So you’re headed for Animal Kingdom, Disney’s wildest and largest park. It is also, hands-down, the most unique theme park Disney has ever created to date, taking on a wildlife awareness approach that’s more in line with Disneynature films than classic conventional Disney movies and television. All the same, it is a Disney Park, and that means an elite experience is assured for each and every visitor that comes. Here’s an overview look at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park.
8. History and stats
Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened to the public back in 1998, making it the newest and most recent addition to the lineup of Walt Disney World theme parks. But the planning phase behind it all began much earlier, in 1989, not long after the opening of MGM Park (now Hollywood Studios). By 1995, plans for the construction of a new animal-themed park like no other were officially announced, along with a slated budget ranging between $600 million and $800 million. Groundbreaking and construction were officially begun a year later for what was then tentatively coined “Disney’s Wild Animal Kingdom.” Imagineers had their work cut out for them in planning, construction, and even traveling to far reaches of Asia and Africa in order to study the various different kinds of landscape and wildlife to be implemented into the Park’s setting.
Seeds from more than 37 countries were gathered for the purpose of growing the different plants and grasses for the Park’s savanna grasslands, along with the planting of more than 40,000 mature native species of trees. In all, construction efforts were enormous, employing more than 2,600 workers who assisted in building 60 miles of underground utilities, internal waterways, and other structures as well as spreading more than four million cubic yards of dirt. In addition, Zulu workers from South Africa helped in the assembly of the thatched roofs you see on many of the buildings here, and over a thousand hand-painted wooden horses in the Park were crafted in Bali. While much of the Park maintains authenticity when possible, design methods for many of the buildings and other structures are given an aged, dilapidated appearance to make what’s new and sturdy appear old and rundown, adding to the altogether scenic appeal and thematic motif.