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The Quietly Epic Side of Animal Kingdom

In January, James and I were most looking forward to spending an entire day in Animal Kingdom. The park was open until 8; we had nowhere else we had to be and it was going to be awesome.

(It was especially awesome when Amanda from Nerds in Wonderland caught up with us; it was not especially awesome when she got stung by a bee. This is REAL nature, people!)

About midday, the three of us took a leisurely break at the new Dawa Bar, listening to the sounds of Burudika in Harambe. (I love live music!) Two safari amber ales later, we decided to catch the last bit of light in the park and walk toward Asia. But, being us, we got a little sidetracked. There’s a lush, tree-filled walk to Asia with amazing views of the Tree of Life and, almost directly between the two lands, a few steps leading to a landing with chairs and tables and one of the most remarkable views of the center of the park.

Rest Stop in Animal Kingdom January 2014

It was early evening so the park was getting quieter but even so, the three of us had the landing to ourselves. Snapping pictures and sipping our drinks, I remember thinking how amazing it was — to be in this lovely spot with two lovely people in the middle of a theme park and feel completely peaceful. I’m sure “peaceful” isn’t a word a lot of people use when they visit theme parks and maybe that’s because when they don’t visit as much as repeat guests do, they don’t stumble upon these still moments. But they exist.

Rest Stop in Animal Kingdom on the official map

So the next time you need to regroup and remember that you are on vacation — away from the stresses and monotony of every day life — I suggest you find this secluded nook. A little peace and quiet, and some of the best photo opportunities in the park. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Rest Stop in Animal Kingdom January 2014 - 2

A Wild Animal Kingdom Inspired Shopping Guide

It’s been MONTHS and MONTHS since I’ve brought you a shopping guide and I can’t leave you stranded — especially when shopping is concerned. So because of THP’s Animal Kingdom Appreciation month, I thought it would be the perfect time to work on one of these again.

Here’s a little collection of some items that may be perfect for your next trip, give you that DAK feeling at home, or lead you toward that gold-star gift for the Animal Kingdom enthusiast in your life!

Enjoy (and happy shopping!)

Animal Kingdom Inspired Shopping Guide

I Dig It Necklace (Modcloth, $11) You certainly can’t go diggin in Dinoland without it.

Gazelle Zipped Pouch (Saturday, $30) There’s a nice variety of Gazelle merchandise at Kate Spade Saturday’s store + I am in love with it all. If you aren’t in the market for a pouch, there’s a scarf, an iPod case, and even shorts!

Giraffe Wall Hook (Anthropologie, $38.00) Oh my gosh. If you are like my parents and have an Animal Kingdom themed bathroom (true story), this is a total must. There’s also an elephant option!

My Neck of the Woods T-shirt (Modcloth, $24.99) A giraffe wearing a safari hat? I don’t think this shirt could be any more perfect.

Ellie Creamer (Anthropologie, $16) A must for my table, your table, and your friend’s table, right? I’m squealing over the cuteness!

Animal Placemats (Anthropologie, $12.99) Keep the kids (and  maybe the big kids) busy with these yet-to-be colored placemats. I’m a huge fan of Eric Carle’s work so this looks like a great buy. (Brown Bear Brown Bear was the first book I could read outloud!)

In the Wildlife Flats (Modcloth, $60) Not sure how comfortable these would be for the parks, but I’d love to wear them for a fancy dinner at the Lodge. Aren’t they adorable?

Pack Rack (Paper Source, $24) Quite possibly the cutest way to hang your keys or your jewelry. It also reminds me of decor in Chester and Hester’s gift shop.

Have you scouted out any fun Animal Kingdom-esque items in stores lately? Be sure to share below!
You can’t keep good shopping to yourself!

Becky @ Disney in your DayApril 15, 2014 - 2:40 pm

Tag! You’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award! Check it out here:

Muppet Monday: Food for Song

Did you have a good weekend?

We had warm weather, good books to read, and yummy dessert to eat (apple turnovers with ice cream!). If you are a dessert fiend like me, you know how a delectable, awe-inspiring snack would make you sing a song or put you into a coma. One or the other. Great snacks (cupcakes, Krispy Kremes) were mentioned in my favorite song from Muppets Most Wanted — “I’ll Get You What You Want.” Who can say no to a frog that will give you a unicorn, a satin pillow, AND a little cupcake? Um, hello. He is a prize! He is a gem! And outside of the scene in the movie, fill in the blank with anything you want FRO YO, APPLE PIE, ANOTHER MUPPET MOVIE and the song is just about perfect for every day listening!


Let’s talk about Dr. Teeth. This cool dude and the Electric Mayhem Band need more to do in the next Muppet venture whether it be movie, TV film, or variety show. I need more of their jams! More of their passion because they are freaking great to listen to. And like me, Dr. Teeth likes his dessert. Like any musician, he uses this kind of inspiration in his music. Here’s a product of that. A song about cheesecake from Season Two of The Muppet Show:

Food (like Beaker) is just never safe with these Muppets. AND WHO CAN BLAME THEM?

Here’s hoping you have a sugar rush to kick off your week! Happy Muppet Monday!

Happy Reads (+ Recap) of the Week: 4/11/2014

Did you have a fantastic week??

I hope so! It’s been a great one at This Happy Place Blog + elsewhere too! The fine folks at Enchanted Tiki Talk invited me to chat Muppet attractions and it was so fun! Be sure to check out the episode. I love their podcast; they seriously get the best guest stars. (No, I’m not talking about myself.)

And now for my favorite weekend tradition, great links to read on your downtime!

More and more sneak peeks of the Mine Train are making their way online; Disney Parks Blog posted a look at the dwarfs!

Zannaland brings us information on the Muppet Scavenger Hunt currently taking place in Epcot!

I love music mixes + Any Happy Little Thoughts put one together inspired by the Flower + Garden Festival!

→ The most IMPORTANT article you will read about Muppets Most Wanted. Those fancy tricks were Puppeteering + not CGI. Get all the info at ToughPigs.

Background music completes my week. The Disney Hipsters featured the International Gateway tunes from Epcot!

I can’t get over the gorgeous views that Emma from Pinch of Pixie Dust experienced resort club level at the Contemporary!

KILL REFURB MARRY: Animal Kingdom Drinks happened this week! Thanks to everyone who joined in! Check out all the fun posts here!

This week on the blog:

Have a happy weekend, friends! Thanks for stopping in this week!

Yakking about DAK with Safari Mike

It’s impossible to visit the Animal Kingdom or even think about the Animal Kingdom without JAMBO EVERYONE popping up in my head. Brothers Dave and Mike (a.k.a. Safari Mike) run the only website + blog dedicated to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, keeping up with news, writing features, and also spearheading their own (brilliant) Animal Kingdom podcast called Radio Harambe. I’m so thrilled to have Safari Mike on the blog today as we discuss all things DAK, even the tougher subjects — like why some guests just don’t like it.


Jambo Everyone: your stop for all information on Disney

Yay, Mike! So excited to have chat with you on This Happy Place Blog today, as part of my annual Animal Kingdom Appreciation month. Ever since I heard you on a BE OUR GUEST PODCAST episode back in the day, you have been my go-to source for all things Animal Kingdom. So let’s start with the basics. Why did you decide to start a website & blog dedicated to Animal Kingdom?

Well, first of all, it wasn’t just me but my brother, Dave and myself. In 2007, we started a blog called Mouse Extra. It was Dave who first started the idea of a site dedicated strictly to the Animal Kingdom and the Lodge. The old blog which was your basic news, reviews and editorials on Disney at large had kind of run its course. And we both felt that the Animal Kingdom got the short stick by many of the hardcore Disney fans. The whole “half day park” nonsense. But it was my favorite park and one of Dave’s as well. So we decided to show people why we love it so much. And our podcast, Radio Harambe, just grew out of that.

But for me personally, I had been a Disney fan since forever. My parents took me in 1972 (no I am not old enough to remember that trip, thank you) and we went every other year or so. So I was a big big fan. As I got older, I also became very involved in conservation and environmental awareness. Because of those interests, I started as a docent at the Bronx Zoo in 1990 and did that for 18 years. I always thought that Disney would do great things if they got into the “zoo business.” So when, I heard they were doing that, I wanted to see it. In the fall of 1998, I got married and went to Disney for my honeymoon (obviously) and Brooke and I fell in love with the place.

I love your enthusiasm for the park so much because I think out of all the parks Animal Kingdom gets the most flack. Why do you think it’s so misunderstood?

I think it’s only misunderstood by some really. It has consistently beaten Hollywood Studios for attendance the last couple years, even though DHS has Star Wars Weekends and Osborn Family Lights to draw big crowds for those special events. The problem I think is the Touring Plans mentality of some park goers. They gravitate towards the Step 1 E ticket, proceed to Step 2 for D ticket, etc. idea of theme park travel. And Animal Kingdom is really not geared for that. It’s a park to linger over, to meander through, to soak in. To me, in that way, it’s very much like World Showcase. Sure there are some rides, but the park is about the details. No other park has the detailed theming that Animal Kingdom does. No other park is as unified in its theme either. There is no, as far as I can tell, shoe horning of attractions where they don’t belong, like Stitch and Monsters Inc Laugh Floor in Tomorrowland. And there’s no empty show buildings like Wonders of Life, or neutered attractions like the Animation Building. It all fits in so well.

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[…] A chat with Safari Mike from Jambo Everyone (it’s Animal Kingdom Appreciation Month!) […]

Q. G-SApril 13, 2014 - 2:25 am

Wow, thanks for this great interview!

I am currently reading ‘The Making of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park’ book, to learn more about a Disney Park I have yet to visit, and I think that I am most eager to experience. I would have always placed EPCOT at the top of that list, but I think the state it is in now has made me realise what a complete package DAK park is.

Thanks Mike and Estelle for this!