Animal Kingdom Appreciation: Back to 1998

One reason Animal Kingdom holds a special place in my heart is because it is the only park I’ve seen from its opening year. When I was home last weekend, I went through our old albums and picked a few photographs to share with you from that inaugural trip. (You can catch a few others from my gone but not forgotten post from last year.)

In 1998, I was 13 years old and on my second trip to Walt Disney World with my parents and my little sister. This was before iPhones and digital cameras, and you can see from the photos we hadn’t yet mastered how to catch animals on the Kilimanjaro Safaris. Plus there was limited film so we did have to consider the pictures we were taking. That’s the most interesting part. What do you find most important, most impressive to capture on film forever? (Remember we would have to go develop the pictures post-trip and pay for them? Couldn’t stare at them on a computer or upload them on social media networks.)

Let’s jump into that time machine, shall we?

Animal Kingdom 1998 Entrance

Animal Kingdom Tree of Life 1998

Can’t help but be totally mesmerized by the sight of that beauty.

Animal Kingdom 1998 Tree of Life Garden

We always started our trips to AK by walking straight to the safari.

Animal Kingdom Safari 1998

Animal Kingdom Safari 1998 Giraffe

See the giraffes back there? (It took me awhile to see behind that branch too.)

Animal Kingdom 1998 Pangani Forest Exploration Trail

Look at that old guy!

Animal Kingdom Conservation Station Petting Zoo 1998

A random turkey at the Conservation Station Petting Zoo!

Animal Kingdom 1998 Countdown to Extinction Interior

Before it was called DINOSAUR, here we are waiting in line (or maybe not really waiting?) for Countdown to Extinction!

Can’t leave the new park without saying hi to the Mouse!

Animal Kingdom Tree of Life Photo Spot 1998

The awesome family shot!

It’s strange to look back at this trip and not see the view of Expedition Everest or the gorgeous theming of Asia. I also find it hard to believe that guests still call Animal Kingdom a half day park because, man, it WAS  a half-day park that first year. If you timed it right you could get through all the attractions and maybe grab a quick bite to eat by lunch time. In my family, an Animal Kingdom day meant a guaranteed pool visit that evening because a) it was August and the heat was grueling and b) there was an open amount of time to spend at our hotel.

Still, it was cool to see the park in its earliest stages and as we have continued to visit, I can’t even believe how far AK has come and how much more it will offer in the future.

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A book publicist who loves writing about Disney and books, and sometimes Disney books.

3 thoughts on “Animal Kingdom Appreciation: Back to 1998

  1. You know that “Half a Day” mentality has always lingered in my head, but when I get there and it hits half day, there is so much I haven’t seen! Especially now. DAK has come a long way!

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