Walt Disney World
Walt Disney--The Man
Trip Planning Tips
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom is 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 (because of the Safari style, free-range, many of the animals are housed on), covering more than 500 acres. 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 and exceeded the standards in Education, Conservation and Research.
Shortly after the park opened, Disney advertised the park using the fictional word "nahtazu" (Pronounced "not a zoo,"). The word emphasized that the park was more than animal displays found in a typical city zoo. Disney stopped using the phrase in January 2006.
The Tree of Life, a sculpted 14-story (145-foot-tall, 50-foot-wide) tree, is the centerpiece and icon in Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park. Tourists can walk around the whole park to see all 325 animals carved in the bark of this massive tree attraction. In 2009, the park hosted approximately 9.59 million guests, ranking it the fifth-most visited amusement park in the United States and eighth-most visited in the world.
Video: The Tree of Life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwYTww5czYQ
This is the park dedication: I think it explains the park the way Walt would have said it, short and concise: 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.
—Michael Eisner April 22, 1998
Unrealized Park Plans
A little park history about some unrealized park plans: Disney's Animal Kingdom focuses on three broad classifications of animals: those that exist today; those that did exist, but are now extinct (i.e., dinosaurs); and, those that exist in legend and mythology. In the original design for the park, the animals of legend were to have their own section. The original design for Animal Kingdom included a section called the Beastly Kingdom (possibly spelled as "Beastly Kingdomme"). It was a land devoted to creatures of legend and mythology. Due to budget constraints, Beastly Kingdom never came to fruition and Camp Minnie-Mickey was built as a temporary tenant of the Beastly Kingdom land.
Beastly Kingdom was to have featured mythical animals such as unicorns, dragons, and sea monsters. The land would feature realms of both good and evil creatures. The evil side would be dominated by Dragon Tower, a ruined castle home to a greedy fire-breathing dragon who horded a fabulous treasure in the tower chamber. The castle would also be inhabited by bats who planned to rob the dragon of his riches. They would enlist the guests' help in their scheme and whisk them off on a thrilling roller coaster ride through the castle ruins. The climax of the ride would be an encounter with the evil dragon himself, resulting in a nearly-barbecued train of guests.
The good side of this land would be home to Quest of the Unicorn, an adventure which sent guests through a maze of medieval mythological creatures to seek the hidden grotto where the unicorn lived. Finally, the Fantasia Gardens attraction would be a musical boat ride through animal scenes from Disney's animated classic, Fantasia. The ride would feature both the crocodiles and hippos from " Dance of the Hours" and the Pegasus, fauns, and centaurs from Beethoven's "Pastoral."
Remnants of this planned area were visible when the park opened or are still visible today:
Animal Kingdom Lands
Rafiki's Planet Watch