/ Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

by Blake Taylor

ANIMAL-KINGDOM-LOGO41797075-640x639The 15th anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is right around the corner! As the big day approaches, many are becoming nostalgic about Walt Disney World’s wild fourth park. April 22 will be a day of celebration at Animal Kingdom, with confirmed plans from Disney including a special opening ceremony at 8:40 a.m. and Earth Day activities taking place all day long.

To commemorate the occasion here on the blog, it’s time for another round of “Share YOUR Disney Memories.” You may remember we shared Magic Kingdom memories in February, and the responses were great. Not only is it fun to share personal Disney moments with other people, but it’s also a two-way street and neat to hear theirs. In honor of Animal Kingdom’s 15th birthday, I would love to hear your individual favorite memory of the park. It can be about anything Animal Kingdom-related!

I’ll start us off. A brilliant Cast Member who frequents Camp Minnie-Mickey is named Gi-Tar Dan. You can find him just outside of the Lion King Theater, and he always has his guitar with him. His strumming is good enough to listen to him play anything, but what makes Gi-Tar Dan so wonderful is his ability to make up songs on the spot about guests! After a quick conversation in which he asks your name and things you like to do, he has a whole song ready to go. He made a song about my then-preschool-aged sister that we never get tired of watching. That would have been great in itself, but six years later we met Gi-Tar Dan again. He was glad we found him again and made another song about my sister! He’s just incredible.

All right, now it’s your turn! Share you favorite Animal Kingdom memory as we all wish the park the happiest of 15th birthdays. Did you have a fun animal encounter? Did you have a particularly entertaining safari ride? Did you experience a magical character moment? Were you scared silly on Dinosaur? Share your family’s magical Animal Kingdom memory in the comments by April 23 for the chance to win a WDW Radio Mystery Ticket! The winner will be announced in a future Finding Disney installment, so check back!

Blake is a college student focusing on Creative Writing and Media Studies. He enjoys making his family of six watch the parade on Main Street and then sprint to Frontierland in time to see it again. You can follow Blake’s random Disney ramblings on Twitter at @blakeonline, or at BlakeOnline.com.



7 thoughts on “Share YOUR Magical Disney Memories: Animal Kingdom”

  1. Lindsey Davis says:

    Two WDW visits ago in December 2011 our family went on a group trip of 16 people. We had young and old with us and we went to Animal Kingdon our 1st day. Things go A LOT slower in the parks with large groups, so even though we were there early, we ended up running (or a version of a group with infants in strollers to grandma) to fit Dinosaur into our day. I LOVE this ride and didn’t want to miss it. We got there with 15 min. to spare, but we had kids under the required height so we didn’t have time to do child swap. The cast member noticed we were trying to figure out who was going to have to skip the ride (I was volunteering since I knew I would be back even though it is one of my favorites). She had our whole group kids and all go watch the preshow. Then she led 2 of us watching the 4 kids to the gift shop where we waited at the exit for our group. She let the teens in our group all ride again and they filled the rest of the ride with the cast memebers left at the ride. We finally got off the ride about 20 min. after park closing. We felt like Disney VIP’s! They made our family feel special and Disney was concerned about our family enjoying the ride.

  2. sheila says:

    Our family has too many to mention , so he’s one I experienced with my husband , his brother and his wife. They were WDW 1st timers and not sure if they’d like WDW. (really?) Our 1st day we went to AK. Their eyes were so wide when they saw the tree of life, however the very next thing we encountered was “DeVine”. My sister-in-law said I think that tree is moving. having never seen it myself, I was also surprised. We stood there and watched the beauty of her movement for at least 15 minutes. My in-laws were amazed and the week had just begun! needless to say the week only got better and they were WDW lovers too 🙂

  3. Niki says:

    Our families favorite memory of AK was on our last trip. We were up at Rafiki Planet Watch and started talking with a CM and he asked if we were staying for the parade. When we said we were he said he had VIP seating for us. I knew this meant we were going to be in the parade, but my family didn’t. The CM gave us a meeting place and time and then said we would be riding on a float in the parade. We showed up at the designated time and got dressed. We were then escorted to our float. We had an amazing time being in the parade. It was the most magical experience for our family.

  4. Barbara Bergmann says:

    My son and I were in the Animal Kingdom last Feb. 14. We had just come from watching the ” old men of the forest” with lots of other people, when a wonderful cast member came up to us and whispered” would you like to see a gorilla taking a nap all alone’. ‘Well, heck yeah” and there he was, all by himself under a ledge taking a nap, and laying on his BLUE BLANKIE! I’m never going to forget that, and I’ll never forget the cast member who gave us that memory. Of course people noticed us taking pictures, so he wasn’t alone for very long, but we were there first!

  5. Kyle Giacomino says:

    The Magic Kingdom is about fantasy, Epcot is about the future and culture, and Hollywood Studios is about the magic of film. While all of these are great i don’t think that they stack up to what the Animal Kingdom is about: the simplicity and beauty of both nature and life. I remember realizing this when i was about 12 years old. My family and I were sitting in the seating area of the Flame Tree Barbecue, looking out across the lake at Expedition Everest. It was late afternoon and the park was calm. I remember feeling the most relaxed that i have ever felt in my life because i was surrounded by family that loved me and an environment that was impervious to the outside world. It was incredible.

  6. Teresa says:

    I have so many – this is my family’s favourite park! I remember seeing the baby gorilla (Lily) with her mother, when the baby was just two weeks old. The mother was nursing her and when the baby finished, the mother picked her up and kissed her all over her little face. It was so touching.I managed to get some photos of that interaction. I also love seeing the baby elephants playing together – one time they were trying to climb over a log, and the older two could do it but the littlest one got stuck! I also love the Expedition Everest ride – it is my favourite in all the parks. I’ve done most of the tours at Animal Kingdom, too, and especially love the Backstage Safari to see how the animals are cared for. Disney’s commitment to the animals’ wellbeing is impressive.

  7. victoria says:

    i was on a safari with my roommate during my disney college program last year. we got to the part of the safari where there were giraffes and one of the giraffes was in the middle of the road eating from a tree and simply refused to move! it got so bad that there was, i kid you not, about 8 safari cars waiting behind us and two in front of us. we sat there for about maybe 15 mins because this giraffe refused to move! it was hilarious! then a truck came and bumped the giraffe to the grass and only one safari car got to go because the giraffe went right back to the same spot. after about 5 mins he moved on but it was so funny! me and my roommate couldn’t stop laughing. afterwards we got buttons that said, “i’m celebrating the day of the giraffe.”