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Time Capsule Revealed: Letter From Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s 1998 Opening Day Cast

Jeff Vahle

by , President, Walt Disney World Resort

During the 25th anniversary celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we unearthed the time capsule put together by cast members in 1998. Among the old photos, news clippings and mementos was a stack of sweet, inspiring and sentimental letters written from the opening team, addressed to today’s Animal Kingdom cast members. It’s my honor to share one of those letters with you today.

Here is a photo of the letter. Below that, you’ll find the same text written out. Enjoy!

A Letter from 1998 Animal Kingdom Cast to 2023 Animal Kingdom Cast

“I have learned from the animal world, and what everyone will learn who studies it is, a renewed sense of kinship with the earth and all its inhabitants.” – Walt Disney

To the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Cast of 2023:

Twenty-five years have passed since this time capsule was buried and this letter was written. In that time many changes have occurred. You’ve entered a new millennium. A year and a half ago Walt Disney World celebrated its 50th anniversary as Disneyland now approaches its 68th. In a few short months, on October 16, 2023, our company will reach a very notable milestone – the marking of our first century of bringing high-quality entertainment to the world.

Time certainly is a powerful force, changing the course of many companies and etching out new formations in long-established corporate landscapes. The success and longevity of our company has firmly grown from solid roots – the traditions and legacies established by Walt Disney and his brother Roy. Each new ring of the trunk signals the growth of another generation of cast members to uphold these traditions as we branch into new adventures across the planet.

The branches of our company’s legacy spread high and wide, but the branch that we share with you is particularly special. As it was passed to us, we are passing on to you Walt’s love and appreciation for animals – an inheritance of which this park was based on and which we can all be proud.

Today, as we bury the time capsule, we celebrate the hope that our efforts will have made a difference in our tomorrow – your today. We hope that our conservation messages have reached able champions for the environment; that the passions of our cast members have inspired new generations of guests to take environmental action; and that a beneficial difference on our planet has been made.

With the opening of every new theme park, there are challenges at every turn. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is no exception. With every challenge, a solution. With every effort, a reward. With every sacrifice, a grander purpose. Every triumph gives us more to be proud of and more reason to be glad to have been part of it all.

Enclosed in this capsule, to be unearthed on April 22, 2023, are mementos of the creation and opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We pass these on to you in the spirit of fun, but most importantly to give you a glimpse of the past that gave you your present and which will guide you to our future. May creating “A New Species of Theme Park” continue to be your motivation.

We are honored to have been part of the opening of “A New Species of Theme Park.” Through our commitment and dedicated efforts, we have seen our guests empowered with a renewed sense of nature and embrace a new appreciation for man’s stake in the world. As these same guests return with their kids and grandkids, we trust that you are instilling the same sense of stewardship.

We thank you for taking pride in and for caring for the park that we helped establish a quarter century ago, and hope that you will continue to nurture Disney’s Animal Kingdom so that it will remain a source of inspiration and enjoyment for all who visit. We wish you luck on your commitment to the next twenty-five!

Proudly,
The Disney’s Animal Kingdom Cast of 1998