Hippo Ballet

Magic really does happen there!

For Christmas, we gave the kids (and ourselves!) a trip to Disney World in Florida.  We rather brilliantly booked it for their 'value season' in mid-February.  I'm not being facetious.  We are genuinely happy with our choice.  We skipped the waterparks and were a little shivery the day the temperature refused to climb above 12 degrees celsius, but for the most part the weather was a wonderful step-up from the snow and freezing temps we left at home.

Note for others debating a trip this time of year: you'll have shorter wait lines and longer patience when you are not overheated.

We also got a deal on rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge.  After I'd booked it and begun looking at maps of the area, I was a little concerned.  Animal Kingdom is about as far from everything else as you can get.  This turned out to be fine for us because we're basically recluses, our kids were old enough to have patience with longer shuttle rides, and we're all nature lovers at heart.  We loved looking onto the savannah from our room and I loved the sunrises off our balcony--which was less popular with the teenagers who cried "close the curtains!"  We had a stunning full moon rise there one evening too.  Made us feel just like we were in Africa :)

I'll write a few more posts to be published later this week, but wanted to get these photos up because this was one of my peak moments.  Worth the cost of admission--which ain't cheap!

To set the scene...  It is our first day, first park (Animal Kingdom.)  We've already done the Kilamanjaro Safari which is a 'ride' at the park.  A rather pithy driver with an under appreciated sense of humor took us around their savannah.

Note: This is not to be confused with the safari we did later in the week through our hotel's savannahs.  This safari is one that anyone visiting Animal Kingdom Park can do.  We saw giraffes and elephants and hippos and learned that hippos don't actually swim.  They can hold their breath for ages and walk along the bottom of waterways.  For those of you who have never watched the Kratt brothers, hippos are one of the most dangerous animals in Africa.  They are highly territorial.  On our safari, we saw a few pair of hippo nostrils, but were more impressed with the 'bask' of giant, salt-water crocs.  (Yes, the collective nouns is a 'bask' or a 'float.'  I looked it up.)

After that we took a walking trail.  Don't ask me what it's called.  The one where you see the giant bats I think.  There were a couple of walks and everything you see is amazing.  Anyway, we came up to a window into an aquarium and we gave the colourful fish a passing glance, but the moving rock in the background caught our eye.

Look close and play the Jaws theme in your head.

My daughter had already filled our camera, but I had my iPhone so started snapping.

Note: I dragged my laptop all the way to Florida and did not do a lick of writing.  However, the laptop was invaluable when it came to downloading our photos and the hotel had a laptop safe so it was worth the extra weight on my shoulder (considering I had to run twenty gates with it, trying to make our connection on the way home.)

Back to the hippo.  I was in awe.  I mean, these are killer animals.  Don't believe me?  Look at the expression in these eyes.  Die.

They're probably still angry about Fantasia.  I mean, they're working their reputation as a Bad Ass for centuries then Disney outs them as frigging ballet artists.  To give Walt his due, these animals are crazy graceful underwater.  As this behemoth swept past, I thought I was watching a performance of the Sugar Plum Fairies.  And really, doesn't he/she look secretly happy while taking an en pointe stance here?

It was a fairly magical moment.  More on our adventures in the next few days.