In early 1998 the buzz around Walt Disney World was the upcoming opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Epcot welcomed the newest park by creating a display in honor of the youngest park’s opening as part of their annual International Flower & Garden Festival. This exhibit wasn’t tucked away in some corner, however, but instead was the central focal point as guests entered the park and made their way towards Spaceship Earth.
As it was described, if Disney’s Animal Kingdom was going to be a “new species of theme park,” then Epcot’s homage was going to need to be a “new species of Festival display.” The courtyard was transformed into an African savanna with tall grasses swishing in the breeze with exotic perennial plants from around the world added spice to the horticulturists’ color palate and a number of animal topiaries residing on the faux savanna. Perhaps the most impressive elements of the exhibit were the giraffes. An entire herd of life-size giraffes were crafted and installed in the display.