Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Monday morning I woke up still not feeling the greatest but not bad enough to warrant spending another day of my holiday in bed. I figured that maybe I was just hungry. I was looking rather slim after having not eaten anything for the past day. I called Canada Customs again to ask about my passport but they hadn’t had it. I left a message with US Customs and then we went down for breakfast eventually (I think Glen had even gone off to the conference for an hour or so) but when food came, I found I couldn’t stomach much of it so left a half-eaten omelette on my plan. The waitress gave me sympathy…and then a green tea to takeaway.

We returned to the room. During breakfast, I’d managed to get in touch with the elusive Air Canada baggage claim/front desk people and the guy took my details (which were already on the answering machine) and said he’d call me back. Just getting to talk to an Air Canada person who was actually in Orlando made me feel better. It didn’t, however, stop me completely from worrying about what would happen if I had lost my Australian passport forever.

Dave messaged to say that he’d sent me my British passport, which only cost $45 to send express to receive it within 24 hours. He’d also sent my keys, along with his driver’s licence and AMEX card. By accident of course. I then attempted to report my Australian passport lost or stolen on the Australian passport website. I’d attempted this the other day but to complete the form online you need to input the given and last names of your photo guarantor. I couldn’t remember who this was the first time and got blocked after three attempts. I tried different names this morning and actually managed to get it right. I then cancelled the report as I was still holding out hope of getting my Australian passport back.

Then, rather than miss out on anymore Fun (yes, that capital F is deliberate), Julian picked me up and we went to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, while Glen did his duty and returned to the conference (only to be asked later why he was not out having fun).

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

There were fewer people at Animal Kingdom than Magic Kingdom but it was still busy. I was also still not feeling 100% so my energy and excitement levels were curtailed. I had heard bits and pieces of Disney’s zoo but still wasn’t sure to expect. It is, in fact, a mix between zoo, theme park and shopping experience.

We started at the beginning (a very good place to start) and saw the famous Tree of Life. It’s a giant fake tree with animals “carved” into the “wood”. It’s an amazing thing to see, however, and I found it one of the most beautiful parts of the zoo. This is probably because it’s distanced from people, and set apart from all other distractions.

We saw a few animals along the way, mostly species I’ve seen before, although they do have a GORGEOUS anteater near the front. Such a beautiful animal (and I thought of John Cleese in Fierce Creatures saying, “It’s an anteater, not a man-eater.”). We added some FastPass rides (such as the Safari ride which you need to take to see a lot of the African animals) but in the end we didn’t use them as they were all for later in the day and queuing was not high on my list. As a result, we didn’t see all that many animals but we did see some.

There were a few nice aviaries. We watched the baby gorilla play, and the Sumatran Tiger sleep. We caught the train to Rafiki’s World and the Conservation Station where we saw reptiles and amphibians. We touched a snake. I had my photo with Rafiki. And then I got a phone call from Air Canada in Orlando to say they had my passport and I could come collect it at 6pm. I had been saved. The weight lifted and I could now enjoy the rest of my holiday.

We tried to get photos with Chip and Dale but both times we attempted to join the queue we were stopped and said it was closed and they’d be back in ten minutes. After the second time, we wondered if it was because we were adults. I had no problems with Rafiki though.

We then went to a free-flight bird show which was really good. There was a character as well as the presenter (who looked like Anna Kendrick). Julian was amazed by the birds and what they could do. It was a pretty good show. They added in their conservation message at the end and I remembered reading research about a free-flight bird show and delivering conservation messages and this show did exactly what the research advised against. Basically, if you want people to actually hear your message, don’t have the birds do any behaviours while you’re saying. And watching this show, I couldn’t agree with it more. They were talking, the birds were doing things and my focus was completely on the birds. I have no idea what they were saying. Regardless, the show was engaging and enjoyable.

From Africa we went to Asia, zoomed right past Dinoland, and then figured we were done for the day. I took photos of some signs. Was amazed at their theming and exhibit design and realised they’ve got a tonne of money.

We left at about 4pm. I dropped Julian at his hotel then returned to ours to pick up Glen. We then drove to the airport, picked up my passport (which Glen took possession of for the rest of the trip), and then we went downtown to meet my cousin, Laurie.

Dinner with Laurie

About a week before going to Orlando, I’d messaged Laurie about something, and when I asked what he’d been up to, he said he was going to be in Florida. Turns out we’d be there with some overlap. It had been nearly two years since we’d seen each other (he lives in Western Australia) and luckily we had Monday night free to catch up.

He’d flown in the day before, managing to stay awake on the whole flight (which from Perth to Florida probably took about 35 hours). We met at his hotel then went to a steak restaurant nearby for dinner and a catch up. It was great to see him.

On the drive home, Glen started to feel really nauseated. And it wasn’t my driving! He managed to keep very still on the ride home but once back at the hotel, all bets were off and up came his dinner. So it looks like I might not have had food poisoning after all, just norovirus or something similar. And now Glen had it.

What do you say, eh?

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