On February 27, 1999, my little family set off for what would be the first of many family trips to Walt Disney World in Florida. At the time, we were a family of 3. Our oldest daughter, Ashley, had recently turned 5 years old, and her grandparents thought it was the perfect time for her to experience the Disney Magic!
March 1st was our first park day, and we decided to head to Animal Kingdom. I hadn’t been to WDW since 1990, so it was a new park to me – and the whole Disney experience was new to Brian and Ashley. Needless to say, we were all pretty excited!
I wasn’t sure what Ashley would think of all the characters because she was scared to death of Chuck E. Cheese. However, there’s something special and rare about Disney and I had nothing to worry about! I think her favorite memories from that trip were of meeting the various characters (and we had some magical character experiences!)
The characters in the Camp Minnie-Mickey section of the park were pretty much the same as they are today – Mickey & Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto. We also met Chip & Dale there and some characters that are rare now – Flik (from A Bug’s Life), Rafiki (from the Lion King, and Baloo (from Jungle Book). Ashley was particularly impressed with Flik because he was “so soft!”
Just like today, we very much enjoyed the Kilimanjaro Safari. Unlike today, though, we did not have the luxury of a good camera and our pictures are less than thrilling!
The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail was another favorite. To this day, I could stand and watch those gorillas for hours on end. We took this picture of Ashley, and it became a tradition to go back to this spot for pictures for years afterwards!
One of our favorite memories of that day – and a story that we still share – was that we got a sneak peek of Kali River Rapids. The ride wasn’t officially open; but they had a “soft opening” that day and we decided to try it out. Ashley just happened to be in the “lucky seat” – if you’ve ever ridden this rapids ride, you know just what I mean! She got DRENCHED! Soaked through to the bone! Quite honestly, I haven’t ridden the ride since; but Ashley went on it with a friend a few years ago (she says she has no memory of the soaking!)
Animal Kingdom was still very new in 1999. Here are a few newsworthy events from the park in 1999:
- The Asia section of the park opened in 1999. It was the first “expansion land” added to the original park.
- Kali River Rapids and Maharajah Jungle Trek opened in 1999.
While I used to say that Animal Kingdom was my least favorite park, I have really learned to appreciate and love it over the years. What about you?
Heidi Strawser is a stay-at-home, work-at-home, homeschooling mom of 3. She and her family live in Amish Country (PA), but head south to Walt Disney World whenever they can. One of Heidi’s favorite pastimes is planning trips to Walt Disney World. In fact, she’d like to live there one day! (Yep, right in the park!) Heidi blogs at Heidi’s Head.
Beth and I would like to once again thank Heidi for participating in our series. You may want to read (or revisit!) her posts for 40 Days to 40 Years (Walt Disney World), 30 Days to 30 Years (Epcot), and then follow her @HeidiSays and Facebook when you realize you can’t get enough!
Tomorrow, get your safari gear ready for Mark and the year 2000!