Celebrating 15 years of Disney’s Animal Kingdom!




15 years ago today, Disney’s Animal Kingdom opens it’s doors for guests for the first time! Do you remember the “Nahtazu” campaign? A lot of people thought that Animal Kingdom was just going to be a zoo, but it proved to be so much more than that. The park was scheduled to open at 7 am on April 22, 1998. There were so many people in line, that they decided to open an hour early, at 6 am. Just over an hour later, Animal Kingdom was at maximum capacity, and the gates had to close again until later that afternoon. Disney estimates that over 35,000 guests visited the park on opening day.

Guests who were able to visit Animal Kingdom on it’s first day, were treated to 5 attractions, 9 exhibits, 12 entertainment shows, 8 food locations, and 11 stores to shop in. Only two of the three main lands were open, Africa and Dinoland USA, Asia opened exactly one year later. Here’s the rundown of what Animal Kingdom’s first visitors were able to see!

THE OASIS:The first area guests experience after entering the park, it is a tropical garden filled with exotic plants and wildlife.

SAFARI VILLAGE:A colorful island celebrating animals and the departure point to all the lands of adventure. Safari Village includes The Tree of Life, The Tree of Life Garden, It’s Tough to be a Bug!, and Discovery River Boats at Safari Village.

CAMP MINNIE-MICKEY:An old-fashioned summer camp featuring Character Greeting Area, “Festival of the Lion King” at Lion King Theater and “Colors of the Wind, Friends from the Animal Forest” at Grandmother Willow’s Grove.

DINOLAND, U.S.A.:A “fossil park” featuring Countdown to Extinction, The Boneyard, Cretaceous Trail, 1998 Dinosaur Jubilee.

AFRICA:A contemporary port of East Africa including Kilimanjaro Safaris, Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, and Wildlife Express to Conservation Station.

ASIA:Not totally completed by opening day, this area features Discovery River Boats at Upcountry Landing and“Flights of Wonder” at Caravan Stage.

Animal Kingdom was a success. In the years that followed, more attractions were added, like Expedition Everest and Finding Nemo the Musical. Today, we really enjoy our day when we visit Animal Kingdom. Donald’s Tusker House Breakfast is on our must-do list when we go. It’s a Character Dining experience, and the food is great. We love it. Happy Birthday Animal Kingdom, and here’s to many more years of making magical memories for all who visit!



Author: Michele

Michele Atwood is the Owner/Editor of The Main Street Mouse and it’s subsidiaries and author of the book “Moving to Main Street U.S.A.” Michele also contributes Disney news to the Joe Kelley Morning Show on 96.5 WDBO in Orlando. She and her family made the move from Michigan to the Orlando area to pursue their Disney dreams. Michele is a life long Disney fan, and has two sons who have followed suit, each going on their first Disney trip before their first birthday’s. Part of the goal Michele has for The Main Street Mouse is not only to keep members informed, but to create somewhat of a Disney Family by relating to others through personal experiences and opinions. Also, Michele is making it a priority to share stories of inspiration and hope to other Disney Fans in an effort to share the Magic and hopefully make a difference in the lives of others.

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