My Adventure By Disney Vacation Continues! Into The West, Day Four!

This morning was another early morning, but that was perfectly fine, since I was still on my normal East Coast time! I woke up really early, but not as early as the day before.  We were changing resorts today, and getting our first view of the Grand Canyon today!  But first, we got to eat another amazing breakfast at the Enchantment Resort and get to the bus. After we got ready, I went outside to leave our bags for “someone” to get and load on the bus, and I found our morning orange juice delivery was waiting, along with the morning paper. We didn’t read any of the news, as we wanted to stay completely “in the bubble” of our vacation.

Amazingly, I didn’t touch my suitcase unless it was in my room the entire week! All we had to do was to put our suitcase outside our door by a certain time, and the next time we saw the bags, they were in the next room we were staying in! I LOVED the service that Adventures By Disney provided.

This morning’s breakfast was in the same restaurant as the morning before, so we knew it was going to be fabulous!

From their website:

Che Ah Chi is the Apache name for Boynton Canyon, and is inspired by seasonal ingredients and modern American cuisine. Dishes are sourced from their own kitchen garden, local and neighboring organic growers, artisan cheese makers, sustainable fish traders and ranchers to create an uncomplicated, yet sophisticated menu. The stunning red rock views, outside the floor-to-ceiling windows, and a nationally recognized wine list provides the perfect complement to a dining experience that is in a category all its own.

This morning we had breakfast with Mark (pictured with us above on our last day of the trip). Mark is a DSM (District Sales Manager) for Disney and was enjoying this vacation with everyone else. Mark is a great guy, and Christine and I learned a lot from him during the week. He also sat next to us on the motorcoach, so we got to enjoy his humor all week as well. After breakfast, it was time to walk to the bus so that we could get on our way to The Grand Canyon. But, before we get to the canyon, Disney has planned a day at Bearizona!

Along the road, Doug and Diana are constantly telling stories, and giving us some history about the area, and occasionally even quiz the bus about what we’ve seen and learned so far.

One of the things they pointed out was that in Sedona, there are strict building codes. The arches at McDonald’s here are turquoise, not golden! How cool is that?!?

After a while of riding the bus, we made our first unscheduled stop of the day. It was time to enjoy the views, stretch our legs and to make a bathroom stop.

After about a 20 minute break, we were back on the bus, and before we knew it, were practically at Bearizona!

This is just an example of what a fun time it was while riding the bus! Doug & Diana donned bear hats and tried to sing along. So funny!

Bearizona warmly greeted us upon our arrival! In fact, they hugged each and everyone of us when we got off the bus. I truly felt like they were happy we were there. After another bathroom break, we gathered together and they walked us to our own area and had a couple of animals for us to learn about and to get up close pictures!

After the presentation, we were then led to a waiting bus, for our tour of the property on an animal safari. We were handed food to give to the animals as well! After we loaded up, we began our journey through Bearizona with our “Step-On Guide” for the day, who told us all about the park, and the animals we were seeing. It was such a great experience!

Here’s a short YouTube video about Bearizona.

Here are just a few of the animals we saw during our Arizona Safari:

After the Safari, we walked over and watched the otters play, and were given some small fish to feed the otters! We then had another animal encounter, and I got to pet a skunk, and touch an armadillo…can you actually “pet” an armadillo?!! SO COOL!!

We then walked outside and learned all about their jaguars and got to watch them dona training session and how they teach them to respond to positive reinforcements, so they can better care for their animals, especially when the vets are checking up on them.

After that, it was time for lunch! The staff at Bearizona had a wonderful buffet lunch all ready for us…all we had to do was wash up from the morning’s activities and dig in!

After lunch, we had a little over an hour of free time to check out the rest of the park, and to do a bit of shopping. Christine and I were at the ready…today was the day that we were going to see our first javelina! We had heard about them on our full first day in Sedona, and we didn’t want to miss seeing this animal that we had never heard of before! Finally we were going to see the “Baby Bear Pigs”! (That’s how Doug describes them when we asked him what a javelina was)

Afterwards, it was time to say goodbye to Bearizona and hello to the Grand Canyon! We got on our bus and our guides informed us that we were going to make another unscheduled stop. We would be visiting Williams, AZ, the last Route 66 town to get bypassed by the highway. How fun!

We were driven around the town (it was basically a Main Street and a back street–I’m sure there was much more, but for our purpose, that’s the only information we needed)…we would have an hour of free time to explore, shop and take pictures. I didn’t think that this would be enough time, but amazingly, it was plenty! We were ready to get to the Grand Canyon in about 45 minutes. Williams is a fascinating bit of American Route 66 History! I’ll be back here again one day as well!

Now, it was time to go to see the Grand Canyon! But first, something I had never done before. A wine party on the bus! Adventures by Disney had a couple of boxes of wine onboard (they do this exclusively for their “Adults Only” departures), and Doug & Diana began serving us red or white wine! So much fun! It also began to rain outside, which is something I wasn’t prepared for!

No worries, though! Once we got to the park and the main entrance, Doug & Diana had a stash of rain ponchos for everyone! Talk about being prepared! Is there anything an Adventures By Disney Guide hasn’t thought of?!? By the time we were off the bus, (we waited on the bus a few minutes as the rain was forecasted to end) it had, in fact stopped drizzling. We carried our ponchos anyway, just in case! After we were given a few minutes for a bathroom stop, we met up to be walked to the rim of the Grand Canyon.

We were led to the rim by the Guides, who had instructed us to only look down at our feet and NOT look at the view. They placed each of us by the rim and had us hold the railing of the fence. After they counted, we all looked up at the same time as they took our pictures of our faces seeing this amazing place for the first time.

What an incredible memory for each of us!

This is simply an amazing destination to visit. We were given a while to explore on our own, to take our pictures and to look at the visitor’s center. Of course, Doug & Diana were there to take our pictures too! It was great having them worry about all of the little things. They not only used their cameras, but would use ours as well!

Now it was time to get checked into our hotel for the night, clean up a bit and meet for dinner. After we got to the Thunderbird Lodge, we were given our room keys as we got off the bus. Our rooms were not only ready, but our bags were already in the room waiting for us!

Now, while there certainly wasn’t anything wrong with our room, this was pretty basic compared to the Enchantment Resort we just left. Our room was super clean, and it later became obvious as to why we were staying here…our room was exactly 30 steps to the rim of the Grand Canyon. Thirty-one steps and you would be “IN” the canyon. Our guides described the hotel as a “3 Star hotel with a 5 Star view”. That pretty much summed up the experience. It was a clean, comfortable and (extremely) close hotel.

Tonight’s dinner was steaks grilled outside by the canyon, along with some side dishes. The corn was extra delicious! Our view was, quite simply, spectacular. And, we had a Native American family supply our entertainment for the night! The hoop dance was extraordinary!

And, what I will always remember to be one of my favorite versions of the National Anthem was performed for us. This family performs for almost all of the Arizona & Utah Adventures By Disney vacations. Later, Doug said that they had never before heard this. We felt pretty special. I am so very thankful I thought to record this version.

After a piece of that apple pie, it was time for bed!

I was more than ready to get some rest, as today had been a long, but fun-filled day of new things. Bears, javelina, Route 66 & the Grand Canyon…oh my!  Of course, I couldn’t wait to further explore the Grand Canyon the next day! They told us that the average visitor to the Grand Canyon only spends about 3 hours here. That is incredible! Two nights here will not be enough for me…