Disney Designers Create Colorful Animal Fashions

Filed in: Disney's Animal Kingdom

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Disney’s Animal Kingdom costume designers
have created a colorful line of animal-inspired fashions for
the park’s 2,500 cast members to help create an atmosphere of fun
and high adventure in everything from safari wear to color-bright
native dress.

Each of 62 different designs for cast member costumes is all
about animals, but in totally different ways. Some, such as
caregiver attire, are designed to be worn around animals. For
others, the animals are all around the wearer in the form of
colorful printed images — pink elephants, yellow alligators,
vermilion beetles or bright red geese.

They vary from the tailored, hunter’s green denim worn by animal
caregivers and Pangani Forest Exploration Trail guides to authentic
African costumes worn in Harambe, to a wild collection of
bright-colored caftans, tunics and blousing trousers in fashionable
prints covered with animal images. Those are worn in unique and
colorful Discovery Island.

According to Patty Dunne, coordinator of costume design for
Disney’s Animal Kingdom, they could easily create a whole new trend
in fashions which celebrate the world of animals — well beyond
popular trends such as “safari” clothing and leopard-spot

All are loose-fitting and made from fabrics that absorb and
evaporate moisture quickly. All are custom-designed by Disney
costumers and custom-made by leading suppliers to meet exacting
needs for theming, comfort and the special requirements of each
cast member role. Costumes are worn by merchandise and operations
hosts, restaurant cast, guides and animal caregivers. Scores of
designs are worn by performers on stage and in street

Each area of the park is distinguished by a completely different
set of costumes. In all there are more than 61,000 items of apparel
required. The collection includes:

  • Discovery Island — The most “artistic” area of the
    park, centered around The Tree of Life, has animal images
    everywhere — on the tree and all over the inside and outside of
    buildings — and colorfully repeated in the fabrics of all the
    costumes. There’s an “engineered-print” tunic (printed after the
    garment is cut out) with ombre effect, colors changing gradually
    from a deep coral to pink, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.
    Each band of color contains animal figures — turtles, flamingos
    and fish on one blouse, crabs, frogs and alligators on another,
    beetles and lady bugs on a third. There’s a pleated skirt that
    looks like silk, with elephants and hippos parading around. A
    “reticulated giraffe blouse” has a network of irregular rectangles,
    each containing images of African aquatic animals.
  • The Tree of Life — Costumes for The Tree of Life
    theater attendants are all alike, made of sheer blousy material
    almost like a pale green camouflage jumpsuit printed with the
    images of spiders, dragonflies, beetles and other insects,
    celebrating the 3-D special effects experience — “It’s Tough to be
    a Bug!”– within the theater.
  • The Oasis and Main Entrance — Greeters’ costumes
    here are more tailored, but equally colorful: Maroon trousers or
    shorts with rose and gold blouses printed with images of giraffes,
    rhinos, lions, ostriches, warthogs, zebras, tigers, antelope and
    many other animals.
  • Expedition Everest — Costumes for this thrilling runaway train adventure are inspired by a Tibetan-style tunic printed in rich earth-tones of ochre, cinnabar and leaf green. Each tunic is embellished with a Himalayan Escapes Tour patch signifying the adventure ahead.
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris — Sharp-looking safari and game
    warden attire in bronze/khaki with patch pockets and national-park
    style emblems sewn on sleeves are made of environmentally friendly
    lyocell fabric.
  • Harambe — Inspired by native costumes from all across
    central Africa from the Ivory Coast to Nigeria to Kenya, the
    apparel worn here has bright colors, beaded trim and a hint of
    North African influence in geometric designs. Both men and women
    may wear tunic tops with drape-effects sewn into knee-length
    trousers. Tunics bear greetings in the Swahili language across the
    front. Most spectacular is a free-flowing bright green caftan made
    of a silky fabric and printed in an organic leaf-print theme. When arms are raised, the ultra-wide pleated
    sleeves look almost like butterfly wings. Matching head-scarves and
    turbans, beaded belts and leather panels add interesting touches to
    the costumes.
  • DinoLand U.S.A. — In DINOSAUR, “hi-tech
    research scientists” wear white duck pants and asymetrical shirts
    trimmed with black and yellow diagonal stripes indicating “danger
    ahead.” Cast members at Chester and Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures
    funky curio shop wear appropriate kitschy costumes with red
    dinosaur prints climbing the chartreuse and yellow pant legs of the
  • Camp Minnie-Mickey — Adirondack summer camp attire with
    dark green trousers or shorts, and light, striped tops that feature
    square panels picturing Mickey, Goofy and Pluto.
  • “Festival of the Lion King” — This Camp Minnie-Mickey
    stage show includes an aerial performer whose costume looks like a
    giant chartreuse and yellow bird; colorful monkey costumes which
    allow for a high-jumping trampoline performance; and an amber
    headdress, lion-mane cape and leather tunic for the tribal chief
    who directs the story-telling. Fellow members of the tribe are
    dressed to portray a gazelle, a snake, a crocodile, a sandy-colored
    leopard and other animals. All the costumes are inspired by
    authentic tribal attire with carved wooden heads used for typical
    ceremonies in Africa. That show alone requires 136 costumes.
  • Nine more costumes have been designed for operational cast
    members in Asia. Inspired by native fashions of Bhutan, Nepal and
    India, they feature authentic Batik print patterns in subdued earth
    tones with typical Nepalese-style tunics and tight-leg, draped
    pants familiar to “The King and I” fans.

    Twenty percent of the cast costumes are made of a natural,
    environmentally favorable fiber called lyocell, designed to look
    right and provide comfort and durability in a hot climate. This is
    the first time the new fabric has been used for this kind of
    costume or uniform. It is made from wood pulp harvested from trees
    grown specifically for fabrics and has the natural absorbency of
    cotton with the strength and versatility of a synthetic fiber.