We all love to learn those hidden facts and interesting Imagineer tricks at Walt Disney World.
There are so many hidden Mickeys, attraction tricks, and restaurant secrets that make us smile whenever we learn how Disney makes the magic become real.
But there’s one little theme park fact that may have not met your radar quite yet, one that makes Disney’s Animal Kingdom truly spectacular in its operations.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened back on Earth Day, April 22, 1998. The zoological Park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is the largest theme park in the world, covering a whopping 580 acres!
The Park is dedicated and themed entirely around the natural environment and animal conservation, a philosophy once pioneered by Walt Disney himself. With an idea coming from famous Imagineer Joe Rohde, the Park now has about 2,000 animals representing 300 species.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is distinguished from the rest of Walt Disney World’s theme parks in that it features traditional attractions while also exhibiting these live animals. Due to these sensitive conditions, special designs and provisions were incorporated throughout the Park to protect the animals’ welfare.
For example, Disney built it on the western edge of the Resort, isolated from the three other theme parks to minimize disruptions to the animals. Furthermore, there are no fireworks at Disney’s Animal Kingdom for the same reason.
But what is the major secret hidden in plain sight at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Has A Unique Shape
This fact blew my mind in training to be a Cast Member at Walt Disney World.
I worked at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Backlot Express, and as part of our training, we’d learn numerous fun facts and tidbits about each theme park.
There were many secrets we learned that have become common knowledge to most Disney Guests. From the Disney Point used by Cast Members to the surprising speed of Space Mountain, there are so many interesting gems at Disney’s theme parks now widely known.
We all love to pretend we aren’t aware of the “secret” Utilidors underneath Magic Kingdom, or that the theme park was built on the second level.
Well, what if I told you that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is built in a bowl?
The unique Park was sunken especially into the ground to create a climate suitable for all the animal species in the theme park. Once you enter Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you have to cross a bridge to get to Discovery Island, and this is why the temperature inside the Park is much warmer than outside.
The Oasis is the Park’s logistic equivalent to Main Street, U.S.A. and provides the transition from the Park’s entrance to the world of animals. These paths take you “into the bowl”. The main paths feature animal exhibits and dense vegetation as you step onto Discovery Island.
Of course, many of these protected animals can be found at Harambe Wildlife Preserve, the fictional home of Africa’s main attraction, Kilimanjaro Safaris. Guests climb aboard an open-sided safari vehicle for an expedition to see African species in savanna, rivers, and rocky hills.
The popular safari ride features okapis, bongos, black rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, Nile crocodiles, giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, springboks, antelopes, and African bush elephants.
So, there you have it. Disney’s Animal Kingdom has a unique shape to aid in the control of its environment to protect the animals that call the theme park home.
Next time someone asks why Disney’s Animal Kingdom feels warmer than Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can tell them why!