Disney Theme Parks Wiki
Advertisement
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Tree of Life

Opened

April 22, 1998

Disney's Animal Kingdom is an animal theme park located at the Walt Disney World Resort. The fourth park built at the resort, it opened on April 22, 1998, and it is the largest single Disney theme park in the world, covering more than 500 acres (202 ha). It 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, meaning they have met or exceeded the standards in Education, Conservation, and Research.

The park consists of seven themed areas, with all but one connected to Discovery Island, which contains the Tree of Life, a sculpted 14-story (145-foot-tall [44 m]), 50-foot-wide (15 m) artificial tree that serves as the centerpiece and icon of Disney's Animal Kingdom. A new area based on the 2009 film Avatar and its planned sequels is set to begin construction by 2013. In 2010, the park hosted approximately 9.7 million guests, ranking it the fourth-most visited amusement park in the United States and seventh-most visited in the world.

Dedication[]

“Welcome to a kingdom of animals...real, ancient, and imagined: a kingdom ruled by lions, tigers 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

Themed Areas[]

The park is made up of seven themed areas. However, the original plans called for another area called Beastly Kingdom. Construction on an Avatar-themed area will begin by 2013.

Past entertainment[]

Future Areas[]

Former-Built Areas[]

Conservation[]

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 five calves, with births in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, and 2010. 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.

Operations[]

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.

Controversy[]

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, the 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.

Sources & External Links[]

Advertisement