A Look at This Year’s New Animal Kingdom Holiday Decor
Disclosure: I was provided complimentary media tickets, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Walt Disney World Resort has so many amazing experiences to offer, especially for the holidays. Each year my family and I try to plan a trip to Walt Disney World Resort during holiday time just to experience the magic of their decor, things like the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail, and for the first time this year we did Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
My favorite of all the parks at Walt Disney World though is Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It is the most immersive park that really transports you to feel you’re somewhere else in the world! They haven’t had many holiday decorations in the past, so when I heard they would be getting a lot more holiday decor this year, I had to make a point to visit on our 2-day trip last month.
The wonderful thing about Animal Kingdom’s holiday decor, is that it’s not just animal themed Christmas decorations slapped onto the park. Like the rest of the park, the cultures are being represented in the decor. In Africa, you see decor inspired by African culture, and in Asia you see decor inspired by Diwali, the holiday festival of lights in India. Throughout the park, you find decor made from recycled and/or natural materials, to stay true to the eco-friendly messaging of the park.
Particularly throughout Africa, I noticed the amazing decorations made from recycled materials. I absolutely loved the wreaths, and the Christmas tree outside of Kilimanjaro Safari.
Discovery Island had the holiday offerings that left us with the most memories, since they have a new interactive element this holiday season. If you’re unfamiliar, Discovery Island is the row of shops leading up to Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s icon The Tree of Life. In this area, you will find cast members with animal puppets that interact with guests. On the Disney Parks Blog, they explained the vision behind this offering:
“Guests visiting Discovery Island will find themselves in the midst of a celebration of winter, hand-crafted by the eclectic community of artists who reside here. The village is filled with sparkling white holiday decorations, and animal-inspired luminaries line the rooftops. And during the day, Discovery Island will spring to life with a holiday gathering of winter animals with artisan-sculpted puppets, including reindeer, foxes, polar bears, penguins and more.”
When we went, we saw a mama and baby reindeer, a baby seal, and penguins. My daughter interacted with the puppets a lot, particularly the baby penguins, who she played a game of tag with! It seems that these artisan puppets have become quite the hit with guests and on social media, which makes me feel confident that Animal Kingdom will have them back again next year for the holidays. Also part of the Animal Kingdom holiday decor, down the pathway that takes you to Pandora, you will see a wall that is painted themed to the animal puppets. It is absolutely gorgeous and a fantastic Instagram wall!
In DinoLand U.S.A. you can find Mickey and Friends dressed in holiday outfits. I did notice it seemed the character lines were longer than normal because of the seasonal change in outfits, so if you have the ability I would recommend getting a FastPass reservation for one of the character meet-and-greets. While we didn’t stay until the sun went down (we had one day and park hopped before then), during the holiday time this year they have new holiday Tree of Life projections.
If you’re heading to Animal Kingdom, you may also enjoy my article about the best spots to take photos in Disney’s Animal Kingdom!