X Marks the Spot explores the history of Disney park maps. In today’s article, we will venture back to the year 1999 to explore Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom was Walt Disney World’s fourth venture into theme parks, and opened on Earth Day in 1998. Being a collector of maps, it’s always exciting when a new theme park opens, because it gives you more materials to add to your collection.

Animal Kingdom has grown to become one of my favorite places to visit, not just because of the attractions, but for its atmosphere and attention to detail. It truly is a beautiful place to visit.

With that said, let’s take a look back to 1999 and explore Disney’s Animal Kingdom in its early years.

Tarzan Rocks!

The front cover of the “Adventurer’s Guide” features the now defunct Tarzan Rocks, which was replaced by Finding Nemo The Musical years later. However, Tarzan Rocks was, in my opinion, a very well done, high-energy show featuring Phil Collins’ great music from the film Tarzan. The show included many popular scenes from the movie, as well as live actors and singers performing stunts and tricks to the music.

Let’s continue our adventure and turn the page on our Adventurer’s Guide.

That round symbol at the top of this page is the Wildlife Conservation Fund.

The first section of our guide gives valuable park and resort information, as well as a section about Disney’s Wildlife Conservation Fund. This fund helps efforts to protect environments around the world and the animals who inhabit them. Throughout the resort, Disney sells buttons to help support the cause, with all proceeds going to the Wildlife Fund.

An example of one of many Wildlife Fund Buttons, this one from the Wild Africa Trek Tour within Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Some other Conservation Buttons around the resort are located in The Sea’s With Nemo and Friends, The Land Pavilion, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

As we explore the map of Disney’s Animal Kingdom from 1999, we can see that many of the opening day attractions are still in existence, such as It’s Tough to be a Bug, Dinosaur (then named Countdown to Extinction), Festival of the Lion King, and Kilimanjaro Safari. Kali River Rapids was new for this season and would open in March of 1999. Noticeably absent are the low budget additions, such as Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama, which would be added later. In 1999, the “Dinosaur Jubilee” still occupied the Dino-Rama Expansion plot. This huge tent gave guests hands-on experience with real dinosaur skeletons and fossils. Tours were given daily through the exhibits, offering something that personally I think is missing in today’s Dinoland U.S.A.

Animal Kingdom is home to one the best Theme Park icons in any park around the world: The Tree of Life. It is so detailed and lifelike that you can not help but stop and stare at it while the rest of your party may be hurrying in front of you to grab a fastpass. Sadly, the tree as we knew it back in 1999 has been partially obscured by safety structures and netting. Surely it deserves better treatment.

While Animal Kingdom has many flaws, and a lack of attractions compared to other parks, the future holds potential with the addition of Avatarland, coming to the Camp-Minnie Mickey Site in 2017.

Animal Kingdom is overlooked by many who don’t understand if it is a zoo, theme park, or both. I believe guests should be better trained to enjoy the non-traditional theme park elements of this park. I challenge you all next time you visit to stop and take your time throughout the park. Enjoy the attractions (and that includes the animals), food and culture that surrounds you in each and every step. Thanks for exploring the map with me this week folks. I leave you with a Trivia Question: What is done differently in Animal Kingdom that is not done in the other 3 Orlando Disney Theme Parks? (HINT: Think Something You Purchase)


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Frank Fiorinelli is from New York, but that has not held him back from his love of the Disney Parks. Frank has been visiting the parks since the age of 2 and has not looked back. His passion is collecting Theme Park Maps, since he is able to look them over when returning home. X Marks the Spot, Frank's biweekly Column for Micechat, unfolds from those very maps. A two time Disney College Program Alumni, Frank is currently in the midst of Graduating with a Business Management Degree.
  • clewandowski

    Could it be that the straws there are all made of paper, and they do not give out lids?

  • I’m also going to go with paper straws. It’s a practice common at zoos everywhere because straws pose a major choking hazard to the animals.

  • FerretAfros

    I’ve heard a rumor that the county line runs through the middle of the park, making the sales tax less in certain locations, but Google Earth appears to refute that (however, the All Stars and WWOS are on the ‘other’ side of the county line)

    On our last visit, we noticed turkey legs were about 50 cents cheaper at DAK, though we couldn’t figure out why

  • xboxtravis7992

    The Parks in Disney World which left the most impression on me was Animal Kingdom and Epcot. The Magic Kingdom and DHS are to similar to Disneyland and DCA to have appeal to a Disneyland fanatic like me. If I ever go back to WDW it will be for Animal Kingdom and Epcot.

  • partyhare

    It is sad to note Pocahontas and her Forest Friends in Camp Minnie-Mickey. I really loved that show. It is a loss that nothing took its place.

  • Big D

    I love Animal Kingdom. It is definitely the park I spend the most amount of time in. And I’m a big fan of Disney’s Conservation Fund, and I can’t for the life of me understand why they don’t advertise it more. Everyone knows about the great work that Sea World does for wildlife conservation, yet no one seems to know that Disney does a lot of the same kinds of things (just not limited to marine life). The cast members that work at Conservation Station are really genuinely passionate about it too. The only part I don’t really go to is Dinoland, which is basically the original DCA all over again, with one really good ride and a bunch of carnival rides. For some reason, I actually like Dinosaur a little better then Indy, even though they are the identical ride. The only thing it really lacks are better restaurants. I hate the Rainforest Cafe and McDonalds, the BBQ place is okay but not great, and I have’t tried the new Yak & Yeti yet. I used to always go to Tusker House before they changed it and made it more of a character dining restaurant. I wish they had an authentic signature restaurant in both Asia and Africa the way that they do in all of the world showcase pavilions. I know they have Boma over at AK Lodge, but if you don’t have a car it takes forever to get over there with Disney transportation.

    • By all means, try Yak and Yeti, it’s fantastic!

  • Skimbob

    I love AK. I am so tired of hearing people whine about it. I also wish people would get over comparing Dinosaur to Indy. They are two different rides. So what if they share the same ride system and track. They are themed totally different and I like them both. The only sad thing is the Tree of Life and how they have chosen not to fix it. It is so awesome it deserves to be fixed.

  • 3IAlienKid

    I have that exact park map, same dates Aug 23-29, 1999 (was there on Aug 26, my first time visiting the park). AK is a great park, definitely an all day affair if you take time to “smell the roses” so to speak and take it all in. I was there from 7:15am (back in the day when they used to open a lot earlier since that’s when the animals are most active) and stayed until just before dinner time.

  • ufmaule

    Thanks for posting! Really enjoyed seeing this again. I was a really big fan of the Tarzan show and miss the Phil Collins music compared to the new “original” Nemo music. I do think there is some misunderstanding out there about those that don’t like the park. I would fit in that category. But it’s not because I don’t understand it, it’s more sour grapes towards my original first impression. I went with my family right when it first opened and it was horrible. The park was packed. The Flights of Wonder show was performed inside a portable tent and we had to sit on plastic chairs that you can easily buy at Wal Mart. And then there was the River boat ride around the tree, where we waited about 45 minutes to get on, only to ride around slowly and just listen to Radio Disney. No narrative, not really an animals, just a radio. So it was a less than impressive first impression that shouldn’t have ever happened. I wish they had been ready with everything before they opened. But the park has evolved and become a nice place to visit. But I for one, still have those horrible memories. And it’s not just me, my dad hasn’t been back since and refuses to visit. (He stays at the pool on the Animal Kingdom Day of our visits). 🙂 Again, thanks for posting as I love seeing more nastalgic WDW stuff.

  • SimbaSpot

    I realize Asia was not quite complete at this time, but am i really reading this map correctly? Is “ASA” the temp name for the 75% complete Asia Land?

    • You are correct. Just looked at the full size image and it says ASA. Strange.

      • Not My Real Name

        I think ASA is simply a typo.

  • kindagoofy

    DAK is wonderful, but it is ironic that the Tree of Life superstructure is an offshore oil drilling platform in light of all the conservation messaging. Thanks for another great article!

  • SoarinMatt

    My one visit to WDW was in 1999 and the park that stuck the most (even though we spent only one day there) was Animal Kingdom. I remember seeing the Tree of Life for the first time and just admiring the details. Great article. That brought back one of my favorite vacations.