Disney celebrated the 20th anniversary of Animal Kingdom park at Walt Disney World Resort yesterday.
Joe Rohde, creative portfolio executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, led the creation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
“We created this park out of a set of ideals that we believed were relevant and meaningful,” he said. “As the years have passed, those ideals have only become more relevant and more meaningful. Our lives are bound to the lives of all creatures.”
Animal Kingdom had its grand opening on 22 April 1998. The 230-hectare park is themed around the natural environment and conservation with more than 2,000 animals living there. It received 10.8 million human visitors in 2016.
Djuan Rivers, vice-president of Animal Kingdom, noted how it has grown over the last two decades.
“Since 1998, we have been extremely conscious that what we have here is a new species of theme park,” he said. “And while it has undergone an amazing transformation in the past few years, it will always be dedicated to helping our guests create a personal connection with the natural world.”
In May last year, Pandora – The World of Avatar debuted at the park. The new themed Avatar area is set a generation after the human-Na’vi conflict in the Oscar-winning 3D film from James Cameron.
The lush 5-hectare Pandoran landscape recreates a land 4.4 light years away from Earth. It features two main attractions, Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey.
Just this month, Disney introduced the Pandora Utility Suit, a mech suit from the Avatar film universe, to the area. A performer pilots the suit around the park, portraying a scientist explaining conservation and the flora and fauna of Pandora to guests.
Animal Kingdom timeline
Plans for “Wild Animal Kingdom” announced.
Groundbreaking for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Grand opening for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Accreditation from Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Grand opening of Asia, which includes Kali River Rapids and Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Colobus Monkey Habitat opens on Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.
First phase of Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama opens with TriceraTop Spin attraction and midway games.
Primeval Whirl opens at Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama.
Lucky the Dinosaur, the first audio-animatronics figure capable of walking and moving independently, makes special appearances.
Expedition Everest opens.
Grand opening for Finding Nemo – the Musical.
Wild Africa Trek opens.
Festival of the Lion King debuts in its new home, the Harambe Theatre.
Harambe Market opens.
Pandora – the World of Avatar opens.
Animal Kingdom celebrates 20th anniversary.