Our Orlando group of four split in half for the next day of the trip. While our friends opted for a more low-key day around our rented house, my husband and I went in on a second day at Disney World.
We started off at Animal Kingdom, the one of Disney World's four parks we hadn't visited years earlier. Some people say it's a "half day" sort of destination, and I'll add my agreement to that. In fact, I don't anticipate I'd go back again on a future visit to Orlando. Nevertheless, I am glad we did go, as it was an interesting change of pace and did offer some good things to do.
The layout of Animal Kingdom is rather similar to Magic Kingdom, actually. But replacing the Cinderella Castle is a huge tree:
From there, we found our way to a few particular attractions.
Expedition Everest. Our first stop was this roller coaster, which I'd heard described as the best in Orlando. I'd say that overstates things a bit... though it is pretty good. It all depends on what you're looking for. Universal has more intense rides, but Expedition Everest is quite clever. Upon setting off into the Himalayas, you quickly come upon track that's been completely torn up by a yeti. The ride comes to a sudden stop, and then throws things into reverse to take off down a previously unseen path. The ride continues along these lines, playing like an escape from a dangerous mountain and the dangerous monster living there.
Kilimanjaro Safaris. I could probably get a whole post out of this attraction, a bus ride through the wildlife preserve that occupies a major section of the park. In some ways, it's a trip to the zoo (and that expectation is exactly why we'd avoided Animal Kingdom on our previous Orlando Trip). But in other ways, it's a lot more. There's a wide variety of more exotic African animals here. And they have gone to great lengths to design habitats that don't immediately present as "cages." The animals feel mostly out in the open, until you look more closely. (Hopefully, that feeling applies to them too.)
That was really it for Animal Kingdom. We then moved over to Epcot for the rest of the day.
We did do a couple of rides at Epcot (which I'll get to in a moment), but most of our time went to a Food & Wine Festival that was going on throughout the park. As you moved through all of the different "countries" in the park, special stands were selling samples of food, wines, and beers from those countries. We got to taste all sorts of great things. And as we did, we got to enjoy the fact that there are a lot fewer kids at Epcot than at any other theme park in Orlando. Though we were on our feet and walking all day, it felt far more relaxing than anything thus far.
Soarin'. We'd missed this ride last trip, but made sure to check it out this time. It's a bit straight-forward -- you're lifted up in a hanging chair and brought close to an IMAX-sized screen. Small movements generate the sensation of flight, and you hop all over the world looking at amazing scenery. But at the same time, it's a quite effective illusion, simple though it is. After so many rides the day before that involved coasting by vaguely creepy, singing and talking robots, this felt like a welcome change of pace.
Spaceship Earth. It's not that this was a beloved ride from the last trip, but after a full day of food and drink, it was a gentle enough ride not to risk upsetting anything. We took the slow ride through Epcot's famous silver ball, and then were picked up by our friends to end our Disney fun.