Disney's Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom's dedication was read by Michael Eisner on April 22, 1998

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

Animal Kingdom EntranceThe marketing slogan Disney used for this park was "Nahtazu!". I agree Disney's Animal Kingdom is not a zoo. That is my conclusion after going to the park several times. Many people say the park is just a glorified zoo. I think that it only thing it has in common with a regular zoo are animals. Everything else is quite different and very Disney. The park has a little bit of everything in it. It has parts that are close to a wild animal park, parts that are like other Disney theme parks, parts that are like a botanical garden, and parts that are unlike anything you have seen before. If you go into the park with an open mind and take a relaxing walk through and try to just experience the park you will have a very enjoyable visit. If you "attack" this park like a traditional Disney park you will probably have a good time, but you will miss out on what makes this park so great. I just hope that Disney will continue to expand on this idea, verses getting sucked in with more "rides" mindset like they did at the Studios.

My first experience at Disney's Animal Kingdom started with a 6:20am bus ride from the Yacht Club resort to the Animal Kingdom. It was a foggy December morning. Pulling up to the park was weird in the fog. You could not see exactly what lies ahead or on the sides. You would get brief glimpses of what is to come. After departing the bus and starting to walk to the main gate, something weird occurred. Disney was passing out FREE hot chocolate, Tea, or Coffee to anyone who wanted it. I could not believe my eyes. It was almost as if the fog had taken us into the twilight zone or something.

I was immediately struck by the vast amounts of green. I had seen the park on TV and in pictures, but I was not prepared for the scope and density of it. As you cross the bridge to enter the park you get your first view of the Tree of Life. This structure is incredibly detailed and amazing to look at. The rest of the park carries out the grand look. I was really impressed by the entire park. Disney had done their normal, outstanding, job of adding detail and character to the park.

Geek's Thoughts & Suggestions
The Geek's Bro Says

Look, I know the geek says that it is not a zoo, but if it's got animals at it, it's a zoo... Well I guess thats not entirely true... The Animal Kingdom is more a zoo-plus to steal a phrase from the recent political races. You see for all intensive purposes it is a zoo, where you go to see animals. However Disney takes it one step further like they do everything else, allowing visitors to see the animals in a more natural environment. That made the trip to this park worth it.

Be prepared to walk. Animal Kingdom is a huge park. Attractions are quite far apart, and there are no real straight paths. This really makes navigating the park fun if you just want to sit back and relax, but troublesome if you are in a hurry to get somewhere.

I would also recommend to get to the park early or really late. By 10am the park had filled up quite a bit and alot of the fun had started to vanish because you now had to watch where you were walking or you would run into a wall of people but after 2pm the park starts to empty. In those early morning hours you can really enjoy the park. I think this park is best for people who want to relax a bit. After being to the other theme parks, the pace at Animal Kingdom is much more laid back and its a great change. Another great time to visit the park is the late afternoon right before closing. Since there are not that many attractions to experience most people are done with the park early in the day.

I think Disney has made the park visually appealing enough and educational enough to keep both parents and children interested throughout the day. As of now the audience that seemed most impatient was that of the teenager. Disney is trying to address this by adding more attractions (which I really hope does not lead down the road to what happened at the Studios).

After dark Animal Kingdom takes on a slightly different personality. First off most guests leave the park since all the animal exhibits are closed and most shows are done for the day. But if you stick around you can explore Discovery Island and the rest of park which is lit extremely well and is an attraction in itself. If you are the type of Diney fan who just wants to wander a park and take pictures or take in the vistas this is a great time and a perfect park to this in.

A great way to experience the Disney parks is by taking a guided tour. Disney offers several. Check out our Guided Tours section for more information.


Quick Facts
  • Original opening scheduled for May 6,1998
  • Official Public Opening April 22, 1998 (Earthday)
  • Size: just over 500 acres
  • 2.5 million individual grass plants · About 100,000 trees were planted in the creation of the park
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom has several specialized plant collections:The largest collection of flowering trees in North America. The largest collection of African species outside of Africa. The 3rd largest cycad collection in the United States.
  • More than 4 million trees , plants , shrubs , ground covers ,vines , ephiphytes and grasses from every continent on Earth except Antartica - were planted.
  • 15,000 computer controlled sprinkler heads deliver water to the landscape
  • Sixty dump trucks of dirt were delivered to Disney's Animal kingdom construction site every day for 2 years straight , equaling 4.4 million yards of dirt.
  • It takes about three tons of food a day to keep 1,000 animals happy.
  • There is one-million-square-feet of rockwork at Disney's Animal Kingdom. That's twice the valume of rockwork in the Mt. Rushmore sculptures.

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