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Vintage Walt Disney World Resort: Building a Theater in the Wild

Nate Rasmussen

by , Librarian, Walt Disney Archives

Since opening in 1998, Theater in the Wild has been home to three different productions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Below is an aerial view of the theater when the park was still under construction back in September 1997.
Theater in the Wild at Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney Wold Resort, September 1997
Originally an open-air amphitheater, Theater in the Wild brought The Jungle Book to life from Walt Disney Feature Animation in Journey into Jungle Book. Mowgli, Baloo, King Louie and more sang, danced and retold the story in this 30-minute stage show.
Theater in the Wild at Disney's Animal Kingdom Brought 'The Jungle Book' to Life with Journey into Jungle Book at Walt Disney World Resort
Premiering July 9, 1999, Tarzan Rocks! opened. With singers, dancers, gymnasts, aerialists and in-line skaters joining Tarzan, Jane and Terk this show celebrated the movie’s soundtrack along with amazing stunts and spectacular costumes.
'Tarzan Rocks' Premiered at Theater in the Wild at Disney's Animal Kingdom in July 1999
Now home to Finding Nemo-The Musical, Theater in the Wild continues to bring Broadway caliber entertainment to guests of Disney’s Animal Kingdom every day.
Theater in the Wild at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Now Home to Finding Nemo – The Musical at Walt Disney World Resort

Excited about the park’s anniversary? Join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #DAK15.


  • Tarzan Rocks was the best show ever!!!My family and I really miss it.

  • I’ve seen all three of these shows and they were all fantastic! I loved the meet and greets with the Jungle Book characters.

  • Nate – just stumbled across this trove of archived images and information. I wanted to reach out to you as my family is deeply entwined with WDW… my sister and I grew up in the park (literally) as my mother worked at the Christmas Store in Buena Vista and my father took a lot of the shots you’ve posted! He was the “Chief of Photography” (for lack of a better term) at the park prior to its construction and up through 1983. He passed away a year ago and I was scouring the internet to see if I could find some of his images from his time at Disney, but it’s difficult to know who shot what! Any chance you have information on that? – thanks!

  • I second Hector, “Finding Nemo: The Musical is, alongside Festival of the Lion King, the best theme park theatrical production I’ve had the pleasure to attend.”
    As far as theme park entertainment, it was only topped by the original performances of Disney’s Believe on the Disney Dream!

  • I loved, loved, loved Tarzan Rocks!! The skaters were amazing, and the music was cool 🙂

  • Tarzan Rocks was one of the best shows to ever play at WDW. The high energy show was just a lot of fun and the live band was awesome!! Nemo is still a great show with amazing performers and music.

  • I remember going to Tarzan Rocks! with my parents on my second trip to WDW. I loved every bit of it 🙂 I still haven’t made it over to the theater again to see Nemo, but I plan to in June and I can’t wait!!

  • Finding Nemo: The Musical is, alongside Festival of the Lion King, the best theme park theatrical production I’ve had the pleasure to attend. I just hope the theater was better themed to what is presenting.

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