Animal Kingdom not only celebrated Earth Day on April 22, but its 20th anniversary as well. The park was bustling with debuts and ceremonies.
Over at the Lion King Theater in Africa, a special 20th anniversary presentation had the Vice President over Animal Kingdom, the Vice President of parks at Walt Disney World, and Joe Rohde, the Imagineer who is in charge of the park. Characters danced along the stage as each presenter described Animal Kingdom’s significance.
The ceremony ended with a cavalcade of Animal Kingdom performers including puppets from Finding Nemo: The Musical, Festival of the Lion King acrobats, and Disney characters. They all entertained to the song Welcome to Our Family. It was a great tribute to a richly diverse park.
Up! A Great Bird Adventure is a brand new show that officially debuted for the park’s 20th anniversary day. It stars Russel and Dug from Up and two bird experts that help them and the audience understand more of our feathered friends.
The show had a lot of birds to constantly fill the theater. One interactive part of the show had audience members form a “tree branch” tunnel and have a bird fly through at great speed. For those remembering the former bird show in the same place, Frasier the Crane and Hope the Bald Eagle are still in the show.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch
This area of the park was featured for a lot of both the Earth Day and anniversary festivities. A new animal encounter lets guests get up close and personal with unique creatures. A behind the scenes tour is available until wrist bands are handed out. Just for the anniversary day, Jiminy Cricket was on hand to get photos with guests.
Scenery and Merchandise
Several banners adorned pathways and the entrance to the park with the 20th anniversary logo. A photo op location with the logo backdrop was in front of the Tree of Life.
The big hit was the merchandise available for the anniversary. The shop in Pandora featured a limited edition Banshee. Discovery Trading Company had “Day Of” merchandise including shirts, pins, and a tote bag. At Island Mercantile was the general 20th anniversary merchandise which included shirts, more pins, mugs, and other special items.
Special anniversary and Earth Day cupcakes were available at a few locations, but quickly sold out at some places. An Earth Day burger and sliders were available at Restaurantasaurus and Nomad Lounge, which featured a vegan Impossible Burger patty. Throughout the park if anyone donated to the Disney Conservation Fund they would receive a special button that had artwork from Joe Rohde and made for the 20th anniversary.
20 Years and Counting
Animal Kingdom has grown in 20 years to have a very mature feel to the park. Offering thrills, state-of-the-art attractions, memorable shows, and now nighttime entertainment it has become a big destination for Walt Disney World. Its popularity certainly was shown with how busy the park was for the anniversary day. And there will certainly be more anniversaries, even more than 20 years!