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Vintage Walt Disney World: A Wild Dedication for Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Nate Rasmussen

by , Librarian, Walt Disney Archives

On April 21, 1998, Walt Disney World Resort dedicated its fourth theme park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom in a colorful ceremony celebrating animals real, ancient and imagined.

Vintage Walt Disney World: A Wild Dedication for Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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.”

Vintage Walt Disney World: A Wild Dedication for Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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!


  • My mistake. I was Stage Left. Forgive me, it’s been a while!

  • I was on the stage as a performer! My high school was invited to perform for the opening ceremonies, so I’m in at least the shot of the entire stage. Do you have any closer shots of the performers Stage Right?

  • Having worked at WDW during the preview of the park, I got a look at the original plans for Animal Kingdom. Saw things that weren’t there for the opening and still hope some of them will arrive sometime in the future. But I can truly say, Animal Kingdom is STILL my favorite park at WDW.

  • In the beginning, I felt the conservation message trampled on me. Heavy-handed storylines of the two biggest rides then – Kilimanjaro Safari w/ Big Red plot v1.0 and Kali River Rapids – were pretty brutal and between the eyes. Now I believe there’s a healthier balance with the conservation message as it remains very strong, but not as overwhelming as it was.

  • I was THERE on opening day, loved it — I’LL BE BACK THERE FOR THE CELEBRATION ON MONDAY –WEARING MY ‘OPENING DAY TEE SHIRT’. now I’ll have to rent a scooter to get around but it will be even more fun seeing the evolution of “The World”. Can’t wait to do the Safari, see the parade and everything else. HOPE to see ya’ll there. JOGEE (tinkerbell)

  • I love AK, but I wish the conservation message wouldn’t kept getting trampled on.

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