The Post You’ve All Been Waiting For!

THE OLSSONS’ ULTIMATE DISNEY WORLD EXTRAVAGANZA!

There is so much to tell and so many pictures to share, that we’ve decided to break this up into several posts.  We’ll start with the first day.  We woke up early Saturday morning, ostensibly so we could get an early start on the day, but in reality because Beth was so excited, she was like a kid on Christmas morning. She woke up before the alarm, at about 4:30.  She managed to chill until about 5:00 and then got Lars up to finish packing the last few things in the car.  The kids were easy to rouse, and although we had pillows and blankets in the car for them to go back to sleep, they never did.  Like mother, like children.

The trip down was relatively easy.  We were surprised at the lack of “Are we there yet?” questions, but figured we stemmed that off by telling them the approximate time we would arrive right away.  We did get a lot of requests for the current time. 🙄   All in all, about a 7 hour trip.

For those of you familiar with Disney Land, or not familiar with Disney at all, let me give you a little background on Disney World.   DW is a collection of resorts and parks that cover 39 square miles just south of the city of Orlando.  It includes 4 theme parks (one of which, Epcot, is actually two theme parks combined), 2 huge water parks and  24 resort hotels.  In other words, it’s huge.  So you start seeing the signs and sights of Disney long before you get to your actual resort.  The kids were literally bouncing in their seats and “squeeing” a lot. Ok, ok, Beth was too.   😆

We chose to stay at Animal Kingdom lodge, and couldn’t have picked a better place for our family.   The theme of the resort is Africa, with gorgeous decor, mostly African staff and best of all, the hotel is set in the middle of 43 acres of a true “African savanna”, with wild animals freely roaming around.  From our balcony we could see giraffes, zebras, ostriches, cranes, kudu, impala, okapi, antelopes, gazelles, wildebeests, flamingos, storks, pelicans and vultures (not sure what *they* were waiting for…).

I’m not exaggerating when I say from our balcony. The hotel is set up so the rooms are in wings that form semi-circles around the watering holes and feeding areas.  The animals come right up to the building, so they can be as close as 30-40 yards from you.

You can’t feed or touch them, but just to see them up close and active on regular basis is amazing.

The hotel has an amazing zero-entry pool (like being at the beach, no steps, you just walk in and it slowly gets deeper).  There was a waterslide right there for the kids and a bar right there for the adults. 😎  There were three restaurants, lots of activities for the kids, lots of art in the lobby and tons of education available from the staff about the animals.  When we pulled up, there were people drumming right in front of the lobby.  It was awesome.

After we got checked in, we headed straight over to Epcot (all the hotels have shuttles).  The first ride we rode was Spaceship Earth which is the iconic “golf ball” looking thing.  It’s essentially a ride that shows how technology on earth has changed over the years, and how it might be in the future.  Epcot is full of hands on activities, sort of like the world’s biggest children’s museum.  We played around for a while and then went to dinner at a seafood restaurant.

As an aside, Epcot was originally conceived by Mr. Walt Disney as a fully functional city.  He called it the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow (EPCOT).   There are various “lands” in Epcot, including “The Land” which includes fully functioning farms and gardens.  Most of the Epcot restaurants get a lot of their vegetables and fish from these farms right on the property.  The food was great!

We had planned to stay for the fireworks at the end of the night, but we were all tired and agreed to head home and get a fresh start on the day.  Installment number two will describe our first day at Animal Kingdom Park.  Watch this space!