5 Distinctly Disney Ways Cast are Celebrating 25 Years of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Sarah Riles

by , Vice President, Magic Kingdom Park

As I reflect on our 25th anniversary, it really comes down to one word for me – admiration. For 25 wild years, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park has continued to pave the path and bridge the gap between best-in-class conservation and animal care with unparalleled guest experiences, all centered around our cast members sharing captivating stories of nature in unforgettable ways.

Cast members are the heart and soul of our company, and I have genuinely loved celebrating this milestone anniversary with them in ways that are only possible here at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Here are 5 ways we recognized our cast members as part of the 25th anniversary:


Disney's Animal Kingdom opening team Cast

Can you believe more than 130 cast members (and over 45 animals!) have been at Disney’s Animal Kingdom since we first opened our gates? It was an honor to celebrate these opening-day cast members with breakfast and present them with a unique decorative nametag celebrating their legacy here at the park. Listening as they recounted their favorite stories and memories through the years, I felt inspired by the connection they have with Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the animals we care for, and of course – each other.


Disney's Animal Kingdom Cast Party

One thing that brings me joy is making sure cast feel seen, recognized and appreciated for all they do and what better way to celebrate than with our own (quarter) century party where we busted a groove while sharing fun photo opportunities with our favorite Disney characters. And what celebration wouldn’t be complete without a keepsake? Check out these adorable bee sippers and commemorative guide maps our cast received to mark this momentous milestone!


Disney Cast Preview Moana Cast Greeting

Cast were the first to greet Moana at her new home in Disney’s Animal Kingdom during an exclusive #DisneyCastLife preview ahead of her official park debut. Moana’s courage and sense of adventure make her the perfect Disney princess to greet voyagers at the park, and as you can tell, our cast were elated to welcome her to her new home.


Earth Day Expo at Disney's Animal Kingdom

It’s no surprise that sustainability is at the core of everything we do! Every year, we host a backstage Earth Day expo for our cast to highlight all that our park is doing to build a brighter, more sustainable future. From bringing old cell phones to recycle in support of gorilla conservation with Gorillas on the Line, to letting creativity loose by participating in an upcycled art show featuring art created from recycled materials, our cast were able to learn all the ways Disney’s Animal Kingdom is leading the industry in theme park sustainability.


Time capsule at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Did you know 25 years ago, the opening team of Disney’s Animal Kingdom buried a time capsule dated to be opened on April 22 of this very year? The excitement in the air was electric as the opening team reunited to reveal the memories they had hidden inside – including personal letters from opening day cast to the cast of 2023 (stay tuned for a glimpse at these heartfelt messages!) Talk about a blast from the past! It was so special to gather and reminisce about where we started, where we are, and where we are going.

Leading the theme park as we celebrate 25 wild years can only be described as a dream come true. Our cast truly embody the Disney Difference in their passion and dedication. I could not be more humbled (and excited!) to celebrate our 25th Anniversary with these magic makers and the thousands of animals that call Disney’s Animal Kingdom home. And I have some WILD friends who want to share a special “Thank You” to our cast members too!