Tag Archives: Animal Kingdom

USA ’18 – #RetroDisney

We first came to Florida in 2001 when the boys would have been about six and eight. When we came the first time Helen and I were, shall we say, circumspect about it but did it for the boys. However, we all loved the experience and so since then we have managed to come a further seven times! And I blogged about it in 2009, 2011, 2014 and, of course, 2018.

Inevitably over the years we have taken thousands of pictures of the four of us enjoying the sun and the parks. This year we thought that it would be fun to pick some of our favourites from our first trip and recreate them this year. As it turned out that wasn’t possible for all of them due to the locations no longer being there but as you will see we did do pretty well.

I had expected some push back from the boys on this but they were both incredibly tolerant and indulgent of my quest to get them in the same locations and poses.

The first picture was taken in Magic Kingdom at the Sword in the Stone. When we saw this the first time they ran a shown around it where they would get people (adults) out of the audience and they would try to get the sword out without success. Then they would choose a kid who would manage it straight away of course.

I thought that I knew roughly where this was but in the end after much searching I had to ask someone for directions. I was beginning to get concerned that it had gone but no there it was, tucked away by the carousel.  As you can see since the original was taken the hedge has been removed but apart from that it is much as before.

This was the first we took but I think it is also one of the best.

The Sword in the Stone, Magic Kingdom

One thing I quickly discovered was that a number of things affected whether I could exactly recreate the shot. Firstly it was difficult because the camera was different. Back then I had an early digital camera and now I was using my smartphone, which was vastly superior. Secondly, the lighting conditions made a big difference too, as you can see from this one below. I think that is is probably my least favourite of the lot. Finally, it was very hard to get the picture in exactly the same way and without people but on the whole I think we managed pretty well.

Canada, World Showcase, EPCOT

The next three were all taken in EPCOT and the first one took us ages to locate exactly which position it was taken from. As you can see the sign is no longer there (unless it is under that very nice flowering bush!). Also the wall is no longer tiled but rendered. This all threw us a bit and, in fact, it took two visits to be reasonably certain that we were in the right place. Looking at it now makes me chuckle though.


The next two were both taken inside the Inca temple in the Mexico pavilion in EPCOT’s World Showcase. One thing that hasn’t changed much over the years are how Mat’s eyes respond to a camera’s flash. Red in the first and a ghostly white in the second.

Mexico, World Showcase, EPCOT
Mexico, World Showcase, EPCOT
Winnie the Pooh Seat, Disney Springs (neé Downtown Disney)

Initially I thought that this one had been taken inside Magic Kingdom next to the Winnie the Pooh ride but an intensive search and asking around showed that not to be the case. In the end we did some research on Google and some images came up that showed that it was actually in Disney Springs.

There has been so much work done and change at Disney Springs (including a name change) that I wasn’t hopeful that the bench would still be there so I was delighted to find it, albeit in a new location. It also looks as if it has been faded by the sun over the years.

This is another picture that I think has worked particularly well.

Blizzard Beach/Typhoon Lagoon

This final picture is a bit of a cheat as the original was taken in Blizzard Beach which we didn’t visit this year. While I was keen to recreate them all as closely as I possibly could that wasn’t going to change our plans which, in this case, included a trip to Typhoon Lagoon.

This picture also works well but for the fact that Alex’s has the wrong hand raised. Alex says it was the wrong way round in the first picture which I suppose makes sense given that he is left handed after all.

We had great fun reproducing these and I’m really glad that we put in a bit of effort to get as many as possible. You’ll note that there are none from Hollywood Studios which shows just how much that has changed over the years.

The next time we do these it will be with the grandchildren replacing the boys, assuming of course that we get any and their parents invite us along!

If you are interested I spliced the pictures together using Instagram’s Layout app, which also explains why they are all square!

USA ’18 – Day 13 – A Visit to the Typhoon

Today was our one and only visit to a water park, Typhoon Lagoon, again included in our Disney ticket price. Like everything else in Walt Disney World the water parks are beautifully themed and dressed.

Before we could get in the water and test the rides we had to dump our stuff. Previously the lockers had worked on a deposit basis and you could choose to either have your money back at the end of got a really nice (cheap) plastic mug. You also got a waterproof band with a key and the number of your locker. Perfect.  This has now been replaced with a human free system where you have have to pay a non-returnable $15 (FIFTEEN DOLLARS!!) for the locker. Better still they now provide you with a printed receipt with a reminder of the locker number. Fat lot of use that is in a water park!

Lockers negotiated (I say lockers but at $15 we made damn sure that everything squeezed into one) we set off to find the family raft ride. Shockingly this had been replaced with something similar but instead of climbing a tower you now were glided to the top in your rubber dinghy on a travelator. They’re a lazy lot the Americans.

As we were riding on said travelator a voice came over the tannoy “Please put at least one hand thru the loop” then a few seconds later the message was repeated. At this point both the boys put a hand through the loop and were rewarded with a  “Thank you”! You are being watched it seems.

We then went back to the villa where the regulations on leaving your house to go in your pool are strict. Tamper with the pool alarm and you get a year in prison. I’m sure you’d get less for shooting someone.

In the evening it was back out to Animal Kingdom, via Disney Springs for dinner at the House of Blues.

The reason we were back at Animal Kingdom was two fold. Firstly we wanted to see Pandora at night as it was supposed to be lit up and secondly we want to try and get on the Flights of Passage ride once more.

We waited until the Disney app showed that the wait time had come down from 120 to 90 minutes before attempting to join the queue. The queue was a lot longer than last time and even longer than the one in our local post office, if you can believe such a thing! However, like before, it only took us half the time to reach the front and get on the ride. It was well worth the wait too as it is great.

Once out we walked around taking in the lit up landscape before going over to our last fast pass of the day at the Safari. We hadn’t been in the evening before and I wondered what it would be like in the dark. It was pretty much as you can imagine – difficult to see the animals that had bothered to make an appearance. Still was a bit different.

Finally, we made our way out to the park exit where we had agreed to meet the boys. As we were leaving we saw that there was a show being projected onto the Tree of life, the enormous tree that dominates the centre of the park, so we stopped to watch that too.

So it was a good evening spent in a relatively quiet park and an opportunity to do some new things.

USA ’18 – Day 11 – I Knew a Pandora Once

I’ve mentioned a number of times in my posts about large areas of the parks being closed as new rides are developed but there is one new “land” that has opened since we were last here. In the intervening four years a Pandora themed land has opened in Animal Kingdom.

To be clear this is a land themed around the 2016 film of the same name and not those charm bracelets – that would be odd.

We knew that the land was open as friends had been last September and had said just how difficult it was to get fast passes in advance for the two rides in the area and that the queues were very long on “standby”.

We also tried in advance but weren’t successful either and so, early this morning, we left to get to Animal Kingdom at “rope drop” which is 9am. Even though the park officially opens then it has already been open for an hour for hotel guests so by the time we were allowed in there were already queues at the “Flights of Passage” ride. The wait-time was shown on the screens as being an hour but that was a lot less then we had seen it before with three hours not unheard of. Fortunately our strategy of arriving early paid off as despite the suggested time we actually only waited a reasonable half an hour.

The ride itself is very similar to Soarin’ in that you sit in front of a very large screen as you are flown over a landscape but this is much more sophisticated. Firstly you are sat on what look like motorbikes but are supposed to be Banshees, beasts from Pandora. As you sit there the bit between your knees expands and contracts as if the beast was breathing. It is also 3d so you have to wear those annoying glasses. But it is all worth it and is an amazing ride as you swoop and soar over the lands of Pandora. Very cleverly done and worth the early start.

With the ride done we were able to come back out in to Pandora and savour the landscape. One thing that Disney does incredibly well is dressing the scenery around the park and Pandora was no exception with the “floating” rocks above, cascading water and strange flowers. You really could have believed that you were on Pandora were it not for all those pesky humans!

The rest of the day went well too as the boys got to do plenty to rides on Everest and we saw lots of animals on the Safari. We will be back here once more this trip and I hope it’s as good as today was.

USA ’18 – Day 7 – Rivers of Light

After the last few days frenetic activity it was nice to have a late start today. Our fastpasses for the day were all for late afternoon in Animal Kingdom. This didn’t mean, of course, that I could wake later and lie in, no I’m useless at that so I was still up just after seven. But at least we didn’t need to rush round first thing to get out of the villa and miss the crowds. So for the morning everyone did their own thing, in Helen and my case broken only by a trip to the local Publix supermarket.

After lunch we set off for Disney Springs (neé Downtown Disney). In the four years since we were last here it has changed enormously and has probably doubled in size. This has necessitated the building of two new multi-story car parks as the previous surface car park has been eaten into by the expansion.

The new Disney Springs is much more adult and upmarket than the Disney Springs it replaced. Where once there was a magic shop and a build-a-bear there is now a high end shopping centre featuring the likes of Zara and Lacoste. Fortunately the old favourites such as the Lego shop and, more importantly, Ghiradellis are still there. This meant that I was able to reacquaint myself with their strawberry milkshake as last tasted in LA last September.

Springs done we made our way for our first visit this holiday to Animal Kingdom. I love Animal Kingdom as it is so beautifully decorated with it’s highly stylised visions of Africa and Asia. It’s a real pleasure to walk around. We started off on the Safari ride where all the action seemed to be on the other side of the bus to me! We then walked through the gorilla enclosure and got to see a family really close up, albeit behind glass.

At eight we split up with the boys managing to squeeze in four more rides while Helen and I went to the Rivers of Lights show, something that is new since the last time we were here. This is a light show on the small lake in the park with colourful automated flower buds and a couple of boats. It was pretty impressive, especially when videos were projected onto giant sprays of water.

At nine we met up again by the park exit and were on our way home.