Disney's Animal Kingdom is one of four theme parks at the Walt Disney World Resort. Built on a theme taking inspiration from the many cultures around the world, circling around a central animal message, the park's icon is the magnificent Tree of Life, into which is carved a massive array of animals, insects and fauna.
Plans for the park were originally released in 1995, and ground-breaking began soon after. The park opened on Earth Day (April 22) 1998, and is the largest of the four theme parks in the Resort, due to the large expanses of man-made savanna and animal habitats in the north of the park.
- "Welcome to a kingdom of animals... real, ancient and imagined: a kingdom ruled by lions, dinosaurs and dragons; a kingdom of balance, harmony and survival; a kingdom we enter to share in the wonder, gaze at the beauty, thrill at the drama, and learn."
- ―Michael D. Eisner, April 22, 1998
The Oasis is the Main Street, USA of Animal Kingdom. Guests first enter this land after entering the park. Here, guests are surrounded by animal exhibits featuring birds and other animals as well as realistic rock work until they are greeted by a view of the Tree of Life.
Located around the Tree of Life, Discovery Island is the main hub of Disney's Animal Kingdom. Many shops and restaurants are found here. Discovery Island is home to It's Tough to Be a Bug! inside the Tree of Life. Walking tours of the gardens surrounding the Tree of Life are also located on Discovery Island. This area was originally named Safari Village.
Themed around the southwestern continent, the Africa area is home to Pangani Forest Exploration Trails as well as a train to Rafiki's Planet Watch. You can also find the insanely popular Kilimanjaro Safaris in Africa. This area also became the new home of the popular Festival of the Lion King stage show in the summer of 2014, following the closure of Camp Minnie-Mickey.
Rafiki's Planet Watch is the only land that is not connected to Discovery Island, it is instead connected to Africa. The land is named after Rafiki, a character from the 1994 Disney film The Lion King. Attractions in the land include Wildlife Express Train and walkthrough attractions Habitat Habit!, Conservation Station, and Affection Section.
Currently famous for the new Expedition Everest roller coaster. Asia also contains the new restaurant The Yak and Yeti. Themed around a town near Tibet, Asia, Asia also contains Kali River Rapids, Flights of Wonder, and the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Containing the controversial Chester and Hester's Dinorama, Dinoland USA has evolved into a diversified area within the park. Encompassing Finding Nemo: The Musical, DINOSAUR, Triceratops Spin and Primeval Whirl, Dinoland USA contains a wide variety of attractions. Dinorama's theming is often under fire from Disney fans due to its theme of a cheap carnival in what is usually an impeccably-themed complex.
An area that will be themed to the world of Pandora from James Cameron's Avatar films. It is currently slated to open in 2017.
Rivers of Light
The Rivers of Light will be a live, nighttime show celebrating the world of animals, and nature in general, using water effects and fountains, viewable on the "natural stage" of Discovery Lake, in Discovery Island.
The Kilimanjaro Safaris will receive an expansion, with additional landscape space, as well as two new species of animals being added, including African wild dogs and hyenas.
Camp Minnie-Mickey was the main character greeting area of the park. It was also home of two stage shows: Festival of the Lion King and Pocahontas and her Forest Friends. The area was originally slated to become Beastly Kingdom with the Camp serving as a temporary placeholder, but those plans were never realized. The Camp closed for good in January of 2014 to make way for Avatar Land.
- When Imagineers were designing Animal Kingdom, executives were unconvinced that the park would have the necessary draw to compete against other zoos. To reassure them of the up-close excitement, Imagineers brought a live tiger to their presentation. It turned out that was all the convincing necessary.
- Over a three-year period, Animal Kingdom came to life on what was a barren cow pasture. The incredible transformation included laying 60 miles of plumbing, importing 4.4 million yards of dirt, creating rivers, and relocating and relocating animals from around the world. The park was quite an investment -- a whopping $800 million dollars!
- Approximately 1,000 animals live in Animal Kingdom, and more than 150 species have reproduced since the parks opening.
- Ever wondered where all of your recycled containers go? Well, quite a few milk jugs ended up in Animal Kingdom. Through Disney's "green" efforts, the benches in the park are made of the recycled material.
- It has a game on Facebook.com and unlocks more animals encircling the Tree of Life.