Charlotte, Travel

On to the land of Disney

Once it became apparent that we weren’t going to be going back to the National Championship game this year we started to hope that we would go to the Capitol One Bowl in Orlando so that we could take Charlotte to Animal Kingdom. It turned out favorably for us and so we headed out on December 29th to Orlando.

Mom, Dad, Jason, Charlotte, and I went down on Wednesday and Charlie joined us on Thursday since he couldn’t take that much vacation. Charlotte proved, once again, that she is a great traveler by never crying or pitching a fit and only saying “Wheeeee!” when we took off and landed! Of course, an iPad loaded with Elmo movies and Wonder Pets episodes doesn’t hurt!

Not long after takeoff. She was so excited to see the planes and kept wanting to point to them and exclaim “Plane!”. This is her “cheese” face — we obviously aren’t getting fake smiles at this point! Haha!
Watching Wonder Pets
And here’s C relaxing in the Orlando airport while the guys got the tons of bags that we had! She was much smaller and completely asleep in the airport almost exactly like this a year ago!

We successfully navigated the airport and the rental car area and got ourselves to the hotel. At that point Charlotte was doing fine but hadn’t had a nap and so I was hesitant to take her out again. So we just ate an early dinner at the hotel restaurant and then put Charlotte to bed. We decided to go ahead and make a full switch in time zones so it did help that she got to go to bed a whole lot earlier than she would have otherwise. And she slept all the way through until 8 the next morning with no problems either — she was exhausted!

We got up on Thursday with big plans to visit Animal Kingdom. It was built after my last trip to Disney and Jason had never been to Disney World at all so we were all in for a new adventure. We even found out that day that this was apparently Dad’s first visit to a zoo-like environment EVER! We were glad that we got to introduce him to live animals! 🙂
We parked in the Unicorn lot and then boarded the trolley to the front of the park. Once we got in we immediately set out to get Fast Passes for the Safari ride. The Fast Passes were printing for 10:45 so that was pretty perfect timing for us! We then headed to the animal trails next to the safari to see what was there.
We saw a lot of fish….
And huge gorilla’s! Can you see him just above and to the right of my head? Charlotte was so excited about the gorilla’s and said “Ah! Ah!” (what she says a monkey says) about fifty times while we were there!
Waving bye bye to the gorilla’s

This gorilla was on the other side of the exhibit. I think they were like warring tribes or something??

After we left that exhibit we headed over to Asia to see their animal exhibit. After trying to find some bats we saw the tigers.

Checking out the tiger with Memma

The exhibit was really neat and was set in what was supposed to be this ancient ruin of a palace. We initially saw a tiger from up above (the picture above) but then got down right next to them!

This tiger was just pacing back and forth in front of the windows. Charlotte said “Walk Walk” a lot while watching him.

Then C saw this tiger and said “Night Night!” Even now you can ask her what the tigers were doing and she’ll say, “Walk Walk. Night Night.” It was a little surreal being so close to such huge animals!

We then headed back to the safari. We chose to go the route that we went in California last year and make a run to Target as soon as we got to Orlando to pick up essentials like diapers and milk as well as a cheap umbrella stroller. It honestly cost us about the same as renting one at the park, I didn’t have to flip about the germs on a park stroller, and we had use of it the entire trip instead of just at the park. Interestingly enough, Jason came back from Target with the exact same stroller as the one we got in California last year! Charlotte is much bigger in it this year than she was last year!

The Fast Pass proved to be great because we waited maybe 3 minutes as opposed to around 25 minutes. And we were able to do basically everything else in the park that we wanted to do before the safari so that the safari could kind of cap off our trip.

About to board the van with Memma and Papa.

The safari was really cool and I would definitely recommend it if you go to Animal Kingdom. There were a lot of big animals on the safari and you got within a pretty good distance of them. (As a sidenote, this is really the only place that you get to see the big animals — elephants, giraffe’s, hippo’s, lions, etc.)

Checking out the hippo’s with Papa

Looking at the hippo’s almost entirely submerged in the water
We were really excited to see the elephants since the Birmingham Zoo didn’t have any. The elephants above are adult elephants but the one below is a six month old baby elephant. The driver was telling us how the baby elephants have to learn how to do things like use their trunk and climb just like babies. This elephant’s Mom was on the other side of the tree trunk and he couldn’t figure out how to climb over it. As you’ll see he eventually gave up and turned around!

This lion was really close and was huge! He was laying down when we first drove up but then stood up and (right after this picture) proceeded to yawn which was neat to see.

After the sarafi we took Charlotte to the gift shop to let her pick out an animal. Mom and Dad held up the ones that she pointed to or we thought she might like and made them dance for her. But she stuck with her original choice of a panda bear! And she still loves him!

We ate lunch at the Pizzafari which was pretty good, especially for park food. Then on our way out we stopped by the huge tree in the middle of the park to try and get a picture. As you can see, Charlotte was more interested in Panda Bear than she was in us!

You see, she LOVES Panda Bear (or Pa Ba as she calls him)!

I thought we were going to escape the park with our only purchase, other than food, being the bear but on our way out we saw a booth with sunglasses. On the plane on the way out Charlotte started putting her hand up in front of her eyes when the sun or lights or nothing got in her eyes and she would make this really pitiful face like she was in pain as if she was trying to tell us that we needed to do something about it. So we stopped and bought her a pair of Cinderella sunglasses to try and ease some of that drama! 🙂

Once we got back to the hotel we put Charlotte down for a nap and Dad went and picked Charlie up at the airport. We hung out and watched some football for a little while and then got ready for our big family dinner of the trip. We went to Hemingway’s in the Grand Hyatt and it was very good. We enjoyed some wonderful fish dishes and had a great time spending some of our only time of the trip as a whole family.

Our hotel had a really large atrium that was full of things that Charlotte could play with/admire like this waterfall. She continued to want to wear her sunglasses even when we were inside…at night!

Mom, Dad, and C after dinner

The whole family!

We got back to the hotel and put Charlotte to sleep only to be woken up again by the SeaWorld fireworks. We thought it would be neat to be across the street from SeaWorld but the nightly 11 pm fireworks weren’t the best. At least Charlotte didn’t wake up fully because of them!

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3 Comment

  1. Reply
    January 12, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    So many things to say after this post, but probably the most important…can’t believe your dad has never been to a zoo!!! Crazy! The only problem is that now since he went to the ultimate zoo for his first trip, all others will pale in comparison.

  2. Reply
    January 27, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Aww! I love this post! Looks like everyone had a great time! I want to go to Disney now!

  3. […] our last day in Disney World we were scheduled to go to Animal Kingdom.  This was the one park that Charlotte had been to before even if she didn’t remember it.  We knew that the kids would enjoy the park but also knew […]

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