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Vintage Walt Disney World: Students Celebrate the Opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Nate Rasmussen

by , Librarian, Walt Disney Archives

On March 29, 1998, 1,300 performers (high school students) representing more than 15 different countries converged in Central Park to pull off one spectacular stunt to celebrate the upcoming opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.


Using “human animation” these performers brought a lion, dinosaur and fire-breathing dragon to life, each spanning approximately half a football field in length at Sheep Meadow inside Central Park. Taking months to choreograph, the stunt aired on “Good Morning America” and the Walt Disney World Easter Parade.


Many props were used to help bring these animals to life including three hundred pom-poms to create the lion’s mane and sixteen spikey flags for the dragon’s back.

And while that lion in Central Park is quite impressive, it doesn’t even hold a candle to the real lion I’ve seen while on my two-week adventure over at Kilimanjaro Safaris.

For more Vintage Walt Disney World posts, see below:


  • Well, not back, since it never happened, but you get what I mean.

  • Bring Beastly Kingdom back!

  • Oh boy….things I remember well have started becoming “Vintage” WDW. I guess that means I have gotten old!

  • oh Dragons, you’re a constant reminder of how great Animal Kingdom could have been…

  • I uploaded a copy of the video that i have. Sorry for the quality as its from the VHS that was given to everybody who was in it. At the end I think there is even a little making of section

  • Omg i was in this , i am in the second row of the top of the t-rex.

    I had a lot of fun. I still have the vhs of the whole thing.

    You forgot to mention how hot it was that day and we were wearing black sweat pants and long sleeve black tshirts.

  • These three pillars where the stuff that Animal Kingdom would have been made on. Unfortunately the mythological animals got left out. I hope we one day will see the Amphisbaena, Chrysomallus, Pegasus, Phoenix, Trojan Cetus and all those other wonderful and exiting animals.
    But besides that it´s still my most favorite Disney World park.

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