Goddess In The Garden – Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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Goddess In The Garden – Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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Red Stuff from Fort Myers Beach, Florida

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RED Stuff from Fort Myers Beach
as always, click the photos to see them bigger

When my buddy “Angel Wings” came into town a few weeks ago, it was my honor and privilege to pick her up from the airport and run her over to Sanibel Island, where she would spend a few whirlwind days making merry with some of her homegirls (party already in progress). But before we made the perilous crossing (aka, crossed the causeway to the island), AW wanted to stop off in Fort Myers Beach to get some shrimp. When we arrived at the Beach Seafood Market, I realized there was a bunch of RED STUFF in the form of signage, just waiting for me to immortalize it for RUBY TUESDAY posterity.

Here’s a handy reference, in case you want to stop for some shrimp, too. The address, as you can see, is 1101 Shrimp Boat Land. You take a left off Old San Carlos Blvd onto Main Street, which is just before the bridge that goes over to Estero, and then take a right onto Shrimp Boat Lane. They do pack the shrimp to travel. They roll the packages in layers of newspaper and you can buy a waterproof thermal-type little satchel to put ’em in. AW already had one of those, but she was in such a rush packing to get outta Dodge, she forgot it, so she had to buy another. Well, next time she comes, she can take home TWO packages of Gulf shrimp!

So far, so good with our RED signs. Here’s one more. What’s wrong with this picture? I think it’s a pretty sad state of affairs when the sign maker does not know that “other” should be plural, and that “expense” is spelled with an “s”, not a “c”. Moreover, it would appear that the owners of the Beach Seafood Market don’t know how to spell “expense” either. If they knew how, they would not have put up the sign. Oh, and it gets better. There are MULTIPLE signs, all over the parking lot, all misspelled.

That’s my Ruby Tuesday for this week – RED Signs from Fort Myers Beach. I think I would like to go back there and just poke around taking photos for a while. It was really pretty down there, and there were a few shrimp boats on the water out in back of the Market building. I’ll have to figure out what time they are all in port, and go take photos of the whole fleet of shrimp boats (anyone else hear the voice of Forrest Gump in their heads – “But, Captain Day-un…..” – when they hear the phrase “shrimp boats”?).

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7 Things To Do In Walt Disney World On Halloween (except THAT!)

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7 Things To Do In Walt Disney World On Halloween (except THAT!)


A few days ago, I posted Chez Bro’s sad tale of woe – What do you do when Disney’s Halloween party event is “all sold out”?. Chez Bro, SIL and Nieceling have been attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) on October 31st for several years, but this year they were not able to get tickets.

I’ve been scouring the internet since I heard, trying to come up with a list of things that they could try that would be amusing and fun, yet would not cost them the $150 per ticket that some evil Cretins sellers on eBay are asking. I did a lot of my research on AllEars.net and I also read posts on a few message boards and went through my own trip reports from years past. Here’s what I’ve come up with! Don’t forget – click the photos to be taken to larger versions of them for more detail.
1. TOUR THE RESORTS

One year that I was in the World during Halloween, I met someone for brunch at the Polynesian and found that there was a pumpkin carving contest going on at that resort! Apparently, the contest was open to both Cast Members and Guests. The resulting works of art were spread out on tables in the lobby and numbered. Ballots were provided, and anyone walking by could fill one out and drop it in the box. I voted for Captain Jack Sparrow!

When I arrived back at my own resort – I was staying at Port Orleans French Quarter that year – I found a flyer had been dropped on my desk in my room, announcing that there would be a costume parade and Trick or Treating around the resort that evening, followed by spooky stories and snacks around a campfire on Ol’ Man Island (there was a small fee for a smores kit).

I think probably most of the on-site Disney resorts are going to be planning similar activities for Halloween night. If you’re staying at a Disney resort, call the front desk and find out what sort of Halloween activities are scheduled. Ask which resorts are doing pumpkin-carving contests while you have them on the phone. You can then plan your evening around resort-hopping to see all the pumpkins, and even make reservations at one of the resort restaurants for dinner.

2. TAKE A STROLL DOWN THE BOARDWALK
Here’s a photo I snapped around Halloween one year. You know how they say “Welcome Home!” when you check into a Disney Vacation Club resort? Well I think some people take that VERY literally! They come prepared to decorate their balconies for Halloween. While I cannot picture myself stashing Halloween decorations in my luggage, to each their own. I know that a lot of people DO come prepared to decorate their doors and their windows, when it isn’t even Halloween. Far be it for me to squelch the spirit of Disney!

The Boardwalk is a fun place on a normal night. There’s a guy who does magic shows, a guy who plays a piano that he drives around on a bicycle (!), and a bunch of other “streetmosphere” type performers roaming around. You can rent a surrey – a bicycle built for four – and make a couple of loops around the lake. Of course, there are also dining and shopping opportunities, in addition to the fun. I think a pleasant evening can be had. And if you’re standing in the right spot, you might be able to see the fireworks from EPCOT at 9:00 PM. Speaking of fireworks…

3. THE VIEW FROM THE POLY BEACH
One year, my friends and I met up for an evening of fun at the Polynesian. First we had a few cocktails at the Tambu Lounge. We then proceeded to Ohana, where we had a delicious dinner and a few more cocktails. After dinner – nope, we were NOT done having cocktails! There’s a bar out by the pool, so we all trooped out there to enjoy the night in the company and camaraderie of friends. Well, lo and behold, it was a MNSSHP night over at the Magic Kingdom, and the Poly was piping in the music from the parade! As if that wasn’t enough – check out the view of the 360* fireworks from the Poly beach! We were so happy that we wandered out there; it was a real unexpected treat. Thanks to Coastal for use of the photo!

4. BOOK A FIREWORKS CRUISE
There are fireworks cruises that operate out of the Magic Kingdom Resorts (Wilderness Lodge, Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Floridian). You pay a fee, get aboard, and get out to the lake to watch the show. Music is piped into the boat. Call 407-WDW-PLAY or press the “Information” button on your WDW hotel room phone to find out the details and make reservations. I hear it looks lovely from the lake.

5. TAKE A “FREE FIREWORKS CRUISE”
This one is a little risky, because the timing might not go your way. I read in someone’s trip report that you can take a boat from The Wilderness Lodge resort over to the Magic Kingdom, and if you get on at just the right time, you will be halfway across the lake when the fireworks start at the Magic Kingdom! They recommended that you find out what time the fireworks start and get on the boat no sooner than 15 minutes before the fireworks are scheduled to start. The writer even said that the boat seemed to slow down as they approached the dock at the Magic Kingdom; it was like the captain was trying to give the Guests aboard the boat an opportunity to finish watching before they had to all troop off.

6. TRY DOWNTOWN DISNEY
Alas, Pleasure Island is closed now, so one can no longer depend upon the clubs there to provide some entertainment. But I did read, again in someone’s trip report, that in years past, there were streetmosphere performers at Downtown Disney, and Trick or Treat opportunities at the shops and restaurants. Performers in the past included a magician and a witch. This is another case where I would call first – use the 407-WDW-PLAY number, or use the “Information” button from your Disney resort room phone. There may even be information available at the front desk in your Disney hotel.

Disney Halloween Costumes are available on Amazon.com and other places on the internet.  They are also available in most of the shops at Walt Disney World – chiefly, pirate and princess costumes – but they are really expensive.  A couple of years back, I looked at a Princess Jasmine costume for Nieceling and all told – tiara, jewelry, shoes, wig, costume – it was over $100!!!!  So here’s what I would try.  If you don’t want to schlep a costume with you in your luggage, you can find out what the lead time is for an internet order and time your order to have it delivered to your resort in time for your arrival.  Even if it arrives a couple of days ahead of your own arrival, you can call the resort and let them know that the package is coming and they will hold it for you.

CLICK for Disney Halloween Costumes from Amazon.Com

7. TRY FORT WILDERNESS
Ft Wilderness has hay rides/carriage rides each evening, along with the camp fire and sing-along plus classic Disney movie. Bring hot dogs, marshmallows and sticks or buy a smores kit once you get there. I’ve read reports that on Halloween, the hay ride or carriage ride might be themed with the very spooky story of the headless horseman… I also happen to know that the rides are sold out on Halloween night for this year. Here comes that number again, just because you don’t want to trust what some chick said on her blog 😀 – you want to get real information from Disney themselves. Call 407-WDW-PLAY to find out specific details about the evening activities at Fort Wilderness.

OK – that’s it. That’s all I got. Among these 7 things, there has to be SOMETHING that appeals to Chez Bro and da fam. Personally, I’m laying money on the free fireworks cruise. If anyone can pull that off, it’s Chez Bro. You’ve never seen him in action. Trust me, he could sell a stereo to a deaf man! If anyone can get that boat to leave the dock at just the right time to catch the MNSSHP fireworks, it’s him. 😀

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The Scarlet Ibis at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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The Scarlet Ibis at Disney’s Animal Kingdom



This is the scarlet ibis (pronounced: EYE-bis; click photo to enlarge). A native of South America, the scarlet ibis is also found in Trinidad and Tobago, where it is one of the birds featured on the national coat of arms.

The ibis is a wading bird, and most of them here in Florida are white with a long curving red bill. The presence of the scarlet variety in the wild here in Florida does not necessarily mean migration occurred – as Dr. Jerry Jackson of Florida Gulf Coast University explains, scarlet ibis eggs were brought to Florida and fostered by resident white ibises.

The scarlet ibis pictured above was photographed among a flock of white ibises at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida on 31 October 2004.

RELATED POSTS:

– Readers may remember that I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Jerry Jackson speak during a sunset cruise on Rookery Bay (Naples, Florida) this past spring. I got lots of video with Dr. Jackson speaking in the background. CLICK HERE for the Rookery Bay series of posts.

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What do you do when Disney’s Halloween party event is "all sold out"?

© Copyright 2008 Tink *~*~*
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Disney’s Halloween party is “all sold out”!

Chez Bro (the one I lived with while waiting for my house in Florida to be built) likes to spend his birthday, which is very close to Halloween, in Walt Disney World each year. And for the past 5 or 6 years, he’s been attending “Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party” at the Magic Kingdom on or about October 31st. I’ve attended the party with them several times, and I enjoyed it.

A couple of days ago, Chez Bro and SIL sent up a distress signal last week that said, “Help, we can’t get tickets to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!” I don’t know the reason, but apparently MNSSHP on the night of October 31st has been sold out for months. This caught SIL by surprise, as she normally calls for tickets around this time each year. Here’s my theory – as the US dollar continues to tank against the Euro and various other global currencies, US vacation destinations such as Orlando become even more appealing to foreign visitors. And it’s not only the vacation that’s appealing. I’ve seen conversations about the exchange rate on Trip Advisor, and other posts there indicating that since the holiday gift-giving season will soon be upon us, the favorable exchange rate is also being leveraged at Orlando’s shopping outlets.

Good news for the Orlando economy, bad news for the availability of accommodations and special event tickets in the parks. SIL has seen lots of MNSSHP tickets on eBay – for $150 each! That’s just crazy. On the surface, one would be surprised that Disney is tolerating the resale of special events tickets for profit, but then again, the auctioning of these tickets for such exhorbitant prices only serves to bolster the air of exclusivity and desirability of entrance to the event. It’s not just about the price to enter the park on these nights. It’s about how much food, drink and merchandise gets sold once the guests are inside the gates. Supply is finite and demand is high, ergo the price will continue to skyrocket as long as people are foolish enough to pay.  
 

Whatever the reasons for the situation, it is what it is. Unless they want to pay $150 per ticket (they don’t), Chez Bro, SIL and Nieceling will need something else to do on Halloween in Walt Disney World. And so, I started to rattle off a number of things I could think of for them to do in order to celebrate the holiday without attending the party.

A post outlining these alternate Halloween activities is under construction and will appear within a few days. Stay tuned for “Things To Do AT Walt Disney World On Halloween (except THAT!)” 
 
 
 

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Magic Kingdom Dresses For The Holidays

© Copyright 2008 Tink *~*~*
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Seems like it begins earlier and earlier each year. Your local retail establishments start hauling out the Halloween decorations in August, and the Christmas decorations before Halloween is even over. It’s ridiculous, already.

But when you have to decorate a place as large as Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, I guess some slack can be cut if they start a little on the early side.

These photos were taken on November 5th 2006. I’m standing up on the balcony of the train station, at the foot of Main Street. You can see that it’s barely 5 days after Halloween, but the Christmas garlands are already strung across Main Street.

Main Street is modeled after Walt Disney’s home town of Marceline, MO, so it’s themed without the palm trees and that helps with the Christmas mood. However, the blue sky and puffy white clouds do NOT help. Oh, they COULD be filled with snow…. but that’s hard to imagine in 80* F temps!

No matter what the season, weather, or decorations, the castle is always symbolic of the magic in this place. It’s turrets and spires gleam in the Florida sunshine as they climb skyward.

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Thursday is my day off from blogging

© Copyright 2008 Tink *~*~*
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I made this big old sign to remind everyone that I don’t blog on Thursdays. Thursdays are Blogless ’round these parts. It’s my day off. Every other day of the week, I post and post, but not Thursdays. Uh-uh, no blogging on Thursdays. I hope I don’t forget and blog anyway!

Confused about BLOGLESS THURSDAY? Find out how it all began!

Okay, so remember, I won’t be posting to this blog today, and I’ll see you tomorrow for Skywatch. I’ve got some lovely shots in store for y’all tomorrow. See you then!

AND NOW, if you would not mind, could you please sign Mister Linky? He makes it very convenient for me to return your kind visit. Mister Linky is very similar to Captain Kirk’s transporter beam, or perhaps Harry Potter’s flue system. I just click and I am instantly transported to your place. It’s extremely convenient, and I highly recommend you give it a try.

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View from a Sanibel Causeway beach

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Looking toward Pine Island Sound from the Sanibel Causeway

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Stories and photos of the Sanibel Causeway

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Red Stuff From Disney-MGM Studios, oops I mean Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

© Copyright 2008 Tink *~*~*
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Yes, it’s that time again – we’re participating in yet another round of Ruby Tuesday, a photo meme that is becoming more and more popular each week. This week I’m featuring Red Stuff From Disney-MGM Studios oops I mean Disney‘s Hollywood Studios. Yes, I’m still being a pain in the ass about the park’s name change. I’ve got other people doing it too – just ask Mare 😀

First up is the logo for Radio Disney. I must admit, I have not listened to Radio Disney a whole lot. By time Disney started broadcasting on AM radio, I was well into adulthood, and didn’t have any children to drag me down that path. However, this is one of those Hidden Mickey opportunities in this park. I have blogged about Hidden Mickeys before, in this post, and in this one too. Now you know where to find one for your next trip!
Next: here’s an awning over one of the stores on the main drag. I liked this because the Mickey on it is a very stylized version of him. This whole park is kind of art-deco, and I think this Mickey is somehow more complimentary to the theming than “modern” Mickey.
Finally, it’s the Rockin’ Roller Coaster icon. This thing is just so darned impressive in person. And just look at that blue, blue sky in the background!

Thus endeth another Ruby Tuesday. I actually have quite a few more pics of Red Stuff from this park, but I think they can wait for another day.

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Formula: The Quest For Strawberry

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Formula: The Quest for Strawberry
from a Manic Monday prompt

Once upon a time, I lived on The Loverly Isle of Long, and I would get my roots done every 4 weeks with the PERFECT shade of strawberry blond. Not too blond, not too red, not too dark, not too light, the formula was the product of several years of trial and error with my hair stylist/colorist, Nancy. The final formula is comprised of three different shades from L’Oreal‘s professional line called Majirel, using 20-volume developer.

To say that I was obsessive about the appearance of gray brown roots is to understate the anxiety that would grip the core of my very being at the least whisper of new growth. I did some unusual things in order to preserve the color as much as possible until it was time to get it done again. I would refrain from using actual shampoo for 2 or three days after coloring. I used a conditioner called “Strawberry” every day (made by ARTec, which had been bought by L’Oreal). I would only use COLD water on my hair to discourage fading from heat, and would not use shampoo more than every other day. All of this, because red hair color shades are notoriously difficult to maintain. I did everything I could to ensure that the color remained fresh until it was time to beat the roots into submission once more.

Just prior to moving to Florida, I went to see Nancy for the last time and she wrote down my formula for me. Clutching this sacred slip of paper in my feverish hand, I also entered it into my Palm Pilot for posterity. Four weeks later, I walked into a local salon here in Southwest Florida, showed them the formula and asked them to replicate it.

Problem #1 – they don’t use L’Oreal Majirel and in fact, they never heard of it. When I said “L’Oreal”, they thought I’d been buying hair color kits over the counter in the supermarket. I had to educate them.

Problem #2 – I had to look at the color board and figure out for myself what might work. They were not at all willing to make a decision and then be accountable for it. Apparently, no one in this shop was the color genius that Nancy had been, and they lacked the confidence that goes along with such a level of genius.

Problem #3 – over the next two years, the stylists in that salon wracked their brains, played mad chemist, adjusted the formula time and again, but it was fruitless. They could not get it right. The color never looked even close to my old shade, and it also never looked natural. Sometimes it was too yellow, other times too burgundy. Yet other times, it appeared that my hair color had come from a box that said “Crayola” on it – amazing shades, but totally inappropriate for the hair of a grown-up businesswoman.

A “woe is me” post I made on a discussion board this past spring was read with sympathy by one of my Sanibuddies (that’s a buddy I met online who loves Sanibel Island as much as I do), who happens also to be a wonderful hair stylist and colorist. She had a vacation already planned for May, so I emailed her the formula and she picked up the supplies as soon as she landed in Fort Myers. Then one sunny spring afternoon, I drove out to the island to see her and she worked her magic. I cannot describe the happiness I felt when I looked in the mirror and saw my old familiar shade of strawberry beaming back at me. Yay!

We decided that I would figure out how much stuff I needed to do my hair for a year, and my colorist buddy would pick it up for me before she left. You have to be a licensed professional to buy the materials – I have no idea why that is but that’s the way it is. So she called ahead to put in the order before picking it up, and tragedy struck. One of the three L’Oreal shades required to make my color was discontinued! No more! THE END! I was horrified. After all this time struggling, to finally reach Nirvana only to have all my hopes dashed to hell. Not fair, not fair, not fair!

My friend did some research, consulted with some professionals and sent me a package when she got home. Inside the package were tubes of what she hoped would be a suitable replacement for the L’Oreal formula. The new company name was Pravana. I called Tootie and we made a Hair Day appointment. We were both plenty nervous. After following the proportions originally set out by Nancy all those years ago, it seemed like we had a ton of formula – too much just for a root job. So we decided that, since I was changing formulas, we might as well do whole-head, to avoid getting a stripe, and I made a mental note to halve the formula next time.

I will never forget leaning over the kitchen sink to wash it all out, and hearing Tootie remark calmly, “well, it looks exactly like a bright copper penny”. OMG, that’s not strawberry!, I thought frantically. What have we done? I could scarecely wait to see in the mirror, but tried to remain calm as the shampooing and conditioning proceeded. Finally, I was standing before the mirror with a comb in my hand trying to detangle. It was definitely REDDER than I was used to seeing after coloring, but it wasn’t horrible or unnatural. It looked even better after blow-drying; something about being wet had made it really bright, but the dryer it got, the better it looked. I took a picture with my Blackberry and emailed it to my Sanibuddy colorist friend, who by this time had long since returned home from her Sanibel vacation.

The next time we decided to have Hair Day, I discovered that althought I still had plenty of color left in the tubes, I didn’t have enough developer to get the job done. This is because we made so much formula the last time; if I had realized and cut it in half, there still would have been enough developer left. I had figured out that a tube of L’Oreal hair color is about half the size of a tube of Pravana. So when Nancy’s formula said, “half a tube of this and a quarter tube of that”, and I follwed it for the Pravana, it actually made double the amount of formula – and took double the amount of developer. A few emails back and forth with my colorist buddy, and we finally had a shopping list for a year’s worth of supplies.

So I sit here typing with 6 week old roots, waiting for my shipment. When it arrives, Tootie and I will have another Hair Day. What amazes me is that I have not fallen over from root anxiety yet, even though my roots are definitely beyond the point of screaming. The net result of this new formula is, as Tootie points out, the roots are not as noticeable when they come in. The contrast isn’t as sharp, so they’re not screaming quite as stridently as they used to. We’ve also discovered that after about a week and a half, the color fades a bit to where I want it to be, an extremely close approximation of the L’Oreal shade.

The quest for strawberry led to copper, and not without angst – but all’s well that ends well. These little trials and tribulations are necessary in life. They keep our minds occupied, and keep us off the streets and out of trouble!

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Nearly home

And the light show is pure Florida
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PS – according to Blogger, this is my 1,500th post – w00t!

Inland, ho!

Looks like home might be srtormin'
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Lady in the garden

We”re leaving West Wind now. Wonderful afternoon just slackin’ on Sanibel wit mah peeps! 😀
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Suddenly…

…It's much cooler!
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Collector’s item

Hanging behind the bar at the Sanibel Grill. I was raised in Queens, and therefore I am a Met fan by default
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Bio break

Happens when u bar hop
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Next stop – Sanibel Grill

Pool bars are a bit hot this time of year- this stop has an air conditioning option!
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Gulf view

There’s a boat floatin’ out there
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Live from sanibel!

Pool bar hopping 😀

Blue drink called “Gilligan’s Island”
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PEACE One Day

© Copyright 2008 Tink *~*~*
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Looking for CAMERA CRITTERS? Scroll down to the next post.

Many thanks to Sarah Vela for calling this video to my attention.

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The Black Swan – Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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The Black Swan at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
After coming through the turnstiles at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you have the opportunity to wander along criss-crossy paths in a shady portion of the park called The Oasis. A waterfall flows into a stream, which babbles along until it empties into a pond. There are ducks, turtles, lizards, wallabies and all manner of water fowl in residence at The Oasis.



click photo to enlarge

This is a black swan. Its latin name is cygnus atratus, and it is native to the wetlands of southern Australia. He isn’t completely black; you can see white feathers peeking out from beneath the black ones, which are more dramatically visible while the bird is in flight. One of the most interesting things I’ve read about black swans is that their pair-bonding habits present an excellent example of how homosexuality can be an evolutionary advantage! You will just have to Google that now, won’t you? 😀

The black swan always reminds me of figure skating. During the 2000-2001 figure skating season, the incomparable Michelle Kwan used music called Song of the Black Swan by composer Heitor Villa-Lobos for her long program (there are brief clips at that link – it’s #9). There have also been skaters who’ve chosen to portray The Black Swan from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet.

The black swan’s beak is completely bright red in color. You can only see a tiny sliver of it here because he is napping, but if you use Google Images, I’m sure you will find some good examples.

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