10 Facts And Secrets About Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom

tree of life animal kingdom park disney
Credit: Disney PhotoSnapper

We all know that Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers one of the most unique theme park experiences around. Not only do you get thrilling rides, but you also get to immerse yourself in exotic cultures and have incredible animal interactions. But, here are a few things you might not know about this awesome park:

10. How many animals can one tree hold?

If we are talking about the Tree of Life, that would be 300. Carving all of these animals (and possibly a hidden Mickey?) into this incredible 145 foot tree took just a handful of artists and Imagineers about 18 months to create. Impressive is an understatement!

9. The Animal Kingdom has scientists on staff!

These individuals study these animals very closely and have even found two previously unknown vocalizations in elephants! Clearly, this is much more than just a park!

8. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is also a sanctuary for the severely endangered white rhino!

Several rhinos have been born at the park since it opened on Earth Day in 1998, but an especially exciting birth took place last year, when a third generation park baby arrived!

7. Did you know that one of the original landscapers for the park was actually an… elephant?

When one of Disney’s landscapers went to Nepal to collect seeds to plant around the Animal Kingdom, he met a clever elephant named Durgha Kali. When he would ride Durgha, she would pick her favorite plants and then hand them to him. The seeds from these plants are now full-grown and can be found in the African section of the park! Durgha obviously had quite the eye for decorating.

6. Dragons, and Unicorns and Sea Monsters – Oh my!

If you take a look at the official logo for the Animal Kingdom, you may notice an animal that you’ve never actually seen there – the dragon. At one time, Disney planned on having a section of the park dedicated to mythical creatures called Beastly Kingdom. Due to several factors, including finances, the project was eventually shelved. Interestingly, some of the Imagineers on the project went to Universal Studios shortly after and many of those ideas were used in the creation of the Lost Continent at Islands of Adventure. If you are wondering why you didn’t see the Lost Continent on your last trip to the park, that’s because it is now The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! At least Animal Kingdom now offer Pandora – The World of Avatar which features the Banshee… a dragon-like creature.

5. Expedition Everest cost HOW much?

Did you know that Expedition Everest is the most expensive roller coaster ever made? Topping out at a whopping $100 million dollars, it’s even earned a spot in the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records!

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4. Pride Rock has gotten some upgrades.

If you’ve ever seen the lions lounging about on the rocks during the Kilimanjaro Safari ride, it probably wasn’t a coincidence that they were there when you came by. Those rocks are actually climate controlled to encourage the kitties to hang out there! How cool is that? (Literally, if we are referring to these rocks during the summer.)

3. How do they control overpopulation?

Now this just another example of how Disney Imagineers really do think of everything. In an effort to control overpopulation, they have given fake eggs to some of the birds to sit on. This convinces the older birds that they don’t need to lay eggs of their own, because there already seems to be a steady supply of them just waiting to hatch. It also helps the younger birds to understand which places are safest for laying their eggs. Brilliant!

2. Did you know you can get about 10 feet away from hippos and crocs?

Sign up for their Wild Africa Trek to get your own privately guided VIP tour! This three hour safari will take you over croc-infested waters on a shaky rope bridge (while secured with a safety harness), and across the savanna in a safari vehicle! This is about as up-close-and-personal as it gets!

1. The tigers at the Animal Kingdom are probably better behaved at the doctor than you are.

The vets at the park have actually taught the tigers how to respond to certain hand signals and verbal cues to make their interactions safer and more efficient! If the vet asks for their tail, they oblige, even though it means they are going to get an injection! I can say for certain that they are much better patients than I am, especially when the needles come out.

I hope you enjoyed reading this, as much as I enjoyed writing it! Who knew there was so much going on under the surface of this amazing park?

About Brooke Fleming

When describing Brooke to people who haven't met her, her best friend says, "Have you ever seen Enchanted? Because that's basically Brooke." Though flattery was not the intention of this comment, Brooke maintains it was the best compliment she has ever received. Naturally, she would feel right at home in the land of The Mouse and is always down for a Disney sing along. Still hasn't tried the grey stuff, though she's heard it's delicious. Stay tuned, as that story develops. Check out her blog, Whatever is Lovely, at brookefleming.com for more stories about food, travel, and yes, a bit of Disney.