We slept in a bit this morning after a late night last night and didn't get to the Animal Kingdom Park until around 10:00. After getting fast passes for the safari ride, we took a train ride up to an area we hadn't been to before.
The area was a conservation education area with a petting zoo. The petting zoo was what we went for, and it was honestly disappointing. There are petting zoos in Austin and in Greensboro that are much better than this one was. I actually felt sorry for the animals, who were basically being chased around by small children wielding brushes. The animals (all goats and sheep) ran from one fenced enclosure to another, chased by packs of small children. It was kind of sad, really.
The safari ride, as usual, was lots of fun. It's incredibly authentic, and Carter really enjoyed it. I somehow always end up taking pictures of animals, which is silly because seriously, do you know how many pictures of elephants I've taken in my lifetime? But hey, I took even more today.
Here are some rhinos:
This is actually the first time I've ever seen hippos on this ride.
Here are some crocodiles.
After that we walked down to the Asia area of the park. Here is me having a margarita, woo.
Carter was tall enough this year for the river raft ride, and so we finally got to ride it. He really enjoyed it, and if we spend another morning at that park we'll definitely do it again. We then headed to the dinosaur-themed playground, which Carter always loves.
Later when we asked him what his favorite part of the morning was, he said he liked watching a particular roller coaster. He stood there and watched it for a good ten minutes, and I happened to take some pictures.
He loved watching it! It's interesting how such simple things make him happy. Doug and I talked a lot today about the fact that though Carter is having fun, he'd have just as much fun if he just hung around the hotel all weekend. He's at an age where he's really easy to entertain, and he's happiest just playing. Every time we travel with him, we question ourselves and wonder if he's having as much fun as we'd hoped.
I tried to take a picture of him in front of this big Christmas tree, without much luck.
Of course, as soon as another family came over to take their pictures, he was all smiles. I love the looks on these little girls' faces!
He kept saying he wanted a "blue and yellow spinny thing" and we had no idea what he was talking about until we finally walked past a display of these spray bottles. He loves battery powered fans (again, easy to entertain) and so we got one. It has a carrying strap, and he thought this was the best thing ever. He spent the next hour pretending to be an exterminator and spraying water on pretend bugs.
We went back to the hotel to rest our feet a bit, and then decided to go to Epcot for the evening. There were some rides there that Carter was tall enough for, and we were excited to try them out. He really enjoyed the "Spaceship Earth" (aka History of White People) ride and we had decided to get some dinner before riding a few others.
So first, I should say that this is the third year in a row that we've gone to Orlando on Thanksgiving weekend. We've also gone to the same parks on the same days, for some reason. This year everything is noticeably busier. The parks are far more crowded, and everything is just a bit more of a hassle. The last two years, we've come to Epcot on this Friday night after Thanksgiving, and we've been able to walk into a restaurant without a reservation. In fact, though reservations are recommended for all of the Epcot restaurants, we never had a problem. Tonight, everything was full, and the standby wait was 90 minutes everywhere we tried. It's been like this all weekend, and the contrast to the last two years is really stark. If that's not a sign of economic recovery, I don't know what is.
And around the time we decided we were just going to have to eat street food for dinner, Carter fell asleep in the stroller. He'd been grumpy all evening, and in retrospect he was just really tired. So we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel. He's still asleep, and we had room service for dinner.
We spent some time talking about whether or not we'll come here again on this weekend, and I'm not sure we will. We're thinking about finding another non-holiday weekend to do this trip in the future, like maybe Carter's birthday in early January. It's just so crazy crowded this weekend that it's a lot harder to have fun than it was the last couple of years. I'd love to know what these parks are like when there's not a 90-minute wait for everything and tremendous crowds everywhere you turn. It's still fun, but the crowds make it a lot more stressful than I prefer my vacations to be.