Viola’s 9th birthday fell right after our “Animal Kingdom” trip to Disney, so we pushed the party back a few weeks until the weather was a little bit warmer--- it’s hard having an April birthday! I’m really glad we did because the weather was beautiful the day of her party and the kids had a lot of fun playing in the yard which we are never able to do in April.
Viola loves animals and wanted to do an “Animal Themed” birthday party. Having just returned from Disney this quickly turned into a Jungle Cruise themed party--- I’m not sure whether this was more her idea or mine! On our trip we also ate at the Skipper Canteen for the first time and that was definitely another bit of inspiration for this party. (Skipper Canteen, by the way, is definitely my new favorite Disney restaurant!!)I had so much fun – maybe too much fun! – working in a bunch of Jungle Cruise nods that I’m pretty sure nobody got except me and one other person (thanks for laughing at my jokes, Doug!) So, for my own edification, I’ve included the Jungle Cruise references along with this party blog post!
Animals! – Animals was the theme of the day, and the girls pulled up every “wild animal” stuffed animal that they had in the massive hoard of stuffed animals. We had monkeys and owls and snakes and cheetahs and tropical birds and more, oh my!
Room Wraps – We used a combination of room wraps from previous parties: the tiki wraps from our Luau party, and the waterfall wrap that we used for our Moana party a few months earlier. Because we pushed Viola’s party back until it was warm, we didn’t cover the windows because there was no snow to hide.
Jungle Navigation Co. port – We turned our front area into the Jungle Navigation dock. The kids picked up their safari gear and animal scavenger hunt check lists here. We had lots of Disney souvenirs, props from previous parties, stuffed animals, houseplants, … not to mention all the ‘artifacts’ that we have as part of our home décor, to make a great vignette. I brought the jungle Cruise, Swiss Family Tree House, and Tiki Birds posters up from the basement playroom, along with the girls’ lemonade stand, too. I printed up a bunch of posters and pinned them to our pin board with a selection of Animal Kingdom Disney trading pins! It was cute… even if no one else got the jokes!
Basecamp – The girls share a sparkly pink princess teepee, which we used for basecamp. In keeping with the theme, though, I covered the pink sparkly tulle with grass skirts from our luau parties. On the jungle cruise, basecamp had been infiltrated by curious gorillas, so we added a few stuffed monkeys to our teepee. Again, I’m pretty sure no one got this joke but me…. Regardless, lots of fun was had playing in the teepee.
Schweitzer Falls – the water room wrap from our Little Mermaid party was repurposed as a waterfall to cover up our fireplace… Schweitzer Falls, to be exact! Some brown paper vines and strategically placed leafy vines, and the ol’ ring toss alligator completed the look…. Though I’m pretty sure only myself and 1 other person got the Schweitzer falls reference or the sign that said “backside of water”!
Tables - We did not bring out the spindles that we usually use for our parties because Viola and her friends have gotten too big for sitting on the floor! (gasp!) so we added all the leaves to our dining room table and had the kids sit around that… which was mayhem. I much prefer there little tables! But we were able to reuse our luau trim with some inexpensive leaf-print vinyl tablecloths I found at our local party store.
Trader Sam’s Cannibal Buffet – Our buffet for this party consisted of fruits, trail mixes, sandwiches cut in animal shapes, creepy crawly bug candy, and blue water bottled from Schweitzer falls! The biggest hits, though, were the platter full of ZEBRA CAKES and the watermelon slices cut into gingerbred shapes… what else would you expect from Trader Sam’s Cannibal Buffet?!
Jungle Waterfall Cake – After the success I had with the Moana cake (http://www.princessrants.com/princessrants/2018/4/5/moana-party ), I decided to give it another go with this “jungle waterfall” cake. I followed the same instructions of freezing the layers before frosting, and used Piroulines again for that bamboo/tropical look. I alternated chocolate and vanilla and the hardest thing was keeping my family from stealing them! I purchased candy leaves, flowers, and butterflies and lots of sparkly blue sprinkles for the waterfall. Inside, the cake layers were dyed darkening shades of green. The kids loved the cake and I loved the final look. I can’t wait to make another one!
Animal Scavenger Hunt – When the kids arrived their first stop was the Jungle Navigation Co. Dock, where they picked up their safari gear and their Animal Scavenger Hunt card I had created to match the stuffed animals that the girls had hidden throughout the house and yard. This was our first party where it was warm/dry enough for the kids to play in the yard, and it definitely helped having them outside for a portion of the day. This was Viola’s 9th birthday and since the kids are all getting older, I forwent the carnival style games and goodie bags that we normally have done! The scavenger hunt kept the kids busy while our main entertainment was set up. They returned their completed scavenger hunt cards to me to receive their goody bags and – of course – they got to keep their safari gear! I also bought a roll of round animal stickers that looked like badges and gave them out to the kids throughout the day and they stuck them to their safari helmets.
Goody Bags – Goody bags were fill of animal print novelty items – pens, fans, candy, fuzzy notebooks, as well as little plastic animal figurines. The kids also received binoculars, plastic pit helmets, animal print bandanas, and canteens.
Animal Education - The main event of the afternoon was a visit by Mark Rosenthal from Animal Magic and his amazing animals. The kids learned a lot about animals and were able to see a lot of different ones including tarantula, sloth, a baby fennec fox, snake, and others. Mark was so knowledgeable and the kids LOVED chatting to him. He kept them occupied for hours! If you are doing a party in SE Michigan I would absolutely recommend him!
This theme was so much fun for me! We had so much that we were able to reuse from previous parties that I barely bought anything at all for this party. It was pulled together rather quickly and looking back at the photos I keep thinking of more things that we have that we could have used --- how did I forget to bring up the African Chief’s chair and giant butterfly kite? We should have totally put the family tent up in the back yard, too! Maybe we Eva is older I will have the opportunity to do this theme again!!