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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Celebrates 15 Years of Wild Adventure April 22

Jennifer Fickley-Baker

by , Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the fourth theme park built at the Walt Disney World Resort, will celebrate its 15th anniversary today, April 22, which also happens to be Earth Day.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Celebrates 15 Years of Wild Adventure

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Celebrates 15 Years of Wild Adventure Disney’s Animal Kingdom Celebrates 15 Years of Wild Adventure

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.


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  • Finding Nemo – The Musical

  • Without a doubt, my favorite is Finding Nemo: The Musical. We literally watched 4/6 showings one time when we were there. (Of course we made the joke “and sometimes….if you wanna do it four times…)

    But everyone else is listing “attractions”….I noticed you did say “offereings”…..Tusker House, man. Just, Tusker House.

  • Animal Kingdom is my favorite park at WDW. It’s full of Life and I ALWAYS find something different there every time I go. All the attractions and shows are fantastic. But I NEVER miss a chance to go on the Kilimanjaro Safaris. I’m eager to see the new zebra addition to the attraction. LOVE it!

  • Choosing just one does an injustice to all the rest, so since AK is the 4th WDW park, I’ll give my top four– Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safari, Festival of the Lion King and Dinosaur. Dinosaur is the most underrated attraction in AK. FotLK is arguably the best stage show in all of WDW. KS is endlessly absorbing because of how it immerses you into the animals’ environments. And EE excellently combines the best elements of so many prior Disney thrill rides– the dark aspect of Space Mountain, the thrilling speed of Big Thunder, the gut-wrenching drops of Splash Mountain, and the exquisite attention to detail matched only by Tower of Terror– to give parkgoers one of the very best experiences in the entire resort. And although I haven’t yet gone on Wild Africa Trek (I hope to when we go to WDW later this year), I suspect it’d be close to the top of the list too! Congrats Disney on 15 years of Animal Kingdom!!!

  • Our family loves learning about conservation at Rafiki’s Planet Watch and we always laugh at It’s Tough to be a Bug! 🙂 Our oldest son also likes DINOSAUR. We can’t wait to visit again next month! 😀

  • These are some great photos, thanks for sharing. I think the sea turtle photo is actually from The Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion though, not Animal Kingdom.

  • We love the Safari, yes we also love Everest but the safari is different every time you ride it.

  • I would have to say that The Festival of the Lion King would have to be my favorite attraction in Animal Kingdom. in fact it’s my favorite show in Walt Disney World. The Kilamanjaro Safari is a close second!

  • Wild Africa Trek is amazing! I especially loved having lunch on the Savannah. AK is by far my favorite park! Happy Anniversary!

  • I’ve loved each Animal KIngdom experience as it was added, but my Wild Africa Trek last November was the best.

    • That is a pretty amazing experience, isn’t it?

  • Without question my kids would say Expedition Everest, but my personal favorite is Festival of the Lion King with Finding Nemo – the Musical a close second. Those shows are so incredible!!!

    • Those are three great choices!

  • Although I would love to ride Expedition Everest, right now my favorite attraction in the park is Kilamanjaro Safari! Besides the fun loving thrill ride “DINOSAUR!”

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