An Ode to Nahtazu — Animal Kingdom’s Defiant Ad Campaign Phrase

Disney Theme Parks have always created elaborate and memorable marketing campaigns for just about everything. “What Will You Celebrate?” discussions exited just the Disney chat boards and was known by, seemingly, every human because of the free ticket on your birthday promotion. “Show Us Your Disney Side,” however, was a little lack luster in comparison.

In the fifth grade, we were required to compete in the Tropicana Speech competition in my school. While other kids did their speeches on prominent people, places, or hobbies, I chose to talk in great detail about the “Year of a Million Dreams.” Looking back now, it was two minutes of free advertisement for the parks as I talked ad nauseam about The Seas with Nemo and Friends and the concept of Dream Fastpass Badges. I can neither confirm or deny I was made fun of a lot in the fifth grade. (I made it to the school-wide competition though, so whatever haters!)

However, all the being said, one specific piece of promotional material has enticed me since it’s inception and I adore it for a reason I fully can’t comprehend, and that is Nahtazu.

The initial thoughts from the general public on Animal Kingdom weren’t exactly stellar, as most guests saw it just as a zoo. With that zoo thought in their mind, the park had somewhat of an identity crisis. People didn’t want to shell out big bucks for a zoo, while management wanted people to understand that there were attractions more than just glass viewing panels on gorillas. Thus, Nahtazu was born.

Around 2001, the first Nahtazu commercial released. Speaking this phonetically, it sounds like “not a zoo.” The major commercial featuring this made up word took you on a 30-second tour of the park, trying to featuring all the rides to show people that “Animal Kingdom is many things, but there’s one thing it’s not!”

After this initial campaign, and especially after Expedition: Everest’s opening in 2006, the phrase went the way of “Adventures Thru Inner Space” and disappeared from the current Disney lexicon.

However, I am still obsessed with the phrase. I recently asked a t-shirt designer to create a Nahtazu-based shirt because I want it everywhere and the ability to showcase my nerdy DAK love everywhere I go.

Disney isn’t big on individual park advertising anymore, but I’d love Nahtazu to come back in some form. I’d like to “Secret” my idea of a new daily parade at the park called Nahtazu.

So, here’s to Nahtazu, the most essential phrase in Animal Kingdom’s history!

(Here’s a fun video with the actual storyboards for the commercial!)

Marshal Knight
Marshal Knight is a pop culture writer based in Orlando, FL. For some inexplicable reason, his most recent birthday party was themed to daytime television. He’d like to thank Sandra Oh.