Day #08 - Haunts, Jaunts and African Chants

An early start today since we had to pack our bags and check out of our lovely hotel. It was time to say goodbye to the beautiful and chilled Caribbean Beach Resort. "What leaving Disney so soon?" I hear you cry! No, don't panic, we're not quite done yet! We're staying another week but at a different hotel. We have transferred across to the stunning Animal Kingdom Lodge - but more about that later. 
First, after dealing with luggage and getting a nice little ride with the Bell Hop to the Riviera Resort next door we caught a bus to the Magic Kingdom for our second day there. 
Since I was up early, I managed to bag us an elusive place in the virtual queue for Tron - so I was really excited all day, since this was one of the new big rides to experience. 
However, when we arrived at the Magic Kingdom park, we wanted to pick up on some of the rides we didn't do last time. First off it was the new attraction based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This is simply a runaway mine train, but Disney style. It's a very sleek ride but thrilling nonetheless. It had a unique feature in the way each section of the train was able to independently swing laterally as the train went around the track. This allowed the rider to experience a really smooth ride and experience the sharp corners in a thrilling way. 
Next up we headed to the Haunted Mansion, which again has been updated with a few new illusions and residents, but the core of the attraction remains the same. The same can be said of Pirates of the Caribbean which was next on our list. The big update here (aside from removing dialogue and references that would be out of place and inappropriate in the 21st Century) was "Can you Spot Jack Sparrow?" Captain Jack made several appearances during the ride if you were looking out for him and a subtle updating of the soundtrack also helped to link this classic to the film franchise.
Another staple of the Magic Kingdom and an attraction that has been at the heart of Walt Disney's vision is The Hall of Presidents. This naturally gets a new resident every four or eight years. and while the animatronics of the presidents from yesteryear look very much like their oil painting portraits, those that are more familiar to us through broadcast media, fair less well! However, the movements of these robots has really come on in leaps and bounds with more subtle and controlled movements which really add to their realisms.
After this unashamed dose of American patriotism we had time to kill until we were called for our ride on Tron. So we took a ride on the the Walt Disney World Railroad which circumnavigates the park on a 1.5-mile, 20 min scenic route. There are four restored, vintage narrow-gauge steam trains that were originally built between 1916 and 1928. Walt Disney bought them in 1969 and they have been lovingly looked after and maintained ever since. 
We also casually strolled around the park, taking the opportunity to generate some more cheesy couple photos for you to enjoy! 
When the time came, TRON did not disappoint. This new ride, only been open since April of this year, has a spectacular atrium in which part of the ride swoops and dives around the guests below. It does then disappear into a rather dull big rectangular warehouse type structure, but you don't really see that!
The attraction has riders straddle a motorcycle style seat that are linked in pairs into a long rollercoaster style train. Once aboard, and after all the pre-show briefings about being digitized, entering the grid and "How to beat the bad guys" story, you're ready to go. The ride has a brilliant catapult style launch that fires you up and out into that atrium, flying high over everyone before entering the big building for a thrilling darkride, complete with awesome sound track, great effects and of course a thrilling ride with plenty of twists, turns and drops. I made James ride the front car which he did thank me for afterwards! Haha
After such a thrilling ride, it was time to take things a little easy, so we went on a circular ride on the famous DisneyWorld monorail around the lake that sits in front of Magic Kingdom. Our intention was to stop off at the Contemporary Resort, the beautiful A-frame hotel that the monorail goes through. Due to my misreading of signs, we were on an express train that didn't stop. Still, nice to catch a glimpse of this 1970's architectural icon as the train glided through the middle of it. 
Speaking of hotels, today was the day we transferred to Animal Kingdom Lodge as I mentioned earlier. Let's just say, this hotel is breathtaking. As you enter the magnificent lobby you are filled with a sense of calm wonder as the styling and ambiance of this beautiful hotel envelopes you. 
The selling point of this hotel is that it is surrounded by a "savanna" where real animals live and roam (nothing dangerous, just zebras, giraffes, gazelles, ostriches, cranes and waterbuck). Your room looks out onto this plain and you have a balcony from which to do your very own wildlife spotting. 
The pool and the rest of the hotel is a labyrinth of beautiful African style decor with vegetation everywhere. And being Disney, they throw in a few nice touches. For example, as I went to the lobby to grab a coffee, there was someone playing African drums; later someone was demonstrating African hand woodcarving. There are also plenty of rangers to tell you about the animals should you have any questions. 
Probably the best way to share this is experience with you is lots of photos! Here they come!
Some of the animals spotted so far. More to come. 

Some of the hotel. Again, more to come!