All About Jambo Everyone!

Jambo is Swahili for “Hello” and it is our welcome to you and all of our fellow fans of Disney's Animal Kingdom.  Have A Wild Time!

Tree of Life, Disney's Animal Kingdom

I was blown away.  I didn’t know where to point my camera and neither did anyone else there.  I got it, I got what Disney was going for here.  There is a powerful and emotional connection felt by the planet’s great wild creatures and here it was on display.  I was as excited as I was the first day I saw Cinderella’s castle decades before.

It was the early spring of 1999 and I was back at Walt Disney World, a place filled with the anticipation of a new millennium.  But the buzz of a recent theme park opening was still in the air.  Only this time the buzz was more like a roar, bleat and growl, for Disney’s Animal Kingdom had been open for less than a year.

The most recent addition to the park then was the Asia section, and late in the day I ventured over to the Maharajah Jungle Trek as the sun was just beginning to set.  There I saw the Tigers splashing in the water, wrestling in the grass and generally romping around with a big red ball.

From the days of Walt Disney, Imagineers had tried to create for guests an immersive experience, a virtual escape from the real world to some far off place, the future or beyond.  Like most Disney fanatics, it is that feeling of traveling to somewhere imagined that makes me love the Disney parks so much.  But the Animal Kingdom is subtly and powerfully different from what came before it, far more real than imagined.  Mother Nature seems to come alive all around you.

Disney, True Life Adventures

And like Epcot Center, the Animal Kingdom does in fact exist on the shoulders of Walt Disney’s own ideas and inspiration.  From the earliest days of Disney’s animation history, Walt loved animals.  He made them the subjects of his films and brought them to life like never before, and not just in cartoon form.  Walt knew and appreciated the power of the real thing.  Throughout the 1950’s, Disney produced a series of groundbreaking nature documentaries called the “True-Life Adventures”, winning several Academy Awards along the way while forever changing that genre. 

When Disneyland was being planned Walt wanted live animals to be a part of it.  But the task proved too difficult and expensive at that time.  However,

he was determined to do what he could to give his customers a wild experience like that of his films.  When the park opened, Disney’s “Jungle Cruise” was the best Walt and his team could do without actually having real live animals.  But that iconic attraction was not the end of the idea, it was only the beginning.

image copyright Disney

tiger, maharajah jungle trek, disney's animal kingdom

one of the first photos I ever took at the Animal Kingdom in 1999

So it really was no surprise when conceptualizing a new park that the Disney Company would go back to their great historical relationship with wildlife for inspiration.  The story I often hear is how Imagineer Joe Rhode, leading up the Animal Kingdom project, was trying to convince Michael Eisner and the Disney brass of the incredible emotional impact live animals have on people.  While Rhode was making his presentation, in walked an adult bengal tiger, being lead by a handler.  The tiger circled the table, brushing up against a few expensive suits along the way, and the deal was sealed.

giraffe, kilimanjaro safari, disney's animal kingdom

That same experience happens to guests every day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the thrill of nature’s most impressive creatures.  Whether it is rush of that first glimpse of animals running free in the savanna at Kilimanjaro Safaris, or waking up at 2am in your room at Kidani Village and not being able to help but step out on to your balcony to watch a giraffe meander by, this place is captivating.  To me, the stars of the Animal Kingdom provide what Walt always wanted in a park, a different experience every time you visit.  I have walked passed those tigers dozens of time and it is always a new experience.

I have been traveling to Walt Disney World for well over 30 years.  I remember the days before Epcot.  It has always been a passion for me and for everyone who contributes to this site.  We love everything about the resort and are truly Disney World veterans.  We are happy to help readers with planning a trip not just to the Animal Kingdom area, so feel free to email us or contact us via Twitter or our Facebook page. 

About 5 years ago I started to think about a website devoted just to the Animal Kingdom.  At that time we were writing a blog called Mouse Extra, but I never let this idea go.  So when the time came to close Mouse Extra, Jambo Everyone, the project I always wanted to do, was finally born.

We hope in the years to come to be the best online destination for lovers of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The

animal kingdom lodge, kidani village, disney's animal kingdom

website to learn about all the attractions, the history, the food, etc.  But also a website to learn about the living stars of this amazing place and maybe even do our part to help save them from extinction. 

So Asante Sana Everyone and Have a Wild Time!

Dave McBride

Twitter: @RadioHarambe