/ Monday, September 17th, 2007

Location: From Walt Disney World property: take World Drive to Osceola Parkway West. From off Disney property: take I-4 to Exit 25B (U.S. 192 West), to World Drive North, to Osceola Parkway West, to Disney’s Animal Kingdom parking plaza.

Size: More than 500 acres
Parking: For 6,000 cars
Project Announced: June 5, 1995
Construction Began: August 1995
Grand Opening: April 22, 1998
Employees: More than 4,500 cast members to date
Animals: About 1,500, representing 250 species — most acquired from zoos accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.
Landscaping: More than 4 million trees, plants, shrubs, vines, grasses, ferns, etc. representing 3,000 species.
Entry Garden: The Oasis — A lush botanical garden designed for guests to explore habitats of fascinating creatures including iguanas, tree kangaroos, several species of colorful birds and other animals.

Major “Lands”:

Africa — Journey through the “wild” savannah that seems to put you in the heart of Africa with lions, zebra, giraffes and other magnificent animals roaming freely. There’s also an authentic African village filled with sights and sounds of the mysterious continent.

Camp Minnie-Mickey — The site to meet many of the lovable Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse and friends from classic Disney films. Live shows include “Festival of the Lion King.”

DinoLand U.S.A. — Here’s where the world’s fascination with dinosaurs and jungles comes to life: race back in time to save the last dinosaur on the thrill ride DINOSAUR; The Boneyard Dig Site lets kids dig, swing and giggle through a prehistoric playground; and the live stage show “Tarzan Rocks!” keeps the jungle jamming. DinoLand U.S.A. is presented by McDonald’s.

Discovery Island — The park hub and home of the towering icon, The Tree of Life, which houses within its trunk “It’s Tough to be a Bug,” a humorous 3-D and special-effects show in the Tree of Life Theater. Discovery Island also features gifts and food emporiums and the bright tropical colors of hand-carved animal architecture.

Asia — Home of Kali River Rapids, a white-water raft adventure through a threatened rainforest; Maharajah Jungle Trek, a surprising walking journey past Asian ruins and live exotic animals; and the thrilling “Flights of Wonder” exotic bird show.

The Disney’s Animal Kingdom Project was formally announced on June 5, 1995.

A core team of seven Walt Disney Imagineers, led by executive designer Joe Rohde, crisscrossed the globe in search of the essential look of life in the wild, amassing more than 500,000 miles in the last decade… a distance equal to circling the globe 20 times.

Construction began on Disney’s Animal Kingdom in August of 1995

Sixty dump trucks of dirt were delivered to Disney’s Animal Kingdom construction site every day for two years straight, equaling 4.4 million cubic yards of dirt.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened to the public on Earth Day – April 22, 1998.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened with 5 attractions, 9 exhibits, 12 live entertainment shows, 8 food locations, and 11 merchandise locations. Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa, Conservation Station, and Dinoland, USA opened on this date, and Asia opened in early 1999.

The parking lot for Disney’s Animal Kingdom closed just 20 minutes after the park opened on April 22, 1998. Yes, it was full.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the largest of the four Walt Disney World theme parks at over 500 acres, contains over 300 species of animals, consisting of more than 1700 birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, amphibians and fish.

At over 500 acres, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is large enough to fit the Magic Kingdom , Epcot, and The Disney-MGM Studios in it – combined! The Safari alone is over 100 acres – that’s just a little less than the entire Disney MGM Studios.

For 18 months, 10 Disney artists and three Imagineers labored to sculpt the 325 animals on the Tree of Life. Due to the short amount of time it would take for the plaster to harden, each artist had only between six and ten hours total to intricately carve and create the final image.

Disney Imagineers spent 10 years designing and over $800,000,000.00 building Disney’s 4th theme park. That’s about twice as much as it cost to open the entire Walt Disney World Resort in 1971!

Straws, balloons and cup lids are not used at Animal Kingdom to protect its inhabitants from potential choking hazards.

Company founder Walt Disney’s love of animals began when he was four years old and his family moved from his Chicago birthplace to a 45-acre farm in Marceline, Missouri, where he helped take care of farm animals, as well as learned to draw pictures of his animal friends.

Since 1995, the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund has devoted more than $6 million to conservation efforts around the world and has supported more than 230 projects.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s scientists have discovered two new vocalizations never before reported in elephants.

Lab technicians have analyzed more than 20,000 samples of animal droppings since Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened.

Disney’s Animal Programs team performs more than 600 wellness checks per year.

Animal Programs veterinarians have successfully performed surgery on a tarantula spider, placed an artificial eye in a fish and removed a golf ball from a hungry snake rescued at a Disney golf course.

The arrival of a black rhino calf born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom made him one of only 250 worldwide.

Two Micronesian Kingfisher chicks were hatched at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, raising the world population of these birds by 3 percent.

There’s one million square feet of rockwork at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – that’s twice the volume of rockwork in the Mt. Rushmore sculptures or a volume that could create a monolith 10 feet by 10 feet by two miles high.

More than 4 million trees, plants, shrubs, ground-covers, vines, epiphytes and grasses from every continent on Earth — except Antarctica — were planted, with over 4,000 different species.

There are over 300 species of animals, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects represented at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. There are over 1700 animals in total at the park.

Many of the animals at the Animal Kingdom were acquired from zoos accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. Disney’s Animal Kingdom itself has also received accreditation from this organization.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom contains live plants from every continent on Earth except Antarctica.

To convince Disney executives that the experience of sharing the same space with animals was enough to entertain guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Imagineers brought a 400-lb. Bengal tiger into a meeting and had him walk around the conference table. Needless to say, the experience was emotional enough to convince the executives and Michael Eisner himself!

In Disney’s continuing efforts for unparalleled realism in its parks, they hired 13 Zulu craftsman from Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, to make the thatched roofs located on the buildings throughout Africa.

Caretakers of the animals in Disney’s Animal Kingdom are in fact dietitians who take great care in what the animals eat. Part of their “menu” includes placing orders for about 80,000 crickets per month in order to feed some of the animals.

There are feeders for the animals located in the Oasis Gardens in Disney’s Animal Kingdom that are designed to look like trees.

In Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it took more than 5 months and over 120 artists to create the four murals that honor the past rulers of the fictional village of Anandapur.

Since each area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom must have its own, distinct set of costumes, there are more than 61,000 costume items required to dress everyone!