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January 2008 Archives

January 22, 2008

Animal Kingdom Turns 10 in April! Part 1

Can you believe it? I can still vividly remember the March day in 1998 that I spent in Animal Kingdom during Cast Previews.... it was amazing!

Ever since that first day, I have been in love with the park and try to get there whenever I can. It's the first time I have been able to see a Disney themepark evolve from the very beginning, well at least from a visitor's perspective!

In honor of Animal Kingdom's 10th Anniversary, I plan to do a series of blogs about the park.

For this blog, we'll go back in time to the March 9,1998, Cast Previews:

Reading the Cast Preview Animal Kingdom Guide Map

Here is the report I filed upon returning home from that incredible experience!

Where do I Begin??!!

On Monday March 9th, I had the distinct pleasure of attending one of the Cast Member Preview Days at Animal Kingdom. Not only was the weather better than expected, but the park surpassed all my expectations.

First, this is a PARK! Yes, a theme park, but a PARK! There are lots of places to sit (tho more benches are desperately needed in some areas), lots and lots of vegitation and plantings, lots of quiet areas to view animals, lots of things to look at for long periods of time. It is not a park for the Commando Tourist who wants to check everything off a list by noon!

Some initial thoughts and impressions.....

WOW WOW WOW! That's all I kept saying! This Place is awesome!

The Tree of Life is magnificant! There really are NO words to describe it..... Once you see it for yourself, you'll know what I mean. Each time you look at it you see more and different carvings! There are supposedly over 360 carvings throughout the entire tree (and that includes the trunk, branches and roots), as well as some Hidden Mickeys (that I could not find, but are hidden in the moss). The roots of the Tree of Life outline the cue area for the 3D bug movie which opens in April! The tree is something to look at and enjoy and savor. It is quite moving!

Tree of Life

This park is about saving the environment; there are no drink lids or straws. I recommend you bring water bottles and/or refillable mugs to pour your drinks into!

Lockers! Are in several park locations. The ones in the front are $2 which is supposed to get you unlimited access through out the day.

One other note, the food is EXPENSIVE even by Disney standards. Two of us had BBQ for lunch: Smoked Turkey sandwich, veggie sandwich, 1 order of fries, 2 orders of baked beans, and 2 soft drinks was $25.00! That is WAY overpriced to me!

The Kilimanjaro Safari is a wonderful 20 minute ride. The audio was hard to follow ...it sets the scene for poachers to attack near the end of the ride...I eventually tuned it out to savor my surroundings. You are quickly brought into the landscape built by imagineers and forget you are in Florida. It is a BUMPY ride! Photography is tough to do but can be done! There are no visible fences..... I felt like I was on a real safari (but never have been so I can't compare). The jeeps are 8 feet above ground and open and with a top cover. We saw a number of animals which were outstanding! Both a white Rhino and 2 zebras walked in front of our jeep.

Kilimanjaro Safari

Countdown to Extinction --

A Super fun ride which is VERY bumpy and jerky! It lasts only 3.5 minutes. Lines will form quickly for this one...so see it early! The inside que area has Diaramas that light up 2 panels at a time -- telling the story of creation. The que area .... Once through that section, you stand in a small Orientation Room where Phylicia Rashad entertains you by setting the stage. You then go into the vehicle loading area. 4 across (minimum height is 47 inches), with lap belts. It IS JERKY! (Did I say that already?). It is a dark ride with lots of loud noises...parents please use caution with your children.

Countdown to Extinction Sign

The Festival of the Lion King at the Campside Circle in Camp Mickey and Minnie was absolutely outstanding! Folks stood and applauded as the 30 minute show came to an end. Outstanding tumblers, singers and dancers.....beautiful floats of Simba, Pumba, a Girafe and Elephant! This show rocks! Clap your hands, sing aloud and enjoy the music from the Lion King including: Just Can't Wait to Be King, Hakuna Matata, Be Prepared, Can You Feel the Love Tonight, Circle of Life, Lion Sleeps Tonight and a Reprise. The theatre in the round seats about 1,000.

Fesitval of the Lion King

And that ends my report on the Cast Preview Day at Animal Kingdom.

All photos on this page were taken in 1998, the year Animal Kingdom opened. If they look a little fuzzy to you, we were still using film then and so these photos have been scanned.

Next time I'll tell you about a special 10th Anniversary Celebration that's being planned by the same folks that brought you Epcot's 25th Anniversary Celebration!

January 28, 2008

Animal Kingdom Turns 10 in April! Part 2

In my first blog on Animal Kingdom circa 1998, I shared with you my initial trip report as well as some photos from the Cast Previews in March of that year.

I also told you that in this blog, I would share information about a special 10th Anniversary Celebration taking place at Animal Kingdom on April 22, 2008; it's called A Wild Decade!.

This event is not an official Disney event, but it is done in cooperation with Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom managers.

Do you remember my blogs about Epcot's 25th Anniversary Celebration and the group that held a 2 day celebration in the park?

Well that group, WDWCelebrations.com is the same one hosting - Animal Kingdom's 10th Anniversary!

While they never really intended to do anything else as they planned for Celebration 25 at Epcot, the feedback they received afterwards led them to continue down the path of hosting events.

With a new website, the new WDWCelebrations Team is planning at least one event per year for the foreseeable future. I recently had the opportunity to speak with the team comprised of: Adam Roth, Jason Diffendal, Jackie Steele, John Coriglinao and Tom Corless.

Adam spoke about how important the relationships with Disney management were to the success of the previous event, "It had never really been done before. So to let the relationship sit and waste away, would be wasting a good thing. We are working with Disney on the 10th anniversrary for Animal Kingdom. It's nice to have the reassurance that what we are doing is approved."

Adam Roth and Deb Wills

Will they surpass their Celebration 25 registration of approximately 800 attendees (representing 6 countries and 28 states) ? That's not a concern; their focus is producing a quality experience for all participants. Right now there are just over 100 registered persons for A Wild Decade..

The team developed quite an extensive email list from their Epcot event last fall and already have sent out several newsletters talking about the "A Wild Decade" event as well as an event later this year.

Jason went on to explain: "We sent out a Press Release to a small number of webmasters of Disney sites to get word out about our Wild Decade event. Jackie, Tom and I are spearheading the creation of a set of standards for sponsors and partners of the website and event." The team is available for interviews and podcast guest appearances.


John did confirm he will be doing a history walk, or more like a History Hike. "It won't be as long as the Epcot one. It should be about a 60-90 minutes."

John Coriglinao's Epcot History Walk

While Epcot's Celebration 25 encompassed 2 full days of events, the "A Wild Decade" will be limited to a one day event, April 22nd. In addition to the History Hike, the group plans to experience Finding Nemo: The Musical and also Expedition Everest together. They are trying to plan a group meal and are exploring options at Animal Kingdom.

The WDWCelebrations team has also been careful to leave a great deal of flex in the schedule should Walt Disney World plan something for the anniversary!

The sky's the limit with these gentleman as Adam explained, "I can't guarantee we'll be celebrating Epcot's 50th, but I can say we have looked at our schedule for several years into the future. And Epcot's 30th is one of notable mention."

Below is an excerpt from the WDWCelebrations Press Release about the Wild Decade Celebration!

WDWCelebrations.com - For Disney fans everywhere, this is the Internet's newest and brightest source of special events and organized festivities. If you want to sample "the magic" with family, friends, or just like-minded Disneyphiles, come celebrate with us!

Announcing a breakthrough in the way people can appreciate and enjoy the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida; WDWCelebrations is a new fan-based organization aiming to bring Disney fans everywhere together for a variety of occasions, both big and small.

From the dedicated team that created the unique Celebration 25 event for the 25th anniversary of Epcot® in October 2007, WDWCelebrations aims to celebrate the past, present and future of Walt's famous Orlando resort. The 'World' will never be the same again!

The website www.WDWCelebrations.com was launched in December 2007 as the Internet home for this new organization. And, in addition to providing information on upcoming WDWCelebrations events, the site will unveil a new calendar-based concept as a central repository about other notable dates and occasions from the rest of the Disney online community. A regular newsletter and RSS feed will also provide event news and updates to all subscribers, bringing "unity to the community" in ways not yet explored.

Walt Disney World has long been celebration central over its 36 years for everything from anniversaries to birthdays - but now there will be even more for its legion of fans to celebrate in 2008 and beyond, starting with the 10th anniversary of Disney's Animal Kingdom® Park in April.

So, for news of official Disney celebrations, plus more individual events and festivities -including an annual WDWCelebrations fan gathering - log on to the essential website www.WDWCelebrations.com and stay in touch with all the magic!

"A Wild Decade"

WDWCelebrations is pleased to announce its first Commemorative Event, "A Wild Decade," in honor of the 10th Anniversary of Disney's Animal Kingdom® Park on April 22, 2008. Building on the success of Celebration 25, "A Wild Decade" will focus on unique experiences, including group rides, photos, meals, and other special events designed to bring Disney fans together to celebrate and enjoy each other's company.

Just as all activities at Celebration 25 were approved by Epcot® management, WDWCelebrations is seeking approval by the management of Disney's Animal Kingdom® Park for all activities scheduled for "A Wild Decade." WDWCelebrations hopes to provide a day of fun and memories marking this special occasion.

And "A Wild Decade" will be just the first of many events under the WDWCelebrations banner, as plans are already in the works for an annual Signature Event in September and more Commemorative Events marking milestones in Walt Disney World history in the future.

The entire Press Release can be found at the WDWCelebrations.com website.

I plan to be in Animal Kingdom on April 22nd! Will you?

Next time we'll look at Anita Answer's memories of her first visit in 1998!

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About January 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Deb's Digest in January 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2007 is the previous archive.

February 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.