This year, Christmas has officially arrived at Animal Kingdom draping the park in an extra layer of magic. With festive decorations throughout the park for the first time, Animal Kingdom is officially ready for the holidays. In keeping with Animal Kingdom’s unique tone, each land within the park has an eclectic array of decor that reflects the holiday from that continent (or planet).
This post is sponsored by Disney.
The only thing more magical than a visit to Disney is a visit to Disney at Christmastime to see all of the decorations. The addition of a full-scale holiday celebration at Animal Kingdom adds Animal Kingdom to the must-visit parks over the holiday season.
Upon entering Discovery Island, we were immediately captivated by the life-size animal puppets roaming around and greeting guests. I had no idea what to expect when I read about the puppets, but I wasn’t prepared for their adorableness. Not only is the artistry in creating the puppets beautiful, but they truly seem life-like in their movements. The puppeteers are masters at interacting with guests, and everyone was enjoying the reindeer, foxes, birds, penguins, seal and polar bears.
In addition to the wreaths and garlands strung from buildings throughout Discovery Island, you will find my favorite Christmas tree in the park. At the meet and greet for Russell, you will find two UP-themed Christmas trees. One of them has a “cone of shame” on top. (I couldn’t stop giggling!)
Mickey and Minnie Mouse have also added festive accessories to their safari-themed clothing for the holidays.
On the walk from Discovery Island to Pandora, do not miss the new beautifully painted mural to your left. The giant mural captures the beauty of Animal Kingdom during the day and at night on what was once just a fence.
Pandora – The World of Avatar
Do Avatars celebrate Christmas? No, but the ex-pats living and working on the moon of Pandora do, and this year they brought some holiday cheer to their interstellar home. The holiday display at Pongu Pongu combines vintage pieces from Earth with items handcrafted from materials indigenous to Pandora.
If you look closely behind the robot dressed as Santa, you will find a nutcracker sitting alongside a menorah just above Pongu Pongu. And the entire Christmas display lights up beautifully once the sun goes down — just like the rest of Pandora.
The African village of Harambe welcomes visitors with a unique holiday presentation, blending the inspiration and style of Western traditions with the colors and textiles of authentic African celebrations. Here you will find Christmas decorations that appear to be handmade and artfully crafted with a variety of materials such as the wreaths made with bicycle tires.
In Asia, you will find a beautiful celebration of Diwali, India’s holiday festival of lights. Glowing flowers, lanterns and more illuminate the square between Anandapur Theater and the waterfront stage. At the waterfront stage, dancers bring traditional dances to life in beautiful interactive performances where guests are often invited to learn and join in the dance.
DinoLand USA celebrates the season with Donald Duck at Donald’s Dino-Bash, and if you want to meet some unique characters, this is the place to do it! Donald’s pals include Scrooge McDuck, Launchpad McQuack, Daisy Duck, Chip and Dale (dressed as holiday dinosaurs) and Goofy.
Other colorful Christmas decorations around DinoLand include Christmas lights on top Restaurantosaurus, the Donisaur skeleton at the entrance donning a Santa hat and lights and more.
Animal Kingdom Christmas Decorations After Dark
When the sunsets, the festive decor takes on a new look as the twinkling lights and glowing luminaries light up the park. Much like Christmas decorations at other Disney parks, the decorations take on a whole different look and feel at night. I recommend trying to see them all by daylight and after dark.
The Tree of Life Awakening takes on a festive twist as wintry tales emerge from within, complemented by a familiar and heartwarming holiday-inspired musical score. Yet another beautiful light show presented on the Tree of Life. While many people stop to watch the show, which takes place multiple times throughout the evening, in Discovery Island, it can be seen projected upon the tree throughout the park. We watched as the presentation unfolded from Asia before rushing to Pandora to get in one last ride before park close.