doing (forming that 2nd line) in the front, and then a large family group that was taking up both areas. So I just stood in back of them! I'm sure the people I walked past just thought I was joining my group. Haha. Eventually, the CMs started coming out and yelled at us all to form 2 distinct lines (as expected). This surprised a lot of people and it was hilarious how many times they had to give a reminder about this. They also eventually opened the right side area so a lot of people who had been much further back were able to leap to the front.

(I hope these descriptions make sense, if you have any questions, let me know!)

While I waited, I ate a granola bar and checked Twitter. I saw that Josh had actually been at IllumiNations last night as well! I was so sad that I missed him. I responded to his tweet with thanks for all his hard work and told him that I was currently 4th in line to enter AK! At around 8:10 they started letting us through (30 mintues before open, my a$$). I walked my brisk NYer pace toward the entrance to Pandora. I saw some people running and there was an ECV-user that "floored" it to get to the Pandora rope, where the rest of her group joined her. I am often travelling with my BFF in an ECV, and I realize that there are many ways that that makes touring harder, so I didn't begrudge them too much for this one advantage. Despite the fact that a number of people passed my on the way to the rope, I still ended up in about the 4th row back by the bridge heading to Pandora.

Picture taken at 8:12am

We were held here for maybe 15 minutes. The Pandora CMs explained very clearly that they would walk us slowly back to the attractions and that those heading to Na'vi River Journey should stay to the left and those going to Flight of Passage should stay to the right. As the walk began, there were some that kept trying to get ahead. Which is really very silly when we were all going to get in with the minimum wait time possible. We were eventually funneled into a queue-width line and led into the FoP queue. There was a lovely early-morning mist over the land and I took some amazing pictures as I walked through the land/queue.

This was taken at 8:33 and I'm already on the upper level of the outside queue, you can see the people below filing through the entrance.

We were going through the standby queue, but the lights in the lab/floating animatronic were not on so we didn't get to see that (probably to keep the line moving). Sadly, I've only ever done this ride with FP before (I know, you are all devastated for me) so I've never been able to see it. Maybe next time I'll do standby before close or something. The first time we came to a stop was on the ramp leading to where they divide you into rooms. Since they were trying to fill all seats in every group, they asked if there were any singles and I was able to pass about 10 people!

The ride is still just as thrilling and magical as the first time. And I was out of the building before 9am! The gift shop wasn't even open yet! I got myself a Pongu Lumpia and headed out of Pandora to start the rest of my day.

One more picture of this impossibly beautiful land. Notice that the mist has burned-off and the sky is clear.

Yes it was an early wake up (though after doing a few runDisney events which require 3am wake ups, everything seems relative) but it was so, so worth it. My entire time commitment was an hour and a half, and that includes entering the park, walking to the attraction, walking through the queue, and riding that banshee. Sure beats the 2 or 3 (or more) hour waits just to get on the ride that happen later in the day!

Next - Gorillas and elephants and meerkats, oh my! (that's how that goes, right?)


Well-known member
Wow Mark, I am so jealous! The closest I've come to that was watching the video of the tour production (Landsbury was in that as well). I also got to see her sing A Little Priest at the Hollywood Bowl at a birthday concert for Stephen Sondheim about 15 years ago.
I lucked out and saw some good stuff back then. My high school had an occasional feature called "X-Days" when students could go do something cultural in the city unsupervised (I think you had to bring back a receipt or ticket stub). I did TKTS a few times. Besides Sweeney Todd, Death Trap was another highlight. The only other title I remember was The Wiz, which now I consider it was probably my first musical before ST.


Feb 5 - Animal Kingdom, All Creatures Great and Small

OF and I were scheduled to go on the 10am Caring for Giants tour, which required us to check-in near the Safari entrance at 9:45. Since I was already done with FoP, I had some time to kill. I thought about hopping on the Safari and was checking the waittimes as I walked from Pandora to Africa (which I had to do through Discovery Island because the walkway between the 2 was only being used for the FoP queue). I saw it go from 5 to 25 to 10, but as I approached I saw a large tour group entering the FP line, so I decided to skip it (we had FPs for after the tour).

I figured I could kill some time at the Gorilla Falls Trail so I headed that way. When I got there, I found out that it doesn't open until 9:30 (it was probably 9:15 at this point). I was shocked that this is not a popular rope drop destination! The CMs told me there was a spot on an open pathway where I might be able to see some gorillas, but they weren't there. So I just sat and waited for 9:30.

When they finally opened, I was among the very first people to enter, and managed to pass a family at a split in the trail to become the first guest through most of it for the day. I kind of sped through most of the early areas (I only had 15 minutes, and wanted to get to the gorillas). It was really fun saying good morning to all the CMs along the way. When I got to the zebra/meerkat area, I chatted with a CM who taught me that there are 3 different types of zebras and all of them are represented at Disney World (safari, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and this area). He also told me to listen to the meerkats making some snuffly noises. It's impossible to hear them later in the day when there are more people around.

When I got to the gorillas, I was in awe of this big guy hanging out eating his lettuce.

One of the keepers was nearby and talked about seeing this gorilla on the very same spot on his very first day, which was a few months before the park opened to the public. I had never really thought about the fact that these animals had to all be here, and be acclimated to the area before the park was open. I asked him a few questions and would have loved to stay longer, but I had to check-in for the tour.

I know it's not what most people are clamoring to do at RD, but it was a really cool experience being in the trail so early (and when it is so empty). I would love to try it again, maybe after a RD safari, and stay longer.

I met up with OP, checked-in for our tour and got my elephant-poop-paper name tag. There was a total of about 10-15 people in our group, including a couple of kids (6 y/o was maybe the youngest?). A CM walked us through an exit near the safari and we walked behind the FotLK show building and to a parking lot. It was really strange seeing safari jeeps parked in a regular lot! We got on a small bus and were driven to an area behind the elephant habitat part of the safari. We weren't allowed to take and pictures during this backstage portion of the tour.

Once we got to the right place, one of the elephant keepers joined us and led us to the first viewing area. We were then free to start taking photos.

My "#elphie"

The keeper, Connor, told us all about elephants and the specific elephants that we were seeing (I don't remember any names, except that one is named "Rafiki," they call her "Fiki" and she was named and came here BEFORE The Lion King came out). He was very knowledgeable and friendly.


We walked over to another viewing area and saw many more elephants, including Baby Stella!

While we took our pictures, Connor answered any questions we had about elephants in general, and the program at AK. We were then joined by a woman from Botswana. She spoke about conservation/anti-poaching efforts in Africa, including showing us samples of a nut from south America that, when polished, resembles ivory. It was really cool.

We returned to the van, drove back to the lot, and were led back into the park.

I could not recommend this tour more highly. It is only $30 per person (and OF got us an AP discount) for a solid hour of content. (according to the time stamps on my photos, we were with the elephants for about 30 minutes) Being able to just stand and watch the elephants walk around for this extended period of time was wonderful, and so much better than what you get from the Safari. And it only uses an hour of touring time, so it does not monopolize your whole day the way some other tours do.

We stopped by Harambe Fruit Market to get the grilled corn on the cob, which was one of the tastiest things we ate all vacation.

Dipped in butter and covered with salty curry powder this is a perfect snack. As we stood there eating our corn, a number of people stopped to ask us where we had gotten them. I guess they look as good as they taste.

After flossing our teeth (no, it's not TMI, this is going somewhere), we headed into the FP queue at the Safari. The flossing started us discussing dental issues (and feeling old, I was about to turn 40 in a week and she will turn it in a few months). The husband/dad of the family in front of us turned around and asked if we were talking about dental issues because HE WAS A DENTIST and was happy to help. We couldn't believe the coincidence or his willingness to help out. OF told him her problems and he suggested she try a certain toothpaste, and if that didn't help, go to see her doctor. We chatted with them for the rest of the queue and then got loaded onto a jeep.

We went into the Gorilla trail and it was really interesting how different it felt just a few hours later/with hundreds of more people. There were no zebras out, but there were a lot more meerkats, including a BABY! We spoke with a CM who said that this was the baby's first day out of the burrows and that all the adults were trying to protect it/cover it.

Sorry the pictures aren't great. Trust me, it was super cute.

Next, we had a FP for Expedition Everest. As I was riding, I felt that my hat was a little loose and was holding it onto my head. But at some point, I decided I didn't need to and as we went through a fast indoor passage, it flew off! I was so sad because it was a brand new hat (an image of Ursula that says "Boss Witch" lol). But luckily it had actually landed in the chest of a rider 2 rows behind me (we were going uphill at the time)! She held onto it and I got it back when we got to the station! Yay! Disney guests are the best!

We caught the 1pm Finding Nemo musical, which is always a fun time. Afterward, I had a very special mission. As explained above, I am a huge musical theatre fan. Last spring, I went to an Avenue Q Reunion Concert at 54 Below, a cabaret space in NYC. The concert was wonderful and had performances from the original cast, touring casts, and the current Off-Broadway cast, as well as the 2 writers. One of those writers is Robert Lopez, who (with his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez) wrote the music for the Finding Nemo musical (as well as a little thing called Frozen, you might have heard of it). I happened to wind up right near Kristen as I was heading out and I decided to tell her how much I loved the Nemo show. I also mentioned that I wished there was a cast album, and she said that there is one! She said that they sell it at a kiosk near the theater (though it's a bit hidden), and that a few Avenue Q people are actually on it! I told her I would get it the next time I was there! Well she was right, it sure was hidden, but I asked and they had it! Robert actually plays Marlin and Kristen plays Dory, and a bunch of Broadway people are on it. It's a great album and it is now in my rotation of show albums.

It was time for our Na'vi River Journey FP so we headed to Pandora and got on the river ride. This was my second time on it and I think I appreciated a lot of the effects more than the first time. It's not a BAD ride at all, but in comparison to FoP, it just gets buried.

Now starving, we went to Nomad Lounge for some small plates and drinks. We were given the Nomad Lounge menu and the Tiffins menu (appetizers and enhancements are available to order at Nomad). We were thrilled to discover that the Truffle Poutine is vegetarian! We got that, the Tuna Poke Bowl, and the Spiced Chickpea Falafel. I also got an Annapurna Zing and OF got a Mustang Coffee.

Poutine, and a beautiful picture of my drink-to-come.

I absolutely loved my drink and hope I can go back soon (lol). The poutine was delicious, but we were disappointed with the other dishes. I then remembered someone here raving about the Gobi Manchurian (fried cauliflower) - was that you Anne? We got an order of that, and WOW! Crispy, sweet, savory, yummy!!! Definitely ordering that when I come back for another Annapurna Zing.

And that was it for Animal Kingdom! We headed to OF's car for there were still two (!) more parks to visit this day.


Having fun reading along!
I really want to do the Elephant tour next time we're down there. It looks great.


Well-known member
HaHa. Yes, that is me, the cauliflower fanatic. I'm so glad you had a chance to try it out! My husband is still on a quest to try and get a home version of the recipe but it doesn't look promising. The kids love it too. They now request Tiffins over Tusker House every time we go to Animal Kingdom.

Sounds like a great morning. I love the idea of the trail first thing when it's not crowded. We get so busy hitting rides and maximizing the touring plan that there isn't as much time for the trails as I would like.

Sounds like a great morning with the elephants as well. I like that they change things up some on the tour. They didn't have the nut polished to ivory when I did the tour last year.

Is that baby Augustus the hippo basking on the bank? I love it when the hippos are out of the water sunning themselves.


HaHa. Yes, that is me, the cauliflower fanatic. I'm so glad you had a chance to try it out! My husband is still on a quest to try and get a home version of the recipe but it doesn't look promising. The kids love it too. They now request Tiffins over Tusker House every time we go to Animal Kingdom.

Sounds like a great morning. I love the idea of the trail first thing when it's not crowded. We get so busy hitting rides and maximizing the touring plan that there isn't as much time for the trails as I would like.

Sounds like a great morning with the elephants as well. I like that they change things up some on the tour. They didn't have the nut polished to ivory when I did the tour last year.

Is that baby Augustus the hippo basking on the bank? I love it when the hippos are out of the water sunning themselves.
OMG, that cauliflower was so delicious. Thank you, thank you for writing about it. I'm not sure I would have ordered it otherwise. And now you know (if you didn't before) that you can get it at Nomad Lounge!

I hope you get a chance to try the trail in the morning. I could have easily done a safari first, and then had a pretty empty gorilla trail (if I didn't have the elephant tour) or even done a ride or 2 on EE before going to the trail. So with a better plan/fewer restrictions, and good FPs you could probably work it into a productive day. (I'm not really interested in anything in Dinoland, so that makes hitting-everything-I-want easier)


Feb 5 - TTC-Epcot-TTC-MK-Contemporary-TTC-POFQ

My original plan was to go to MK to ride some rides (4th FP?) and see Once Upon a Time/Happily Ever After. But I was so wowed by the Disney on Broadway show the night before that I decided to switch things up a little to catch the first show of this day's duo. Because I still needed to end the day at MK (seeing HEA was a priority for this trip), we drove to TTC and took the monorail to Epcot. I hadn't ridden this route before so that was fun and new. Unfortunately, you have to go through security at the TTC to get on the monorail, but it leaves you outside of security at Epcot, so you have to do it again. That seems like something they could easily fix by directing monorail traffic into the park directly. Oh well.

We didn't have a ton of time before (what I thought was) the 5:45 show. But we did stop to pick-up the art postcards we had seen and liked the day before.

I grabbed an Almond Frangipane Cake from Pop Eats and OF got some fresh caramel popcorn from Karamell-Kueche and we hustled to the theater. (question for you all - when you are buying just the popcorn or the pre-packaged snacks do you wait in the line of people ordering apples/cookies/cupcakes/etc or do you go right to the cashier?)

Moist and yummy!

Tragically, I had the wrong showtimes in my head and the show had actually started at 5:30! They were in the middle of their opening number when we walked up, and the theater was completely full.

So we stood in the back and watched what we could. We ended up right next to one of OF's friends from the other night, as well as some other friends.

The performers for this day were Arielle and Adam Jacobs who are siblings. They have both starred in Aladdin, but never opposite each other. They sang A Whole New World, and it was a little odd to watch a brother and sister sing a love song. He also sang Proud of your Boy, which is from the stage version of Aladdin and she sang Part of Your World. I think they also did a duet or two from High School Musical. They were fine, but nowhere near as amazing as Heidi and Gavin the night before. Btw Arielle had been in the audience of the show the previous night, and it's nice to see that all of these performers are supporting each other.

We chatted a little with those friends of my friend and then headed back out of Epcot. We took the monorail to TTC and then chose the boat to take us to MK. I had never ridden the boat before and it was a magical way to approach the magical kingdom.

Sorry it's blurry, but check out the monorail going by the train station.

So beautiful.

We docked around 7:15 and OUAT was scheduled for 7:30. We made our way up Main Street and found a spot in the hub. Unfortunately, a shoulder-kid went up right as the show started so we didn't have the greatest of views. After OUAT was over, we found a new spot to watch HEA, that didn't have an obstruction. This was OF's first time seeing HEA even though she lives in Orlando and has an AP!!! It is one of my absolute favorite parts of a Disney vacation, though I hadn't gotten to see it since November 2017. (in August 2018 we did a Halloween Party and in November 2018 we did a Christmas Party) I was thrilled to see it again, and OF liked it a lot (though she still thinks Fantasmic is better).

We needed to get some dinner at this point and decided that the easiest thing would be to walk to the Contemporary and eat somewhere there (rather than dealing with the post-fireworks rush to TTC). We tried California Grill Lounge, but they were full (I guess that's to be expected right after the fireworks). Then we tried the Contempo Cafe but they were no longer serving the salmon bowls that we had both enjoyed in August (they change their menu seasonally) and they didn't have any fish options. We ended up at The Wave and our server Ali was a delight. We both really enjoyed the salted butter that comes with the complementary bread. The fish of the day was salmon and OF wanted that, but not the shrimp rice or crab beurre blanc (does Disney get a kick-back from the beurre blanc council?) that comes with it. Ali said he could give her the salmon with green beans and mashed potatoes, perfect. I ordered the Seared Gnocchi but needed some protein, Ali suggested adding some grilled shrimp to it. Delicious!

After dinner, we took the monorail to the TTC and OF drove me back to POFQ.

I started packing up my stuff since I'd be leaving my suitcase with luggage services before I went to a park the next day. So sad...