Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

The Tiger is Closed in Animal Kingdom

Wednesday January 19, 2016                                                     Most Recent Posts:
Fort Wilderness Campground                                                    
Parades and Fireworks
Walt Disney World                                                                    It’s a MAGIC Kingdom
Orlando, Florida

Today is Wednesday and that means David must make a trip to the Cancer Center and cannot come to Disney World.  So I asked him which of the two parts of the park we have left to see did he want to make sure he didn’t miss.  He said we’d never been to Hollywood Studios so we’re saving that for tomorrow, our last day here, and I’m heading over to Animal Kingdom today to check it out on my own.
The only way to get to Animal Kingdom is by bus.  Buses leave Fort Wilderness every 20 minutes or so from the Outpost at the “top” of the campground.  This is WAY far from us.  I want to leave as much of the day to spend in the kingdom so I don’t walk up even though it would get me a lot of steps.  I take the bus from Loop 3 to the Outpost and from there I catch the bus to Animal Kingdom.
The bus stop smells a bit like horses – a great smell in my opinion – because the stables are just behind it.  If you want to take a trail ride while at Fort Wilderness, the Circle D Ranch is the place..

When I arrive, I don’t have anyone to take my picture at the entrance and no where to prop up the camera and don’t want to waste the time trying to do a selfie with my short arms. 

Security checks my backpack, I scan my Magic Band and I’m inside the park crossing the Discovery River onto Discovery Island.

Just over the bridge is this charming face holding the Wilderness Explorers Handbook.  What is it?  Well it’s like the National Parks Junior Ranger program designed to help kids explore the park.  But adults can do it too and I think it’s just the thing for me for today.  So I take the pledge and I’m on my way to earn more badges by exploring.
What is the pledge??  
I,  Sherry Boyd, pledge that I will uphold the Wilderness Explorers Motto:
A Wilderness Explorer is a friend to all, be it plants or fish or tiny mole.”
After earning my first badge by learning and doing the Wilderness Explorer Call,from this Badge Guide,  I’m given my handbook, a map and sent on my way to earn more badges in the park.   There are troop leaders and badge guides all throughout the park

In the center of Discovery Island is The Tree of Life with absolutely wonderful animal carvings set into its trunk and roots.   Everybody wants its picture.


On previous visits to Animal Kingdom David and I have walked the trails of the Island to see the tree from all angles and take pictures of the carvings.  Along the way we also see the animals here like the Macaw, the Red Kangaroo, the Galapagos Tortoise among others.    But I’ve learned my lesson from yesterday’s stroll up Main Street and missing the Pirates. 
Today I grab a few pictures of the carved animals and head over to Africa.  There are lots of badges to be earned on the Kilimanjaro Safaris and I know the fast passes for it are gone but I can probably get on this early in the morning.





I cross the river into Africa and am soon on a safari jeep wildly bouncing over the rough back country roads and through streams.

Notice the sign near the roof of our jeep.  That’s all the animals we “might” see.

The ride is so bumpy and the slow downs so short that my pictures are pretty sad.  But these hippos lazing by the water hole turn out fine.

A pile of crocodiles.

Before we leave on Safari I fill out the page in my Explorer Book for my “Safari Badge”.  I have to fill in my Explorers travel card which requires my name, age, the date and the name of the animal I want to see while on Safari.  I’m asked to draw a picture of it as well and to answer two questions about what can seriously injure wildlife and why I should not feed them.    This is the animal I most wish to see.   Happily I do get to see my animal and several of them.


We are not the only group on safari on this trail.

Not quite the grasslands of the Serengeti.

But more giraffes!!  It’s my lucky day!

My friend Gaelyn,  who writes the Geogypsy blog, has crossed the ocean to spend her winters in Africa several times.  These are among her favorite animals.  And mine too.




This may be the only place in Florida you can for sure see Pink Flamingos.  Look at those legs.

A Rhino, wow!  Thank goodness he’s safe.  They are seriously endangered from the poaching of their hornes.

It’s an ostrich by the road!


I see many more animals, but there are no more decent pictures. 

Just outside the Safari I meet Lorraine from Botswana at the Warden’s Front Porch.  We talk about her beautiful country which has a law that will allow no wild animal to be shot.  Isn’t that amazing.   I’ve read some of the series of books written by Alexander McCall Smith set in Botswana and in them the people, like Lorraine, are very proud of their country.  I wonder if Gaelyn has been there?
Lorraine and her friend Juliet from Namibia have come on an exchange program that Disney sponsors.  In both Epcot and Animal Kingdom many of the people working in the various countries and parts of the world represented are from those countries.


I am familiar with Namibia as well thanks to Kevin and Ruth who post a blog called Travel With Kevin and Ruth who were lucky enough to win a contest for a trip to Namibia.  I’ve never been to either place and these two young women certainly make me want to go.  Juliet takes a picture of Lorraine and me.  Then I take a picture of the two of them.  They are both Badge Guides and for talking with them and learning about their countries, I earn my African Culture Badge.

I think I just have time before lunch to see The Festival of the Lion King.  It’s described as pagentry and puppetry as big as a broadway show.  I walk through the market place on my way.


The show is held in a large theater in the round and it is definitely spectacular.


I walk back through the town of  Harambi.



I won’t be here after dark so I don’t have to heed the warning on the gate to the river port.

And since I already have accomodations for the night, I won’t need to check out the Hoteli Burudika.

But I do stop to enjoy the drumming and dancing of the Tam Tam Drummers on my way to eat my lunch in Harambe Market.
The drummers are fantastic and their dancing is great.  Not sure I can say the same for the members of the crowd who go up to join the leader. Somehow the other men don’t seem to be able to swivel their hips like he can.  But all the kids are pretty good.  What happens to us when we “grow up”?

There are many food choices in the Harambe Market but I’ve brought my own lunch so I grab a chair at a table and watch what the others are eating. 

My next stop was going to be Asia so I could see my absolute most favorite thing in Animal Kingdom which is the Maharajah Jungle Trek.  It’s a self guided walking tour of Southeast Asia where I have seen monkeys, komodo dragon and the show stopper, the Tigers.  They are just breath taking and unfortunately for reasons unknown to me, the Jungle Trek is “closed for refurbishment”.  I am SO disappointed not to be able to see the Tiger.  It is so majestic.  The most beautiful cat.
So instead of going on to Asia I stay longer in Africa and visit the Pagani Forest Exploration Trail where I can earn more badges and see monkeys and apes.  Do you know the difference??

First I enter the Endangered Animal Rehabilitation Center where this Angolan Black and White Colbus Monkey seems to be very contented to lay on his back and watch the strange people watching him.  Monkeys have tails, apes do not.  Monkeys can swing from their tails and use them in balancing. 


The Okapi is also here.   His legs look like a zebra to me  but I learn he is most closely related to the giraffe.

They both lack true horns.  They have head knots which are skin covered bones.  They both have very long tongues from grasping leaves.  Neither has upper incisors or canines.

From here I enter the exotic bird aviary and of course find things I’ve never seen before like these pygmy geese.  The reflection of the leaves above in the water gives an interesting look to this picture   The next one is a better picture of the geese.


In order to earn my Birding Badge I must identify and count 4 different species of birds here.  I am so busy enjoying the beautiful geese that I almost forget to look overhead where a Great Blue Turaco is looking down at me.

Flitting back and forth through the bushes and trees and twittering constantly are these Traveta Golden Weavers.  Their nests hang from the tree limbs all around.

I see so many birds that these Black Crakes with their bright orange feet and bright yellow bills don’t even make my list.

The hippos have a large pond one side of which on the far end is glassed in so we can see them IF they decide they want to be over here.  Luckily today they do.

Outside back on the forest trail I find the zebras being watched over by the cute mercats.  See him perched atop the rock?


Acutally he isn’t watching over the zebras.  He seems to be the guard for his family down below to his left.

I’m suspecting that’s the mom down below standing up while the kids are racing around and tumbling.  They are too cute.

Zebras are stunning, all black and white with the brown tips of their manes.

I have seen African Tribal masks that so perfectly match the amazing stripes of the zebra in their face painting.  Since I have no tiger to photogrpah, this may be my favorite picture of the day.

The last section of the Pagani Forest Trail is through the lowland Gorilla Habitat.  This not so hot picture of the trail (in brown) shows the two gorilla groups roughly separated by the stream.  The family group is on the right and the bachelor group is on the left.  I walk through the family group first.

Pretty sure this is the dominant male.  He wasn’t ever looking in my direction.

Kids will be kids.


Lowland Gorillas walk on their fists and their toes are much more useful than ours.



They are very big animals.

From left to right, Male Human, Female Gorilla, Male Gorilla.


I have sure seen a lot of preschoolers exhibit this “checking to make sure mom is there” behavior.

There are several Wilderness Explorers stations in the park where you can find out information you will need to collect your badges.  This one helps me with my Hiking Badge and my Gorilla Badge.   It also has the map of the trail that I showed above.

Now I’ve moved into the bachelor area.   They aren’t as visible today as the family group.

Now there’s a look.

I finish my time in Africa and look for the Tree of Life which enables me to figure out where I am and which direction to go next.

On the outskirts of Asia I am able to pick up my Tracking Badge and my Forestry Badge.

Although I cannot do the Maharajah Jungle Trek, I can stop by to see the White Cheeked Gibbons native to SouthEast Asia who live in this Temple Ruin in the middle of a lake.

The males are black and the females blonde like the one climbing around on the framework outside the ruin.




The female is sitting in the little opening behind the climbing male. 

Just as I go to leave she hops up and climbs around herself.


I am actually on my way to the last thing I will be able to do in the park before it closes at 5:00 to give the animals a rest from all the people.  I highly approve.  So the gibbons are the last real animals I see.  But there are lots of sights to see in Asia as I walk back to Discovery Island.


That’s the Himalayan mountains in the distance.


I arrive just in time to see the Expedition Everest speeding train going up the mountain.   Thankfully I didn’t have to try for a fast pass to do this ride as roller coasters and I do not have a cozy relationship.


For People who love them though this sounds like a great ride from all the screams.

I arrive at the 3D film by Pixar which is going to help me discover what it’s like to be a bug.  No pictures from it but I loved it and unless you are a real bug phobic, you would too.

I definitely look bug eyed in their glasses.

Time to say goodbye to Animal Kingdom for this trip.  Boy have I had a wonderful day.  I've earned 16 of the more than 30 badges so clearly I'll have to return.  But I'm not ready for my day to end just yet so when I get to the bus station, I can either take a bus back to Fort Wilderness or take one to The Magic Kingdom.
You can see my choice.


The reason for that is not only that it’s only 5:00 but also that Animal Kingdom has nothing but soft serve ice cream and you remember from yesterday that I said I was going to remember that Main Street Ice Cream parlor, well I did.


And here I am.  It’s not Beaches and Cream but they make a fine Sundae.

While I’m enjoying my dinner, Move it! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party is going on in front of me.  That’s probably why I hardly had to wait to get my ice cream.

The place is rockin’ and there is a DJ high on a float.

Of course Mickey is also here to boogie.


With all the people at the party, inlcuding the Disney Workers,  this seems like a great time to wander over and see what the wait time is at the Pirates of the Caribbean.


The answer is almost none so in I go.

The ship does look a bit like it is listing.


Jack Sparrow keeps popping up all over the place including here at the end where he sits alone amid his treasures.

Ok, it really is time to leave now.  The nearly full moon is up in the sky.  The lights are on and the Crystal Palace looks stunning as I cross the bridge back to Main Street.


The buildings are outlined in lights.  It’s Magical.

I look back at the castle all ablaze for tonight’s programs.

And forward I go down Main Street and the gates to the boat back to Fort Wilderness.

This is my last look back on a fantastic day in the wonderful world of Disney.