Our visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom for Bean’s first birthday was as perfect as a fun day can be. We had friends who told us that we should head right to the safari ride as soon as we got to the park to beat to lines. For this ride, you climbed into a big safari vehicle and headed out through the jungle and into the open wildlife of the African plains.
The animals were free roaming through this park of the park and there was nothing between you and them. It was like being on the other side of the fence at the zoo.
There were also lions, but we got so excited we forgot to get pictures of them. My Mom was really excited about those guys.
After the safari, we headed over to the Lion King show. You have to be there half an hour early to get a seat, so we hung out under the mister fans while we waited. And trust me, it was worth the wait because a) Bean loved the show and b) it was air conditioned.
The show itself was really neat. They had actors who sang some of the songs and told the story of the Lion King. They also had acrobats who did a few acts pretending to be monkeys up in trees. Bean loved all the lights and costumes and he danced right along with the music. The show was about half an hour long and he sat through the whole thing like a little champ.
When the show ended, we were kicked back out into the heat of the day just in time to head to lunch at The Rainforest Cafe. I had called ahead weeks earlier and made a lunch reservation for us and made arrangements for our cake. They were so cooperative and helpful there! We were allowed to bring in our cake and even a box of party decorations for the lunch. When we got to the park that morning, as we were all picking up our tickets, my Dad dropped the box of goodies and the cake off at the restaurant and they held it for us until our lunch reservation. When we got to the table, they had laid out our party decorations already for us. It was so easy and made our lunch very personal and a lot of fun.
For the birthday lunch, we had safari hats and animal print leis. I was worried that no one would wear them, but everyone – including our waiter!! – put their hats and leis on right away and wore them happily through the whole lunch!
About 20 minutes after we got to the restaurant, Bean and his Grandmomma Jackie took a little walk around to see all the decorations. They had big gorillas and panthers and monkeys hanging from life-sized trees all over the restaurant. And about every 10 minutes, the rainforest would thunder and lightening (just a lot of blinking lights really) and the animals would make all kinds of noise. It was so neat! But all that visual stimulation after a morning of fun in the sun made for one tired Beanie and half way through their walk around the restaurant, Bean fell right asleep.
So, he snoozed while we ate. But when the meal was over, he was still snoozing and we had a whole birthday cake for him! We went ahead and told the waiter to bring out the cake anyway and we’d just eat without him so we could get back out to the park. But when the waiter brought the cake out, the whole wait staff sang happy birthday to him really quietly while he slept!! It was so cute and funny!!
After a great lunch, we headed out to the other side of the park so that the adults could ride Mount Everest, the only real roller coaster in Animal Kingdom. My mom and I stayed with Bean (because neither of us like roller coasters) and we strolled around while they rode the ride. On our strolls, we found this part of the park called DinoLand. It was made to look like an old carnival and they had a flying triceratops ride that Bean could do so as soon as Chris got back from Mount Everest and could hold our stuff, Mom, Bean, and I climbed on up and had a little dino spin!
It was about 3:30 and the Disney parade started at 3:45, so we headed over to the parade route after this and got a good seat front and center. The only problem? It started pouring in the middle of the parade (which is why I don’t have any pictures!). We decided to stay out in the rain through because it was so much cooler. Bean hung out in his stroller under his umbrella, so he didn’t get too soaked, but the rest of us got drenched and, let me tell you, it was awesome.
By now it was about 4:00 and we decided to fit in one more show before we headed out, so he went to Finding Nemo The Musical. For this show, you had to be there half an hour early, too, but you got to wait in the air conditioning. Bean liked that part. He chilled for a little bit.
Until Aunt Annie started picking at him.
She can’t help it. It’s what aunts do. They pick at you when you’re trying to take a nap. It’s part of their Aunt Contract.
Finding Nemo was a little different than the Lion King because it was up on an actual stage. Bean loved it though. We had aisle seats right down front and the characters and fish “swam” right by us throughout the show. It was really neat and Bean sat through this whole show, too, clapping and dancing right along with the cast of fish.
By the time we got out of this one, the park was about to close so we called it a day and headed back to the Rainforest Cafe to collect our leftover cake and to have a little snack before heading home. At this point, it was almost 7:00pm and we had been at the park since 8:00 that morning. We were sure that Bean was about to just keel right over. But he had a great time in the bar area of the restaurant, dancing and having a little snack.
That face is Bean singing while he eats. And by singing I mean squealing to the beat of the music.
He was having so much fun, I made sure to get it on video because he was too blurry from moving around so much when I tried to take his picture!
All in all, we had a great time at Animal Kingdom. I was worried that Bean might be a little too young to be able to enjoy everything the park had to offer, but there really wasn’t too much that he couldn’t do in some form or another. It was the perfect day of fun and family to celebrate Bean’s first year!
Be sure to check out Chris’ thoughts on our Animal Kingdom adventure over in The Man Cave today!
SAVE THE DATE! Tomorrow night, June 9, at 9:00pm EST Chris and I will be hosting a LIVE video chat with MC readers. We’ll be answering live reader questions about marriage and parenting and how we’re surviving so far. Tomorrow we’ll post a link to the chat room and you can RSVP ahead of time or just show up at 9pm and join the conversation. We’re looking forward to spending some real time with you all! Hope you’ll join us!