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Guide to the Holidays at Disney's Animal Kingdom

by Mommy Frog on August 27, 2020 Orlando

Animal Kingdom at Christmas Time - Pinterest ImageThe holidays are an extra magical time at Walt Disney World Resort! Magic Kingdom hosts its Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas parties (this year, the event has been canceled). EPCOT celebrates the season with International Festival of the Holidays, which begins Nov. 27, 2020. Disney's Hollywood Studios will offer up a character dining experience with Minnie Mouse, Santa Goofy and friends, starting Nov. 6, 2020.

Comparatively speaking, in the past, we've felt that Disney's Animal Kingdom lagged a tad behind the other parks in terms of holiday celebrations.

But last year, visiting Animal Kingdom at Christmas time was merrier than ever before! Brand-new holiday decor and entertainment was spread throughout all of the park's lands. This year, we're hoping much of the festivities and decorations will return. For now, we know for sure that new festive flotillas will feature your favorite Disney characters!

Visiting Disney's Animal Kingdom at Christmas Time

Discovery Island

Animal Kingdom at Christmas Time - Luminaries

As the first land you see once you enter the park, the holiday decorations begin as you walk over the bridge into Discovery Island. The village is in the middle of celebrating the winter season, so you'll see lots of sparkling white holiday decorations. Animal-inspired luminaries line the rooftops ...  we didn't see any frogs, but we love the colorful patterns! Additionally, wireframe bird-shaped lanterns are placed throughout the land.

Animal Kingdom at Christmas Time - Merry Menagerie Puppets

During the day, Discovery Island comes to life with life-sized, artisan-sculpted puppets of winter animals that include reindeer, foxes, polar bears, penguins and more. These "Merry Menagerie" puppets are accompanied by serenading musicians, and they interact with guests to create a fun and festive atmosphere. We love how adorable they are! You can even reach out to pet them. (If the puppets come out this year, they likely won't be able to interact with guests in the same way.)

Tree of Life Awakenings

At the heart of Discovery Island, the Tree of Life awakens to tell a special series of holiday tales. Each story was told in a unique artistic style, complete with heartwarming holiday-inspired musical scores. Just like Santa preparing for his annual ride across the world, the Disney Parks Live Entertainment team worked hard for months to create these new awakenings. In between the awakenings, the Tree of Life glistened and glimmered with the magic of nature and spirit of the holidays.

DinoLand U.S.A.

Animal Kingdom at Christmas Time - Donald Duck

All of the Disney characters from Donald’s Dino-Bash! celebrated the holidays at Animal Kingdom. Donald Duck, Daisy, Goofy, Launchpad McQuack and Scrooge McDuck had fun holiday decor and accessories at their meet-and-greet locations. At night, Chip ‘n’ Dale hosted the Holiday Hoopla Dance Party with plenty of fun and interactive games. With character interactions taking place from afar right now, we suspect some Dino-Bash fun as part of the festive flotillas.


Animal Kingdom at Christmas Time - Bollywood Beats Diwali Performance

In Anandapur, the theater district is decorated for Diwali, which is the holiday festival of lights in India. Glowing flowers and lanterns light up the pathway between Anandapur Theater and the waterfront stage. Last year's special Bollywood Beats performance captured the spirit of Diwali.


In the village of Harambe, the inspiration of western traditions blends with the colors and textiles of African celebrations. Last year, the entertainment groups who usually perform in the area, such as the Harambe Village Acrobats, introduced holiday-inspired enhancements, including new costumes and music. Meanwhile, over at the Tusker House, Mickey Mouse and friends spread holiday cheer during their character meal. With social distancing in mind, it's not been confirmed that either will take place this year.


Animal Kingdom at Christmas Time - Pongu Pongu

Last but not least, the expats living and working on Pandora brought a bit of Christmas spirit to their home on the moon. Stop by Pongu Pongu to see a display of kitschy decor that’s made up of vintage pieces from Earth, along with items crafted from materials indigenous to Pandora. Pandora is already an amazing land to see at night with its bioluminescent plants … it's exciting to see Christmas decor in that mix!

Festive Flotillas During the Holidays at Disney's Animal Kingdom

In addition to all of the holiday decorations, be sure to keep an eye out for festive flotillas featuring Disney characters along the Discovery River!

Are you excited about the new decorations coming to Animal Kingdom at Christmas time? We're looking forward to seeing the "Merry Menagerie" in action!

Related: The Complete Guide to Disney World Christmas Events

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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