Sunday we would be exploring Animal Kingdom, which would be an entirely new park for me. Once we entered the park gates, I was immediately taken aback by the lushness of the place. Green canopy everywhere. The Disney magic that finds itself in running streams, waterfalls, spraying mists, and the the theming in Africa, Asia, The Tree of Life, and Dinoland USA.

We made a b-line to Asia, to immediately ride Expedition Everest. Such an awesome ride. Riding backwards in pitch blackness, and a double 360 banking curve just makes the ride awesome! Plus nearly getting your head decapitated by The Yeti. I rode twice in a row, and got fastpasses for riding later.

Then to Kilamanjaro safaris, where we get to see the animals pretty close up. The previous day, one of the safari trucks was actually charged and rammed by a white rhino…I think that would be a bit more realism than I would want in my ride. Nonetheless, a great ride with more Disney magic.

Two of the attractions that I appreciated much more than I thought I would was The Festival of the Lion King, and Little Nemo. Lion King was more a collection of music from the film, along with acrobats and other circus like performers. Nemo was a stage adaptation of the Pixar film, done creatively with fish puppets and their controllers who sung their parts. Both were excellently performed, and brought that ever present lump in the throat.

The previous day I got a text from a good friend, John Delk, who noticed my postings to Facebook earlier that I would be in Orlando. He had a 3:30 arrival on Sunday, he had work at Cocoa Beach. So, we decided to meet for dinner at Crossroads at House of Blues. It was great to reconnect and catch up with a good friend that I had not seen in over 20 years. It was also great to see how a good friend has turned out to be a man who loves his family and has given much to be a part of their lives. It was just one of those chance happenings that brought us together in Orlando at the same time. (John is the guy for introducing me to the band Rush, of which I am quite the fan, if you haven’t already discerned that by now.)

Today David and I got to explore Disney Hollywood Studios. I really didn’t know what to expect. I was in awe at the theming, once again. You enter a replica of the streets of Hollywood, with the charm of the palm trees, neon lights, bright colors, and snazzy storefronts that puts you right down smack in the the center of Hollywood, California. David and I head immediately for Hollywood Tower of Terror and Aerosmith’s Rock ‘n Roller Coasters. Two top notch theme rides, again, with theming that is pure Disney magic.

Next was the Backlot tour, of which David and I were chosen as volunteers as actors in some of the water stunt show…another guy was the mechanic, I was the captain, and David was the panicking first mate. As water explosions from bullets, torpedos, and bombs are going of all around us, we’re supposed to be acting out certain actions to complement the scene. Even this veteran church drama ministry performer probably looked llike a complete goofball, with wave after wave of explosions and water deluging me. luckily, we had rainsuits on. But we still got pretty darn wet. But it was great fun!

Star Tours was next, and this fanboy can honestly say this was his favorite ride. We rode this twice, and our adventures took our 3D motion simulator to the Wookiee planet Kashyk, an asteroid field surrounding the Death Star, a confrontation with Boba Fett in his ship Slave 1, the podraces on Tatooine, and the underwater planet core of Naboo. The motion simulation, along with the very realistic 3D special effects, blew me away. Simply amazing!

We finished the day out with One Man’s Dream, the historical story of Walt Disney and his accomplishments. The man’s vision was extraordinary. He, like so many other great men and women, had many setbacks that took him to the bottom. Yet he rose again. I know of no other more creative individual. He is one of my greatest heroes.

We did much more throughout the day, this was just a small sampling. Lunch was at the Sci Fi Dine In, which has tables in the style of cars parked in a drive in movie theater, dining while you watch the cheesiest B-movie Sci Fi movie trailers. Interesting atmosphere to say the least.

The SCiFi Dine In


Tomorrow, I shall be exploring Universal Studios at Universal Orlando. More first time experiences!


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