Happy 15th Birthday Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Happy 15th Birthday Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom Plans

From the book – The Making Of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

From just a twinkle in Joe Rohde’s(Imagineering Concept Designer)  eyes as he drove his pickup truck in January 1990 to the opening of the park in April 22,1998 to the ever changing landscape of the park we see today the Animal Kingdom is an amazing place.   Today Animal Kingdom celebrates its 15th Birthday.   Just as we celebrate any birthday, I thought I would look back at some of the amazing facts about Animal Kingdom.





  • Animal kingdom is the largest Disney park at 600 acres.
  • Over 1,000 animals and 250 species are on display.  Animal Kingdom Elephant
  • During construction around 2,600 construction workers would be on site each day.
  • The designers asked that the plants have 2 growing seasons in the savannah before any animals arrived.   This meant all plants in the savannah had to be in place in the spring of 1996.
  • Animal Kingdom Tree of LifeFacts about the tree of life
    • 140 ft tall
    • The tree is built to withstand 74 mph winds.
    • 102,583 leaves were made and attached to the tree.
    • There are only 4 types of branches, but with the way they are placed on the tree the branches look random just like a natural tree.
    • 45 secondary branches lead to 756 tertiary branches which lead to 7,891 end branches.
    • Over 400 animals have been carved into the tree
  • More than 4 million plants were brought in, from huge trees to individual blades of grasses.   The number of grass species alone is over 300.  Just in Africa alone more than 770,000 shrubs and 70,000 trees were planted.
  • Water was a problem on site.   Huge concrete drainage pipes, some 7 feet in diameter were installed as deep as 28 feet underground.   All of this was part of the 60 miles of underground pipe that had to be laid to keep the land dry.
  • Yes there was to be a Beastly Kingdom and you can still point them out today…..Animal Kingdom Beastly Kingdom
    • Unicorn is one of the parking areas
    • There is a dragon in the park’s logo
    • There is a dragon shaped fountain just outside Camp Minnie-Mickey
    • Since 1995, the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund has funded over 230 projects and $6 million dollars to conservation efforts around the world.

So we tip our glass to the Animal Kingdom today, Happy Birthday buddy, and here is to many more.

Rate Dining: Tusker House Character Breakfast

Location: Animal Kingdom (Africa)
Type:  Table Service
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Cuisine: American with a touch of African (likely more African at Lunch and Dinner)
Reservations:   Yes (recommended)
Characters:  Currently only for Breakfast, Lunch added later this year
 The Tusker House, previously a counter service location, currently offers a buffet for breakfast,
lunch, and dinner.   One of the more popular meals is the character breakfast, “Donald’s Safari Breakfast”.   The breakfast includes characters meets with Donald, Goofy, Mickey, and Daisy (subject to change of course) along with a buffet of Mickey waffles, scrambled eggs, ham and flavorful dishes with an African influence.
Mark your calendars;
Tusker House will soon be adding Donald’s Safari Lunch (December 4, 2011) which
will be a new character dining experience for Animal Kingdom. No changes will
be made in the buffet at this time.
Our review will
concentrate on the Safari Breakfast, the only meal we have experienced at the
Tusker House.
Welcome to Tusker House!   Smile for your picture.   Now shove that food down your throat and get out.
  Once your name is called you will be ushered into a line where you’ll wait to get your family’s picture with Donald.   After you get your picture you’ll be seated.   TIP:  Be sure to ask to have a cast
member take a picture with your camera as the pictures offered while you eat
will cost over $30.
    Similar to other character style buffets,  this buffet is a bit loud and feels incredibly rushed.   The building is not as unique as other buildings on property but does have some
cultural flair to help you feel as though you are in an African
Village.    Be sure to look up at the ceiling as you grab your
food from the buffet.

The buffet is free flowing, meaning there is supposedly no line.   This seems to cause
confusion even though cast members mention it over and over.   So if
you go, remember, don’t line up, just get the food you want and smile at the
people giving you dirty looks.
 Food is average buffet food, nothing spectacular and, not as good as some of the other
breakfast buffets on property including the Supercalifragilistics Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare.   But if you like Mickey Waffles, scrambled eggs, and sausage you’ll do fine.   Be sure to try the Jungle Juice as it’s one of the best parts of the meal. As you sit, you’ll be visited by Mickey,
Goofy and Daisy who will quickly sign your book, take a picture and be on their
way. There’s also a parade in which children can line up behind their favorite
characters and dance along to African music.
 Tip:  If the park opens at 9 be sure to make an early reservation to the Tusker
House.   This will allow you to get into the park a little early and
snap some great photo’s with few people on your way to the
restaurant.   You are not allowed to roam the park, but you do have a
view of the tree of life and other nice spots on your way.
Our Rating is 2.5/5
Rating Reason:  There is a certain aura of anxiety when dining with characters at Disney restaurants. Even when the servers are as kind as can be, you know they want you out as soon as possible so they can get the next gazillion people in to eat. It’s usually not a problem, but at no other restaurant have we felt more rushed than Tusker
House. Maybe it’s because we schedule an early breakfast, so they are just
trying to get all guests in and the process flowing, but it often leads to an
aggravating meal.    Donald no longer comes to the tables, so getting
his autograph can be a problem. And of course there’s always the pressure of
buying that expensive photo.
Overall, the food is decent and
it provides a good fill up at the park before your day
begins.    Also, if you get in before park opens you are right at the entrance to the Safari to begin your tour of Animal Kingdom and eating
with characters is always easier than standing in
character lines in the hot Florida sun.  But
because of the frantic pace, you might end up feeling overly rushed.

Rate a Ride: Kali River Rapids

Ride Location: Animal Kingdom (Asia)

Fastpass: Yes

Ride Duration: 5 minutes

Year Introduced: 1999

Height Restriction: Must be 38 inches tall


How many times have you secretly fantasized about being the chosen one? Were you passed up when the captains were picking their dodge ball teams? Did your boss pass you by for that promotion? Well somehow, someway, I am always the chosen one on this ride. Welcome to Kali River Rapids, the wettest ride at Disney World, excluding the water parks of course.


As you enter the queue you are transported to an Asian country complete with ancient ruins and a temple. As you approach the loading area you will be welcomed to “Kali Rapids Expeditions” where they warn you about illegal logging in the area, so be on the lookout.


Kali River Rapids is raft ride seating 12 people in pairs similar to what you will see at other theme parks but of course complete in Disney style. Your raft will flow through a rain forest, temple ruins, and finally into an area where loggers have cleared the forest. Listen closely for the sound of chainsaws as they continue their work.


Along the way your raft will spin and drop down a few waterfalls. And here is where my “chosen one” moment kicks in. If you are at the top of the raft on the way up then you will be at the bottom on the way down and the gush of water will greet you. I’ve been soaked on this ride each time my family has gone on it so I know the feeling. A poncho may help, but when the water goes over your shoulder and into the poncho, what’s the point.


Overall the ride is a little disappointing as for the 5 minutes you are on the ride, much of it is spent just on the assent up the hill causing my son to want to go again. It is fun and a quick way to cool off in the hot summer days, so if the line isn’t unbearable give it a try and see if you can be the chosen one, or two.


Tips: Ziplocs to put your electronics in would be a good idea. If you don’t have one you can stop by a gift shop and ask for a bag. There is a covered area in the middle of the raft to put bags and such, but there is no guarantee they won’t get wet. Shoes are also required on the raft so be sure to bring along a pair of sandals or flip-flops to slip on before the ride. Soaking wet tennis shoes and socks are no fun to walk the park in the rest of the day. The Florida summer sun will quickly dry your clothes, but if you plan to go on the ride in the fall or winter, you may want to bring an extra pair of clothing. Lockers can be found at the front of the park near guest services (not close by the ride) and run between $9 and $7 a day with $5 deposit which is returned when the key is returned.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Rating Comment: Overall it’s a fun ride if you are in the mood to get wet and the line isn’t long or you have fast passes just wish it was a little longer.


Please let me know what you think of this ride by rating it on the right hand side of this blog. Slip on your sandals and hang on tight… you just might be the next chosen one???