Sunday, January 22, 2017

Animal Kingdom Recap & Recommendations (Gluten Free)

Hi everyone! Y'all know my favorite place is Disney World. I live about an hour away and love to visit when I can. For my senior trip this year, since I am graduating high school this May, I decided to go to Disney a few times this spring in combination with a short trip to Tampa instead of visiting somewhere further for only a few days. That way, I can enjoy having fun month after month.
Our first Disney day of the year was to Animal Kingdom. This park is often over looked but most certainly shouldn't be. I would say it is one of my favorites, but I say that about every single one. I will say however, that Animal Kingdom has created the most perfectly themed park Disney has to offer. You really feel as though you are in the heart of Africa, Asia, and Dinoland (if it were a real place, I would feel smack-dab in the middle of it!). 

My family had such a blast Saturday and I wanted to share my experience and recommendations with you readers (especially all of my gluten-free folks). 

Tip #1: 
Let me first start off by mentioning though that Disney is not the place for winging it, as mentioned in this post I wrote last year. Planning is KEY. It may seem a little confusing and stressful beforehand but it will make your day at the parks SO much more enjoyable knowing you have a plan and are going to get to see everything you wish to see and do.

Tip #2:
One of the best parts of Animal Kingdom is the shows and animal viewings, so make sure to pick up a map and show times guide as you enter the park. This will prove extremely helpful when you are trying to time out your day and get around to the different shows. You can also look up everything on the My Disney Experience App (which you can link your account too after you purchase tickets), however I find the physical maps and guides from the parks easier to navigate than looking at my phone.

We started off our morning by first heading straight for the Tree Of Life for a photo opportunity duh! At the beginning of the day it is always a little crowded but the lighting is always perfect, so work your way to the front and get snapping. This is the symbol of Animal Kingdom! Don't forget to look around you as you wander through the shaded trails with the crowds on your way, you may see some interesting animals lurking.

We then met up with Russel at "Dug & Russell's Wilderness Explorers Club House". This is a hidden spot and the line was 2 minutes first thing in the morning. At different times you will see both of them but at this time it was only Russel which was okay with me!

After capturing some pictures, we made our way to the "It's Tough to Be a Bug Show", and y'all this never gets old. This is a 4D show that even has the adults jumping. It is so cute, quick, and never has too long of a line. It is also your only opportunity to see inside the roots of the Tree of Life. You can find all kinds of animal carvings and photo opportunities as you wait.

We hopped from one show to the other as we worked our way to the "Flight of Wonder" show. This is the bird show. Nothing too exciting but still cute and shady under the covering. You do get to see some pretty birds in the show but only briefly. It is a good show but I wouldn't put it on the highest of your priority list. 

After our second show it was time for our lunch reservation at the Tusker House for lunch at 11:30. 

Tip #3:
TUSKER HOUSE IS THE BEST ANIMAL KINGDOM RESTAURANT FOR GLUTEN FREE ALLERGIES. End of story. This may just be the best restaurant in all of Disney World.

This is a character dining buffet where you get to meet Mickey, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy while you dine. If you have an allergy, let your server know and the chef will come over to greet you and walk you around the buffet. He will list off what is gluten free and what you should avoid, while offering to tailor certain items if you would like. You will honestly be blown away by how much of the buffet is gluten free already. I would say about 65% of this LARGE buffet is gluten free. Y'all there is even flourless chocolate cake which tastes even better than the real thing. I love this place. The outstanding African theme paired with exceptional food and personal character experiences makes this probably the most exciting restaurant Disney World has to offer. For the price of about $45 a person (for lunch) you get a TON of food and unlimited amount of drinks (excluding alcoholic beverages). 

Tip #4:
The Tusker House switches from breakfast food to lunch food at around 11 a.m so making a reservation for 11:30 like my family did, will allow you to grab both breakfast and lunch while you're there. Allow a little over 1 hour for your meal.

P.S Anyone willing to let me know how the chefs here make their eggs will have my love forever would be much appreciated. Thanks.

As we finished our meal we looked at the show guide and decided to catch the Lion King show right after lunch. This is the most popular live show in all of Disney World so make sure to get there atleast 10 minutes before the show time. Because of it's African vibe and popular Lion King songs paired with amazing singing and performing, you won't regret seeing this show.

My dad and I headed to ride Mount Everest twice (hello fast passes!) while my sister and mom went to see the Finding Nemo Musical. Everest is as awesome and intense as ever, although I wish I had ridden it before lunch rather than after ;) My mom and sis said the Nemo musical was a little long but cute nonetheless. 

My sister rode the Dinosaur ride with each of my parents while I decided to sit it out in an attempt to beat some six year old girls in a "whack-a-mole" carnival game in Dinoland. 

Tip #5:
Don't play the carnival games. #rigged #itotallybeatthosekids #byebyefivedollars #didn'twantthestuffedanimalanyways

One of the highlights of my entire families day was standing in line to see Baloo and King Louie from the Jungle Book. My dad looooves Baloo and was wearing a Jungle Book shirt so to say Baloo was pumped was an understatement. He wouldn't stop hugging him and jumping, it was SO funny. I love that Disney has this way of turning the most wise and mature adults into little kids again. We saw it time and time again standing in that line. That is pure magic at it's finest. 

My tribe then headed for the SAFARI! I was so pumped. The earliest fast pass we could score was at 4:15 p.m. which was later than we hoped. We were disappointed thinking the earlier you go the more animals you see, however that wasn't the case. 
Tip #6:
This was feeding time folks. At around 4:30 There were a TON of animals out and about. This is a great time for the Safari.

 Great pictures and a very informative ride through what really feels like the Sahara. 

We finished off our day by stopping in Zuri's Sweet Shop for some treats to enjoy after our dinner at home.

I also stopped into the Discovery Trading Company shop to pick up the Animal Kingdom Pandora charm. This is the first of my Pandora charms which I am using to remember my senior trip. I can't wait to show my bracelet to you as I fill it up with memories!

We headed home and like true party animals, crashed at 9 p.m. :)

I hope any of you going to the park soon, found these tips helpful or fun to read about. I can't wait to share more and more about our Disney adventures with you too. Have a magical day!


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