Today, being Earth Day, is the anniversary of the day Animal Kingdom opened its gates for the first time back in 1998. Animal Kingdom was the fourth theme park to open in Walt Disney World and is the second largest theme park in the world. The park covers 500 acres of land.
Animal Kingdom was 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 and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, meaning they have met or exceeded the standards in education, conservation, and research.
The park is divided up into 7 different lands. They are:
- Discovery Island
- Rafiki’s Planet Watch
- DinoLand U.S.A.
- Avatar: World of Pandora (Currently Under Construction)
Avatar is replacing a previous land known as Camp Minnie-Mickey which closed on January 5, 2014. The land was originally going to be built as Beastly Kingdom, but that never came to be and Camp Minnie-Mickey was built as a temporary tenant.
The park is represented by the 145 foot tall, 50 foot wide icon known as the Tree of Life. This amazing artificial tree has over 300 meticulously detailed animal carvings throughout its massive trunk, gnarling roots and outstretched branches. To see the tree from a distance is amazing, but to actually get close and see all the detail will blow you away. For a close-up view of the animal carvings, take a stroll along the picturesque Discovery Island Trails, which encircle the great tree.
Another way to get a close up look of the tree is to go inside of it. A theater is housed inside the Tree of Life root system where It’s Tough to be a Bug! is performed. This 8-minute, 3D movie and multimedia show stars Flik and Hopper from the Disney•Pixar film A Bug’s Life—along with a supporting cast of insects and arachnids who provide a surprising glimpse into the animal kingdom.
Michael Eisner made the dedication to Animal Kingdom:
“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.”
Happy Anniversary Animal Kingdom!!
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