Walt Disney Park Orlando – Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide, Inc., also known informally as Walt Disney Park Orlando and Resorts or Disney Parks. Is one of The Walt Disney Company’s four major business segments and a subsidiary. Originally known as Walt Disney Outdoor Recreation Division then Walt Disney Attractions. Walt Disney Park Orlando is responsible for the conception, building, and managing of the company’s theme parks and vacation resorts, as well as a variety of additional family-oriented leisure enterprises. It was founded in 1971, after the opening of Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida, joining the original Disneyland in California, which opened in 1955.
In 2014, the company’s theme parks hosted approximately 134 million guests, making Walt Disney Park Orlando the world’s most visited theme park company, ahead of the second-most visited rival Merlin Entertainments. It is by far the largest Walt Disney Park Orlando business segment by employee headcount, with about 130,000 of Disney’s total number of 180,000 employees as of 2015. The chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is Bob Chapek, formerly president of Disney Consumer Products. Chapek reports to Disney CEO Bob Iger.
Walt Disney Park Orlando Attractions, LLC changed its name to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, LLC on April 14, 2000 then to Disney Destinations, LLC on April 25, 2006. Tokyo DisneySea at Tokyo Disney Resort opened on September 4, 2001. The Walt Disney Company in selling its Japanese and US chains decided to keep the Disney Stores in Europe, along with the store in Manhattan, which was converted into a World of Disney store run by Walt Disney Park Orlando and Resorts in 2004.
Downtown Disney opened at the Disneyland Resort on January 12, 2001 between Disneyland and the future California Adventure. Disney California Adventure Park opened at the Disneyland Resort on February 8, 2001 with three major areas, : Paradise Pier, Hollywood Pictures Backlot, and the Golden State. In California Adventure on October 6, 2002, A Bug’s Land area opened. Parks and Resorts chairman Jay Rasulo announced at Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, California on September 12, 2009 that Walt Disney World’s Fantasyland would be overhauled and increased in size by 2013. A $1 billion expansion/renovation of Disney California Adventure Park was announced in 2007 to be completed by 2012.
Walt Disney Park Orlando Animal Kingdom
Encounter the magic of nature with rare creatures, authentic adventures and world-class entertainment at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park, one of the largest animal theme parks in the world. Home to more than 2,000 animals across 300 species, the park celebrates the beauty, mystery and harmony of all living things. Explore 6 enthralling lands, each one alive with magic like nowhere else: Oasis, Discovery Island, Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Asia and DinoLand, U.S.A. areas.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a zoological theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, near Orlando. Owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company through its Parks and Resorts division, it is the largest theme park in the world, covering 580 acres (230 ha). The park opened on Earth Day, April 22, 1998, and is the fourth theme park built at Walt Disney World. The park is dedicated and themed entirely around the natural environment and animal conservation, a philosophy once pioneered by Walt Disney.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, meaning they have met or exceeded the standards in education, conservation, and research. The park is represented by the Tree of Life, a sculpted 145-foot-tall (44 m), 50-foot-wide (15 m) artificial boab tree.
In 2015, it hosted approximately 10.9 million guests, ranking it the fourth-most visited amusement park in the United States and seventh-most visited in the world.
In the fall of 2016, Shawn Levy, director of Night at the Museum, was announced that Sony Pictures Animation will plan for a live-action/CG hybrid comedy-adventure film, Nature will be released on May 31, 2019. It will star Joshmegazord (in his first film role), Booboo Stewart, Kevin Hart, Sheamus, Amy Adams, Bradley Steven Perry, Heaven Hart, Hendrix Hart, Kiefer Sutherland, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, John C. Reilly, Laurence Fishburne, Dax Shepard and Sean Hayes.
Walt Disney Park Orlando Animal Kingdom Attractions
Enjoy friendly, hands-on encounters with a variety of animals, including goats and sheep, at this open-air petting zoo.
Make a Furry Friend
Meet and greet friendly animals at the only petting zoo in Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.
Pet, brush and feed domesticated creatures at this expansive, outdoor petting zoo, designed for Guests looking to connect with the animal kingdom. Adorable animal friends on hand may include:
Handy animal brushes are available inside the petting enclosure, available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Guests are encouraged to cleanse their hands before and after making contact with the animals at the washbasin located near the entrance to the petting zoo.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch
Accessible by the Wildlife Express Train, Affection Section is located at Rafiki´s Planet Watch.
Additional attractions within Rafiki’s Planet Watch include:
- Conservation Station, an animal care facility featuring hands-on exhibits
- Habitat Habit!, an outdoor discovery trail featuring cotton-top tamarin monkeys
Devoted to the preservation and conservation of animals, Rafiki’s Planet Watch features fun educational exhibits and activities to help create awareness of animal issues while offering a behind-the-scenes look into the inner workings of Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.
African Elephants – Disney Animals
Behold the elephant the planet’s largest terrestrial animal and learn the true meaning of awesome!
Where to Find African Elephants
Meet one of the earth’s most colossal, fascinating and beloved animals—African elephants!
African Elephants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park
Guests can see a herd of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) while on the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.
African Elephants in the Wild
African elephants can be found in over 37 countries of sub-Saharan Africa. They are able to live in a variety of habitats, from dense forests to wet marshes to open and closed savannas—even arid deserts.
Threats to African Elephants
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently lists the elephant species as “vulnerable.” But a growing demand for ivory has caused elephants to be slaughtered at unprecedented levels—over 35,000 elephants were killed by poachers in 2013 alone.
Disney Conservation Efforts
The Walt Disney Company is passionately committed to the protection of African elephants and their natural habitats. Find out what Disney is doing for elephants—and how you can help!
An open air play space designed to look like a dinosaur dig site where kids can explore and have fun.
Fossil Fun for the Young
Experience a world of dinosaur discoveries at this interactive spot. Young paleontologists ages 10 and under can participate in fantastic prehistoric discoveries and learn more about the extraordinary world of dinosaurs.
Climb atop rocks and cross rickety rope bridges. Roam mysterious caves and hurl down twisting slides. Navigate a maze of dinosaur bones and even unearth the remains of a Wooly Mammoth in a nearby sandpit.
Primeval props and physical structures waiting to be excavated include:
- A giant, multi-level maze with covered slides
- An archeological dig site where kids can excavate fossils from a Triceratops and a Tyrannosaurus Rex
- A set of hands-on musical bones set into the side of a hill
- A Jeep® for climbing and make-believe driving
- Interactive exhibits, including dinosaur footprints that make sounds
- A shaded seating area at the dig site with large fans and music
Have a blast digging up the past at The Boneyard!
Butterflies – Disney Animals
Be on the lookout as butterflies from 20,000 species from nearly every continent on the planet come and go throughout the year!
Where to Find Butterflies
Like all of our Walt Disney World Resort Guests—including butterflies—we love beautiful flowers!
Butterflies at Walt Disney World Resort
On warm, calm, sunny days, Guests can find wild butterflies throughout Walt Disney World Resort. The best way to see butterflies up-close is to spot them while they are drinking nectar from a flower. Many of our theme parks and Resort hotels have special flower gardens planted specifically to attract local butterfly species—and we are planning to plant many more!
Butterflies in the Wild
Butterflies can be found on every continent of the globe except Antarctica, and in a wide range of habitats, including wetlands, lowlands, temperate and tropical forests, mountains, farmlands—and your own backyard! Each species has its own habitat requirements based on the specific host plant the caterpillar needs to survive and pupate, and on the nectar source for the adult butterfly.
Threats to Butterflies
The greatest threats to butterflies are habitat change and loss due to residential, commercial and agricultural development. Climate change and pesticides are also threatening butterfly species and populations.
Disney Conservation Efforts
The Walt Disney Company is passionately committed to the protection of butterflies. Find out what Disney is doing—and how you can help, too!
Butterflies at Disney
Walt Disney World Resort is home to more than 70 butterfly species! Next time you see a beautiful flower, stop, look—and see what flutters by!
Disney is Butterfly Friendly!
Some Disney Resort hotels have gardens dedicated to Florida butterfly species, with plants both for common butterflies like the zebra longwing and at-risk species like the Duke’s Skipper. Nectar plants like firebush and wild petunia and host plants like milkweed and passion vines are attracting local species by providing tasty nectar and homes!
If you see milkweed—the host plant for the monarch butterfly—take a moment to look for eggs, caterpillars, a chrysalis or a beautiful adult! Whatever the time of year, be sure to keep a lookout for some of the butterfly species you might see at Walt Disney World Resort:
The Eastern tiger swallowtail is one of the most recognized butterflies in North America, thanks to their large yellow wings, black tiger stripes and wingspans of up to 6 inches! There are a variety of swallowtail species here at the Resort.
Whites and Sulphurs
Sulphur butterflies are usually yellow, orange or white, and can often be found year round in Florida. Look for the bright yellow wings of the orange-barred Sulphur on bright red flowers, but note—they often perch with their wings closed!
These butterflies often have hairy forelegs that resemble tiny brushes. Species include monarchs, Gulf fritillaries (large-to- medium butterflies with long, narrow orange wings with silvery spots) and the zebra longwing—the official state butterfly of Florida!
Skippers tend to be small, but their powerful wings help them fly up to 20 miles per hour! They are not as colorful as other butterflies, but they sure are fast! Look for tropical checkered-skippers (dark brown wings and small white spots) or long-tailed skippers (bluish green iridescent body).
The second-largest family of butterflies, these are often small and dainty, with brightly colored, iridescent wings—and clever defenses. The ceraunus blue scares off predators with false eye markings on its hind wings, while the gray hairstreak has trailing filaments that distract and confuse its enemies.
Behold an awe-inspiring reproduction of an actual Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton unearthed in South Dakota.
A Fossil of Fantastic Proportions
Stand in the shadow of a replica of the largest and most complete T-Rex skeleton ever found.
Pose for pictures with the meticulously detailed, 13-foot tall, 40-foot long Tyrannosaurus Rex reproduction. Dating back 67 million years to the Late Cretaceous Period, Dino-Sue is the length of a 4-story building—and a fascinating sight to see.
The original Sue the dinosaur was discovered in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1990. Named after fossil hunter Sue Hendrickson, the 67 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton is one of the most famous fossil finds of the 20th century. With more than 90% of Dinosaur Sue’s bones excavated, the find brought forth a tremendous amount of information and knowledge to what little is known about the species.
In 1997, the real Sue was purchased at auction with help from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Today, the actual skeleton is permanently on display at The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois.
Discovery Island Trails
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
Escape to a garden paradise where exotic creatures mingle alongside verdant plants and trees. Encircling the base of the Tree of Life, Discovery Island Trails invites you to embark on a self-guided tour and enjoy an up-close glimpse of nature—at your own pace.Room to Roam
Meander down serene paths, cross wooden foot bridges and journey through cave-like tunnels as you navigate 2 sprawling pathways beneath the great tree. Along the way, snap pictures of captivating creatures from convenient observation stations amid a backdrop of picturesque trees and plants.Wildlife Encounters
Some of the animals you may encounter along the Discovery Island Trails include:
- White Stork
- Asian Small-Clawed Otter
- Red Kangaroo
- West African Crowned Crane
- African Crested Porcupine
- Galapagos Tortoise
- Lesser Flamingo
- Ring-Tailed Lemur
- Saddle-Billed Stork
- Lappet Face Vulture