Barbara, Ben, Matt, and myself woke up to the sound of... rain. No surprise there if you read Day 2 of this adventure. The rain started Friday night and didn't stop at all! We didn't let that stop us though! It was Barbara's birthday and we had to celebrate big all day long.
After Barbara got in the shower, I hurried up and got the birthday goodies out that I bought back at home. We had fun wearing the slap bracelets around the park for the rest of the trip. Only, later on in the trip at 1900 Park Fare, I was slapping away and flung my bracelet into the infamous Strawberry Soup. Classic Stacey.
We also popped open some wine (yeah, it was about 7:00 a.m.) that Barbara had bought in Germany a few nights prior. The description said "apple wine." It tasted more like piss wine. Barbara took one sip and was done. I think Ben and Matt finished a little of their glass while I, like a trooper, downed mine. I just didn't breathe and pretended that it tasted like Welch's grape juice.
Walking from our room to the bus stop proved to be quite the task. As we were walking down the steps of our building and Matt was telling us girls behind him to be really careful because the steps were slippery, he takes no more than two steps down and falls down a flight of stairs on his back side. I gasp and look over at Barbara who immediately starts laughing hysterically. Matt was totally okay aside from a bruised butt. Barbara told him that she would write that off as his birthday present to her.
After stepping in a million huge puddles (that could not be dodged) and getting our feet dirty, we got on a bus headed for Animal Kingdom. This was supposed to be the busiest day of our entire trip (a level 9) but because of the rain, our bus was quite empty. Other folks had the same idea of enjoying the park despite the rain, though. All of us brave people were finally let into the park and we made our way towards Expedition Everest. Trying to do "the morning run" in pouring rain is very difficult. Our feet kept sloshing around in our shoes. We didn't rush to get to Everest because there weren't very many people to compete with. We were very irked to find out that the ride wasn't even running once we got there. We stood and stood and stood in line for about fifteen minutes before the short line started moving.
Everest in the rain. Just think about that statement for a second. Expedition Everest in whipping, cold, pouring rain. It was hilarious actually. We couldn't even look up at the ride because we just got shot in the eyeballs with rain. For some reason, we got off the ride feeling sick. All of us. No one wanted to go back on it even though we could have just walked on. We decided to move onto Dinosaur. Barbara and Ben were so excited to go on this but I think they were a little disappointed. It was just too loud and too... much.
Our tummies were still upset so I had the genius idea of grabbing breakfast at Pizzafari. We weren't going to use a counter service meal for that day so it worked out. Barbara and Ben got the Bounty Platter as did Matt, only he gave away his meat. They all found it really filling and liked the french toast the best. We all agreed that the potatoes were seriously amazing. I got the Spinach and Goat Cheese Frittata and it was okay but a little on the small side and sort of dry. Not bad, but not great. The potatoes had me craving more, though. A cast member noticed Barbara's birthday button and surprised her with a cupcake! I don't care if it was only 10:30 a.m. Cupcakes are welcome anytime.
To our surprise, stand-by for Kilimanjaro Safari was only 15 minutes so we entered the queue. To our surprise (again), we walked right on. The "level 9 crowds" were non-existant and we were loving it! Sure the rain kind of sucked and we were sure that we wouldn't see many animals out roaming, but damn do I love short lines! We were thrilled when a lot of the animals were out enjoying the rain. Even the lions were really active. After the Safari, Matt wanted to walk the jungle trek but we needed to head over to see Finding Nemo: The Musical. This is a requirement of mine anytime I am in Animal Kingdom. Even though we got to the theater just 10 minutes before show time, we still got a good seat way down in front by the catwalk. Of course, the show was amazing and I really loved the person who played Nemo. I still get a kick out of the fact that a girl plays Nemo. Totally wishing a little boy played it though. Mainly because kids are super cute.
Once we got out of the show, the rain seemed to have increased to a torrential downpour (as if it wasn't horrible enough before). We booked it to It's Tough To Be A Bug because we just wanted out of the rain. This attraction was one of Barbara's memories from her trip to Walt Disney World when she was young. I have a slight fear of 3-D effects in some attractions so I didn't take any glasses. Everyone else loved it though and enjoyed being dry again for a little while. The trek out of the Tree of Life was so slippery and wet that we decided to leave the park and just go hang out at Animal Kingdom Lodge until our ADR at Sanaa.
At Animal Kingdom Lodge, we stopped by the gorgeous bathrooms outside of Boma and freshened up. I was really hoping that there would be lotion in there since I can't stand what my hands feel like after they've been wet. No lotion in there so we moved on. We wanted to see the area with all of the rooms so we ventured down a hallway and up and down some elevators. It wasn't exactly entertaining but we were dry and some of the views of the savannah were gorgeous. Barbara even managed to find me some lotion... on one of the Mousekeeping carts. :) She also found herself some shampoo just in case she needed it while we were out. Haha!
We hopped a bus and got dropped off at Kidani Village. I was really impressed with the lobby. I'd never seen it before and I just thought it was unique and interesting. It was so warm and homey to me. We ended up checking into our lunch reservation at Sanaa about a half hour early and only waited a couple of minutes to be seated. The place was packed. I assume because of the horrid weather. Suddenly, I realized that I forgot to request a table right by the big windows overlooking the savannah! Gah! I panicked in my mind! To my relief, we were seated RIGHT by a huge window with nothing blocking our view. Yay!
Barbara ordered a mojito to start off with and we all decided to split the Indian Style Bread Service. It looks as though I forgot to write down exactly what bread and accompaniments we ordered but I'll go off of memory. I think we got the Naan, Papadum, and Paneer. For the accompaniments we got the Mango Chutney, Garlic Pickle, and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus. EVERYTHING was amazing! I can see now why people always suggest to order it. Naan was the highlight for the breads and everyone sort of liked different accompaniments best. The Garlic Pickle was the most unique by far. If you don't like a strong garlic flavor then I definitely would not suggest it to you. Fortunately for me, I love garlic more than life itself.
I asked for the vegan sampler of Stewed Lentils and Spicy Peas, Chickpeas, and Potatoes with Basmati Rice. Boy were those veggies spicy! They weren't lyin'! I could barely eat them they were packin' so much heat. It sucked because the flavor was actually really good. Everything else was pretty tasty.
Matt ordered the Indian-Style Vegetable Burger. This thing was flippin' awesome! It's definitely not your typical Disney veggie burger. Matt and I both agreed (yes, I taste tested it... for blogging purposes only... of course) that it could have been a little warmer as it was served luke warm. Either way, the veggies in it complimented each other well and the portion was more than generous.
Barbara and Ben were twinsies and both got the Grilled Lamb Kefta. Ben devoured the thing in five minutes, I swear. When I asked what he thought of it he said, "Well, I ate it all!" Guess that says enough. Barbara also liked the dish but found it to be a little spicy for her taste. I'd heard that about a lot of the dishes at Sanaa so that statement didn't surprise me any.
In the middle of our meal, we started to hear these African drums from afar but getting closer. Around the corner came three cast members from different places in Africa playing a tune for all of the guests... or so we thought. They stopped right at our table and played a special birthday song just for Barbara. I'd never seen a restaurant have such a unique birthday celebration for a guest. We were all really amazed and felt like it was more personal that just some cheesy Applebees-like chant.
On top of the sweet song, our waiter brought Barbara TWO free desserts to share with the rest of us, equipped with candles. I should note that the desserts we were served were desserts off of the menu and not just a generic Disney cupcake. Next time, I might just go back and get this dessert it was SO good.
Here are a few more shots of the restaurant. I think I might be in love...
We left the restaurant and headed out to catch a bus back to Animal Kingdom. From there we got another bus back to Caribbean Beach. I, of course, wanted to take a cab. I wanted to take a cab basically anytime we had to take a bus. So, you can imagine how many times I suggested that we take a cab. Haha! The original idea for the afternoon was to surprise Barbara with some water fun. We were going to rent a pontoon and ride surrey bike around the resort. The rain sort of put a damper on that and also made us all very tired. Barbara led us all into making the greatest decision ever... to take a nap.
Oh, how that nap refreshed us all. We woke up around 5:30 and slowly creeped out of our beds so we could get around and look all pretty before our wet trek to Downtown Disney. Aaaaaaand, this is where I'm going to leave you hanging. Part 2 of this post will give you all the details of Barbara's birthday celebration. Get excited! It's gettin' real good.