VIDEO: Character Roll Out for Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s 15th Anniversary

April 22, 2013 is Earth Day, and also Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s 15th Anniversary at Walt Disney World.  So if it’s Animal Kingdom’s birthday, that means one thing – roll out the characters!  John Saccheri was on hand in the park for a lifeless party under the Tree of Life.  Continue reading for all the photos and first hand video recap.

Disney's Animal Kingdom's 15th Anniversary

A moderate crowd gathered around 8am in front of the Tree of Life for a scheduled 8:40am special opening ceremony.

Josh D’Amaro, the vice president of Disney’s Animal Kingdom began the ceremony.  He later introduced Dr. Jackie Ogden, vice president of Animals, Science and Environment, who recounted a heartwarming story of a little boy who wanted to do more for conservation. The brief ceremony ended with a singing of “Circle of Life” from a Festival of The Lion King cast member.

Disney's Animal Kingdom's 15th Anniversary

Josh D'Amaro, VP of Disney's Animal Kingdom at the 15th Anniversary Celebration


Unfortunately, Walt Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde, originally slated to be in attendance, was unable to make it.  You could tell, based on the crowd’s conversations, he was highly anticipated and people expressed disappointment.  Joe Rohde is undoubtedly an Imagineering icon and a father of sorts to this gorgeous, lush, young theme park.  [For a recap of Rohde’s appearance at the D23 event for Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s 15th Anniversary held on the Walt Disney Imagineering campus, click here.]

Disney's Animal Kingdom's 15th Anniversary

While the ceremony was ultimately underwhelming, the celebration still had a message that was unmistakably Disney – the park is a labor of love for all the leaders, cast members and guests that make it so special.  And, as usual, they drove home the message of conservation…

Disney's Animal Kingdom's 15th Anniversary

Which brings me to another thought – I sometimes hear that the plans for the new AVATAR land don’t fit in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and I couldn’t disagree more.  James Cameron’s movie Avatar screamed a message of conservation and animals played a big role.  I think it will fit like Peanut Butter & Jelly!

James Cameron, Joe Rohde, and Tom Staggs explore Disney's Animal Kingdom

James Cameron, Joe Rohde, and Tom Staggs explore Disney's Animal Kingdom ©Disney. All rights reserved.


So Happy Earth Day, and let us know what you think of the celebration for Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the comments below.  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About John Saccheri

John Saccheri has been rooted in the Disney culture from childhood. John only had the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World once, at the age of 5. After returning home, he never stopped talking about it, yearning to return. His parents were worried about this “obsession,” but John began working at the age of 12 with a focus on saving up for the next Disney trip. He was able to visit Disney World at least once a year from 14 years old onward. Today, a successful entrepreneur, John was able to move from his hometown of Long Island, New York, to Central Florida to be close to the Mouse. Going to the parks still seems like a fantasy to him!