Welcome (or welcome back) to our series, 15 Days to 15 Years! Thank you for joining some of the most talented Disney bloggers as we countdown to the 15th Anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Today, my co-host Beth, from Pursuing the Magic and The Magical Blogorail, and I open the Savannah to Mark of Thoughts from the Dark Side.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom – 2000
Part 1 – August 2000
other trip we have taken since I started going in December 1971. Right from the
beginning this trip was different. My daughter and I were in the car driving
down – with all of her “stuff” filling the trunk and the backseat. My wife was
at home and would fly down to meet us – since there was no room in the car. No,
this was not your normal run of the mill trip to Walt Disney World.
February in Disney World performing with their marching band. In my daughter’s
senior year I overheard her telling a friend that after college she would come
down to work for Disney. Now it was just 2 months after she had graduated and
here we were at the beginning of her Disney career.
college – both my son and daughter interviewed for the Walt Disney World
College Program (WDWCP). My son decided to attend during the fall term of his
sophomore year, while my daughter would actually do her program after she
graduated. So by now, my son had already worked in the Haunted Mansion during
days. As we drove down, we had no idea yet where my daughter would be
room at All Star Music and got ready for her check-in at Vista Way and
the WDWCP. We have one day together before she has to check in, and we spend it
in EPCOT. Bright and early the next morning we drove to Vista Way and while
she was checking in and registering with the program, I found a place to sit and
wait. When she returned we found her apartment and moved her “stuff” in. More
important, we now knew that she would be working in Conservation Station at
Disney’s Animal Kingdom (DAK).
my wife. We would see our daughter tomorrow night, after her first day of
orientation. Traditions would start the following day and would keep her busy
for a while.
decided that a trip to DAK would definitely be in order. It’s one of our
favorite places to visit – having been there for the first time only weeks
after it first opened. With both my kids having majored in areas of biology, it
was only to be expected that DAK would quickly become a favorite – especially
Conservation Station (not yet named Rafiki’s Planet Watch).
and soon we were talking to a cast member about our daughter’s assignment. As
it turned out, that was a good thing. Cast members were told that they would
need to bring black shoes with them for when they are in costume, and my son
certainly did, so my daughter was prepared with comfortable black shoes. But in
talking with the cast member we found out that for this assignment she will
need work boots rather than black shoes. Since we are meeting her for dinner
that night, we make a trip to Walmart and the proper footgear is obtained.
though we do get to see her for a bit working in Conservation Station before we
head home. But not to worry, because we will return in December.
Part 2 – December 2000
would not be either – though we realized that we must be prepared for that to
become the norm. The original plans called for my wife, my son (on winter break
from college) and myself to head down to spend the last week of December in WDW
– and get to see our daughter working at the newly named Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
(The building however is still Conservation Station.)
call from WDW asking him if he would like to come back for winter break and
work again at the Haunted Mansion. So, shortly before my wife and I headed
down, we were putting him on a flight to Orlando, and would meet him down
challenge is to see what both of their schedules is and to coordinate our
visits. Our first full day turns out to be Christmas Day, and we are surprised
that both schedules are such that we could all get together for dinner. (Since
Christmas is not our holiday, my daughter has always volunteered to work
Christmas so that those who celebrate can be with their families.)
and had no nighttime hours) we visit with her first.
guests and making the announcements regarding what they will see and when they
catch trains returning to Harambe. (Forgive the quality of the videos as they
were taken on “ancient” equipment and then prepared for the web back in the
early days of video sharing.)
Eco-Web booth, followed by some time walking around Conservation Station.
During this time she introduces us to some of the keepers before she must
assist one in an animal presentation. As she goes on a break, my wife and I
watch an audience participation presentation and then visit Affection Section
and the animals therein.
accompanies us back to the hotel where our son will meet us when his shift is
through (no way am I going to the Magic Kingdom on Christmas Day) and then we
head to Downtown Disney for dinner.
Mansion, and he would visit her with us at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. On the last
day of our stay, our daughter is presenting the interactive presentation that
we watched on the first day of this trip, and she has prearranged with her
brother that he would be the guest selected to take part. However, this day has
turned very cold and it was decided that
it was too cold for the animals, which were part of the presentation, to be
outside – so it was cancelled.
his sister introduced him to a number of keepers and managers since he was
hoping to obtain a full time position here once he graduated (remember, his
degree is in Biology). When he did his WDWCP program, he participated in a
program for college credit and for one of his courses he shadowed a
Conservation Station manager. One thing that the WDWCP program taught him was
daughter was on the train station so was able to see us off. As she secured the
door to our car on the train, it finally struck me that she would not be coming
home when the program was over, and would be living in Florida on a permanent
Star Sports, and Grand Floridian. She currently works backstage in the IT
department. She has been there for 13 years now – including a Disney Fairytale
Wedding along the way.
Animal Kingdom in 2000.
Harambe- it’s a family affair! Mark, you truly have some special connections to this park, Africa, and the year 2000. How fortunate we are that you shared this particular time in Disney’s Animal Kingdom history with us. If you’d like to read more about Mark’s family and unique trip reports, follow him @marklf, Like him on Facebook, and check out his Reporting From Disney World. (Don’t you just NEED to know more??)
Please return tomorrow, when Melissa @DisneyonWheels, shares her 2001 Animal Kingdom odyssey!