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Christmas at Walt Disney World - Animal Kindgom

Text & Photographs by Sheila Hagen
Additional Photographs by Brian Bennett

This trip report is the first of a series covering my recent trip to WDW to investigate exactly what goes on there during the Christmas season. The offerings ranged from the outstanding (Epcot) to the dismal (just how many people can they pack into the Magic Kingdom during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party anyways?).

Overall, the Christmas spirit is alive and well there, even for a jaded Southern Californian like me, but even the Grinch could find something to wring his hands in glee about. But enough introduction, time to get on with the fact-finding mission.

Animal Kingdom

Alighting from the parking lot tram, off to the right before the ticket booths was a huge Christmas tree decorated with animal-themed ornaments.

Animal Kingdom

The entrance sign was also all decked out in Christmas trimmings.

Animal Kingdom

The Guest Relations and Package Pick-up buildings were festooned with festive animal motif garlands.

Animal Kingdom

And that, with the exception of an out- of- place group of carolers in Camp Minnie- Mickey, was the extent of Christmas in Animal Kingdom. As well it should be. Considering the majority of Africa is not Christian, it would’ve been too weird seeing Afrikaners all wearing a Santa hat with Mickey ears...

Jeff (my traveling companion and all- around good sport) and I trekked back to Kilimanjaro Safaris to get our fast passes then set out to admire the Tree of Life and see the Bug show. I could spend hours looking at the intricate carvings in the Tree, but if I were to do so, I would surely be run over by those anxious to get stung by hornets, terrorized by spiders and sprayed by stink bugs. Ah, the joys of Tough To Be A Bug. Don’t get me wrong, I love the show; it’s just not a warm and fuzzy kind of production.

Animal Kingdom

Tree of Life (above), entry to Bug show (below)

Animal Kingdom

Time came for the Safari. We had a driver from South Africa who was the best driver we’ve ever had. He totally got into the "show" and certainly was a contender for Best Cast Member Who Didn’t Let On How Corny It All Really Was. He made our safari!

Animal Kingdom

The rest of the day was spent at:

· Festival of the Lion King (although the tumble monkeys and other acts are great, I really think it’s time for Florida to return the Lion King floats back to Disneyland)

Animal Kingdom

· Tarzan Rocks (which has to be the loudest show I have ever heard and someone tell me why Tarzan did not show up until halfway through the show?) On the way to the Tarzan Rocks show we spotted the dino in the photo below – hmmm, is she bigger than that T-Rex named Sue?

Animal Kingdom

· We marveled how the shady areas in the park are set aside exclusively for smokers (including the Secret Path!)

· The gentle but boring- for- anyone- over- the- age- of- five Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends show (which in case you failed to get the message which was repeated over and over and over, is all about forest conservation...). As a bonus, this show is most excellent for those who need to memorize the words to "Colors of the Wind".

· And lunch at Tusker House (yummy rotisserie chicken and garlic mashed potatoes).

On our way out for the day, Jeff and I both noticed: even though the week we were at Florida was one of the coldest of the year, Animal Kingdom was still hot! Hmmmm, just how do those Imagineers do it?

NEXT: The Disney folks do go all out for Christmas at the Disney- MGM Studios

Animal Kingdom

First in the series


Disney-MGM Studios


Magic Kingdom

The Resorts


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