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

Henry David Thoreau

It’s My Birthday

Wednesday December 7, 2016                                   Most Recent Posts:
Fort Wilderness Campground                                     New Things at a Rainy Epcot
Lake Buena Vista, Florida                                          Why I am Rethinking Visiting Disney in December



Gypsy made a comment on a recent post (thank you Gypsy) about preferring the peace and quiet of the mountains to all the comotion in Disney World. It made me think and I love that it did (thank you again Gypsy). In our fulltiming life, we never visit big cities and are almost always staying in National and State Parks to be near and in the beauty of the natural world. I love the quiet of nature. But somehow, the kid in me makes an exception for Disney World.  For a few days I really do love the energy and happiness there.. Although if you read my last post, you know I’m doing some rethinking about that. But this year, I’m spending my “birthday week” here.



David goes over to Trail’s End Cafe in Fort Wilderness and brings back a half dozen little sticky buns to start my day off right.  Amazingly I control myself and eat only two. 

Notice the nicely wrapped package on the table.  It’s a present from my daughter Carrie who always picks just the right thing and surprises me with something I either wanted and forgot about or didn’t even know I wanted but I do.   This year is no exception.  She has sent me a biography of one of the environmental heroines of Florida, Marjorie Harris Carr.  Florida has two women named Marjorie to thank for the fact that at least some of its beauty that hasn’t been developed. 

Thank you Carrie!!  You are the best gift picker outer ever.  Thank you David for being in on the surprise and wrapping the present.  Really nice job!  I love beautifully wrapped packages too.  One of my first summer jobs as a teenager was in the gift wrap department of a major department store in my home town.  Remember when they used to provide boxes, tissue and wrap gifts for you for free if you asked?   I loved that job and have loved making beautiful packages ever since.




I want to spend my day with the animals at Animal Kingdom even though it always makes me sad to know they can never be in the total wild again.  Again we take the bus to the bus to the Kingdom.

I’ve done numerous blogs on our stays in Disney World so I’m going to try to make this one just the highlights of the day, spotlighting some of the animals  and things I haven’t posted in previous blogs and a few I just want to remember again. We’ll see how successful I manage to be at that goal. I’ve given a lot of information over the years about what we’ve seen in Disney World. So if you are interested use the search box at the top left corner of this page and put in Disney World. You’ll have a lot to choose from.

Animal Kingdom has a beautiful tree just outside the entrance with huge animal masks as ornaments.




One of our neighbors seems to have found his way over here and is under the tree.




Once inside we go quickly through Discovery Island over to Africa.  I’ve gotten fast passes for Kilimanjaro Safaris so we can go early when the animals might be out and about. 

We hop aboard the jeep.  Got this picture off the web to show what it looks like.  some of them have luggage piled on the top.  It’s best for picture purposes to be on the outside and I like outside by the driver.  But you can’t control that.  We didn’t have those seats today.

Here’s some of what we see.  This is a giant jeep ride and the terrain is anything but smooth so some of the pictures I like most just weren’t sharp enough to share.

Elephants for Gaelyn. 



A rhino.









Everybody seems out and about except the king of beasts who is lounging on a rock.  Maybe his lady fair is out doing his hunting.  However that works here.



After our safari we head over to what was formerly called the Pangani Forest but I guess they got tired of people asking where the gorillas were so they have renamed it Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.   It starts very near the exit of the Safari.

There is a free flying aviary and I’ve shown many pictures of the birds in previous posts.  Not sure I’ve shown Hammerkop.  You can easily figure out how it got its name.


They look very different when sitting and standing.



I stood and watched this grooming ritual for quite a few minutes.  The recipient seemed to really enjoy it and leaned into it several times.



We didn’t see the hippo on the safari but we could see him from the glass wall here as he was under the water.  You have to look pretty carefully to see his shape among all the fish..  He’s looking right at me although of course he can’t see throught the one way glass.




And now the stars of the trail.   There are two groups of Gorillas with two different large areas.  One is the family group with one silver back, two adult females, one teenager and one youngster.  The other group is the bachelors in a different large area.

We’re lucky today that the family group has decided it’s time to hang out near the windows and take naps.  We’ve been here several times when they were back in the trees or over the hill.  Everybody seems to be taking it easy.   The silverback is the one shielding his eyes.  His older mate is in the corner.  The young adult is in the foreground.




The other female with her child is a short distance away.



We walk on around to the bachelor group.  There are several of them spread out around the area. 




Many are eating.  Now sure what he’s chewing but it’s small like berries or seeds.



These two were moving off to another area and bring some leaves and shoots with them.
We saw them further down the way sitting and eating the greenery.





He almost looks like he’s saying “what are you looking at”.  I know I’d get mighty tired of being on display day after day.  The Animal Kingdom used to close at 5pm every day and open at 9am to give the animals at least 2/3rds of their day without so many people.  But I notice that now they are open until 7pm, perhaps in response to the new Magic Kingdom special pass.  I’m sorry Disney has chosen to do both of these things.




The second gorilla is carrying what looks like bamboo to me.



I do this every time I come and it never ceases to amaze me how big these animals are.



After Africa, we stop to eat lunch and head over to Asia and walk the Maharajah Jungle Trek.



I simply cannot get over the size of the Komodo Dragon.  He looks small in comparison to the rocks in the area where he lives but believe me he is very large, he is not small.

The Komodo dragon lives in Indonesia and is the largest lizard in the world. It can weigh up to 250 pounds at its full length of 10-12 feet. His long muscular tail is used to whip prey and enemies off balance. The flicking snake like tongue is used to pick up scents.


I’d say he’s close to twice my size if I were to lay down next to him.


He also has wonderful colors which these pictures do not display well.



How about that tongue!   I wonder if he’s smelling all of us?   Thanks to David for all the tongue pictures.










I get a very unusual birthday present today.  Animal kingdom, just today, opened the Lion Tailed Macaque area to viewing.  The Macaque have just joined Disney World.  David says it feels like a premier.

Lion-tailed macaques are known for their lion-like manes and tails. They have black silky fur and long gray hairs around their face, with a small tuft of fur at the end of their tail. In addition to using 17 different vocal patterns, macaques also communicate with body language, such as yawning with a grimace to indicate dominance or a threat, and smacking their lips to greet one another. Although they enjoy spending a lot of their time in trees, lion-tailed macaques also come down to the ground to play and forage for food.






They rank among the rarest and most threatened primates in the world. They are native to the Western Ghats of South India’s mature evergreen forests, and some reports show that there may be fewer than 3,000 of these monkeys left in the wild. Overpopulation, habitat destruction, fragmentation and other human activities have forced these primates to live in small, isolated pockets of forest (separated by cultivation and open areas). Lion-tailed macaques are sometimes hunted for their meat and, occasionally, as a source of medicine.



With a head-body length of 16 to 24 inches and a weight of 4 to 22 pounds, it ranks among the smaller macaques. The tail is medium in length, about 10”.  It is a territorial animal, defending its area first with loud cries towards the invading troops. If this proves to be fruitless, it brawls aggressively.   I wonder if humans will feel like an invading group?  What I read indicated that they are good climbers and spend a majority of  their lives  in the upper canopy of tropical moist evergreen forests.  Unlike other macaques, they avoid humans. In group behavior, they are much like other macaques and live in hierarchical groups of usually 10 to 20 animals, which consist of few males and many females.




It’s really wonderful that The Disney Conservation Fund has supported the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) efforts to protect Lion-tailed Macaques in the rainforests of southwestern India. The WCS team is using indigenous knowledge to map the distribution of macaque populations, researching threats to the species, and hosting rural education programs on macaque ecology and conservation.





The tiger is the birthday present to myself I was expecting and the main reason I have come to Animal Kingdom today.  He takes my breath away.  His beauty and elegance are unsurpassed. 

There are several viewing spots into his area.  One is from a bridge over the water  looking into the pool just behind the river.





I have been told that the tiger does swim in both the pool and the river but I’ve never seen him.  Perhaps it happens more in the summer than the winter.  Since he is from Asia, I suspect he prefers hot weather.



There are also windows on several sides of the space.



I try both sides in order to watch him for quite some time.  I could spend all day here actually and probably should just take one of my days and spend it here when David goes to Hollywood studios for instance.





You have to admit, he is just magnificent!




I hold my breath as he walks down to the water but no luck.  He walks along the ledge back and forth a few times and then heads back to the grassy area and around the other structures.  Maybe next time!


Sarus Crane tallest flying bird in the world at heights up to 5’ 9” .  He lives on the Indian subcontinent.   Looks something like the Florida Sandhill Crane only bigger.


Here’s a little perspective.



This Elds Deer is looking very regal and graceful. He’s what is called a brow-antlered deer and an endangered species of Southeast Asia. Thailand, Cambodia, China, Laos, Burma, India and Vietnam.  Do you suppose he’s showing off for the gal giving him the quizical look?




The elds deer’s Head–body length: is 59–71 in.  It stands 43-49 inches at the shoulder height.  They weigh from 275-386 pounds and their antlers length is up to 39 inches.

He certainly is handsome with those antlers.


The day is drawing to a close and there is one more thing in particular I want to do before we leave so we head over to the amazing Tree of Life.




I’ve shown many pictures of the detailed carvings of hundreds of animals in its trunk.


One of my favorite things on Discovery Island is the show “It’s Tough to be a Bug”.  To see it you must descend under the tree of life understandably, where the bugs live.  We walk down among the roots




When we get under ground there is a carving of the Chimpanzee Jane Goodall called David Greybeard.  Her discovery of a wild chimpanzee carefully stripping a stick of its leaves and inserting it into a mound to fish for termites was the first discovery that non human animals could make and use tools. 

Her commitment to the chimpanzee was begun in 1960 in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.  In her research she used unusual methods such as naming the individuals in the group she was studying.  She was eventually accepted as a member of the troop and stayed with them for 22 months.  The first of the group to approach Goodall and welcome her into the group was David Greybeard.

Also along the roots are ads for the show’s stars.


Love this one!

I’m not going to describe the 3-D show just be sure you see it if you go to Animal Kingdom.  It’s got lots of surprises.




After It’s Tough to be a Bug, we leave the park keeping with what we think the hours should be rather than what they are.  On the way out I spot a couple of locals.  This roseate spoonbill chases this White Ibis around and through the bushes in a serious pursuit.  Not sure why but it’s a riot to watch.




We don’t have to go to another country to be amazed at his uniqueness.





I cap off my birthday at my second favorite park,  The Magic Kingdom.  I’ve come just to see the sunset skies and the lights while on our way back to Fort Wilderness.  Neither disappoints.







We also take in the window displays in the Emporium windows on Main Street which illustrate Dicken’s A Christmas Carol with Donald Duck as Scrooge and Mickey as Bob Cratchit..   Each window has the book just below the display and open to the correct page..

Scrooge’s nephew comes to wish his uncle and his uncle’s clerk Bob a Merry Christmas.



Christmas present visits Scrooge McDuck..  Sorry for the reflection.



A reformed Scrooge visits the Cratchit family on Christmas day.  Notice the candle and the book.  These were in each window.



In spite of the fact that this is one of the nights the regular folks are permitted to stay in the Magic Kingdom past 7pm, we are plum tuckered out and retreat down Main Street to the boat and back to Fort Wilderness.   Looks like a lot of people want to stay though since both tomorrow and Friday they will not be permitted to without buying the additional ticket.



Another great birthday!
This may be my last December visit but it sure has been a benefit of spending the winter in Florida.


  1. Looks like a wonderful way to enjoy ending another year.

  2. Happy Belated Birthday! Looks like you had a great week.

  3. Happy Birthday, congratulations on another successful trip around the sun!

  4. Love the gorillas - great profile shot. Their napping makes me laugh. The new kids are beautiful, I've never heard of macaques. Your tiger is indeed magnificent, and you are fortunate to get to visit him every year. Disney at night is wonderful, and I love the Main Street windows - especially during the holidays. I'm so glad you included them here. So fun to spend your birthday with you :-))))

  5. Happy Belated Birthday, Sherry! Sounds like you had a fun birthday:)

  6. Happy Birthday Sherry, Well very belated one. But what better way to spend it with a lovely book and then the Animals.

  7. What a nice birthday! I loved the animal pictures, all of them, but I do feel mixed emotions on seeing them confined. I think I am probably the only person I know of who doesn't care for all the fantasy of Disney. That's just me and my frugal nature, and I realize it gives enjoyment to millions of people, so it's all good!

  8. Even with the crowds, you managed to do and see some wonderful things!!! That is a great way to spend a birthday!!! The tiger is my favorite....AMAZING!!!

  9. Happy 29th Birthday! No better way to spend it than visiting the most magical place on earth. Love the AK, would love to take a job there helping care for the animals. They are just magnificent to see. :c)

  10. Glad you had such a terrific birthday! What better place to spend it, and with such thoughtful presents :)

  11. Happy Birthday! You sure on in a great place to celebrate:)

  12. Happy Birthday! What a way to spend the occasion.

    The tiger is particularly distinctive, and I really like the look of that komodo.

  13. Belated Birthday wishes. Just between you and me, I wouldn't have had control to only eat one.

  14. My goodness, what a wonderful day! I am so glad all went so well on your birthday to see all these wonderful creatures and get such beautiful pictures to share. So many magnificent animals, but I agree the tiger is most stunning. The Magic Kingdom also looked pretty magical for a fitting end to your special day! Very glad it was a Happy Birthday!

  15. Happy Belated Birthday! Looks like you had a great one, spending it actually how you would like to.

    I can't wait to go to to Disney World with our grandchildren. We took our kids there way back in 1996 for a week and loved it. At the time they didn't have the Animal Kingdom though. Now I can't wait to go back with Cameron and Sadie but we will wait until they are a little older so that they can really and truly enjoy it and all the rides.


  16. Happy Birthday ... Disney is a great place to celebrate your birthday week.

  17. A smashing way to spend your birthday! I remember package wrappers and am very bad at it. Sometimes I use the funny papers. Although this time of year is difficult to travel on South African Safari, way busy, we really need to get you there for a birthday. Thanks for the eles. Lions, like all cats, sleep a lot. Hammerkops make very interesting nests. That is a very cool way to see a hippo. My gosh, the gorillas. If I ever see them in the wild they'll surely be my favorite animal. I am saddened about the macaques. WOW!! A tiger! What an awesome Happy Birthday!!!!! And Merry Christmas too!

  18. Great birthday from the elephants, to the tiger, to the macaques!!

  19. I'm with you, Sherry. I love the big cats. That tiger was extraordinary. What a birthday!

  20. Happy Birthday Sherry! and you picked the right place to be on your also happy and special day with the animals ! And you had unusual and a first view of the Macaque, that's a treat.
    Cheers and thank you for taking us along on your Disney Escapades, I might just persuade Steve to revisit Florida and be at areas I never discovered before.

  21. Happy Belated Birthday, thanks for taking us along, don't know if we'll ever get back to Disney World so appreciate your posts of this magical place.

  22. Looks like your birthday was just what you ordered! I love the Komodo dragon- I thinks they're beautiful! The roseate spoonbill is amazing- I'm not even fond of pink but what a beautiful shade of pink he is! (Is it the male that is that colorful or are females also?) I'd never heard of a lion tailed macaque. They are really unusual and handsome. I love the photo of the two facing each other. The gorillas always look sad or depressed to me. The shot of the gorilla in profile is my favorite. The male eld deer is very handsome. You are right, though, that tiger is splendidly gorgeous. Love the close up of his face. You got some great pictures! The Disney tree and lighted castle are magnificent. Thanks for sharing the animals! xxxooo Pam


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