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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!