Sunday, 13 June 2010

Disney's Animal Kingdom

What else are you going to do the day after you have been to see a collection of sea creatures but go and see more animals?

Disney's Animal Kingdom was next on the agenda. It's becoming sketchy if I'm honest. I knew I should have taken a notepad with me, but then I draw enough attention to myself already without being that geeky. What I do remember is that the first thing we did at Animal Kingdom was get on the safari vehicle.

In the process of doing so I learned something that would be valuable to me for the rest of the trip. How to queue without throwing things. Queues had been few and far between at Sea World. Maybe they'd all gone to Ellesmere Port, I don't know. They were out in force at Animal Kingdom though, with a sign outside advising us that it would be 20 minutes before we would actually get on to the safari. Well, we had all day.

It's not just the queues, but the way one queues that is significant here. Rather than have one long line stretching all the way back to Japan (which I'm sure was just over by the Rhinos, but I might be getting confused), they cunningly get you to line up around snake-like railings. This creates the illusion that you are making progress when in fact you are merely moving through a series of rooms or corridors. Credit to them, they try to distract you from your impatience with interesting decor and perhaps the odd DVD, but they're making you wait nonetheless.

Finally on board the jeep I quickly noticed that all staff in the safari area where called Dan, Danny, Daniel or any other denominations of that name you can think of;

"Danny!" shouted Dan,

"Tell Daniel to take my name off the board!"

I don't know what this means exactly, but I'll be surprised if it made a difference for the board to lose any of it's Dans, Dannys or Daniels. Danny nodded anyway.

Anyway, Dan was our driver. He showed us all the things we had come to see, and quite a few we had not expected. In among the elephants, giraffe, lions, rhinos and bongos (there's always bongos at zoos and safari parks, don't you find?) were some rather less authentic creatures. Dan had been advised through his radio system that there were poachers in the area, and they were after the elephants. Apparently, ivory is worth a few bob. To prove this they had mocked up an entire poachers camp, and a mechanically controlled baby elephant hiding in a small jeep. Not to mention the voice of our informant, who also had us wait five minutes to allow time for an ostrich to move out of the road. I caught sight of it a while later, hurtling towards our jeep lest we make a play for it's eggs. Emma didn't think the eggs were real though.

Anybody who hasn't seen A Bugs Life might not be able to relate to what we did next. We visited a 3-D show based on the animated film, and I learned something else. If you use a wheelchair, get out of it at 3-D shows if you possibly can. I made the mistake of seeing this show from my own chair, and missed out on the simulation of being swatted at by a bug hell-bent on revenge for the loss of it's kin to the human race in this way. A huge waft of air came through the back of Emma's chair as the swatter swished narrowly by, and it was only when we left the theatre that I noticed that the seats all had small, strategically placed holes in their backs.

However, I am happy to report that I did witness Hopper (a giant grasshopper voiced by Kevin Spacey when he's not talking about the Old Vic) zoom into my face, pointing furiously at me for decimating the bug population with a rolled up Sunday Times. Or something. This may have been an attempt to educate serial bug squashers, but I don't have enough faith in humanity to believe that the insect death toll will fall as a result. I was also fortunate enough to be able to feel the blast of wind in my face when the enormous, fat purple bug let one go, so to speak, and to get just as wet as everyone else when a spider exploded or soiled itself. Lovely.

After that it was on to another theatre for a stage version of Finding Nemo. It was all very entertaining, yet I can't help but feel that the highlight was at the end when the seagulls famous for crying 'mine, mine, mine' in the film, changed the call to 'bye, bye, bye' when they wanted to boot you out of your seat at the end. Actually there is some very clever puppetry in the performance, along with some lung-busting singing. Just don't expect the same level of humour. They've only got half an hour to tell the story. A similar principle allows me to describe a day out which lasted around 10 hours to you in just one blog.

And the rest...........? Well, it's a zoo. You've all been to Chester. Just imagine that with searingly hot weather. And rollercoasters. Difficult, I know.

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