Grandbabies 8.2 - Nya at Animal Kingdom

Parks, resorts, dining, attractions, vacations

A Disney Adventure with Don, Laurie, and almost four-year-old Nya

As we leave the room for Animal Kingdom this morning, Nya says goodbye to 
Belle.  She sure makes friends fast.  She doesn't complain when she has to 
hop out of the stroller for the steps up to the resort's main building, but 
I've barely hit the top step when she's ready to get back in.  She explains 
"My feet are kind of lazy today."

While waiting for the bus, Laurie takes the opportunity to show Nya how the 
cast members all have the name tags and can help us if we ever get 
separated.  Once on the bus, she takes her now-routine seat in the back 
corner, and we're at the front of the upper deck with her, about four seats 
ahead on the other side, facing her.  We figure as long as we can see her 
and are between her and the door, we're in good shape.

A family of four gets on and sits in the back row with her, a ten-year-old 
girl sitting beside her.  We're in constant eye contact, which gives her the 
opportunity to mouth to Laurie "It's okay."  We knew it was okay because we 
were between her and the door, but we really didn't think ahead to when we 
would get to the park and everyone would stand up and she couldn't see us 
anymore.  To make matters worse, I tell Laurie I'm going to jump out and get 
my stroller out of the aisle and she can wait for Nya.  But Nya's not in on 
that plan and only knows that she can see me out the window and has a whole 
crowd between her and the door and she freaks.  It's all over though as soon 
as the people clear and she sees Laurie sitting there waiting for her, and 
she has a great big smile.  She's always about four seconds from either 
tears or giggles, so we have to try better to keep her on the giggle side.

She doesn't want her picture taken while we're waiting at the turnstiles; we 
think the bus trauma has changed her mood a little.  We'll see how much of 
the day that will affect.  Turns out it's about six minutes.  She doesn't 
want me to pick her up to see the animals on the Tree while we're waiting 
for rope drop, she stays right in the stroller.  But when Minnie makes an 
appearance, it's immediately "Grandpa, you can pick me up to see Minnie." 
She's waving vigorously to Minnie, and also to Tour Guide Mickey who's way 
back by the Tree.

We get fast passes for the safari and head down the Pangani Forest Trail. 
The fish are "kind of cool" and she actually wants to take a picture of 
them.  The birds are kind of boring except the ducks, and the naked mole 
rats are boring but the turtle is cool.  She says she has no interest in the 
gorillas, but when we get up there she spends quite a bit of time watching 
them, the last half from my shoulders.

At the gate for the safari, she suddenly asks "Does it ever rain at Disney?" 
We finally realize that question comes because she hasn't seen any yet, but 
there are puddles of water where the buses pull up to load.  It's just the 
three of us in our row and she wants to sit on the outside.  We tell her it 
isn't allowed and that if she sits in the middle she can slide back and 
forth and see things on both sides.  She reluctantly agrees, but now that we're 
out on the road she's power sliding back and forth to see everything. 
Giggling, pointing, asking a hundred questions.  When we disembark, Laurie 
almost trips over her because Nya stops suddenly and says "Wait, I want to 
do it more!"

character breakfast at the Tusker House, and she's having a really hard 
time.  She wants to go back to the room and play with Belle.  We'll see how 
it goes, because our plan is to stay in the park right through til closing 
at 6, because we think she's going to really enjoy all the shows.  When we 
first get seated, our waiter puts a glass of dark orange liquid in front of 
each of us, and when I ask him what kind of juice it is, he replies "jungle 
juice" and walks off.  Thanks for pinning that down for me buddy, hope no 
one's allergic to jungles.  Nya says she's very hungry, and has Laurie fix 
her a plate with ham, bacon, tater tots, melon, and grapes.  Mostly bacon, 
you would think she had some of my genes.  When combined with the chocolate 
milk, that's every food group, right?

She's absolutely thrilled to meet the characters and get their autographs 
and pictures.  Mickey kisses her on the head, which leads to another fit of 
giggling.  Since we were among the last to be seated at the last breakfast 
seating, we never do get to meet Donald.  Nya mentions it, so we mention it 
to one of the cast members.  They do a good job of making sure that no one 
at a character meal misses out on any of the characters, so this guy tells 
us that Donald had to leave to meet people over at Camp Minnie Mickey and 
gives us a head-of-the-line pass to meet him over there.

It takes me quite a while to take care of our bill, because just before he 
got to us, our waiter took the checks for two tables of about a dozen people 
who all got individual bills, some had dining plan, some had issues with 
their cards, etc.  By the time I get through, the girls have found some 
African drummers (Tam Tam Congo) out in the plaza, and Nya has made her way 
right up to the rope, dancing like crazy.  We end up spending twenty minutes 

over to Asia instead.  We never know what kind of trip it's going to be 
until we're on it.

We tell Nya that there's another trail over here, except it has tigers 
instead of gorillas.  She says "Let's skip that one", so we go down to 
Dinoland.  After potty stops and the purchase of Tinkerbell sunglasses, we 
get in line for the Triceratops Spin.  We aren't sure what rock song it is 
that's playing in the queue, but she's dancing like crazy to it.  We may 
have to spend some time in the Aerosmith Courtyard before the trip is over, 
and see if she likes my music too.

About the third time around on the ride, Nya takes over the controls.  We're 
all the way to the top, then all the way to the bottom, then repeat as often 
as possible until the ride is over.  She loves the ride, but looks a little 
discomforted after we're off so we ask her what's wrong.  "The sun is still 
coming through my sunglasses."  Well, you got Tinkerbells, not Ray Charles.

She says she wants to ride that again later, but within about 15 seconds she 
wants to go back to the hotel.  We knew she would really love the Nemo show, 
but don't think she can handle the line or wait right now, so we're just 
going to have to be sad and miss it.  (We realize now we could have made 
this all work by just bringing Belle this morning.  Live and learn.)  It's 

closes early, but if you get tired, you get tired.  We do remind her that we 
still have to get Donald's autograph, and she's up for that.  We also know 
we'll be able to catch the Lion King, so we'll suggest that when we get over 

We get our picture taken with Donald and get into the Lion King theater just 
in time for the preshow stuff.  Nya's really putting a lot of energy into 
learning the Hand Jive.  She loves the show, but the minute Scar's fire 
twirler gets going, she asks Grandma "Is there any way that can get over 
here?"  She's very much locked into all of the songs, and the costumes and 
dancing as well.

closed.  We spend some time looking at the fishing scene near the theater, 
and she's wondering why Donald would go fishing for boots.  "They won't even 
fit him."

I know guys who wouldn't be caught dead wearing a fanny pack, partly because 
it sounds too effeminate.  Well Nya's trying to start a trend that will make 
that worse, because she keeps referring to them as "fancy packs".

She's reminding us of her oldest sister, and our first grandbaby trip.  Now 
that we're headed out of the park, she has enough energy to walk.  Skip, 
even.  We've also discovered that there's a gravitational pull that affects 
her whenever she gets near shopping of any kind.  But she's not just a girl 
who shops for the sake of shopping and sees all kinds of shiny things and is 
all "I want this, I want that."  She's very specific as to what she's 
looking for (mostly dolls), and if it doesn't strike her immediately, she 
moves on.   She confirms that she can go swimming after she plays with her 
dolls, and now she's thirty feet in front of us on our way to the bus.

After we've touched base with all the dolls, we go out to the pool.  Nya 
stands in the water on the stairs while we big kids just dip our toes in the 
too-cool water.  She tells us that at home, she can go out in the middle 
because she has floaties or something, so we go over to the bin and find a 
teeny tiny life jacket that fits her perfectly.  Now she's out in the 
three-foot area having a ball and decides she wants to go over to where the 
flowers are spraying in the pool, but needs me to come in before she does. 
But I don't want to come in, it's too cold.  Laurie helpfully suggests that 
it's probably nice and warm after you get in, so I take the plunge.  I haven't 
even gotten my breath back when Nya is gone like the wind toward the spray. 
Apparently she didn't need me to help her; I just had to be in the water 

After serious naps, we head over to Epcot at about 7.  There are Extra Magic 
Hours there tonight, but we thought we'd just see Spaceship Earth and maybe 
some of the Kid Stops around World Showcase and then see if we can hang 
around long enough to take in the Illuminations fireworks.  Nya's intrigued 
by the bag check, and wants to know "Why does he want to know what's in my 
Fancy Pack?"  She appreciates having a choice of what crackers or raisins or 
other snacks she brings, but why would that guy care?  Good question.  After 
we're through the line, she asks Grandma what he said.  Grandma tells her he 
thanked her.  "Did you say 'You're welcome'?"  Yes.  I guess it's never too 
late to make sure Grandma watches her manners.

Nya doesn't like this park, because it's too windy.  We had planned to do a 
water park tomorrow, but the weather report is calling for it to be the 
coolest day of our stay, with 10 to 20 mph winds, so we'll probably adjust 
our schedule.  Especially now that we know Nya doesn't like the windy parks.

We encounter a first for all of us on Spaceship Earth, with the ride 
stopping right in front of the first scene.  We've been stopped plenty of 
times before, but usually just for the length of a wheel chair load.  This 
time the wait is at least ten minutes, and includes two cast members with 
flashlights hiking up the trail beside us.  And the scene with the growling 
wooly mammoth and the yelling hunters and the howling wind isn't necessarily 
the scene we would have chosen to park Nya in front of.

She's a little nervous through the ride, probably because of the initial 
stop, but Laurie's talking her through it and telling her all about how when 
we get to the top we'll be able to see the moon and the stars and 
everything.  As we enter the top room, Nya says "Looks like a planet to me." 
Laurie tells her that's what she meant to say, that's Earth.  "Are we in 

On our morning walk, Nya and I had seen some hot air balloons in the 
distance, so when we enter the Land pavilion I point out to her that we have 
some pretend hot air balloons here.  "Not all of them," she says, "one's the 
Earth."  We had never noticed it before, but the top one is in fact Earth. 
We apparently can't tell the difference between the earth and the moon or a 
hot air balloon -- she must be wondering what kind of goobers she brought on 
this trip.

During dinner at the Sunshine Food Fair, she's already planning her 2 ½ year 
old sister's trip, telling us the things she's really going to love about 
Spaceship Earth.  After dinner we manage to get in the front row of the 
Living With The Land boat, and she's giggling because "That's real water". 
There's adventure everywhere here.  And then the questions.  "Is that tree 
fake?  Is that lightning real?  Why do they call it a prairie dog if it 
doesn't look like a dog?"  And then when we leave the fake half of the ride 
and get out where the plants are, "It looks like we're in the Ball again." 
We've got to the point where we don't notice the dome anymore, but it is 
kind of cool.  For no apparent reason, she's particularly excited about 
seeing the pineapple.  And then the baby alligators are "Aw, so cute!"  To 
prove she understands the concept of farming, she sees the shrimp tank and 
says "Yummy" and giggles.

We've already reached the point in the trip where escalators are no longer 
intimidating.  In fact, you can actually walk up them while they're moving 
and jump over the yellow line at the end.  Outside we encounter a group of 
12-year-old cheerleaders from a school for the homeless.  We know this 
because they're chanting "We don't got no place to go, we're hobos!"

We're headed out of the park now because Nya says she's getting a little 
tired.  But we do spend about five minutes jumping around on some colored 
lights shining up out of the sidewalk, and then another five minutes doing 
likewise on the next batch.  Apparently 'tired' is a relative thing.  At the 
front of the park she informs us that she doesn't want a balloon.  Not that 
anyone had asked.  "When I keep getting balloons they just keep popping." 
Very sensible approach.

She's trying to determine if one of the many buses we see approaching is 
ours, but "Grandma, it's hard, because all the buses have the same letters 
on them."  True, they all say "Epcot".  With tomorrow's cold forecast 
shooting down our water park plans and Nya's minor sadness on the bus 
because "I don't like it when I miss fireworks", we guess we'll make 
tomorrow our Epcot day.
Cool!  That's good of Disney to do that for you.

LOL!  Nah, she won't start thinking you are goobers for at least another 
6 or 8 years.  ;-)

I know Ive told this story before, but our granddaughter katie, on her 
5yo trip to WDW, kept asking, "Is this Disney or the parking lot?"  Many 
months later, when watching the videos and hearing our conversations, I 
realized it was her interpretation of the word "park" as in "theme 
park".  Had we only known, we could have explained it to her!  The poor 
child must have walked around for months before the trip wondering why 
we were taking her to Disney's parking lot!