A Journey Through Twenty Years of Major Milestones At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

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    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – From creatures wild and whimsical to Broadway-caliber shows, from unparalleled adventures and experiences to award-winning conservation efforts, from exotic lands to cuisine that celebrates a global park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is marking an anniversary of 20 unforgettable years. And the best is yet to come!

    Here’s a look back at a few of the milestone dates in the evolution of Disney’s adventure park at Walt Disney World Resort:

    • June 20, 1995: Plans for “Wild Animal Kingdom” announced
    • August 4, 1995: Groundbreaking for Disney’s Animal Kingdom
    • December 5, 1995: The first tree, an authentic African acacia xanthophloea, is planted
    • June 12, 1996: Miles the giraffe is the first animal to arrive
    • October 5, 1996: A baby kudu is the first animal to be born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
    • November 4, 1997: Hope, a 14-year-old gorilla, gives birth to a male named Jabari
    • April 22, 1998 (Earth Day): Grand Opening for Disney’s Animal Kingdom
    • January 1999: Accreditation from Association of Zoos and Aquariums (formerly American Zoo and Aquarium Association)
    • March 1, 1999: Grand Opening of Asia, which includes Kali River Rapids and Maharajah Jungle Trek
    • July 1999: Tarzan Rocks! debuts
    • May 2000: Reproduction of Dino-Sue, the rare 65 million-year-old tyrannosaurus rex, on display in DinoLand U.S.A.
    • October 2000: Rafiki’s Planet Watch premieres
    • December 2000: Safari Village renamed Discovery Island
    • June 4, 2001: Colobus Monkey Habitat Opens on Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail (formerly Pangani Forest Trail)
    • October 2001: Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade premieres
    • November 2001: First phase of Chester& Hester’s Dino-Rama opens with TriceraTop Spin attraction and midway games
    • April 18, 2002: Primeval Whirl opens at Chester& Hester’s Dino-Rama
    • April 22, 2003: Plans announced for Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
    • May, 2005: Lucky the Dinosaur, the first Audio-Animatronics figure capable of walking and moving independently, makes special appearances
    • April 7, 2006: Expedition Everest opens
    • April 2006: Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund achieves $10 million milestone since its 1995 creation
    • January 2007: Grand opening for “Finding Nemo – the Musical”
    • April 22, 2007: Inaugural “Party for the Planet” event takes place on Earth Day
    • February 16, 2008: Paws in the Park event. Disney’s Animal Kingdom/Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives raises more than $13,000 for SPCA of Central Florida
    • April 22, 2008: Jane Goodall Global Youth Summit visits the park on Earth Day
    • January 16, 2011: Wild Africa Trek opens
    • June 1, 2013: Wilderness Explorers program debuts to guests
    • June 1, 2014: Festival of the Lion King debuts in its new home, the brand new Harambe Theatre.
    • May 2015: Harambe Market opens.
    • May 27, 2016: Tiffins restaurant and Nomad Lounge open, nighttime experiences debut – Harambe Wildlife Parti, Discovery Island Carnivale, Tree of Life Awakenings and nighttime version of Kilimanjaro Safaris
    • May 28, 2016: The Jungle Book – Alive with Magic live show debuts
    • December 2016: Lion-tailed Macaques debut
    • February 17, 2017: Rivers of Light debuts
    • May 27, 2017: Pandora – the World of Avatar opens
    • August 2017: Sumatran tiger cubs, Jeda and Anala, are born,
    • January 2017: Augustus, a baby hippo, is born
    • March, 2018: Contributions to Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund total $70 million since 1995
    • April 22, 2018: 20th Anniversary milestone marked with Party for the Planet Earth Day Celebration, premiere of UP! A Great Bird Adventure and debut of the Pandora Utility Suit