Animal Kingdom’s 15th Anniversary

On Monday, April 22nd, I had the opportunity to attend Animal Kingdom’s 15th Anniversary celebration!  This also happens to be Earth Day, so it’s a dual celebration 🙂

01 AK 15th

I arrived shortly before 8:00 am and was surprised by the lack of people there.  I was expecting lines and chaos as I’ve seen at other anniversary celebrations.  I met up with my friends Rick & John and we headed in.  We were given special 15th anniversary buttons and park maps, then waited on line for about 20 minutes until we could enter the park.

02 AK 15th LineOnce inside, everyone was instructed to head to Discovery Island for a special ceremony that would begin at 8:40 am.  It was quite congested in that area, and being short didn’t help to see anything.  Short people problems!

04 AK 15th Ceremony_1There were puppets on display from Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade and a few announcements were made.  Then the ceremony began with a processional of banners from the different lands and some characters made an appearance.  All of the characters (including Chip ‘n Dale) were the new characters that blink and their eyes move.  I’m still a little creeped out by these…

05 AK 15th Ceremony_2

Josh D’Amaro, VP of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, began the ceremony which was very brief.  He also informed us that Joe Rohde would not be joining us, which was a HUGE disappointment.  There was an audible sigh among the guests.

06 AK 15th Ceremony_3We were then given some information on the Conservation Fund and the ceremony concluded with one of the Festival of the Lion King performers singing “Circle of Life.”  Yep, that was it folks.  Oh wait, then the GIANT earth came out and was tossed around like a beach ball…that was actually pretty cool.

07 AK 15th Giant Ball

You can see the entire ceremony here on Travel with Rick where I’m a special guest!

I have to say I was a bit underwhelmed by the ceremony and would’ve hoped they’d do something more.  I just felt like this was the “forgotten park” and they did this because they had to.  One highlight though was that I got to meet Josh D’Amaro who was genuinely one of the most down to earth people.  Here’s my Disney nerd coming out…

08 AK 15th Josh D'AmaroAfter the ceremony, we headed towards Africa and couldn’t believe the lines for the special 15th anniversary merchandise.  It was insane…stretching from Camp Minnie Mickey, up into Africa and back again.  So instead of dealing with that, we headed straight to Kilamanjaro Safaris to take a ride.  We walked right on and were able to get some great sightings since it was so early in the morning.

010 AK 15th Giraffee

On the way to Asia after our 2 week safari, we came across Devine!  I had never seen her before and I must say, she creeped me out a little.  Rick kept trying to get me to go up and get my picture with her and I just couldn’t…creepy.  I’m glad I finally saw her though.

011 AK 14th Devine

We went through the Maharajah Jungle Trek and I got to see my favorite tigers who were doing what they do best…sleeping!  Once in my life (over 10 years ago) I was able to see them playing in the water with a giant ball.  It was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen and I’ve been dying to do seen it again…no luck.

012 AK 15th TigersThe plan was to ride Everest, but the line was super long, so we headed to Dinosaur instead.  I know this attraction gets a bad wrap, but I always think it’s really fun.  “We’re not gonna make it!  We’re not gonna make it!”

014 AK 15th DinosaurWhile in Dinoland, we came across these great shirts…I kind of wish I got this now.

015 AK 15th TRexTo commemorate Earth Day, or Earth Week, there were numerous information tables set up around the park, as well as special cupcakes for the event.  Worms in Dirt anyone?

016 AK 15th Cupcake03 AK 15th Party for the PlanetWhile the ceremony for the 15th anniversary was nothing special, I’m glad I was there to wish Animal Kingdom a happy birthday.  I also had a really fun time in the park.

What’s your favorite thing about Animal Kingdom? 

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