We’ll stop by Disney’s Animal Kingdom to check out the Christmastime decorations during the day. Frankly, I’m not sure I’m ready to face Santa Mech under the cover of darkness, but we’ll return for a nighttime visit later this week to catch some of these same scenes lit up for the holidays.
Animal Kingdom has enjoyed a subtle holiday program for some time now with the characters typically donning holiday outfits and the residents of the various lands doing their part to create a festive atmosphere. This year, Disney has taken things a step further, adding decorations to every Land and extending entertainment with new acts.
The Merry Menagerie is brand new this year.
Disney previewed the Menagerie back in late October with this 90ish-second video of behind-the-scenes footage.
The handmade, life-size puppets are akin to what you’d see in Finding Nemo the Musical.
The Puppeteers become an extension of the props.
And they have a lot of fun interacting with guests.
The team at Disney Parks Live Entertainment realized this collection of reindeer, foxes, polar bears, penguins and more in the form of life-size, artisan-sculpted puppets, each designed and hand-crafted using natural materials and fabrics. The animals were then brought to life through a variety of theatrical techniques that will allow them and their performers to interact directly with guests like never before.
Even better, you’ll hear live holiday music played by an assortment of roaming musicians.
The Menagerie sets up shop, just across the bridge in front of the Tree of Life, from 10am through 5pm daily. They should continue through at least the end of the year and likely through the first week of January.
I haven’t seen an official end date.
Because of the Menagerie’s proximity to the entrance, this part of Discovery Island is usually busiest from 10am through 11:30am.
You might come back between 12pm and 3pm or so to find the fewest people milling about.
It’s a relatively simple addition.
But there might not be anything at Walt Disney World currently putting this many smiles on people’s faces. It’s a lot of fun.
You’ll find this merry artwork on the left as you walk towards Pandora, almost across from Pizzafari and Tiffins.
The cone of shame topping the Christmas Tree next to the Russell and Dug Wilderness Explorers Meet and Greet might be my favorite holiday detail anywhere on property this year. I think that’s a squirrel popping out up there for good measure.
A few more details:
Russell and Dug meet here to the left of the entrance to It’s Tough To Be A Bug from 9am to 12:30pm and 2pm to 4:30pm daily.
Character lanterns appear atop a variety of buildings around Discovery Island.
Along with garlands, wreaths, and other decorations:
The Oasis, the name of the area that you’ll see immediately after entering Animal Kingdom, is almost completely unaffected by the change in season, so crossing the bridge into Discovery Island and seeing all of the bright decorations and hearing the vibrant music sets the stage for a festive visit.
It seems like Baby’s third Christmas is the trick for Pandora, as the inhabitants of the Valley of Mo’ara have put together a little display around the Pongu Pongu bar area outside Windtraders and Satu’li Canteen.
I’m guessing that’s my shredded invitation to the Galaxy’s Edge media event making up part of the Santa hat.
Maybe next year is my year.
The expats living and working on this marvelous moon have brought a little Christmastime excitement to their alien home! At Pongu Pongu, discover a display of kitschy décor that combines vintage pieces from Earth with items handcrafted from materials indigenous to Pandora:
Since Pongu Pongu is already a little on the tacky side, the decorations work on that side of the planet. Hopefully next year, the Pandora Drummers don’t start busting out “Little Drummer Boy.” Perhaps Avatar 2, Avatar 3, or Avatar 4 will vaguely occur around the holidays and we’ll see greater overlays here in future years. Maybe Jake Sully, who is apparently a character from the first movie, visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom in his youth.
I covered a lot of what’s happening around DinoLand as part of our rope drop touring strategy series, most notably in this Part, after going over some major FastPass+ modification changes on the app.
As a reminder, the characters that meet as part of Donald’s Dino-Dash are among the most festive that you’ll find on property. Mickey and Minnie at the Adventurers Outpost are also decked out for the holidays.
Some light-up caroling dinosaurs get in on the action this year. Like “La la la la la,” only it’s “Rawr Rawr Rawr Rawr Rawr.”
Rawr Rawr Rawr Rawr.
Of course, you can always find Santasaurus in Chester and Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures.
But if a Christmas miracle is what you’re after, look no further than the fact that Primeval Whirl will be operating daily for the rest of the year.
We’ll move over to Africa. According to Disney:
In the village of Harambe, you’ll be welcomed by a cheerful presentation that blends the inspiration and style of Western traditions with the colors and textiles of authentic African celebrations:
You’ll find decorations all around Old Harambe.
Asia is a little light on the holiday decor.
But we’ll return after the sun goes down.
To see the area lit up like this.
Take in the glowing flowers, lanterns and more in Anandapur, where residents have decorated the theater district in celebration of Diwali––the festival of lights in India.
Last year, we actually saw a Diwali version of UP! A Great Bird Adventure. With the show seeing a major narrative change earlier this year, we don’t see that return.
But we can enjoy a few details on the walk out:
That does it for our daytime visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We’ll return in the evening for some nighttime pictures and check out the other Parks as well.