Monday, April 22, 2013

Disney's Animal Kingdom is 15!

It's Earth Day and the fifteenth anniversary of the opening of Disney's Animal Kingdom!  I remember traveling there in 1999 with my boyfriend, who I was hoping would use the opportunity to propose.  In fifteen years a lot has changed, with us and with this wonderful park.  It is awesome to look back and see how much your life has changed over fifteen years; we've gotten married, finished college, moved twice, and now have a third baby on the way.  Sprinkled in there are numerous trips to Disney World, with several spots at Animal Kingdom.  Here are our fifteen DAK favorites...

15. Discovery River Taxi/Radio Disney River Cruise
This attraction has been closed since 1999 because it wasn't too popular.  I loved it and hope they are running the boats for today's anniversary.  Maybe for the 20th?

14.White Chocolate Elephant Cupcake
Kusafiri Coffee and Bake Shop easily rivals some of the more popular bakeries on property, including Starring Rolls at Hollywood Studios and Main Street Bakery at the Magic Kingdom and this cupcake is giant proof.  The huge, molded white chocolate elephant on the top is just the beginning of one of the best cupcakes around.  I'll be sure to take a picture before eating it next time.

13. Yak & Yeti
We love the food and the ornate surroundings at this table service restaurant.  Yum!
Shaoxing Steak and Shrimp

12. Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade
I'm not big on Disney parades, but we never miss this one.

11. Tree of Life
This should probably be up higher on the list because of its sheer magnitude, beauty and attention to detail.  I still can't believe there is an oil rig under there!

10. Wildlife Express Train
I find this train ride relaxing and a perfect opportunity to nurse the baby.

9. Restaurantasaurus
Most people just run in and out of this quick service dining location.  Next time you go, stop and check out the detail in the surroundings.  No where in the park is Disney's attention to detail more prevalent than it is here.  I could spend hours there, eating Shrimp Po' Boys and laughing at the jokes.

8. Kali River Rapids
I admit it...I am a chicken and wear a poncho on this attraction.  I do love it, I just don't like walking around wet afterwards.

7. It's Tough To Be A Bug
My arachnophobia always makes me cringe when the spiders appear, but I deal with it to feel the bugs leaving the auditorium before the guests.  That gets me every time!

6. Finding Nemo - The Musical
An amazing show!  This was the first one we took CDB#1 to see and she didn't move from my lap the entire time.

5. Flame Tree Barbecue
Best quick service dining spot on property...period!

4. Exploration Trails
I like all the trails; can't pick a favorite.  Some of the best photos I've ever taken are of animals on these trails.
Can you spot DiVine?

3. Park closes early
Yes, we love that this park closes early.  It gives us an opportunity to catch a movie at Fork & Screen, or just go back to the resort pool and chill.  If it stayed open as late as the other parks, we'd be forced to stay until they closed, too.

2. Kilimanjaro Safaris
I take more photos on this attraction than any others on Disney property.  Hop in the back row and get out your telephoto lens!

1. Expedition Everest
Disco Yeti aside, we love this coaster.  We were raised on the "faster, higher, steeper" coasters at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH and Expedition Everest still ranks in my top 10 greatest coasters of all time.  Shutting down this coaster to fix Disney's largest animatronic ever would mean closing this very popular ride for quite a long time, but I think it's worth it.  Splash Mountain was closed and restored to original greatness, so Animal Kingdom should "take one for the team" to shut down Everest and fix it.  I just hope it's closed when I don't have a trip planned.

I took this picture while riding EE. Can you spot my husband in the dark blue shirt?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Waste Not...

While I won't be in the parks on Earth Day, I will be there before the end of the month.  In honor of Earth Day, I've decided to not waste anything this trip.  Everything will be recycled, reused or refused...absolutely everything.  This task will be a lot easier this trip because I am traveling solo; would be dang near impossible with two small children.  Beside the standards I hope everyone follows, such as reusing towels, using the in-room and park recycle bins, turning off lights and adjusting temperature appropriately before leaving the room, here are a few ideas on how I plan to leave the smallest footprint of any human being ever while at Disney World.

  • Plane Tickets - Super easy...will use electronic ticketing on my phone.
  • Luggage Tags - Another easy one.  These always go in the scrapbook created for every trip, or recycled.
  • Drinks & Snacks on the plane - I'll pack my own snacks in reusable containers and fill filtered water bottles after I get past security. Prepackaged items given out on the plane will be refused.
  • Resort Information given at check-in - I'll kindly refuse these or recycle it.
  • Food - This will be tough, since any items that come in contact with food generally cannot be recycled (paper plates, cups, forks, etc).  Although Disney composts up to 80% of its waste, some of the paper plates used at Quick Service restaurants are coated and cannot be composted.  I'll also have to skip prepackaged snacks like Mickey Ice Cream Bars.  This means I'm restricted to Table Service restaurants, Quick Service spots with plates that can be composted, and snacks that could be eaten without coated packaging (pretzels, churros, turkey legs).  By far, this will be the hardest part of the challenge because I love to eat ALL Disney food!
This container can be composted
This container is composting here
Note: I am by no means an expert on composting, but my research shows that paper coated with plastic is not compostable.  Paper products coated in clay are compostable.  I do not know what Disney's food containers, plates, etc., are coated with.  Maybe I'll bring a few back home and run some tests to see how the containers do in a compost bin.
  • Drinks - Refillable resort mugs without straws and my trusty water bottle with attached filter and reusable ice cubes will keep me hydrated.  Maybe I'll pick up a couple of extra paper straws from Animal Kingdom for use during the rest of the trip.  Dios Mio! Does this mean I'll have to skip enjoying my precious Dole Whip float? 
  • Maps - I think I can walk through the parks with my eyes closed and get to where I want.  In the slim chance I need to see a map, I can use the Disney Parks app on my phone or ask a Cast Member for directions.
  • Purchases - Even though the bags are made of 100% recycled materials, I'll refuse them when I make purchases and just put items in my backpack.  Tags and receipts will be recycled.

Anyone else up to the challenge?  With a little planning, I think anyone could do it.  We'll see how this goes and try to replicate as much as I can when we head back with the kids this summer.  Did I forget anything?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Back in Action...Almost

I've spent the past four months serving as the interim Executive Director for a local non profit.  While I absolutely loved the work, I am looking forward to spending my days at home with the children, especially since summer is on the way.

So I don't keep you on baited breath, waiting for the topic of my next awesomely crunchy post, here's a sneak preview of some things to come.  If I've left something out that you'd love more information on, please leave a comment!

  • Since my first post on breastfeeding at Disney Parks, our family has returned twice and I've learned quite a bit that I'd like to share with you about making sure your little nursling is happy while visiting Mickey.  
  • My favorite topic is cloth diapering!  For those of you who already cloth diaper on vacation, I've got some more tips to keep you sane and your little love muffin dry.
  • I took the children to the parks by myself in February.  It was certainly hard work, but I'd do it all over again.  I'll share what worked for us and what did not.
  • Do you think you can go through an entire Disney vacation without wasting a single thing?  This is the challenge for my solo trip at the end of this month.
  • Pregnant and travelling to the parks?  Join me as we figure out together the best way to navigate the parks during the first, second, and third trimesters of pregnancy.
I'll be a SAHM mom again after next week, so expect a few more surprises when I'm finally off the clock!

Until then, stay crunchy, friends!