Disney Vacation Part 4: Animal Kingdom & Epcot Fireworks

Catch up on Part 1, 2, and 3

Phew! We’re one day away from our final recap of Disney World. Today we’ll be taking a jaunt to Animal Kingdom, which was surprisingly tied for first place as my favorite theme park. My dad and I had skipped Animal Kingdom in favor of Busch Gardens and Sea World during my first trip to Walt Disney World so it was fun exploring the park for the first time along with Zach and Baby E.

Just like our other days, we headed out to the parks around 8ish. Our first stop was at the Tree of Life.

It was so huge! And the carvings were so intricate and beautiful–definitely a work of art.

Our first Fast Pass was the Kilimanjaro Safari so off to Africa we went.

Now I’m a huge sucker for a safari and Kilimanjaro didn’t disappoint. I’d read that you were much more likely to see all the animals early in the morning and we were so lucky that Alicia snagged us a Fast Pass for one of the earliest showings because all the animals were super active and easy to spot.

A little baby elephant that was so adorable–he even trumpeted for us as we passed!

Hello Simba and Nala!! I couldn’t believe how close we were to the lions and you could barely tell there was an enclosure around them. Definitely gave us the feel of being at a real safari.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the safari were watching certain animals cross right in front of us including giraffes, antelope, and this sweet little zebra.

Zach and I both enjoyed how immersive Animal Kingdom was. In Africa, you could almost close your eyes and pretend you were in a totally different continent.

And don’t you just love that hidden Mickey graffiti!

After Kilimanjaro Safari, we backtracked back to Harambe Market for the Festival of the Lion King. Baby E took a nap during the safari and woke up just as we were standing in the Fast Pass line–such a happy baby.

Ok you guys, the Lion King show was amazing!! Since the Lion King soundtrack is one of my absolute favorites, I loved how many songs they incorporated during the performance and the dancers and acrobats were hypnotizing to watch.

It was extremely hard to cull through the 100 or so photos we took of the performance to show you guys.

After the show ended, we headed over to Asia and stopped at the Yak & Yeti Cafe (the quick-service version of the Yak & Yeti Restaurant). We laughed at ourselves though because out of all the unique Asian-style options available to us, we both chose good ol’ American hamburgers.

Finally it was time for our Fast Pass to our most anticipated ride–Mt Everest. Since we had Baby E in tow, we used our Fast Passes separately but it worked out perfectly for the one who wasn’t riding to record the ride.

And of course, we have these gems from the Memory Maker to remind us of what was, hands down, the best ride at Disney World.

Funny little sidenote: I love that we both ended up sitting with the same exact Irish family when we rode separately. They seemed to love the ride just as much as we did!

Zach ended up riding Mt Everest three times and I rode once. And since it was still early in the day, we used the MyDisneyExperience app to book ourselves another Fast Pass. This time in the brand new area of Animal Kingdom, Pandora.

Confession–I’ve never made it through watching Avatar, the movie Pandora is based on, but Zach and I both absolutely loved the ride we went on–the Na’vi River Journey. And it got a thumbs up from Baby E too–she loved all the glowing plants and Na’vi (which apparently are what the people in Avatar are called, who knew).

At around 3pm, we started heading back to the bus terminal and made our way to the resort. Since we didn’t have plans until later in the evening, we decided to check out the pool at Riverside.

It was Baby E’s first time in a swimming pool and, just like her daddy, she loved it. Such water babies, those two!

I absolutely love this photo Zach took of the two of them waiting for the bus to take us to Epcot around 7:30.

We got to Epcot just before the PhotoPass photographers closed up shop for the day and one of them snapped this gem. Such a cutie!

We made our way slowly through the World Showcase until we got to the US and stopped to watch IllumiNations. Since it was the Fourth of July, there an extra bit of patriotic themed fireworks at the end of the regular show.

Just between us though, Magic Kingdom’s fireworks are so so much better. If you only have the chance to see one park’s fireworks during your stay, Happily Ever After is your best bet.

We headed out of the park pretty much as soon as the fireworks ended but it ended up taking an hour and a half to get back to the resort!! Definitely the longest we spent waiting for a bus during our stay–those Fourth of July crowds were unbelievable.

Let’s Talk
What did you and your family do for the Fourth? And just for fun, what’s your favorite animal?

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  • Jen

    What a fun day! We did Animal Kingdom on the 4th too! Such a bummer we never ran into each other!

  • How fun! I can’t believe you got so close to the animals. And how funny is it that you both sat with the same family! Also, I can’t believe you haven’t seen Avatar! It’s so good!

    • I know! I felt bad haha–I’ve never managed to catch Avatar from the beginning so I’ve always gotten confused and disinterested by the end. We’ll have to rent it sometime so I can see the full movie.