Walt Disney World began their celebration of Disney’s Animal Kingdom 20th anniversary with a special celebration inside Harambe Theatre, home of Festival of the Lion King. Drummers, dancers, stilt performers and Disney characters joined Disney executives for the kickoff of the two-week Party for the Planet celebration, which continues through May 5.
Legendary Imagineer Joe Rohde, who has guided the park since its inception shared a few words.
“We created this park out of a set of ideals that we believed were relevant and meaningful,” Rohde said, “and as the years have passed, those ideals have only become more relevant and more meaningful. Our lives are bound to the lives of all creatures.”
Djuan Rivers, vice president of Disney’s Animal Kingdom noted how the park has grown over the last two decades, and its profound impact on guests and conservation efforts around the world.
“Since 1998, we have been extremely conscious that what we have here is a new species of theme park,” said Rivers. “And while it has undergone an amazing transformation in the past few years, it will always be dedicated to helping our guests create a personal connection with the natural world.”
Rivers also called out the success of the Disney Conservation Fund, aimed at reversing the decline of imperiled creatures in the wild. To date, he said, the fund has directed more than $70 million to save wildlife, inspire action and protect the planet.
Maribeth Bisienere, senior vice president of Walt Disney World Parks, noted today was more than an anniversary, it was a day of firsts.
“’UP! A Great Bird Adventure’ has its official debut in the park today,” she noted. “On Pandora – The World of Avatar you’ll be able to interact with a scientist who explores in a Pandora Utility Suit.”
Even more magic is coming to the park. On May 26 Disney’s Animal Kingdom will debut Donald’s Dino-Bash! The show launches with Walt Disney World’s Incedible Summer promotion, but will last beyond the summer and through the foreseeable future. Guests can join Donald Duck and friends in DinoLand, U.S.A. for playful character encounters and a DJ-powered dance party. The festivities plays up that birds descended from dinosaurs and Donald has discovered his distant ancestor.
For more information about the 20th anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests can visit www.Disneyworld.com/AnimalKingdom or Mouse Fan Travel.