UPDATE 2: Please click here for a full list of recipients of our park-inspired Vinylmation figure.
UPDATE: Thank you for the wonderful “Happy Anniversary” Disney’s Animal Kingdom messages. We’ve reached our limit and are no longer taking emails for a chance to receive a park-inspired Vinylmation figure. Please keep checking the blog for more on the celebration of the 15th anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
To enter for your chance to win, email us a “Happy Anniversary” greeting of no more than 50 characters in length to WDW.Sweepstakes@Disney.com and include your full name and mailing address in the email. Once the potential winners are determined, we’ll send notifications to the potential winners via e-mail. See the sweepstakes rules and eligibility requirements by clicking here.
Sweepstakes open only to persons who, upon entering, are not deemed minors in their jurisdiction of primary residence and are legal residents of, and physically located within, the 50 United States or D.C. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. Ends 4/23/13.
To join the conversation about the park’s anniversary online, use the hashtag #DAK15 on Twitter.
Today’s celebration featured a special opening ceremony led by Josh D’Amaro, Vice President of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Dr. Jackie Ogden, Vice President of Animals, Science and Environment, and was highlighted with a fun performance of “Circle of Life” from the park’s “Festival of The Lion King.” Other fun planned for the day includes special Earth Day “Party for the Planet” festivities, and unique merchandise and food & beverage offerings.
The park originally opened in 1998 to feature several lands dedicated to exploring wildlife and wild places – Africa, Discovery Island, Oasis, Camp Minnie-Mickey, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, and DinoLand, U.S.A. An additional land, Asia, was added in 1999. The park has seen many exciting additions since its debut, including TriceraTop Spin in 2001, Primeval Whirl in 2002, Expedition Everest (one of my favorites!) in 2006, “Finding Nemo – The Musical,” which grand-opened in 2007, and Wild Africa Trek in 2011.
Which Disney’s Animal Kingdom offering has been your favorite over the years? Tell us in the “Comments” section below.
To join the celebration online, use the hashtag #DAK15 on Twitter.
Get ready to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom on Earth Day, this Monday, April 22. The event will include a special opening ceremony at the Tree of Life, Earth Day “Party for the Planet” festivities, special food and beverage, merchandise, and more. Read the posts below to learn more about the unique Disney’s Animal Kingdom and to find out what’s planned for the park’s anniversary. Are you planning to attend the 15th anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom?
I’m looking forward to the 15th anniversary celebration for Disney’s Animal Kingdom on Earth Day this year. I recall visiting the park on April 22, 1998, for the grand opening celebration. (I still have the opening day T-shirt from it tucked away in my Disney collection.) As part of Limited Time Magic next week, we are releasing a few commemorative items at the Creature Comforts location in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, starting April 22, 2013. Some of these items will have the specially designed 15th anniversary logo that was created by Disney Design Group artists Michael Posluszny and Maria Clapsis.
The 15th anniversary logo will also be included on one of three new D-Tech on Demand cases for the iPhone 4/4s and the iPhone 5. (Note: the iPhone 5 cases are pictured above.)
For Disney pin collectors, we will have two limited edition pins celebrating the 15th anniversary. They join a limited release mystery pin set that was designed by Disney Design Group Artist Mike Sullivan. I like how the set incorporates various characters and experiences from the park (like the Wildlife Express Train!). I also included this year’s limited edition Earth Day pin, which will also be released that day at Walt Disney World Resort (it was released on April 11 at the Disneyland Resort).
We asked a few artists to create one-of-a-kind, 9-inch Vinylmation figures. I was blown away by the level of detail on figures from artists like Brian Blackmore (his figure is shown above). I also loved Javier Soto’s extremely detailed yeti. Other Vinylmation artists include Maria Clapsis, who made the adorable zebra and baby dinosaur; John Henselmeier, who designed the classic safari Mickey Mouse figure; and Adrianne Draude, who created a colorful figure showing Mickey Mouse in the jungle.
You can also find updates on our latest extra sprinkle of pixie dust on Twitter using hashtag #LimitedTimeMagic and on our LimitedTimeMagic.com web page.
Michael Eisner, then chairman and chief executive officer, along with Roy E. Disney, former vice chairman of The Walt Disney Company were on hand to dedicate the park. Roy stated, “Disney’s Animal Kingdom, like the animal world itself, will evolve and grow. It’s truly a living thing.”
While large puppets of birds flew over the crowd and other animals marched down the aisles, the dedication ceremony was a celebration of animals, conservation and the cast members who made Disney’s Animal Kingdom possible. Here’s to another 15 years of wild adventures!
Get there by 8:30 a.m.! While the park and its attractions don’t open until 9 a.m., the turnstiles will open at 8:30 a.m., and I am proud to be joining Disney’s Animal Kingdom Vice President Josh D’Amaro who is hosting a special 15th anniversary ceremony that will take place in front of the Tree of Life at 8:40 a.m.
Commemorative guide map: Be sure to pick one up when you enter the park. And while in the Main Entrance area, also pick up a keepsake postcard that serves as a Party for the Planet guide.
Special conservation button: Starting April 22 and for a limited time (until quantities run out), those who give to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will receive a commemorative 15th anniversary DWCF button.
Party for the Planet activities: In Africa, children will learn how to identify animals by observing tracks and other clues. In Asia, families will find out how choosing “green” products can make a big difference for wildlife and nature. At Rafiki’s Planet Watch, families will discover fun ways to spend time in nature and participate in activities inspired by the Disneynature films “African Cats,” “Chimpanzee,” and “Wings of Life.” Guests also can talk with cast members who work on conservation projects around the world.
Guest artists and special merchandise: Speak with specialists from Elemental Nursery and Just Plumerias, who will be on hand to feature their beautiful plants and topiaries, along with special guest appearances. There will be face painting with a variety of animal images and the opportunity to pose for a fun portrait, plus special 15th anniversary merchandise (quantities limited). Find out more here:
Speciality snacks: A party wouldn’t be a party without snacks–enjoy an Earth Day cupcake.
The Tree of Life is the centerpiece of Disney’s Animal Kingdom – and for me, it has always been one of the most visually stunning sights in the park. This 145-foot-tall masterpiece was designed as a symbol of the circle of life and features 325 animals sculpted into its roots, trunk and branches. No matter how many times I visit the park, I love to try to count how many different animals I can spot.
Check out this video, which shows the construction of the tree from ground up.
For more on what’s planned for the park’s anniversary, don’t miss our previous post.
To join the conversation about the park’s anniversary online, use the hashtag #DAK15 on Twitter.
One of my favorite things to do on weekends is take a road trip in search of vintage roadside signs and attractions. I’ve photographed many of them in states like Florida, Ohio and California. My love for these roadside wonders is one reason I like Chester and Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures in Dinoland, U.S.A., at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. In her book “The Making of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park,” Melody Malmberg described this location as “the ultimate affectionate tribute to roadside Americana.” I recently spent nearly 45 minutes taking photos in this location in anticipation of the park’s 15th anniversary (I was there so long that a retail manager almost scheduled me for work).
According to Malmberg, the shop was founded by Chester and Hester, dinosaur aficionados who turned a gas station into the ultimate dinosaur destination. The Dino Institute wants to “buy and raze the place, but Chester and Hester’s unidentified heirs have as good a sense of humor as the originators.” The heirs refuse to sell, and have kept the shop filled with countless dinosaur toys, figures, images and more.
I love the little vignettes found throughout the shop like “Hester’s Dino Rocks,” which feature a dinosaur band, or the western town overrun with dinosaurs. The outside of the shop is just as much fun as the inside with huge playful signs. You can even see a painted over gas sign on the back roof of the shop.
This location contains a good mixture of merchandise items including apparel, toys, hats, coffee mugs and even D-Tech electronic accessories. There are also a few DINOSAUR attraction themed items like Carnotaurus latex figures or radio controlled Time Rover ride vehicles.
I invite you to stop by Chester and Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures next time you are in Dinoland, U.S.A. Here are a few additional photos from my expedition.
“Our tours are designed to take you to the early crustaceous period. And I can assure you that all Time Rovers have been securely locked on those coordinates.” Famous last words from Dr. Marsh, right?
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park brought the age of the dinosaurs back to life in 1998 when the Dino Institute in Dinoland, U.S.A., opened. Here’s a look at the Institute still under construction in October 1997.
Originally called Countdown to Extinction, this attraction takes guests 65 million years back in time to rescue an iguanodon from extinction. The attraction changed its name on May 1, 2000 in honor of the Walt Disney Pictures film “Dinosaur.”
It doesn’t matter how many times I travel back in time on a Time Rover, I always believe Dr. Seeker as he screams, “You’re not gonna make it!” Luckily we do make it, and I’m still here to write about my adventures at the Dino Institute.
I just returned from an inspiring trip to Colombia, South America, and am excited to tell you about it. As part of our conservation program at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we are working to protect a critically endangered monkey, the cotton-top tamarin found only in Colombia. Proyecto Tití also works with local communities to reduce the number of cotton-top tamarins that are in the illegal pet trade. Their program teaches kids to keep “wildlife in the wild” and to say “No” to pet monkeys and “Yes” to building a special bond with their dogs or cats.
Of course, teaching the kids and their families how to keep their pets healthy is an important part of this, and representatives from the University of Florida School of Veterinary Medicine came to Colombia as part of a pilot program that included providing vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and other medical care for the dogs and cats of Los Limites, a village that borders our cotton-top tamarin field site. Keeping the pets healthy also reduces the possibility of disease transmission to both the people and the wildlife in the area.
We also wanted to help kids and their families develop a new appreciation for their pets by helping kids understand how their dogs are smart and motivated to please. Disney’s animal care team members Marty MacPhee, Maggio Gonio, and Mauricio Saldarriaga helped create a program, which we piloted with a group of kids from Los Limites, on how to train your dog and learn about dog behavior. Mauricio traveled with me to Colombia to teach the program. Included were great activities that helped the kids learn how to decode dog behavior by watching the position of a dog’s ears and tail, and, of course, keeping an eye out for facial expressions and learning to speak “dog.” They really loved creating their own dog mask with moveable ears and acting out different dog behaviors. They really enjoyed playing the training game, trying to train each other to perform a specific behavior without using words. It really is hard to get someone to understand what you want when you can’t use words. But once the kids learned that the sound of a clicker means that you are correct, and that there is a tasty treat on the way, they found a new way to train their own dogs! Take a look at the short video clip of one of the children, Angie, training her dog, Congo. Be sure to look closely for the not-so-hidden Mickey hand on the end of the target stick!
At the end of the program, we had a graduation ceremony, and the children received diplomas for completing their first dog training class. They were so proud of everything they had accomplished. Seeing their smiling faces, and their heartfelt promise to keep training and caring for their dogs, makes me realize just how important programs like these are for kids who live in Los Limites. Helping people care for their dogs, so that they can appreciate just how much fun it is to have that special relationship with a pet, is not only good for people, but ultimately helps protect the wildlife of Colombia.