Disney's Animal Kingdom
The Tree of Life, the icon of Disney's Animal Kingdom.
|Location||Walt Disney World Resort, Bay Lake, Florida, U.S.|
|Owner||The Walt Disney Company|
|Operated by||Walt Disney Parks and Resorts|
|Opened||April 22, 1998|
|Walt Disney World|
Disney's Animal Kingdom is the fourth of four theme parks built at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, near Orlando, Florida, opened on Earth Day, April 22, 1998. It is the second largest theme park in the world, behind Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, and it is the largest single Disney theme park in the world, covering 500 acres (200 ha), and is also the first Disney theme park to be themed entirely around animal conservation, a philosophy once pioneered by Walt Disney himself. Disney's Animal Kingdom is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, meaning they have met or exceeded the standards in education, conservation, and research. In 2013, the park hosted approximately 10.19 million guests, ranking it the fourth-most visited amusement park in the United States and seventh-most visited in the world.
The park is represented by The Tree of Life, a sculpted 145-foot-tall (44 m), 50-foot-wide (15 m) artificial tree.
- 1 Dedication
- 2 Areas
- 3 Former sections
- 4 Never-built areas
- 5 Restaurants and shops
- 6 Operations
- 7 Conservation efforts
- 8 Controversy
- 9 Attendance
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
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
Disney's Animal Kingdom is divided into seven themed areas.
The Oasis is the park's main entrance, providing guest services. It features several animal habitats, including African spoonbills, Australian white ibis, babirusas, bronze-winged ducks, buffleheads, Chiloe wigeons, Eleonora cockatoos, Florida cooters, giant anteaters, hooded mergansers, hyacinth macaws, lesser whistling ducks, military macaws, Puna teals, raja shelduck, Reeves's muntjacs, rhinoceros iguanas, ringed teals, rosy-billed pochards, ruddy ducks, scarlet macaws, spot-billed ducks, swamp wallabies, white-cheeked pintails, and yellow-billed teals. The main paths lead deeper into the park, and onto Discovery Island.
A Rainforest Cafe is also located at the entrance of the Oasis, although technically it is outside the park boundaries. Guests may dine at the restaurant without entering Disney's Animal Kingdom, while guests entering the restaurant from within the theme park are actually exiting the park and must present their admission tickets to return to the park.
Discovery Island is located at the center of the park, in the middle of the Discovery River waterway. It is the "central hub" of the park, connecting the other sections of the park, with the exception of Rafiki's Planet Watch. It was originally called Safari Village, as Discovery Island was the name for the small zoological park located in Walt Disney World's Bay Lake, but was given its current name after the facility closed in 1999.
The Tree of Life, the park's iconic sculpted, man-made Baobab tree, is located in this section and is surrounded by trails and animal enclosures showcasing Abdim's storks, black crowned cranes, black-necked swans, blue-and-yellow macaws, Cape teals, chitals, collared brown lemurs, easter grey kangaroos, Galápagos tortoises, Greater flamingos, Knob-billed ducks, Oriental small-clawed otters, plumed whistling ducks, red kangaroos, red-and-green macaws, ring-tailed lemurs, roseate spoonbills, saddle-billed storks, salmon-crested cockatoos, silver teal, white storks, white-faced whistling ducks, and woolly-necked storks.
The park's largest gift shops and two of its major restaurants are on Discovery Island, each with a different design theme, such as décor based on nocturnal animals, insects and so forth. The island's other major draw is It's Tough to Be a Bug!, a comical 4D film featuring appearances by Flik and Hopper from Disney·Pixar's A Bug's Life.
Set in the fictional east African village of Harambe, this area contains several animal exhibits. According to Disney legend, Harambe was once part of a colony, but a peaceful revolution made Harambe self-governing in 1961. Today, Harambe is the starting point for tourists and students to observe Africa's animals in their natural habitats.
The village is the namesake of the Harambe Wildlife Preserve, the fictional home of Africa's main attraction, Kilimanjaro Safaris. Guests climb aboard an open-sided safari vehicle for an expedition to see numerous African animals freely roam through acres of savanna, rivers and rocky hills, including addax, African elephants, black rhinos, blue wildebeests, bongos, bontebok, cheetahs, common elands, dama gazelles, gerenuks, Grant's zebras, greater flamingos, greater kudus, helmeted guineafowls, hippos, impalas, lions, mandrills, Nile crocodiles, northern pintails, nyalas, okapis, ostriches, pink-backed pelicans, reticulated giraffes, sable antelopes, saddle-billed storks, scimitar-horned oryx, springboks, warthogs, waterbucks, white rhinos, yellow-Backed duikers, and yellow-billed storks.
On the adjacent Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, visitors trek into the forest where animals such as black-and-white colobus monkeys, gerenuks, gorillas, hippos, Kenyan sand boas, kori bustards, meerkats, naked mole rats, okapis, tarantulas, and yellow-backed duikers, as well as an aviary, are located.
In 2014, Festival of the Lion King, an attraction that originated in the now closed Camp Minnie-Mickey section of the park, was reopened in the newly built Harambe Theater. This is part of a wider expansion of Africa, which will include a new path and new restaurant opportunities.
Rafiki's Planet Watch
Rafiki's Planet Watch is a section for young children and with families and the only section of the park not connected to Discovery Island, and is instead connected to Africa. Guests board the 3 ft 4 in (1,016 mm) narrow gauge Wildlife Express Train for the short trip to and from the area, which consists of three sub-areas. Guests first encounter Habitat Habit!, where they can see cotton-top tamarins and learn about the efforts to protect these endangered primates in their natural homes. Along the way, guests can also learn how to provide animal habitats in and around their own homes.
Conservation Station showcases the various conservation efforts supported by the Walt Disney Company. It also gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Disney's Animal Kingdom's animal care facilities, including a veterinary examination room complete with a two-way communications system so the veterinary staff can answer guest questions. Outside, Affection Section is a petting zoo featuring goats, sheep and other domesticated animals.
Other animals seen are ball pythons, blue-and-yellow macaws, blue-tongued skink, boa constrictors, butterflies, central bearded dragons, chinchillas, chinchilla rabbits, citron-crested cockatoos, common brushtail possums, corn snakes, Costa Rica zebra tarantula, death's head cockroach, Dexter cattle, Dominique chickens, Eleonora cockatoos, emperor scorpions, eclectus parrots, fennec foxes, ferrets, giant African millipedes, golden lion tamarins, gray rat snakes, green tree pythons, Guinea hogs, Gulf Coast Native sheep, hermit crabs, hyacinth macaws, kinkajous, llamas, Madagascar day geckos, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Madagascar tree boas, Nigerian dwarf goat, Nile monitors, North American donkeys, opossums, pygmy goats, rats, rat snakes, red-and-green macaws, red-cockaded woodpeckers, red-crested turacos, roughneck monitor lizards, San Clemente Island goats, savannah monitors, Solomon Islands skinks, spectacled owls, striped skunks, tamanduas, tarantulas, tawny frogmouths, tawny owls, tenrecs, Tunis sheep, two-toed sloths, uromastyx, variable hawks, and vasa parrots.
Asia was the first expansion area added to Disney's Animal Kingdom, first opening in 1999. Like Africa, the section's attractions are part of a fictional place, the kingdom of Anandapur (which means "Place of many delights" and is not to be confused with the Kendujhar district's municipality of the same name that is in India). Anandapur comprises two villages: a riverside village that is also called Anandapur and Serka Zong (which is in the foothills of the Himalayas). Portraits of Anandapur's royal family (consisting of the maharaja and his wife) can be found in most of the businesses within the two villages, a map of the kingdom featuring both villages and their location relative to the mountains and river can be found on the wall of the Disney Vacation Club kiosk located there. Much like Harambe, Disney legend states that Anandapur is now a center of animal research and tourism. At the Caravan Stage, these two "worlds" meet in Flights of Wonder, a live bird show where one of Anandapur's bird researchers educates a tour guide with a fear of birds about natural bird behaviors and the effects of habitat loss and conservation efforts on bird species, such as the black crowned crane and bald eagle.
The Maharajah Jungle Trek leads guests through the forests and ruins outside the village, which are home to a number of animal species such as Asian fairy-bluebirds, Bali starlings, bantengs, bar-headed geese, Bengal tigers, blackbucks, black-rumped flamebacks, blue-throated barbets, collared kingfishers, common emerald doves, cotton pygmy geese, crested partridges, early bluebirds, Eld's deer, golden pheasants, golden-crested mynas, green junglefowl, green peafowls, hooded pittas, hoopoes, Indian rollers, iris lorikeets, jambu fruit doves, Komodo dragons, Lady Amherst's pheasants, magnificent ground pigeons, Malayan flying foxes, Mandarin ducks, Moluccan king parrots, New Guinea masked plovers, Nicobar pigeon, northern white-cheeked gibbons, orange-bellied leafbirds, pheasant pigeons, pink-headed fruit doves, pink-necked green pigeons, plum-headed parakeets, red-headed parrotfinches, Rodrigues flying foxes, sarus cranes, scaly-breasted munias, siamangs, silver-eared mesias, sooty-headed bulbuls, Timor sparrows, treron pink-necked pigeons, white-headed munias, white rumped shamas, wompoo fruit doves, yellow-throated laughingthrushes, and yellow-vented bulbuls.
DinoLand U.S.A. is inspired by the public's general curiosity about dinosaurs. The fictitious Dino Institute and its surrounding facilities attract those with a scientific interest in the long-extinct animals, while Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama recalls the many roadside attractions that were once scattered throughout the United States. Like the other sections of Disney's Animal Kingdom, there are animals on display.
These particular animals, such as the American crocodile, red legged seriemas, Abdim's stork and Asian brown tortoise, have evolutionary links to the age of the dinosaurs. They are animal species that have survived since the dinosaur era and can be found along the Cretaceous Trail along with a collection of Mesozoic plants. At the edge of DinoLand U.S.A. is the "Theater in the Wild", which hosts Finding Nemo - The Musical, a live-action musical stage show based on the story of the Disney·Pixar feature film.
The Dino Institute is the home of DINOSAUR, a thrill ride featuring a trip through time to the Late Cretaceous Period. Just outside the Institute is "Dino-Sue", a casting of a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil that is the most complete yet found. At the nearby Boneyard, children enjoy a multi-leveled playground area complete with a Columbian mammoth fossil to be uncovered, and a cast skeleton of a Brachiosaurus.
Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama, on the other hand, is about dinosaurs as fun. The TriceraTop Spin is a colorful ride for families, while Primeval Whirl is a spinning roller coaster for thrill-seekers. Throughout the area are carnival games and gift shops, as well as chances to meet Disney characters.
Pandora: The Land of Avatar
In September 2011, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts announced plans to partner with filmmaker James Cameron, his Lightstorm Entertainment production company, and Fox Filmed Entertainment to develop attractions based on Cameron's Avatar film franchise exclusively for Disney theme parks. The first installation is planned for Disney's Animal Kingdom in the form of an Avatar-based section of the park. While no specifics were announced, the new area was described as being several acres in size and costing an estimated $400 million to build, a scale similar to Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park in California. Components from the upcoming second and third films in the Avatar series will be featured, along with new designs not seen in any of the films. Construction began on January 10, 2014. Although most details are not yet known, Disney has confirmed a boat ride attraction showcasing the native fauna and flora of Pandora that may include small drops and a flying E ticket simulator attraction, where guests will learn to fly with a mountain banshee.
In conjunction with Avatar: World of Pandora, a new nighttime spectacular, entitled "Rivers of Light", will debut at the park's Discovery River, featuring mist screens, floating lanterns, music and lighting.
Camp Minnie-Mickey was themed as a rustic summer camp, built on the location where Beastly Kingdom was planned to be located. It served as a meet-and-greet for Disney characters including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Koda, and Thumper. The area's main theater was home to the Festival of the Lion King, a live stage show featuring acrobatics and musical performances inspired by The Lion King. Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends, based on the 1995 animated film was a live-stage performance which ran until September 27, 2008. It closed on January 5, 2014 and is currently being renovated and converted to become Avatar Land in 2014-2017.
Disney's Animal Kingdom focuses on three broad classifications of animals: those that exist in today's reality; those that did exist, but are now extinct (i.e., dinosaurs); and those that only exist in the realm of fantasy. The original design for Animal Kingdom included a section called the Beastly Kingdom (possibly spelled as "Beastly Kingdomme"), devoted to creatures of legend and mythology. Due to budget constraints, Beastly Kingdom never came to fruition and Camp Minnie-Mickey was built as a temporary tenant to that land.
- The evil side would be dominated by Dragon Tower, a ruined castle home to a greedy fire-breathing dragon who horded a fabulous treasure in the tower chamber. The castle would also be inhabited by bats who planned to rob the dragon of his riches. They would enlist the guests' help in their scheme and whisk them off on a thrilling suspended roller coaster ride through the castle ruins. The climax of the ride would be an encounter with the evil dragon himself, resulting in a nearly barbecued train of guests.
- The good side would be home to Quest of the Unicorn, an adventure which sent guests through a maze of medieval mythological creatures to seek the hidden grotto where the unicorn lived. Finally, the Fantasia Gardens attraction would be a musical boat ride through animal scenes from Disney's animated classic, Fantasia. The ride would feature both the crocodiles and hippos from "Dance of the Hours" and the Pegasus, fauns, and centaurs from Beethoven's "Pastoral."
Remnants of Beastly Kingdom were visible when the park opened or are still visible today:
- The parking lot contains a section named "Unicorn."
- The silhouette of a dragon appears in the park's logo.
- A detailed dragonhead statue sits atop one of the ticket booths at the park's entrance. (The other two booths are topped by an elephant head and a triceratops head.)
- One of the McDonald's Animal Kingdom-themed Happy Meal toys was a winged purple dragon. (It was similar to Madam Mim as a Dragon in The Sword in The Stone).
As Expedition Everest features the mythological yeti, a creature that may or may not exist, the park now features at least one attraction based on each type of animal (living, extinct and legendary). As to Beastly Kingdom's future, Walt Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde said in 2000: "We had a vision and now it's become a place holder. We have all kinds of ideas and not all of them fit with the theme of Beastly Kingdom. I'm not even convinced there will be a Beastly Kingdom." The proposed area for the park will now be Avatar Land. Construction started January 10, 2014.
Restaurants and shops
- Rainforest Cafe, a themed restaurant chain operated by Landry's, located just outside the main entrance (also accessible from inside the park).
- Yak & Yeti, an Asian-themed restaurant located in the park's Asia section (operated by Landry's Restaurants) that opened on November 14, 2007.
- Tusker House, located in Africa and one of the park's original quick-service restaurants, was converted into a buffet restaurant and re-opened on November 17, 2007.
Tusker House hosts "Donald's Safari Breakfast" and "Donald's Dining Safari Lunch," a character-dining event where guests enjoy a buffet while meeting Donald Duck and other Disney characters.
There are five quick-service restaurants located throughout the park:
- Flame Tree Barbecue on Discovery Island near DinoLand USA.
- Pizzafari is also on Discovery Island near where Camp Minnie-Mickey is.
- Restaurantosaurus, in DinoLand USA.
- Tamu Tamu Refreshments in Africa.
- Yak & Yeti Local Foods Café which is located next to the larger Yak & Yeti table-service facility.
As with other Walt Disney World theme parks, Disney's Animal Kingdom has other locations and carts that offer snacks and beverages.
Much concern was brought to the animals' well-being when the park originally opened. The park typically closes earlier than other parks in the Walt Disney World Resort. The animals are said to require a strict schedule to avoid stress, so even on nights when the park is open later, animals usually will be brought "off stage" an hour or two before the park officially closes for the day. Another notable difference from other Disney parks is that Animal Kingdom does not have a fireworks show in consideration to the animals.
Disney does not allow plastic straws, lids, or ballons to be used in the park, unlike the rest of the Disney parks. This is so that plastic does not inadvertently enter an animal's habitat and hurt them. The park uses paper straws instead.
The park is also the only park to have doors on all of the bathrooms, in case of an animal getting loose. If this would occur, guests would be instructed to go into the bathrooms and lock the doors behind them.
As a zoological park, Disney's Animal Kingdom is engaged in research and conservation efforts involving its animal species. Since the park's opening in 1998, the resident elephant herd has produced six calves, with births in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010, and 2011. In 2008 alone, the park's giraffe herd produced four newborns, raising the total number of giraffe births since opening to eleven.
In 1999, one of the park's white rhinos gave birth to a female calf named Nande. In 2006, Nande and Hasani, another of the park's rhinos, were transferred to Uganda's Ziwa animal sanctuary, in the first attempt to re-introduce white rhinos to the country. Due to civil strife, the white rhinoceros had become extinct in the area. In June 2009, Nande gave birth to a male calf, the first such birth in Uganda in over 25 years. In January 2010, the success of the Rhino breeding program was highlighted with the news that eight white rhinos have been born at Animal Kingdom since the parks opening, the newest calf having been born to another Animal Kingdom born mother.
Even in planning stages, various Florida based animal rights groups and PETA did not like the idea of Disney creating a theme park where animals were held in captivity. The groups protested, and PETA tried to convince travel agents not to book trips to the park. A few weeks before the park opened, a number of animals died due to accidents. The United States Department of Agriculture viewed most of the cases and found no violations of animal-welfare regulations. On opening day, the Orange County Sheriff's office sent about 150 deputies in fear that there may be a large protest, but only two dozen protesters showed up. The protest lasted two hours, and there were no arrests.
One year after the park opened, Animal Rights Foundation of Florida complained that a New Year's Eve fireworks show could upset the animals. A USDA inspector came to the park and found no problems with launching low-noise fireworks half a mile away.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Disney's Animal Kingdom.|
- Official section within the Walt Disney World website
- Disney's Animal Kingdom at the Roller Coaster DataBase
- Animal Kingdom travel guide from Wikivoyage