A Cars Inspired Road Trip, Part 4: Tucumcari, New Mexico to beyond Williams, AZ

There is an item on my bucket list that my family and I have partially completed, a drive from Chicago to Santa Monica along the famous Mother Road, Route 66.  Last Spring we drove half of the route on our Cars inspired trip to Disneyland…

IMG_0928We were only supposed to go about 500 miles today, but as you will discover when you read to the end we ended up going much further than planned…

We said goodbye to the Blue Swallow Hotel early, wanting to stop in Albuquerque for breakfast at the Famous Frontier Cafe across from the campus of the University of New Mexico.  

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Frontier Restaurant 

My husband grew up in Albuquerque and the owners of the Frontier, the Rainosek’s,  are family friends.   180sNo stop to Albuquerque is complete without a Frontier Cinnamon Roll, some homemade tortillas and my personal favorite, green chile stew.

 

We will save the 66 Diner, which serves American comfort food to hungry travelers of Route 66,66 diner 2

Route 66 Diner

in Albuquerque for another day whose chrome and stainless steel Streamline Moderne decor and 1950s-inspired waitresses uniforms serves as inspiration served as inspiration for Flos V-8 Diner in Carsland.

Our next stop was just across the New Mexico-Arizona border at Chief Yellowhorse Trading Post (which was closed).  

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It was easy to see what part of Cars and Carsland was inspired from this location…

At the same exit for Chief Yellow Horse, you will find 2 other locations that inspired both Cars and Carsland…3E76CE89-C137-4DEB-9BD4-F1ED7173DE88

 

Take a look at the cliffs and it is easy to picture this location in the movie right behind the Cozy Cone. And across the highway at the same exit you will find the inspiration for Fillmore’s Taste-In.

The Cars character, Fillmore is also based “unofficially” on an actual person, Bob Waldmire.

He is  “unofficially”  Fillmore because he refused to lend his name for the film.  Waldmire lived a hippie lifestyle, driving up and down Route 66 in his VW microbus (complete with a solar panel for supplemental power), and selling his intricate artwork. You can see his microbus at the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac.

Our next stop was in Holbrook, Arizona home of the Wigwam Motel…

My “boys” had a great time exploring all of the old cars parked around the motel.  Can you guess the how the Wigwam Motel inspired both the movie and Carsland?

Continuing down I-40/Route 66 we came to the exit for the Jack Rabbit Trading Post (which of course was closed) but we still had fun locating the next inspiration for Cars and Carsland…

We then continued on to Winslow, Arizona (Are you already singing along?)…

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While it is not an inspiration for Cars, Winslow is just one of those places you have to stop at for a photo opp… standing on the corner and singing!  We would drive another 90 miles to Williams, Arizona where we planned to spend the night…only to arrive and discover that I made reservations for the next week at the hotel and there was no room in the inn.  Oops…IMG_1028

 

Taking it all in stride we decided to head for the California boarder and spend the night in Kingman, Arizona in order to get an early start on our next day and arrive at Disneyland in time for the fireworks.  I am glad, I messed up the reservation because we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset that evening.

Stay tuned for Part 5:  Oatman, Arizona

 

Friday Five:  5 Tips for an Incredible Summer Trip to Walt Disney World

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Now that my school year has finally come to a close it is time to start enjoying the summer.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate summer than with a trip to Walt Disney World and this summer is going to be an Incredible one…

Summer at Walt Disney World

  • In the Magic Kingdom,  the Incredibles are going to take over the Tomorrowland Dance Party.
  • In Epcot, the Guardians of the Galaxy take over an out of this world themed concert with music from the movies!
  • In Animal Kingdom, Donald is taking over Dinoland for a Dino-Bash.  And…
  • In Disney Hollywood Studios, the much anticipated Toy Story Land opens on June 30 where guests get to play big and shrink to the size of a toy in Andy’s backyard.

With summer comes some not so magical parts of a summer vacation at Walt Disney World…crowds, rain and heat. Here are Friday’s Top 5 Ways to Make Sure that Your Summer at Walt Disney World is Incredible…

1.  Be Prepared for the Mr. Sun

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Summer humidity and heat in June, July, August, and even into September is no joke and can quickly ruin a trip to Walt Disney World if you’re not prepared.

When packing for your summer trip to Walt Disney World make sure to include

  • Sunscreen
  • Hats
  • Sunglasses
  • Aloe Vera

3 frog towelsAnd wear quick dry shirts and shorts. Even if you don’t actively plan on getting wet by going on water rides, these quick-dry materials are nice because they also don’t get soaked with sweat. They’re more breathable, light, and airy, keeping you cool.

I am also a huge fan of Frogg Cooling Towels.  These lightweight and inexpensive towels are easily found at Walmart and will keep you cool for hours. “This towel can absorb eight times its weight in water providing longer evaporation times than conventional towels. An internal polyester mesh IMG_0494reinforcing material allows it to dry you off, while it cools you down. Simply moisten the towel, wring out excess, and it starts working immediately.”

And if you need to cool off, make sure that you hit the water rides like Splash Mountain and Kali River Rapids.  Don’t forget that there are splash pads in Epcot, Disney Springs, and Magic Kingdom…whose says only kids can run through the sprinklers?

2.  Dance in the Rain

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Florida’s rainy season starts with summer with the average rainfall from June to September being 6 to 9 inches EACH month.  The rains are usually limited to afternoon downpours during the summer months, so expect a storm each afternoon. These afternoon storms are commonly referred to as “Nature’s FastPass” and once it begins to rain the lines will begin to clear out and people will rush out of the parks.  When this happens, put on a poncho, brave the rain and enjoy the rest of your day with low crowd levels. Just remember to pack extra shoes, socks and rain ponchos.

3. Hydrate

Staying hydrated is so important especially during the hot summer, no one wants to faint6(1) while in line!  Many people like to carry a water bottle along with them (just remember not to bring glass)  and refill them throughout the day. An aluminum water bottle is a great choice because it keeps the water cold and the bottle does not sweat, so I can put it in your purse or backpack and not be afraid of what it will ruin.  I however prefer to go as bagless and hands free as possible, plus I don’t want to waste a precious snack credit on a bottle of water.  Instead, any quick service location will happily provide you with a free glass of ice water for the asking. And if you are dining, refill your cup before you leave. And if you are dining, make sure to ask for a glass of water along with your other beverage and drink up!

4. Manage Time

7The old saying, early to bed and early to rise makes a family happy, healthy, and wise. I always advise clients that a Disney vacation is NOT a sleep in kind of vacation.   For those families who can answer their wake-up call and get to the parks before opening, they will be able to enjoy some of the theme park’s best attractions with little to no wait. Your family can take advantage of this by arriving early and enjoying the most popular attractions before the heat of the day creeps into the theme parks. You will be amazed at what you can enjoy and accomplish before 1:00 pm, while everyone else is slowly making their way to the parks.

Take advantage of Extra Magic Hours, but only if you have the park hopper option. This will allow you extra time in the parks with lower crowd levels.  Then when the crowd builds hop over to a different park.

Another way to manage your time is to make sure that you have made the best use of your FastPass+ selections.  Don’t waste them when when the crowds are lower in the morning. I like to begin booking FP+ around 10:30. Also, make sure that you have made your ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations) at the 180 day mark.  If you are doing a quick service meal, try to avoid peak dining times 11 am to 1 pm and 5 pm to 7 pm.

If you are staying on property AND have a PARK HOPPER TICKET,  I recommend taking advantage to the Extra Magic Hours and then hop to a different park when the crowd level builds.  By staying at a Disney Resort hotel access to either extra magic hours in the morning or evening each day of your trip.  Take advantage of the extra time in the parks during the coolest time of the day.

5. Take a Break

The struggle is real and you will be tempted to try to tour until you drop trying to do it all, but I GUARANTEE that this will not be your only Disney vacation.  So take a break. When the crowds and the temperatures rise in the afternoon, this is the perfect time to take in a few shows like the Festival of the Lion King, Nemo, Frozen Forever, Mickey’s Philharmagic (my personal favorite), American Adventure in Epcot, Turtle Talk with Crush, Pixar Shorts, or the Adventures of the Little Mermaid Show.  Not only do you get out of the sun but you also get a chance to sit down and relax. If you time it right you will not have to stand in line either. Don’t worry about a FastPass+, the theaters are huge and normally there are lots of open seats.

My best suggestion is at 1 pm when the crowd is building and those that sleep in are just arriving are just arriving, LEAVE the park. That’s right I told you to leave the park and head back to your resort.  All of the Disney resorts have fabulous pools and while everyone else is in the park you have them to yourself. And Disney Cast Members are there to entertain the kids, while you get to sit back and enjoy an adult beverage better is that you can Or even better, take a little siesta in your room and recharge.  Around 6 pm, return to the parks and have dinner, afterwards enjoy the evening.  

I know that for many families,  summer is the only opportunity that they have for a Disney vacation and that’s okay. Remember to keep a positive attitude, be flexible and use these tips and your family will avoid the heat, the largest crowds, and the longest wait times, which will make your family happy.  And you will be happy because you just maximized your day by outsmarting other guests.

I am full of tips to make your first or next Disney vacation the most magical ever, just contact me today and let’s get planning.  Remember all of my services are FREE when you book your vacation with me.

Bonus Tip:  Cool down with some delectable frozen delights.

There are plenty of ice-cold treats that’ll keep you cooler longer than a melty cone of ice cream. Here are a few of my favorites…

  • Lefou’s Brew (Gaston’s Tavern)-Magic Kingdom, Fantasyland
  • Raspberry Lemonade Slush (Cheshire Cafe)-Magic Kingdom, Fantasyland
  • Night Blossom (Pongu Pongu)-Animal Kingdom, Pandora
  • Frozen Chai (Royal Anandapur Tea Company)-Animal Kingdom, Tree of Life
  • Kaki-Gori  (Kabuki Cafe)-Epcot, Japanese Pavilion
  • Frozen Elephant of Coke Slushie (Refreshment Outpost)-Epcot, World Showcase

Tuesday’s on the Run:  June Run Recap

It’s Tuesday, so it is time for Tuesday’s on the Run with Patty, Erika and Marsha

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Where has June gone? I really thought I would be farther along in my training to complete a full marathon in January 2019, but just like my current mental state my body seems to be having its’ own midlife crisis…

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Last month I started having some serious hip issues (to the point it was difficult to walk) and decided it was time to implement the R and I in RICE…Rest & Ice and scale back my training (both my core fitness classes and running).  I gave it 4 VERY LONG weeks and with no improvement, I decided to cry “uncle” and go for the MRI that the chiropractor was encouraging me to do. Can you say sticker shock? At the same time, I just happen to come across a Facebook Ad…

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Airrosti Link

Intrigued, I did some research and made the decision (my insurance would cover all but the co-pay) to schedule a consultation with our local Airrosti provider, Dr. Ramos.  After all, what had I to lose at this point (other than more training time) and maybe if this worked I would save $1200 on that MRI. At my consultation, Dr. Ramos spent a good while just asking questions and then did a little probing of the muscle structures around my hip. I was completely impressed with the depth of the assessment, his verdict…over taxed IT-band at the hip cause my weak rear end muscles, yep my  almost 50 year old butt is out of shape.  He then went over a treatment plan and felt that he could get me to pain free in about 4-5 visits. Seriously, that seemed to good to be true, but left with me with enough optimism to postpone the MRI and this…

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Lovely!  The Airrosti method delivers very specific treatment to the soft tissues (the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue throughout the body and around the joints) by manually repairing the tissue through basically what I would describe as a deep tissue massage, but at very specific points (as you can tell on my legs).  Then after 30 minutes of tissue work, it is on to Physical Therapy for another 30 minutes to teach me exercises and stretches to build up strength in the muscles to improve and prevent future issues. After the first 3 visits, I was very discouraged because I was not feeling like there was much improvement (and a lot more pain in other places), but I was determined to last the 5 treatments out.  Something magical happened between visits 4 and 5…

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And no I do not mean Half Marathon #18, the Slacker Half. Yes, that is right I completed a half marathon at a pace that would keep me ahead of those runDisney balloon ladies.  A few days after treatment #4, I started noticing less and less pain and then suddenly, NO PAIN. Almost in total disbelief, I decided that I would give the hip the ultimate test, 13.1 miles, since the half marathon that I had scheduled for the weekend was walker friendly (don’t worry, I was in contact with Dr. Ramos and he knew what I was doing).  During the race I had hip pain but surprisingly the day after, there was no pain (other than thighs who were REALLY sore from 13.1 miles downhill). A few days later, still hobbling from the downhill distance (but no hip pain), I returned excited for appointment #5 to report that I was still pain free in the hip despite my stubborness to complete a downhill half with little training and have Dr. Ramos repair any damage that my stubbornness may have caused.  I gingerly got on the table (did I mention how sore my thighs were) and I swear Dr. Ramos performed a miracle during that 30 minutes on the table because my thighs had found relief from the soreness and I could move a lot easier. More importantly though, he closed out the case on my hip as promised 4-5 visits to be pain free. I do have another appointment scheduled before my next half to go over taping of the IT band around the hip and then do a follow up treatment after the half.  I also have plans for him to do some treatments around the Achilles and shin, just for safe measure. As long as the insurance keeps paying, I will be scheduling a treatment before and after each long distance run of over 13 miles.

Slacker Half Marathon Link

Like I mentioned, I completed half #18, the Slacker Half Marathon, this past weekend.  I picked this half specifically back in March to get in distance training for my goal of a full marathon in January and because of its “walker friendly atmosphere.”  I knew by picking this event that if I had to, I could walk and it would be perfectly acceptable to do so, no rolling up the time mats and everyone leaving before I crossed the finish line (yes, that has happened to me).

The Slacker Half is 13.1 miles downhill from an elevation of over 10,500 feet at the start to about 8,500 feet at the finish from the Loveland Ski Basin to Georgetown, Colorado.  It has to be to the most beautiful half marathon I have completed, plus it was a great excuse to go home to Colorado for a long weekend. Kudos to the race organizers for a VERY WELL run event, super race atmosphere, great course, and fun bling.  

I was very happy with how I finished, just between you and me I ran (intervals) the first 6 miles near the 13 minute mile pacer (which had I continued the last half of the race would have been a huge PR for me), but as the hip started flaring and my body giving out due to lack of training (and yes the altitude), I had to walk the last 7 miles.

Now with my first major distance behind me in over 18 months, I am looking ahead (and crossing my fingers) with #midlifecrisisinprocess to continuing down the #roadtomyfirstmarathon.  Next up a special run on Friday…

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A Cars Inspired Road Trip, Part 3: Blue Swallow Hotel

There is an item on my bucket list that my family and I have partially completed, a drive from Chicago to Santa Monica along the famous Mother Road, Route 66.  Last Spring we drove half of the route on our Cars inspired trip to Disneyland…

Part 3: Overnight in Tucumcari, New Mexico

I know that it sounds really crazy that when you have a 16 hour drive in front of you to stop for the night only 2 hours down the road, but that is exactly what we did!  

Our first night was spent at the Blue Swallow Hotel in Tucumari, New Mexico…  

“The Blue Swallow has been serving travelers along the Mother Road since 1939, and today, our guests enjoy a pleasant reminder of what it was like to travel across the USA in the “good old days. From the beautifully restored rooms, to the distinctive attached garages, to the fabulous neon display each night, a stay at the Blue Swallow is a unique experience that will leave you rested, refreshed, and with wonderful new memories. Come take a step back to a simpler time, meet your neighbors from around the world, and relax under the glow of the neon lights in the historic courtyard of the Blue Swallow Motel.”

https://www.blueswallowmotel.com/history-2/

And like all stops on this road trip the Blue Swallow has a Cars connection…

The office for Sally’s Cozy Cone Hotel is modeled after the Blue Swallow Office.  And all of the neon used in both the movie and in Carland..look no further than inspiration from the Blue Swallow and Tucumcari.

So how was our stay?

Each of the 12 rooms at the Blue Swallow has been restored to represent a room at a motor court as it would have been in the 1940s and 50s.   We stayed in Room 14 and could not have been more pleased.

The room was comfortable and clean,but best of all was the room decor.  Every room at the Blue Swallow is different and features vintage lightning, period furniture and artwork. Don’t let the decor fool you…the bedding is 600 count thread, the mattresses are premium and the towels fluffy, and yes there is a modern flat screen television and free internet.

The bathroom featured original bath fixtures and tile work, which was beautiful. I am amazed how it has withstood the last almost 80 years.  

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There was even a working 1940s rotary dial telephone, that the #manchild was amazed with.

It was a beautiful night when we arrived, so we spent some time exploring the Blue Swallow courtyard and grounds, before finding a place to eat.  And of course being on the Mother Road we wanted to find someplace that fit the theme of our trip.

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Since 1956, Del’s Restaurant has been a destination break on Historic Route 66. The menu has a little bit of something for everyone including New Mexican favorites and Cowboy Grub. With it being Lent and a Friday, we had some great catfish!

Afterwards, we spent a little time driving down Route 66 through Tucumcari and trying to imagine what Route 66 was like in the 40s and 50s.  

Then it was sweet dreams and an early morning…

Next Stop:  Tucumcari, New Mexico to Williams, Arizona (504 miles)

Tammie’s Take Thursday:  Rivers of Light

Rivers of Light is a nighttime show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and is located in the park’s Discovery River lagoon surrounded by Asia, Dinoland, and Discovery Island.  The nighttime spectacular uses music, boats, floats, water screens fountains, and fire to showcase the wide and vast world of animals and nature. The show (including pre-show) lasts about 30 minutes and the stadium seats about 5,000 people per show.

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The show begins with actors? dancers? performers? moving throughout the stadium seating filled with guests toward boats that are similar to a Chinese Junk (this takes about 15 minutes).  I have to admit that I was a little confused as to what the story was and their purpose. Later I learned that these performers were shamans. (Apparently, I did not do my background research BEFORE I saw the show).   The show begins when the Shamans board the boat and begin conjuring up the forces of fire and water to reveal the incredible natural world we live in, which is projected on a huge water screen at the back of the lagoon set to a soundtrack. Lotus flower lantern floats join the boats, along with color changing floats in the shape of an owl, elephant, turtle and tiger.  Throughout the show water fountains and fire also help to move the show along.

Last fall, I was was fortunate to be able to see Rivers of Light and here is my take on Rivers of Light…

DISCLAIMER:  These are MY opinions!  I tell clients that you need to experience things yourself if you are interested, different strokes for different folks. So please see the show if you are interested and form your own opinions.

So what did I think?

Eh…it was enjoyable.

The show is visually mesmerizing and beautiful. Disney has done an excellent job with sound, light, fire, visual effects to offer a much needed evening experience in Animal Kingdom.  And I like that this make Animal Kingdom a full day park, wait no I don’t because that means more people. But…

I found the show to be slow and lacking any kind of storyline to move it along.  The show seemed all over the place and scenes that did not connect to each other. There is no grand finale, it just seems to end. I have to admit after about 10 minutes I found myself wishing I was riding Expedition Everest behind me. I can’t imagine how antsy a child could get, oh wait I can.  I was seated by several children under the age of 5 and they were done about 5 minutes into the preshow and the actual show really did not seem to interest them but for a couple of times (usually when the fire effects were in use).

There is no “Disney” in Rivers of Light.  Call me strange, but Disney has so many incredible animal stories that I would think somehow that they could incorporate the music and images from these movies.  I know Disney wants Animal Kingdom to be all about conservation and protecting the natural world, but come on you could use familiar animal characters to help tell the story.

There is  not much you might call “spectacular” in this nighttime spectacular beyond being visually beautiful.  Spectacular to me is something that keeps me on my seat and wanting more…cue Wishes in the Magic Kingdom.

So how do you plan to fit it in your day?

First, DON’T WASTE AN ADVANCED FASTPASS+ (made at 60 days) on the show.  Also, don’t use a FastPass+ while you are in Animal Kingdom unless it is the end of the day and nothing else is available.  There generally are 2 performances each evening and the Pandora being opened the days of the difficulty in getting to see the show are gone, most guests prefer to experience Pandora at night (you can do both with planning).  If you decide to go stand-by, the last performance of the day will be the least crowded. I recommend lining up standby 45-60 minutes prior to showtime during peak crowd times.

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The best way (and probably my favorite) is to get a Rivers of Light Dining Package,  I loved my meal at Tiffins!. It does not cost you any extra to get a FastPass+ along with your meal, but you must book the package as just eating at the restaurant does not get you a FastPass+. This is the safe choice to make sure that you have a seat for Rivers of Light.  And if you go this route, I would opt for the earlier showtime so that you can explore the bioluminescence of Pandora or jump in the standby line for Flight of Passage (if it was not an unreasonable wait time). If you do have a FastPass+ for Rivers of Light, I recommend being seated about 30 minutes prior to showtime.  There is a 15 minute pre-show and the area will go dim about this time.

Despite all of this I do think that Rivers of Light is worth seeing, at least once. And you can bring food and drinks in with you…so BEFORE YOU ARE SEATED pick up some cute Lotus Flower light-up food and beverage items sold at nearby stands and BECOME PART of the show.

Have you seen Rivers of Light? What are your thoughts? Please leave your thoughts, reactions and comments.

Need more tips and help planning your Disney or Universal Vacation?  Contact me today for a free, No-Obligation quote and let’s start planning.  Remember all of my services are complementary when you book your vacation with me!

A Cars Inspired Road Trip: Part 2

In Case you Missed Part 1:  LINK

There is an item on my bucket list that my family and I have partially completed, a drive from Chicago to Santa Monica along the famous Mother Road, Route 66.  Last Spring we drove half of the route on our Cars inspired trip to Disneyland…

Adrian, Texas to Tucumcari, New Mexico

Leaving the Cadillac Ranch we got back onto I-40 (or the highway that killed Route 66) and travel about 40 miles west to a little town called Adrian, the next stop on our Cars inspired road trip.  

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Adrian, Texas is the official midpoint of Route 66, if you travel 1,139 miles in either direction you will find either the start or the end of Route 66 (Chicago or Santa Monica).  

Midpoint Diner Link:  https://www.facebook.com/MidpointCafe/

Adrian is home to the Midpoint Café which at one time was run by Fran Houser, the woman who inspired the character Flo in Cars, and sisters Mary Lou and Christina Mendez who served the famous “ugly crust pies” and inspired the twin-sister Cars, Tia and Mia. Fran has since sold the Midpoint Café, but you can still get a taste of those ugly pies which are also sold at Flo’s Diner in Carsland.  

When we arrived the café was not open, but we did get a few pictures as the sun was setting.  A man in pick up truck noticed us taking pictures and came to greet us. He was delighted to tell use the story of the diner and of Fran, he even gave us a couple of postcards. Now that the cafe has changed owners, it is open more often and we are hoping to take a trip soon for the famous Ugly Crust pies and burgers!

Another 25 miles west takes us to the deserted town of Glenrio, Texas which straddles the Texas-New Mexico Border. Glenrio is home to the abandoned Little Juarez Diner which in Cars is transformed into the Racing Museum and Doc Hudson Internal Combustion (a wing of Flo’s Diner used for inside seating) in Carsland.  

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Continuing our road trip across the New Mexico stateline we find the town of Tucumari and Tucumcari Mountain.  The mountain, is actually a plateau that can be seen for miles around and local high-school students repaint the town’s initial on the side of the mountain each year.

The mountain shaped like a radiator cap that overlooks Radiator Springs and is prominently seen in the background of Radiator Racers was inspired by Tucumcari Mountain.  Our final stop of the day is only 2 hours from home, but was well worth the overnight stay…

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Tammie’s Take Thursday:  When is the Best Time to Ride Kilimanjaro Safari?

kiloLions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!  Okay maybe not bears and you can see the tigers in Asia, but if you get lucky you will see some lions.

Disney Kilimanjaro Safari is an exceptionally realistic imitation of an actual African photo safari where you and 35 of your closest new friends will aboard an open safari vehicle and be sent off into a simulated African Savannah habitat  Where you might get lucky and see…

Antelopes, Baboons, Black rhinos, Cheetahs, Crocodiles, Elephants, Flamingos, Gazelles, Giraffes, Hippopotamus, Hyenas, Lions, Okapis, Ostrichs, Warthogs, White rhinos, Wildebeests, Wild dogs and Zebras

Recently I was helping out a client in planning her itinerary and a question came up when was the best time to take a safari.  She had read that it was best to ride first thing in the morning. While I tend to agree that morning is the best, the way that Disney Imagineers have created the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction, anytime is a good time (except for in the middle of the day in the summer and I am just like the animals, avoiding the heat).

Through the careful placement of salt licks, fodder like hay and grass, and fresh water supplies, the animals are encouraged to stay close to the roads so that you can see them when you ride by in the safari vehicle. Additionally, Disney uses air conditioned rocks and other temperature “tricks” to coax the animals to stay within view of the guests on the safari ride.

Disney uses water features, moats, electric fences, and natural barriers to keep the animals within their proper areas. Additionally, cattle guards, wires, and chains are placed on the ground to prevent the animals from crossing into other areas. And of course all of this is hidden from guests.

I have ridden the Kilimanjaro different times of the day on every trip and each time the safari is different.  Recently, I rode late on a afternoon in November near Sunset and had probably the best safari ride I have ever had. I saw several animals that I had never seen before including the hyenas and the black rhino.  The animals were all quite active, in complete view and close to the safari vehicle.

On my next trip this fall, I am planning to experience the safari at night. Disney Imagineers have installed a baseball stadium–size wall of graphics displays at the far end of the tour’s savanna grasslands. When turned on late in the day, the displays are programmed to simulate the dusk of a setting sun for hours on end. It provides theme park guests enough light to see those animals still roaming around. Disney also spent a year acclimating the existing animals and new nocturnal species to life at Disney.  I understand the actual safari pace is slower at nighttime and many animals are more active, while it is almost impossible to see other animals.

There are a few things that you need to know before you take off on your safari…

  • If you are taking photos, keep in mind that the vehicle does not always stop.  Be prepared to snap at anytime. Most stops are rolling stops. Drivers do their best to stop in places where big animals can be spotted.
  • You can expect long lines beginning 30 minutes after park opening until mid afternoon.
  • Sitting near the front of the safari truck will lessen the bumping that you feel as you travel. Sitting near the back of the truck will make the ride feel more bumpy and jumpy.
  • The ride can be rough and some people get scared crossing an “old bridge” that seems to collapse under your truck.
  • The ride lasts for about 20 minutes.
  • Each safari jeep hold 36 passengers with up to 5 people across and there are not seat belts.
  • Try to sit on the left side of the vehicle (side farthest when you board your jeep) since most of the animal sanctuaries are located on that side.

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I guarantee that no safari ride will be the same.  No matter matter what time of day, rest assured that it will be an “Hakuna Mata” adventure, sit back and enjoy the safari.  And when you get off you will find yourself at the start of the Pangani Forest Trail,make sure that you explore this trail for closer looks at some the animals you saw on the safari as well as few new ones.

Bonus Fun Facts

  • Kilimanjaro Safari is 110 acres and It is the largest attraction in all of the Disney parks with regard to area covered. The entire Magic Kingdom theme park is 107 acres and could fit into just this one attraction in Animal Kingdom.
  • Disney acquired all animals from other zoos and reputable breeders instead of taking them from the wild.
  • Look closely at the flamingo island during the safari, take note of the island’s shape for a Hidden Mickey.
  • The elephants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom produce a ton of poop every single day which Disney even recycles and uses as fertilizer on the grounds across the Disney property.
  • Each evening the animals are called into their enclosures for the night by audio cues which include drums, whistles, horns, bells, and duck calls!