The last big event that we planned to attend for Homecoming was the big party at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It was originally set to be at Hollywood studios, just like the last year’s event. But I was totally excited when they announced that it would be moved to DAK! At first, they said the party started at 8:30, but you could get in at 7 to hang out. Then, right before the weekend, they announced that you could get into at 3 so you could have time to enjoy the park! Really, so nice and thoughtful!
We got there after dinner and had some time to walk around my two former homes at Strollers and Discovery Island. I LOVED seeing the new charges with Discovery Island. Outfitters has been changed to open up a larger/wider store called Riverside Depot. And they filled all the merchandise in Is,and mercantile with Outfitters. I loved how they kept with the theming of the two stores. And I love how the Depot is like a dark blue – my favorite color! There is also a huge glass mural behind the register. Very nice! And I like how they changed the register setup to be more similar to the stores in Disneyland.
After taking some pictures of the Tree of Life, we met up with Ricky and headed to Africa!
The park was still in the process of closing for the night and I got a kick out of seeing all the semi frustrated cast members who didn’t realize there was an event that rented out Africa for the night. You could practically hear them say “why aren’t these people LEAVING?!?” Haha. (I could really relate, been there!)
The first part of the night would be a vip showing of Festival of the Lion King so we tried to stick around the entrance of that so we’d get a good spot. Right before they allowed us to move in, our friend Kelsey found us again!
Everyone started filtering in so we did too. It was a total surprise when we looked around and realized we somehow were the very last people into the arena! So much for good seats! We ended up getting a good spot, right in front of an alumni group from the 80s. They kept chanting “retro” or “vintage” and were such a rowdy bunch, it was hilarious!
They had is wilderness guy as the emcee and he was pretty funny. He told some dirty jokes which I was surprised about!
Right away he did the drawing for the prizes from the packet. Elly and I worked all afternoon on it and so we were really nervous about if we’d get called! I was really surprised at how many people got prizes. I’d say at least 15 people were picked! They all got water bottles a shad to go into the middle of the arena to accept them. I was actually glad not to be picked! Haha
We did notice that most of the winners were from the older generation of the CP. Marcie to,d me that here wasn’t anyone from the very first program in 1981 attending, but there was one person from the 1982 program. He was the one to win the grand prize.
Next up was the drumming group that sometimes plays in Africa. I’m always surprised how good they can dance. Lot of hip shaking hahah
They played for a little bit then pulled audience members for a dance along. It was pretty fun, but it would have been more fun to be a participant.
Just when I started getting worried that this was the extend of the event, they finally announced that the Festival of the Lion King was about to begin! Yay!
After the Festival of the Lion king, they announced that there were be tons of food, special character meet and greets of King Louie, Balo, and Rafiki. We all agreed we were ok missing that since we see them all the time at Dak!
There was also free henna tattoo artists and also a fortune teller.
We came out and immediately got in the food line. The snacks were so good! There were little corn dogs, cheeseburger flavored wraps, and WHOLE soft pretzels with melted cheese dip! Yum!!
We got all the way through the line and saw the pretzels were out. And we literally didn’t move until the brought more out. Haha the line was so long, but really, we were doing them a credit because the best part was missing!
They must have had them cranking, because within a minute, they brought 50 more pretzels out.
We sat down and ate our snacks. So good!
Then we took some Dak pack pictures in our new shirts!
The dancing was getting pretty good, but Kelsey and I wanted to get a drink from the bar first. I ordered a Dirty Shirley (yum!)
We made our way to he dance floor and I took one sip of my drink. The bartender had floated the alcohol instead of mixing it and the second it hit my throat, I knew there’d be issues.
I have super reactive airwaves and tend to choke on liquids all the time. I have taken to warning new friends since its been happening so frequently. I’ll slightly choke on something and then my throat will close so forcefully that I sit there, trying to cough and breath for like a minute or so as tears are streaming and I feel like I’m dying.
Well this happens right there, in the middle of ten Africa dance floor. I start really choking. And I still have a good mouthful of drink in my mouth. And I’m trying to figure out, should I spit it back into my drink, should I spit it out onto the ground? I was in the midd,e of the floor and my bright hair draws some attention and I was feeling so embarrassed.
I’m trying to cough and swallow without opening my mouth and all I’m doing in a circular motion of accidental swallowing, choking more, coughing more.
Ok, this went on for longer than a minute. Keys,eye was getting nervous, Elly was getting nervous, I thought I was dying. Oh my god.
Finally, Elly kind of screamed “Caroline!” Which distracted me enough to just force all the liquid down my super tight throat (still going the wrong way down) and then I had to go to the bathroom to hack a lung for a good 10 minutes. My face was all red from not breathing and also embarrassment and my makeup was ruined from all the forced tears from coughing so hard.
Ugh literally can’t take me anywhere.
I came back to the dance floor, trying to be casual again. My friends were still embarrassed to be seen with me. But they were able to do a giant selfie with everyone! So we strategically placed ourself near the stage so we could be in the front haha
Ok, this is such a cool photo! But let me tell you how sweaty everyone was standing for for 5 minutes, so close to everyone. Haha
We danced, we eat some Rice Krispies we found and Lesley hooked us up again by finding a guy handing out the cool buttons!
We did a lap and it was so funny – we found this long line in the back of Africa and we were like “oh cool, what’s here?!’ So we just got in line. We finally asked what people were waiting for, and everyone screams “the exit!!” Hahah the longest line here was to leave!
By then, Kelsey and Ricky had to leave. Good thing, because it started pouring and the DJ had to go away and all the characters had to go in.
They opened up Tusker House which I was thankful so we didn’t get drenched. Plus I’ve never been inside there, so it was fun to explore!
We sat down and met some really nice girls who I’ve been Facebook friends with but never met. So nice!
And then we were totally surprised when the characters came inside! So instead of waiting in a giant line, we just met them right away!
Once it stopped raining,around 11:30 we were ready to leave. We headed back to Rafiki’s train and saw they were separating people in several lines. Contemporary, Coronado, and Main Entrance. Instead of allowing us to just walking through to the front, we had to go backstage, on a Transstar to bring us to the front. They separated us into groups of 50 and we had to wait for half an hour for the bus to go. We were standing, and it was so packed! All I could think was how this looked exactly like the Transstar bus whenever Dak was open late.
It took forever! We had to go all the way around backstage, past DaK Lodge, then down the road until we could do a uturn and head all the way back through the main entrance and around all the Dak parking. Ugh!
The girl next to us got really sick and was pressing her face against the window and standing between some strangers legs. She must have been really desperate because you know how gross those windows are!
We had to cross two parking lots to get to our car and then we were finally on our way home! Elly and I agreed this was the worst part of the weekend. It took us more than an hour and a half just to leave/get out of the park!
But, this whole day as been amazing! I can’t believe how perfectly everything worked out and how great the whole weekend has been!
We didn’t go to bed until after 1:30 in the morning. Hopefully we are sleeping in tomorrow!