Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Disney World (Part 2 - Hollywood Studios, Downtown Disney & Animal Kingdom)

Visiting Hollywood Studios was a last-minute decision.  The tickets we purchased for the parks had 5 days for the same price as 4 - so we had the option of using the extra day.  Originally I thought we'd prefer some time at home, swim, nap, relax.  But in the end, we voted that it was more exciting to visit parks than hang around our condo - and off we went.

There were fewer rides and attractions that interested us at Hollywood Studios, but Toy Story Mania was a big hit.  The Star Tours attraction (entryway pictured at left) was a space-flight simulation ride that Baz loved - the rest of us just felt ill afterwards.  Another one that we all really enjoyed was the Muppet-Vision 3-D!  Really well done.

After a half-day at Hollywood Studios, it was off to spend the afternoon shopping at Downtown Disney.  The Lego store, World of Disney, and Once Upon A Toy kept us occupied for hours.

That evening, we went to see La Nouba.  It's hard to believe this show is almost 14 years old.  So glad I finally had a chance to see it!  Just about everybody likes La Nouba.  It's fun, colorful, lots of great skills, and just enough artistic oddity to make you feel like you're seeing a real Cirque show.  I loved the four white gentleman characters in the show, and the choreography of the jumprope act.  The trapeze act in the doorframe was lovely.  And though both Greg and I could find places that we wanted to see more new stuff, overall for 1998 this was a remarkable creation.  Several parts of the show - like the trampoline act - have been replicated by other companies since - and it's important to remember that La Nouba was groundbreaking in its time.

Our last day in Disney, we spent at Animal Kingdom, having up-close encounters with animals like this one.  It's an interesting park, with clearly separate areas of zoo and rides, and we saw as much of it as we could.  Kilimanjaro Safaris was of course remarkable, I don't think I've ever been so close to a rhinoceros.  The Conservation Station was a favorite area of Ayla's ... below, you can see in example of the exhibits there (tortoises).

Animals, in their tanks or cages, with signs posted next to them about how to care for them.  What they eat, how to arrange the objects in the tank, special behavior notes.  There was even a working veterinary station here, where animals are treated for everything imaginable, behind glass so that visitors can watch.  Ayla (who says she wants to be a zoo veterinarian when she grows up) was especially thrilled.

The shows at Animal Kingdom were just OK.  The puppetry of Finding Nemo initially horrified me, but I was charmed in the end.  The Festival of the Lion King was an odd hodge-podge, not really a story, not really a variety show, but I appreciated the effort to include circus arts.  I managed to skip out of It's Tough To Be A Bug! which the kids all hated.

Happy and exhausted, the kids clutched their souvenirs going home (Ayla chose a Baby Simba stuffed animal; Isa a set of Rapunzel dolls; and Baz a Star Wars Lego set) and we said goodbye to Orlando.  Though I don't expect Greg or I to ever want to return to these parks, the goal of a fun family vacation was thoroughly accomplished!

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