Disney’s Animal Kingdom
In January 1990, Imagineering Concept Designer Joe Rohde met with Michael Eisner about a proposal for a new animal park. His concept was simple: a traditional theme park, an Epcot-style pavilion, and a nontraditional zoo. Disney’s Wild Animal Kingdom Project was announced June 5, 1995, and ground was broken in August 1995. The name changed a bit during the next couple years and the Grand Opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom was held on April 22, 1998. Animal Kingdom celebrated its 10th Anniversary on April 22, 2008. And its 20th Anniversary on April 22, 2018.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a spectacular theme park unlike anything you have ever experienced!
The Tree of Life, an impressive icon, stands tall in the distance as you emerge from the entrance, called the Oasis. Then think of the park as a bicycle wheel, the Tree of Life is the hub and the various lands stretch out like spokes.
Animal Kingdom now consists of several areas: Oasis, Discovery Island, Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Dinoland USA and Asia.
Some say Animal Kingdom is only a half-day park and not worth the price of admission. But if that’s the way you think, you’ll miss much of what Animal Kingdom is about.
The exquisite detail that Disney is known for shines through in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where landscaping and attention to detail dominate the 500-acre park.
Special tours are available for booking. Caring for Giants takes you behind the scenes for an up-close look at the elephants on the savanna. The exciting Wild Africa Trek is a true encounter with African creatures in their native habitat.
On the southwestern edge of the Walt Disney World Resort, Imagineers have created a nature-rich and protective environment for exotic animals. Most of the barriers between the animals and you are natural looking or invisible.
Disney craftsmen had the difficult task of making something brand new look very old – with crumbling walls and roots sticking up into the walkways. To create just the right feeling, buildings are a maximum of 30 feet tall, while many of the trees are more than 40 feet tall.
The park is beautiful with wondrous vegetation, broadway class shows (Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo), a 20-minute journey into an African savanna (Kilimanjaro Safaris), an adventure to find the Yeti (Expedition Everest), time travel back to the Cretaceous Period (Dinosaur), and lots of exotic birds and animals to discover.
Visit Shopping Animal Kingdom At-A-Glance page for info on the various stores around the park.
Visit Dining at Animal Kingdom At-A-Glance for an overview of the main dining options at the park.
Animal Kingdom has several opportunities for children to meet and greet their favorite characters.
- Kevin from UP now roams Discovery Island periodically throughout the day.
- Get “Up Close with Rhinos”, a behind-the-scenes experience similar to Caring for Giants with the elephants.
- Donald’s Dino-Bash takes over Dinoland, U.S.A.; it opened May 25, 2018 — This dinosaur-themed party celebrates Donald Duck’s discovery that his bird ancestors were actually dinosaurs. DinoLand U.S.A. will feature colorful new décor and playful character greetings with rarely seen pals like Scrooge McDuck, Launchpad McQuack and more. A DJ-powered dance party will mix tunes from the truck-o-saurus stage, capping the nighttime festivities.
- UP! A Great Bird Adventure with Russell and Dug from Pixar’s UP! Opened April 22, 2018.
- Caring for Giants – Elephant Behind the Scenes Tour
- Rivers of Light nighttime show.
The Tree of Life will awaken in a whole new way to honor the 25th anniversary of the original animated “The Lion King.” Starting Memorial Day weekend (May 24) and appearing nightly through Sept. 30, stunning projections on the iconic tree will feature music and animation paying tribute to the classic film.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch, the Affection Section and the Wildlife Express, which closed October 2018, will reopen summer 2019 with some additions. The area will still include animal encounters, but now will also include experiences drawing from Disney’s heritage of wildlife animation plus a celebration of The Lion King.
Animal Kingdom is introducing a new, family-friendly progressive dinner starting in July 24, 2019. The special dinner, Circle of Flavors: Harambe at Night, is inspired by African cultures and will celebrate The Lion King as well as honor some of the most majestic and endangered African animals.
Flights of Wonder closed December 31, 2017, and was replaced by UP! A Great Bird Adventure in April 2018.