When looking at the four theme parks in Walt Disney World, one park stands above the others, in our opinion, as consistently under-appreciated, that park is Disney’s Animal Kingdom. From its inception to the meticulous crafting of its iconic features, this article will talk about some of the fascinating facts behind one of our most loved Disney theme parks worldwide.
You’ll learn about the remarkable journeys of the Imagineers, the creation of the awe-inspiring attractions, and Disney’s unwavering commitment to animal care and conservation. So, buckle up as we embark on an enchanting exploration, and give some much-deserved love to Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
Genesis and Development of the Kingdom
Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a marvel of modern imagination and engineering, was realized through the tireless efforts of a dedicated team of seven Walt Disney Imagineers. Led by Creative Portfolio Executive Joe Rohde, this core team journeyed an astounding 500,000 miles, equivalent to circling the Earth 20 times, in preparation for the creation of the park.
The iconic Tree of Life, a central figure in the park, was crafted meticulously by ten artists and three Imagineers over a span of 18 months. Over 337 animal carvings adorn the tree, each one completed within five to eight hours before the plaster set.
Beyond its intricate carvings, the Tree of Life is adorned with more than 103,000 leaves, each a foot long and crafted from a unique type of plastic.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom boasts a diverse collection of flora, with over 4 million trees, plants, shrubs, vines, epiphytes, grasses, and ground-coverings sourced from every continent on Earth, barring Antarctica.
The Wonders of Pandora – The World of Avatar
The Valley of Mo’ara in Pandora – The World of Avatar is home to 22 majestic floating mountains that tower approximately 130 feet above the valley floor. These awe-inspiring structures were created by a team of over 60 artisans hailing from the U.S., Peru, France, Portugal, Japan, and Ireland. Their collective efforts resulted in an extraordinary art-scape.
The Marvel of Expedition Everest
In their pursuit of authenticity, Disney Imagineers embarked on a journey to Nepal to study the region’s architecture and culture. This research greatly influenced the design of Expedition Everest. Standing nearly 200 feet high and spread across a 6.2-acre site, Expedition Everest is one of 18 mountain attractions created by Walt Disney Imagineering at Disney theme parks worldwide.
The Kilimanjaro Safaris, another intriguing feature of the park, offers an immersive experience with its rutted road designed to mimic a remote African road. The design team achieved this by matching concrete with the surrounding soil and embedding it with stones, dirt, and twigs.
Animal Care and Conservation Efforts
Disney’s Animal Kingdom houses an advanced Animal Nutrition Center that prepares and delivers over 1,500 individual or group diets daily, totaling over 10,000 pounds of food.
The park is also home to one of North America’s leading zoo hospitals. Equipped with state-of-the-art facilities such as advanced imaging, digital radiology, ultrasound, and endoscopy, it is one of the few animal hospitals in U.S. zoos with computed tomography (CT) scanners on-site.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom has overseen numerous animal births, including that of a new baby elephant named Corra, which was the first second-generation calf to be born in the park. Nearly 40 Guam kingfisher chicks have also hatched here, significantly boosting the global population of these birds. Currently, there are only about 145 of these birds in the world!
Walt Disney’s Enduring Affection for Animals
Walt Disney’s affinity for animals dates back to his childhood when he lived on a 45-acre farm in Marceline, Missouri. He helped care for farm animals and honed his artistic skills by drawing pictures of them. His love for animals is reflected in every aspect of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
In honor of Walt Disney’s legacy, the Disney Conservation Fund continues to make significant strides in benefiting wildlife globally, providing support to nonprofit organizations committed to reversing the decline of endangered species and preserving habitats. Since its inception in 1995, the Disney Conservation Fund has allocated over $120 million to aid nonprofit organizations.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is often an under-appreciated gem among theme parks. Yet, it remains one of our favorites due to its remarkably consistent theming and innovative storytelling techniques. Its ability to weave narratives into every nook and cranny of the park, while maintaining a strong commitment to authenticity and conservation, sets it apart.
Despite being overshadowed at times, Disney’s Animal Kingdom continues to inspire and captivate visitors with its immersive experiences, making it a must-visit destination for all!
Experience Disney’s Deluxe Resorts For Less!
If you’re planning an upcoming trip to Animal Kingdom theme park, there’s no doubt that Animal Kingdom Villas is the perfect place for lodging! Both sides of this resort, Jambo House and Kidani Village, provide a unique way to enjoy the Disney magic and are a natural extension of the Animal Kingdom theme park.
Rachel fell deeply in love with all things Disney as a little girl. Now as a wife and a mother herself, she shares this Disney obsession with her son and everyone around her. From her love of princesses to eating all the Disney food, Rachel spends her time radiating Disney magic and keeping everyone up to date on Disney news.