Disney’s Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort is an immersive location that celebrates the diversity and beauty of nature while inviting Guests to enjoy an array of experiences that bring them on exotic adventures and journeys. The core theme of the Park is to share a message about the importance of conservation and how we can all celebrate our beautiful planet and nature for centuries to come.
While thousands of Guests visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom every single day, the Disney Park is so incredibly detailed and full of rich history that often goes overlooked. Check out these questions to see if you are an expert on all things Disney’s Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort.
When did Disney’s Animal Kingdom open?
Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened on April 22, 1998, making it the fourth Disney Park at the Walt Disney World Resort. Since the Park celebrates nature and conservation, it is fitting that opening day was on Earth Day, furthering the theming and history.
What opening day attractions were available?
When Disney’s Animal Kingdom first opened in 1998, there were plenty of attractions for Guests to enjoy, including many that are still open today. Opening day featured It’s Tough to Be a Bug!, DINOSAUR, The Boneyard, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, Wildlife Express Train, Rafiki’s Planet Watch with the Affection Section, Habitat Habit!, and the Conservation Station. Other experiences that were available on opening day that have been removed or updated were Camp Minnie Mickey and Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends which were replaced with Pandora – The World of Avatar, Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King which was relocated, and is now The Festival of the Lion King, and Flights of Wonder which was replaced by UP! A Great Bird Adventure.
What can be found in the core of the Tree of Life?
The Tree of Life is the main icon of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the massive tree towers over the Disney Park with vibrant green leaves that gently sway in the breeze. The Tree of Life is a very complicated and impressive structure as it houses the Tree of Life Theater inside its roots where Guests can enjoy It’s Tough to Be a Bug! throughout each day. In order to create a supporting structure that could withstand the sometimes harsh Central Florida weather and safely house a theater, the Imagineers got creative and recycled an oil rig which they flipped upside down to use the main section for the theater and the supports aiming upwards to lead into the branches of the tree.
How many animals are carved onto the Tree of Life?
While the Tree of Life simply looks like a massive and majestic tree from a distance, up close Guests are delighted to find 325 animals carved into the branches, trunk, and roots. Each animal features incredible detailing, making them seem very lifelike and realistic, which was a very impressive feat as the sculptors only had a brief window of time to work until the material set and hardened. Guests will also notice that the Tree of Life does feature several extinct species, but they are only found in the roots of the tree where the wood appears to be older and wearing away over time, signifying their place in the past.
What could fit inside Kilimanjaro Safaris?
One of the most popular attractions in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is Kilimanjaro Safaris, which can be found in the Africa section of the Disney Park in the village of Harambe. The attraction has Guests enter the Harambe Reserve and board authentic safari vehicles to set off on an unforgettable adventure filled with animals like elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, lions, hippos, and rhinos. The Harambe Reserve is absolutely massive and spans 110 acres, which can fit the entire Magic Kingdom inside with three acres to spare!
How much did it cost to construct Pandora – The World of Avatar?
Camp Minnie Mickey was a popular area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom when it first opened and offered a fun, playful area where Guests could enjoy live entertainment, character meet and greets, and parades. The location closed in 2014 to make way for the breathtaking Pandora – The World of Avatar, an immersive world that brings Guests to the Valley of Mo’ara, where gravity-defying floating mountains loom above, exotic vegetation comes alive with bioluminescence at night, and popular attractions, dining, and shopping locations can be found including Avatar Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey, and Satu’li Canteen. All in all, it cost a whopping five hundred million dollars for the design and construction of Pandora – The World of Avatar leading up to its opening in 2017 making it one of the most expensive areas ever built at the Walt Disney World Resort.
What company runs Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain?
One of the biggest thrill attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort is Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain in the Asia area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This high-speed adventure brings Guests on what is supposed to be a shortcut through the Forbidden Mountain to Everest’s base camp, however, things take a turn when the Yeti steps in as the protector of the mountain. Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain is an extremely immersive experience, and Guests are made to believe that they are being transported by the company Himalayan Escapes on their adventure to the highest summit in the world.
Who is Manisha Gurung?
Also found in the Asia area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is Kali River Rapids, an extremely popular attraction that brings Guests on a journey down the Chakranadi River on family-style rafts. The soaking journey begins peacefully but ends up taking a turn when Guests see the devastation caused by illegal foresting firsthand. The journey is made possible by Kali Rapids Exploration, a company founded by local Anandapur resident Manisha Gurung, who can be seen in the pre-show video discussing her work protesting the Tetak Logging Company and raising money to help prevent deforestation.
What highway is Dinoland found on?
Dinoland in Disney’s Animal Kingdom features its own rich backstory that began when local residents discovered a plethora of dinosaur bones, which lead to the development of the Dino Institute being founded nearby. Chester and Hester were local residents who saw the opportunity to create a roadside attraction to bring in tourists visiting the Dino Institute, and they created the Dino-O-Rama along a stretch of Highway 98. While this highway might seem like a random number, it pays homage to the year that Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened while also continuing the rich backstory of Dinoland!
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