• Tips for celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Disney's Animal Kingdom

    By: Shelley Caran

    Updated:

    ORLANDO, Fla. - On Earth Day, April 22, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will celebrate its 20th anniversary with entertainment, parties, and educational experiences for a limited time.

    Party for the Planet

    It wouldn’t be a milestone celebration without a party, and all 500 acres of Disney’s Animal Kingdom will come alive with a wild party that includes animal encounters, family-friendly activities, specialty desserts and more during an expanded Party for the Planet celebration that will take place from April 22 until May 5.

    During this “Party for the Planet” two week celebration, guests can attend conservation talks by animal-care experts and participate in enhanced interactions with some of the more than 2,000 animals that make their home at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited park.

    Take a Peek Backstage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

    Rafiki’s Planet Watch has long been a favorite of guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and during the 20th anniversary it will take center stage. 

    After boarding the antique train you will make your way to Rafiki’s Planet Watch to find educational exhibits and activities that help create awareness of animal issues, and for the rest of the year you will also get a ‘backstage experience’ with animal experts around animal nutrition, visit the veterinary hospital, and hear how Disney promotes global wildlife conservation.

    A New Show Debuts

    April 22 will also be the debut of a brand-new show, UP! A Great Bird Adventure featuring Russell and Dug from the Disney•Pixar animated comedy-adventure film “UP.” 

    The show will give guests the chance to see Senior Wilderness Explorer Russell and his fuzzy friend Dug in a new adventure that includes encounters with exotic birds from around the world. 

    This free-flying show will be performed multiple times a day.

    Special Anniversary Photo Opportunities

    Don’t forget to snap a picture to commemorate your visit, and you can even find Disney Photopass photographers for a chance to step into an oversized picture frame celebrating the park’s 20th anniversary. 

    Other photo frames support Disney’s “Reverse the Decline,” an initiative created to help protect 10 threatened animal species. One recent success of the program was the birth of two critically endangered Sumatran Tiger Cubs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

    Walt Disney World Annual Passholders, don’t forget that free Disney Photopass downloads are included with select passes,

    The Wilderness Must be Explored…Caw, Caw, Roar

    Kids of all ages have the chance to earn a limited-edition Wilderness Explorer badge. 

    The Wilderness Explorer program allows you to follow in the footsteps of Russell and his faithful dog, Dug, from the Disney•Pixar film Up! by jaunting across jungles, furrowing into forests and making way through the woods while you set out on a series of fact-finding challenges.

    To start earning over 30 badges, all you need to do is take the Wilderness Explorer pledge and be issued a field guide from headquarters—located on the bridge between the Oasis and Discovery Island—or drop by Wilderness Explorer stops in Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Asia and Dinoland U.S.A.

    The Wilderness Explorer Program is free, and is a great way to explore Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

    Dine with Animal Experts

    If learning about animals is your passion, six different Tiffins Talks offer intimate dining experiences with specialty food and beverages that complement the topics shared by animal and conservation experts.

    You can find more information on the Tiffins Talks here.

    Merchandise & Treats

    It wouldn’t be a celebration at Walt Disney World without commemorative merchandise, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom 20th anniversary is no exception!

    The merchandise offered will include t-shirts, hats, pins, Alex and Ani bangles, 2 styles of Disney Dooney & Bourke purses, a limited edition banshee for adoption in Pandora, and more. The Disney Parks Blog has many posts outlining what you will find both on the day of the anniversary and throughout the year.

    In addition the merchandise there is also a special-edition print that was created by renowned Walt Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde, and he will be available on April 22 from 1-4 p.m. to sign prints at Discovery Trading Company. Quantities are limited. 

    In addition to the merchandise you will be able to find tasty treats throughout the park!

    There are going to be two celebratory cupcakes, a Tree of Life Cupcake will be available at Creature Comforts and Flame Tree Barbecue, and an Earth Day Cupcake will be available at Pizzafari and Restaurantosaurus.

    On the savory side, there are delicious plant-based burger offerings at Nomad Lounge and Restaurantosaurus. Nomad Lounge will offer Impossible Burger Sliders with tomato chutney and smoked onion on a brioche bun and served with yucca fries. At Restaurantosaurus, you’ll find an Impossible™ Burger with avocado and tomato on a brioche bun.

    Tiffins will offer a limited-time 20th Anniversary Chef’s Lunch Tasting Menu. Served daily from 11:30am to 3:30pm, this 3-course tasting menu celebrates the cuisines of Africa, Asia, and South America. Walk-ups are welcome!

    All of these offerings will be available during Party for the Planet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom through May 5.

    Can't make the celebration in person?

    If you want to experience the 20th Anniversary moment during Sunday's Celebration, the Disney Parks Blog will be live streaming the #DisneyAnimalKingdom20 ceremony starting at 10:15 am EST!

    Wild Adventures Before an Incredible Summer

    All of these wild adventures help kick off an ‘Incredible Summer’ at Walt Disney World that includes a new celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom! 

    Donald and his friends will also premiere a ‘dino-tastic’ celebration Memorial Day weekend in DinoLand, U.S.A. 

    This dinosaur-themed party celebrates Donald Duck’s discovery that his bird ancestors were actually dinosaurs. DinoLand U.S.A. will feature colorful new décor and playful character greetings with rarely seen pals like Scrooge McDuck, Launchpad McQuack and more. A DJ-powered dance party will mix tunes from the truck-o-saurus stage, capping the nighttime festivities.

    That’s it for this week’s Theme Park Thursday as we get ready to celebrate Disney Animal Kingdom’s 20th Anniversary.

    Until then, make sure to follow @icFloridaEvents on Instagram and Twitter  for the latest news and fun that Central Florida has to offer. And to use the #icFloridaInsider when you post for a chance to be featured!

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