Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park 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, Experiences and Products division, it is the largest theme park in the world, covering 580 acres. The park opened on Earth Day, April 22, 1998, and was the fourth theme park built at the resort. The park is dedicated and themed around natural environment and animal conservation, a philosophy once pioneered by Walt Disney himself.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom distinguishes itself from the rest of Walt Disney World’s theme parks by featuring traditional attractions as well as hundreds of species of live animals. Due to these sensitive conditions, special designs and provisions were incorporated throughout the park to protect the animals’ welfare. The park is located on the western edge of the resort, and is isolated from the other theme parks and properties to minimize external disruptions to the animals; as a result, the park’s nighttime show doesn’t feature fireworks that would otherwise disturb the animals. In efforts to be more eco-friendly, the park uses biodegradable paper straws and prohibits plastic straws, lids, and balloons. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, indicating they have met or exceeded the standards in education, conservation, and research.
In 2019, Disney’s Animal Kingdom hosted 13.888 million guests, ranking it as the third-most-visited theme park in North America and the sixth-most-visited theme park in the world. The park’s icon is the Tree of Life, a 145-foot-tall, 50-foot-wide artificial baobab tree. The park is the second-most-visited at Walt Disney World Resort, behind Disney’s Magic Kingdom.