Is that Snow I See!?

Is That Tiny Snow Flake?

Jackson Hole Aerial TramThe weather report is for snow.  I’ll break out the winter jacket. At least I packed one. I have an appointment at 10 am to pick up a Gaperguide but I also want to take the tram to the top of Rendezvous Mountain. They closed it yesterday because of the high winds. With a storm predicted I’m afraid it will get closed again and this is the last day! The concierge says they have a waffle shack at the top. If I go up when it opens at 9 am I can have breakfast at the summit.  As I watched the tram glide down from the top I saw a tiny flake of snow drift slowly down. That’s it. I’m going up. I’ll just be late for my appointment.

Jackson Hole Aerial TramTram at the Bottom

This is really convenient. The tram is right next door! As I lined up I was surrounded by skiers anxious to get to the top for the new snow. They all planned to have a waffle breakfast too. The tram operator had some bad news for us non skiers. The storm had already started at the summit.  The walking was treacherous. It was all ice and the wind was blowing. He strongly advised that we ride up and come right back down. Going up we all watched for animals. Bears and Moose are often seen on the  mountain but not today.

MountainSide

Still ClimbingSeriously Serious Snow

Once the tram docked I stepped out onto the platform and nearly took a header. My feet could not get any traction at all. I didn’t even make it to the path to the waffle house. Safety First, I reluctantly agreed to skip the waffles and returned back down the mountain. The tram operator recommended a restaurant called the Mangy Moose as a substitute. He said it was close to the tram and had excellent breakfast.

 

Pretty Rugged

Pandora After Dark

Disney’s Pandora at Night

I returned to Pandora on my last night in Orlando. This was the big test. Pandora at night. I met up with Jr for a dusk Safari. Disney leaves nothing to chance. They even have  a fake sunset over the savanna. But that was just the first act. Pandora was the headliner. We passed the Tree of Life, barely slowing down to see the “Awakenings”.

Tree of life at night

This centerpiece of the Animal Kingdom has been endowed with a wondrous nighttime show. It runs every 10 minutes so there’s plenty of opportunity to take it in.

High Priest of the River of LightThe River of Light

The reason for the rush was that we wanted good seats for the River of Light Show. This is a fusion of lights, color and water. Images play on the sails of the ships and fountains burst from the floating lilies. Animals of light play across the the dark, splashing orcas, racing cheetahs. This is a celebration of life in light. Watch closely as you are transported across Asian jungles and tropical oceans to African savannas and North American mountains.

The Sound is OverwhelmingFloating lotus flowers

As if the imagery were not enough the music is loud. Very LOUD. That was one thing that I found distracting. The images were mesmerizing but the music was overwhelming. Its just my opinion but the sound was not in balance with the visual effects.

I made it my challenge

Capturing some of the brilliant scenes on camera became my focus. My favorite things were the floating Lilly pads. The show is only 15 minutes but it will totally immerse you. When the show ended it was time to check out “Pandora at Night.”

finale

Last stop, The World of Avatar at Night

As you approach Pandora at night you begin to see the sparkling luminescence on the tree trunks. But there’s more when you approach than when you get inside the world. The walk ways do not light up as you walk as described in the Disney promo. It’s obvious that much of the effects are black lights, so 1960’s. The Na’Vi River Journey is interesting but that’s about all I can say about it. We only waited about 5 minutes for the last ride of the evening. I wouldn’t wait in line an hour. It isn’t worth it. We didn’t get to take the Flight of Passage. There was still a long line. That ride might have been worth the wait. But it will have to wait for next time.

Is Pandora worth the Hype?

My opinion? Fun, interesting but just as good in daylight as the dark. Not up to Disney Standards.

sprays

Safari trumps Zoo

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Safari

Going on a safari Disney style is better than going to the zoo. The attraction imitates an open-sided safari ride through the savanna of East Africa. It may be bumpy but that’s to make it feel authentic. They used to do this whole “catch the poachers” routine to raise awareness. That was gone on this trip. I think it was much better without that.

Passing through the Birds of AsiaAsian Pigeon

Leaving Pandora, JR suggested going through Asia to get to Africa and the safari. I was happy to go along with that. Usually we get to see the tigers but they were all hiding. Another section of the trail has loads of exotic birds. Best to wear a hat when you pass through here. I always enjoy that section even if one must beware of bombs from above.

Welcome to Harambe ReserveThe Harambe Wildlife Reserve

The Kilimanjaro Safari takes place in the fictional Harambe Wildlife Reserve. Everyone is loaded into the trucks. I prefer the left side if possible because the lions are usually on the left. Still there seem to be more animals on the right side. Like this curious giraffe that practically posed for his picture.Giraffe

If we were in a zoo there would be fences and cages to distract from the viewing. Here you not only get to ride, but you get to see the animals un-caged and acting like wild animals. Don’t get me wrong. The animals are separated so the lions can’t eat the gazelles but the fences and moats are very carefully hidden.

Wild Africa Trek

Two Cheetahs taking a rest

If the Kilimanjaro Safari is too tame for you Disney has just the thing.  It’s a privately guided VIP expedition at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park! You’ll walk along a grassland path, cross a rope bridge and ride in a rugged safari vehicle over an open savanna. I haven’t done this but you can see some of the trail while you are doing your safari. I found it very tempting.

 

 

 

Oh I Just Can’t Wait to be King!

Disney’s Lion King

Lion King Cast

The Festival of the Lion King is the MOST POPULAR show at Animal Kingdom. Filled with music, lights, color, costumes and the most familiar and beloved songs from the Lion King, this show delivers! I see this extravaganza every time I go to Disney. It never fails to awe.

Lion, Warthog, Giraffe or Elephant?Tiny helper makes animal sounds

You don’t get to choose. When you enter the realm of the Lion King your seat assignment determines your animal. Before the show begins costumed cast members teach each section their animal call. Everyone knows a lion roars and an elephant trumpets. Sometimes the sounds the giraffe or warthog make can be a bit strange. Was that a grunt? How about a baaa like a lamb?   You must know you animal sound! You’ll compete for the loudest section by sound.

Elephant FloatIs That Simba I Hear?

4 huge floats open the show while dancers, puppets, and stilt walkers all pump up the audience to the tune of I just Can’t Wait to be King! By now you’ll be grinning and singing along. If you are lucky enough to have a lower level or floor seat you’ll practically interact with the Dancers.

 

 

 

Hakuna Matata

Timon

Fire DanceHere comes a large center stage filled with bouncing, tumbling “Tumble Monkeys”and leading the light- hearted mayhem is Timon, everybody’s favorite meerkat. Gymnastics are fine but hold on to your seats. We’ll get to watch a real fire dance. Marvel that no one is taken to a burn ward! The beautiful aerial ballet of the birds is performed to the ballad, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight“. But this is Disney so it won’t be soft and beautiful for long. The whole cast returns for a lively sing-a-long of the “Lion Sleeps Tonight”.

CAn you feel the love tonightFast Pass

You should not miss this presentation. It is so much fun but get a Fast Pass. You’ll get in quicker which means better seats. (There are no bad seats in the Harambe Theatre but floor seats put you right in the thick of things) You won’t spend an hour standing in line and before you know it you’ll be singing “The Circle of Life“.

Pandora and the World of Avatar

Welcome to the World of Avatar

The World of Avatar

What kind of world is Disney’s Avatar? It’s the newest addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. There’s been quite a buzz about it’s opening so I guess I’m getting an early look at the park. Its only been open since May 27.  Its based on the movie Avatar which I’ve never seen . I know the movie featured a lot of blue people called Na’vi.  My interest was piqued when I saw a Disney presentation about it’s newest attraction. It looks quite beautiful in Disney’s presentation.

A Veil of WaterIs this Land Worthy of Disney?

Does Pandora live up to the hype? Well, it’s the largest addition in over a decade. Most of what I heard seemed to indicate that land was geared to nighttime visits. The flowers and trees were lit by “bio-luminescence”. That’s the kind of thing you see on the ocean at night when little tiny creatures called plankton become excited and emit light. I’ve see it and it’s quite beautiful but would Disney really be able to pull that off? They certainly gave it their best shot combining colored lighting, fiber optics and that old standby, black lights.

My first Glimpse

JR had plans for the evening so my first exposure to Pandora was in daylight. I expected it to be dull without the artificial lighting but I found the “world” to be charming with multiple water features and waterfalls. The artfully sculpted alien plants had vibrant colors even in the bright sunlight which tends to wash out color. The floating mountains made me think of a Doctor Seuss land with all the towering twists and turns.

 Floating Mountains

The Rides of Pandora

We weren’t able to get on either of the rides. The wait times were well over an hour for each ride. The Flight of Passage had wait times up to 95 minutes! The Na’vi River Journey was almost as long. There are other things to do rather than spend time in line. We decided to return on Sunday evening for the night experience and bid farewell to Pandora for this first visit.