Holiday fun returns to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, bringing unique seasonal décor and a flurry of festive flotillas with favorite Disney characters sailing down the Discovery River to a jolly holiday soundtrack. We recently enjoyed a fun day enjoying the holiday offerings at the park. Learn more about what you’ll find this holiday season at Disney’s Animal Kingdom below.
1 – Park Hours
During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, the theme parks have been operating with fewer hours than normal. However, during the holiday season, Disney has offered more hours in the park, especially in the evening hours. The park hours vary by day and will be shorter during the week and longer during the weekend. For example, in December, weekday hours are generally 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, but they are 8:00 am – 7:00 pm on the weekend. Be sure to check the park hours in your My Disney Experience App since Disney has been adjusting hours often due to the level of people visiting. We highly recommend visiting on a weekend so you can enjoy the park in the evening hours.
2 – Crowd Levels This Holiday Season
Disney has stated publicly that the parks’ capacity was capped at 25% when the parks reopened and that they were well below that number. Over the fall season, more and more guests have been returning to the parks. In fact, Disney just confirmed on November 12, 2020, that they recently increased park capacity to 35%. While it is undoubtedly busier now than it was this summer, it’s important to remember that because of the capacity limits, the parks are still less busy than a typical visit. Overall crowd levels and therefore wait times for attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are not too bad. You can expect wait times over an hour for the more popular attractions such as Avatar Flight of Passage and Expedition Everest. Most other attractions have wait times between 30 minutes to an hour. Expect to wait for attractions, but there is time to get everything done, and it is much less crowded than it would be for this time of year.
3 – Park Decorations
Every park has their own unique holiday decorations and Disney’s Animal Kingdom has some of the best! Outside the park entrance, you’ll find Animal Kingdom’s Christmas Tree, which offers a great backdrop for some photos! Also outside the park entrance is a holiday-themed backdrop with a Disney PhotoPass photographer. Inside the park, you’ll find many of the holiday decorations that debuted last year. The parks is really beautifully decorated.
4 – Holiday Themed Character Cavalcades
Since character greetings are not happening during the phased reopening, you’ll be able to spot the characters on the Discovery River throughout the day. Here are the cavalcade you’ll be able to enjoy:
- Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto cruise along the Discovery River in holiday outfits!
- Santa makes the trek to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park to spread the joyous spirit of the season from his very own flotilla as he sails down the Discovery River.
- “Donald’s Dino-Bash” takes its seasonal celebration to the waters of Discovery River, with Donald Duck and pals waving to everyone as they pass.
- Chip ‘n’ Dale and Goofy jingle through the jungle, bringing their own style of holiday flair to the river on their own flotilla.
- The Discovery Island Drummers cruise along, entertaining guests on the shore with an energetic holiday beat.
- Non-Holiday “Discovery River Character Cruise” – Throughout the day, guests can see Timon and Rafiki or Pocahontas with Meeko, who set sail on the parks’ waterways.
5 – Holiday Themed Treats
Here is a rundown on the holiday treats you’ll find at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. More treats may be available so keep an eye out!
White–Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cheese Mousse – White chocolate peppermint cream cheese mousse with peppermint sauce and chocolate cookie crumbles (Available at Satu’li Canteen Dec. 20 – Jan. 2)
Menagerie Cupcake – Gingerbread cupcake with cream cheese frosting topped with a white chocolate bear (Available at Creature Comforts, Flame Tree Barbecue, and Restaurantosaurus Dec. 1–30)
Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwich – Vanilla Ice Cream sandwiched between two pumpkin cookies decorated with fall sprinkles (Available at Dino–Bite Snacks Nov. 1–30)
Santa Mickey Mousse – White chocolate peppermint mousse dome on a brownie base, snowflake sprinkles, and chocolate Mickey ears (Available at Creature Comforts Dec. 1– Jan. 2)
6 – Holiday Novelty Items
Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers holiday novelty items throughout the park. This includes the White Christmas Tree popcorn bucket and the green jingle sipper. One item that we have only seen at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the bottle topper called the “Toppermint.” This item (see below) is available at various food carts for $6.50 (drink not included). It also lights up!
There really is so much to see and do at Disney’s Animal Kingdom this holiday season! Happy Holidays!
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