The Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is the world’s most popular vacation destination. Geographically, it’s roughly the size of San Francisco. It’s set up like a city too, with roads and highways and its own local government. Most of the land within Disney property remains in a natural state. That’s not why millions of people visit every year, though. Disney World is known for its world-class theme parks, including Animal Kingdom. When Animal Kingdom opened in 1998, Disney made sure the public knew it wasn’t a zoo, but a theme park based on live animals, something Walt Disney had envisioned decades earlier. Here are 20 Amazing Facts about Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
1. Park Icon
The icon of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, the Tree of Life, stands 14 stories high, features more than 300 animal carvings and is 50 feet wide. As of 2016, you can watch the Tree of Life come to life after dark.
Animal Kingdom is by far Disney’s largest theme park, covering more than 500 Acres! Approximately 250 species are represented by over 1,000 animals.
3. Parking Lot
The parking lot for Animal Kingdom is nearly 100 acres in size and can hold up to 4,500 vehicles. On opening day, April 22, 1998, the parking lot was closed just 20 minutes after the park opened!
4. Big Eaters
To keep 1,000 animals fed takes about four tons of food a day. That’s a four-and-a-half year supply for the average person. More than 2,000 pounds of vegetation and browse is fed to the animals every day, and several varieties of worms are provided to the animals, including super mealworms, yellow mealworms, red wigglers, night crawlers and wax worms — 40,000 in a week! Dieticians also order 80,000 crickets per month as part of the healthy diet for the animals.
5. Giving Birth
The first birth at Disney’s Animal Kingdom was a kudu, a large African antelope. The number of species that have reproduced since the park opened is 116.
Animal Kingdom 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.
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!
8. No straws
There are no cup lids or paper straws anywhere in the park because of the danger to the animals.
The largest (real) tree replanted in the park is located in Harambe village, and tipped the scales at 90 tons. That’s equal to the weight of 16 male elephants.
10. Kilimanjaro safaris
The safari covers more than 110 acres. Unlike a real African safari, you are guaranteed to see animals roaming around.
11. Cast Members
There were more than 4,500 Cast Members on Opening Day!
12. Here Kitty Kitty
Spoiler alert! There are climate-controlled rocks on the safari, to encourage the lions to sit in view of the safari vehicles.
13. Looks like Africa
Towering acacia trees and tall grasses paint a familiar picture of the African Serengeti on a vast stretch of rolling landscape, but this is Central Florida, not east Africa, and the acacias are really 30-foot-tall Southern live oaks with a close-cropped crew cut.
The village of Harambe is based on the Kenyan town of Lamu.
15. Rough Roads
The rutted safari road also is part of the landscape design. Imagineering’s design team matched concrete with the surrounding soil, then rolled tires through it, and tossed stones, dirt and twigs into it to create an appropriately bumpy experience duplicating a remote African road.
16. Criss-crossing the Globe
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, a distance equal to circling the globe 20 times.
17. Elephant Talk
Disney Animal Kingdom scientists have discovered two new vocalizations never before reported in elephants.
There are 2.6 million gallons of water contained in various water features that come in contact with animals. On average, the entire volume of water is treated and filtered five times daily, which means that 15.6 million gallons of water are treated and filtered every day!
19. Walt Disney
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.
Up until 2016, the Animal Kingdom park would close in late afternoon, for the safety and well-being of the animals. Now, you can ride Kilimanjaro Safaris after dark, giving you an insight into the animal’s nocturnal behaviors.
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