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How Long Did It Take to Build Animal Kingdom?

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the largest theme park in the world, is a zoological wonderland covering 580 acres. It is a tribute to the natural environment and animal conservation. But how long did it take to build such a massive park? Let’s dive into the history and construction of this iconic park.


Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the largest theme park in the world, took approximately three years to build. The plans were announced in 1995, and the park officially opened its doors to the public on Earth Day, April 22, 1998.

The Timeline: Announcement to Completion

Disney announced plans for Animal Kingdom in 1995, and the park officially opened its doors to the public on Earth Day, April 22, 1998. This means that it took approximately three years to build Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Key Players in the Construction

The creation of Animal Kingdom involved several key individuals and organizations:

  • Rick Barongi: As the top animal executive for the creative development, planning, and construction of the park, Rick played an important part in making it successful. He ensured that animal care and conservation remained at the center of Disney’s mission.
  • Joe Rohde: As a lead Imagineer, Joe Rohde collaborated with Rick Barongi and developed an advisory board of experts.
  • Frederick “Fred” Halback: Co-Founder and Senior Principal of Herbert-Halback, Inc., a landscaping architecture firm in Orlando, Florida, was responsible for the design, site development, and landscaping architecture at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort.
  • Walt Disney Imagineering: This team, in partnership with “AVATAR” creator James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment, designed the Avatar-inspired land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
  • MLC Theming, Inc.: This contractor was listed in a permit for “general construction” in the Asia section of the park.

Challenges Faced During Construction

The construction of Animal Kingdom was not without its challenges. These included building perimeter fences, designing animal enclosures, and ensuring the safety and well-being of the animals in the park. Disney also had to address concerns from animal rights groups and comply with regulations from the United States Department of Agriculture.

The Workforce Behind Animal Kingdom

While the exact number of workers involved in building Disney’s Animal Kingdom is not readily available, we know that many roles were played, from construction workers to animal care teams. Disney also sent recruiters to other countries to hire workers for themed areas of the park, such as the African-themed area.

The Cost and Funding of Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom cost nearly $1 billion to complete. The project was initially estimated to cost between $600-$800 million. The park was funded by The Walt Disney Company, which owns and operates the park through its Parks, Experiences and Products division.

Design and Architectural Features

The park is divided into several themed sections, such as Africa, Asia, and Pandora: The World of Avatar, each with its own unique attractions, architecture, and landscaping. The park’s icon is the Tree of Life, a 145-foot-tall man-made creation designed to look like an African Baobab tree, featuring more than 300 animal carvings.

Innovative Construction Techniques

Disney’s Animal Kingdom utilized several unique and innovative construction techniques during its development. One such technique was the creation of the Tree of Life, which has 320 animals sculpted all around its trunk, branches, and surrounding roots.

Impact on the Surrounding Area and Local Ecosystem

The construction of Disney’s Animal Kingdom has had various impacts on the surrounding area and local ecosystem. However, Disney has made efforts to reduce its environmental impact and support a healthier planet for future generations.

Some of the most popular attractions at Animal Kingdom include Expedition Everest, Avatar: Flight of Passage, Kilimanjaro Safaris, DINOSAUR, and Festival of the Lion King.

In conclusion, the construction of Disney’s Animal Kingdom was a massive undertaking that took approximately three years to complete. It involved numerous individuals and organizations, faced several challenges, and utilized unique and innovative construction techniques. Today, it stands as a testament to Disney’s commitment to the natural environment and animal conservation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many animals are there in Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to more than 1,700 animals from 250 species.

What are the operating hours of Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

The operating hours of Disney’s Animal Kingdom may vary, but it generally opens at 9:00 AM and closes at 5:00 PM. It’s always best to check the official Disney website for the most up-to-date information.

How many visitors does Disney’s Animal Kingdom receive each year?

According to the Themed Entertainment Association’s annual report, Disney’s Animal Kingdom welcomed over 13.5 million visitors in 2019, making it the third most visited theme park in North America.

Is Disney’s Animal Kingdom wheelchair accessible?

Yes, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is wheelchair accessible. The park offers wheelchair rentals and also allows guests to bring their own wheelchairs.

Is there a fast pass system at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

Yes, Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers the FastPass+ system, which allows visitors to reserve access to select attractions, entertainment, and more in advance. However, due to the pandemic, this service is currently suspended. Please check the official Disney website for updates.

What are some dining options available at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

There are several dining options available at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, ranging from quick-service eateries to sit-down restaurants. Some popular choices include Tiffins Restaurant, Yak & Yeti Restaurant, and Satu’li Canteen.

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