Saturday, July 29, 2017

Disney Birthday Adventures - Day 1 (Animal Kingdom)

My family asked what I wanted to do for my 40th birthday - we talked about a lot of different ideas, and eventually decided to spend a long weekend at Disney World. After all, it's the happiest place on earth, right? We planned to actually be there for my birthday in January, but the weekend before, on MLK Day, my Papaw passed away and the funeral was set for the Saturday we were supposed to be in Orlando. Needless to say, our trip was postponed. 

Thankfully, we were able to reschedule and a month later we were all able to meet up in Orlando. It was an eventful trip, with my flight delayed several times to the point that is was 2am before I landed in Florida. I was just thankful to actually make it! So, after a short night's sleep, we got up and made our way to Animal Kingdom, one of my favorite Disney parks. I read that you should do the Kilimanjaro Safari first thing in the morning because the animals are most active after just being fed. They were right - we saw so many animals and really enjoyed the safari. 

After the safari, we walked through Africa, past the Tree of Life and into Asia, where Dad, Ben, and I were really excited to ride Expedition Everest, the best roller coaster at Animal Kingdom. It was great! We had fast passes, so the line wasn't too bad either.

Everest was followed by a venture into and around the Tree of Life, appreciating the many animals carved into the tree and loving The Bug's Life 3D show inside. We all proudly wore our bug glasses. We also went to watch the Flights of Wonder bird show and walked through the Maharajah Jungle Trek seeing cool animals, birds, and terrain. 

One of the best parts of Animal Kingdom is the Lion King Show. We all LOVED it back on our first visit to the park many years ago, and it was just as much fun this time. Those crazy flying hyenas, silly Timon and Pumba, and of course Simba, are joined by some great singers and dancers for a pretty spectacular show. We followed that by riding the Dinosaur ride (another fast pass) and eating dinner close to the Tree of Life, before getting in line for the early show of the new night production, Rivers of Light. 

Rivers of Light was simply beautiful! It celebrates the harmony of nature with water, lights, and floating animals. I'm so glad we were able to see it. Animal Kingdom has also started lighting up the Tree of Life at night for a really cool display, where the various animals carved into it come to life periodically. The tree is incredible when it's all lit up like this! Dad and I left Mom and Ben watching the tree as we headed back for one more ride to Everest in the dark. 

Our day at Animal Kingdom was so much fun! And we had more fun adventures lined up for the next several days. We headed back to the hotel, tired but happy.

Christmas 2016

We spent Christmas at my parents' house in Peachtree City this year. Kathy, David, Layton, Holley, Karen, Phillip, and Savannah all came down. One of the things I was excited to do was take Layton on a night golfcart ride through the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights. On Christmas Adam, I made that happen. We bundled up, Layton put on his Rudolph nose to light the way, and off we went! When we got home, we headed out to the bonfire for some warmth and some smores. Mom, Kathy, and I finished the evening warm and cozy in our matching Christmas leggings by the tree.

On Christmas Eve, Ben and I ran a few errands together and stopped by the historic Starr's Mill, then met up with Mom, Dad, and Layton at the playground where we enjoyed the beautiful sunshine.
Christmas Eve night, we got dressed up and went to church, then went home and played Christmas games.

We woke up on Christmas morning ready to eat our yummy Krispy Kreme donuts (it's a tradition!) and open presents. We got a bit of a late start because Ben was sleeping hard, but we eventually saw all that Santa brought. As the day progressed, we just relaxed, played with our new "toys", took Layton outside to enjoy his Santa gifts, ate the traditional Christmas lunch, and enjoyed each other.

After all the company left, my family got dressed and went over to Starr's Mill for our annual Christmas photo shoot. It's one of my favorite spots in Peachtree City, and makes for great photos. We had planned to take the whole crew over on Christmas day, but time got away from us, so this year we only ended up with pics of the four of us. I think they turned out nicely though.

All in all, my time in Georgia was full of family, fun, and holiday traditions.