The Walt Disney World Resort is prepping to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom next month. That is, if the theme park is still operational by then.
Earlier this week, Disney Parks made several exciting announcements about new additions and experiences coming to the Walt Disney World Resort in the coming weeks and months, including the long-awaited opening of the TRON Lightcycle/Run attraction at Magic Kingdom on April 4, 2023.
Disney also announced that the Disney100 celebration is finally coming to the Walt Disney World Resort later this year. EPCOT will serve as the epicenter for the Resort-wide celebration, and later this fall, EPCOT will debut a brand-new nighttime spectacular inspired by 100 years of wonder. There will also be new character meet-and-greets in the parks, as well as surprises to be shared later.
But perhaps one of the most exciting announcements of the day involved Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which opened to Guests on April 22, 1998. This year marks its 25th anniversary, and Disney is all about celebrating anniversaries. A milestone anniversary is always cause for celebration at Disney Parks, and it has been Disneyland first opened in 1955. In October 2021, the Walt Disney World Resort kicked off its 18-month-long 50th anniversary celebration, which will conclude at the end of March 2023. Disneyland Paris began its 30th anniversary festivities in March 2022, and that celebration is still going strong.
According to Disney Parks Blog, Disney World will celebrate “25 Years of Innovation and Conservation” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, beginning in April 2023. The animal-themed park boasts thrilling rides and attractions, Broadway-style musical stage shows, and exciting animal encounters. The park also serves as the headquarters for Disney’s Conservation Fund, which was begun in 1995 and supports non-profit organizations that work to save wildlife and protect our planet. Since its inception, the Fund has contributed more than $120 million to those organizations.
As part of the celebration, Disney World will showcase new food offerings, new specialty merchandise, and exciting limited-time-only character sightings in the park. The Resort also promises more surprises on April 22, the park’s official anniversary date.
Also, just in time for the 25th anniversary celebration, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will soon welcome Moana to meet Guests near Discovery Island, beginning on April 22.
All of the exciting 25th anniversary festivities will kick off in April, if Disney’s Animal Kingdom is still open to Guests and operational at that time. For months now, rumors have been swirling about the viability of Disney World’s fourth park, leading many to speculate that Disney may be planning the permanent closure of the animal-themed park. If so, are they just going through the motions with news of the anniversary celebration? That’s unclear.
Recently, an outlet even reported that a possible closure of Disney’s Animal Kingdom could be on the horizon, citing the exorbitant costs associated with animal care that are incurred by Disney World on a daily basis. The report reads in part:
“Animal Kingdom is the largest of all the Disney [theme] parks around the world at over 500 acres. The cost per acre is astonishing, as well as the day-to-day costs. Kilimanjaro Safaris is the main reason for the high costs. This attraction is 110 acres. That’s larger than Magic Kingdom! It’s also home to 34 species of wildlife. Disney spends a ton of money feeding and taking care of these unique animals.”
The report goes on to suggest that low attendance in the park, coupled with the rising costs and expenses of caring for and feeding thousands of animals, could ultimately leave Disney with no choice but to permanently close the park–and sooner rather than later.
“We are seeing many other issues at Animal Kingdom as well,” the report continues. “The Yeti still doesn’t work on Expedition Everest. That was an expensive mistake. Primeval Whirl has been demolished. Animal Kingdom has nothing going for it right now. Disney’s Animal Kingdom may be closing permanently. This is due to high costs and low revenue with it being the least visited Disney Park.”
But Disney Parks has made no mention of a planned closure of the park, and there’s been no talk of even the possibility of such a closure. Though this is not a guarantee that such a decision will never be made by Disney Parks, it seems apparent as of the time of this publication that there are far more reasons for Disney to continue to operate Animal Kingdom than to shut it down. And with that being said, let the 25th Anniversary Celebration begin! Well, next month, anyway.