A Journey Through Twenty Years of Major Milestones At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — From creatures wild and whimsical to Broadway-caliber shows, from unparalleled adventures and experiences to award-winning conservation efforts, from exotic lands to cuisine that celebrates a global park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is marking an anniversary of 20 unforgettable years. And the best is yet to come!

Here’s a look back at a few of the milestone dates in the evolution of Disney’s adventure park at Walt Disney World Resort:

June 20, 1995 Plans for “Wild Animal Kingdom” announced

August 4, 1995
Groundbreaking for Disney’s Animal Kingdom

December 5, 1995
The first tree, an authentic African acacia xanthophloea, is planted

June 12, 1996
Miles the giraffe is the first animal to arrive

October 5, 1996
A baby kudu is the first animal to be born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

November 4, 1997 Hope, a 14-year-old gorilla, gives birth to a male named Jabari

April 22, 1998 (Earth Day) Grand Opening for Disney’s Animal Kingdom

January 1999
Accreditation from Association of Zoos and Aquariums (formerly American Zoo and Aquarium Association)

March 1, 1999 Grand Opening of Asia, which includes Kali River Rapids and Maharajah Jungle Trek

July 1999
Tarzan Rocks! debuts

May 2000 Reproduction of Dino-Sue, the rare 65 million-year-old tyrannosaurus rex, on display in DinoLand U.S.A.

October 2000 Rafiki’s Planet Watch premieres

December 2000
Safari Village renamed Discovery Island

June 4, 2001 Colobus Monkey Habitat Opens on Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail (formerly Pangani Forest Trail)

October 2001
Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade premieres

November 2001
First phase of Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama opens with TriceraTop Spin attraction and midway games

April 18, 2002
Primeval Whirl opens at Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama

April 22, 2003
Plans announced for Expedition Everest — Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

May, 2005 Lucky the Dinosaur, the first Audio-Animatronics figure capable of walking and moving independently, makes special appearances

April 7, 2006 Expedition Everest opens

April 2006
Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund achieves $10 million milestone since its 1995 creation

January 2007
Grand opening for “Finding Nemo — the Musical”

April 22, 2007 Inaugural “Party for the Planet” event takes place on Earth Day

February 16, 2008
Paws in the Park event. Disney’s Animal Kingdom/Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives raises more than $13,000 for SPCA of Central Florida

April 22, 2008
Jane Goodall Global Youth Summit visits the park on Earth Day

January 16, 2011 Wild Africa Trek opens

June 1, 2013 Wilderness Explorers program debuts to guests

June 1, 2014
Festival of the Lion King debuts in its new home, the brand new Harambe Theatre.

May 2015 Harambe Market opens.

May 27, 2016 Tiffins restaurant and Nomad Lounge open, nighttime experiences debut — Harambe Wildlife Parti, Discovery Island Carnivale, Tree of Life Awakenings and nighttime version of Kilimanjaro Safaris

May 28, 2016 The Jungle Book — Alive with Magic live show debuts

December 2016
Lion-tailed Macaques debut

February 17, 2017 Rivers of Light debuts

May 27, 2017
Pandora — the World of Avatar opens

August 2017 Sumatran tiger cubs, Jeda and Anala, are born,

January 2017 Augustus, a baby hippo, is born

March, 2018
Contributions to Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund total $70 million since 1995

April 22, 2018 20th Anniversary milestone marked with Party for the Planet Earth Day Celebration, premiere of UP! A Great Bird Adventure and debut of the Pandora Utility Suit

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