To celebrate Earth Day, Walt Disney World is bringing back popular activities from past years -- and adding a few surprises -- at the resort on Tuesday.
The biggest celebration, Party for the Planet, takes place at Animal Kingdom, and the activities are included with regular admission to the theme park. As guests enter the park, they will again see displays of wildlife-friendly backyard habitats and be encouraged to collect a free postcard. The postcards are a visual reminder of where to find the Earth Day activities and, in years past, guests were invited to mail them for free at several special mailboxes located throughout Animal Kingdom.
This year, most of the activities are concentrated at Rafiki's Planet Watch, instead of extending into the Asia and Africa sections. The supermarket game has moved to this area of the park, which is accessible by a short train ride. Kids are invited to "shop" at a store and asked to find the items that are most Earth-friendly. At the end of the activity, cast members explain how to choose "green" products to make a difference for wildlife and nature.
The other stations will allow participants "to discover new ways to spend time in nature, talk to cast members who work on conservation projects around the world, participate in a variety of nature activities — including activities focused on brown bears — and find out more about the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund," wrote Dr. Jackie Ogden, Vice President of Animals, Science and Environment.
In addition to the hands-on activities focused on brown bears -- which are the subject of Disneynature's new film, "Bears," that opened April 18 -- the animals will be represented in the designs offered by face painters and caricature artists that will be at Rafiki's Planet Watch on April 22.
There will, of course, be special merchandise to mark the occasion, but perhaps the most-sought-after will be the safari-costumed Duffy the Disney Bear sold only at Animal Kingdom through April 30. One dollar from each sale will be donated to the National Park Foundation through Disney’s Worldwide Conservation Fund to celebrate “Bears.” (If you see the movie during its opening week, Disneynature makes a donation to the National Park Foundation through Disney’s Worldwide Conservation Fund.)
Guests who will be at Epcot on Tuesday also will find an Earth Day celebration at The Seas with Nemo & Friends. Displays throughout the pavilion -- many of which also can be seen on World Oceans Day on June 8 -- help children learn how turtle excluder devices protect sea turtles and how conservation efforts save coral reefs, manatees and sharks.
At one booth inside The Seas, a cast member will explain how The Walt Disney Co. is helping to protect coral reefs near Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line’s private island in the Bahamas, by relocating sea urchins that help control the algae there.
At another, guests will learn that they can contribute to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund's sea turtle conservation efforts through the Adopt-A-Nest Program. They can do so at the gift shop at Epcot’s The Seas with Nemo & Friends; the Out of the Wild shop at Animal Kingdom; and at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.
The adoption program, which launched on July 5, 2007, offers guests adoption packages for $50 that include a Disney Worldwide Conservation Hero Button, a “Finding Nemo” themed keychain, and an adoption certificate that lists the species of turtle and the date the eggs were laid in the nest. Guests can use their certificate numbers to track online their nest's success and possible hatchings at http://www.nestingturtles.com/adoptanest/
Proceeds from the program benefit turtle and beach conservation efforts throughout the state of Florida.