The Holidays at Walt Disney World are all about magic and Animal Kingdom is no exception. With marionettes, new holiday snacks, merchandise, and more you’ll want to spend a whole day in this park! Here’s everything happening at Animal Kingdom for Christmas.
When Does Christmas Start at Animal Kingdom?
Christmas at Walt Disney World starts November 11, 2023, and greets guests in each park with holiday music and Christmas decor.
Does Animal Kingdom Have Christmas?
Yes! Animal Kingdom celebrates several holidays across the park! With natural animal-themed decorations, you can see elements honoring Kwanzaa in Africa, Diwali in Asia, and Christmas. In addition to natural earthy decorations in each area of the park, you can even find kitschy fun in DinoLand USA, and Pandora.
What Can You Do at Animal Kingdom for the Holidays?
With extended park hours through the holidays, animal puppeteers in the Merry Menagerie, an evening show featured on the Tree of Life and new character meet and greets in the park, you can experience a unique Holiday at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, that you can’t get anywhere else. With new snacks, holiday overlays, and fun Disney Character Christmas Cavalcades, Animal Kingdom has really brought in the holiday spirit! Aside from an overall increase in holiday cheer, like added wreaths, garlands, and wreaths, there’s a lot to look forward to at Animal Kingdom for the holidays this year.
- 1 Animal Kingdom Christmas Decorations
- 2 Festive Flotillas at Animal Kingdom
- 3 Diwali the Festival of Lights at Animal Kingdom
- 4 Merry Menagerie Animal Puppets
- 5 Holiday Overlay in Dino-Land U.S.A
- 6 Santa Claus at Animal Kingdom
- 7 Meet Mickey and Minnie in their Christmas Outfits
- 8 Holidays in Pandora
- 9 Holiday Tree of Life Awakenings at Animal Kingdom
- 10 Live Holiday Performances at Animal Kingdom
- 11 Holiday Snacks at Animal Kingdom
- 12 Holiday Character Dining at Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom Christmas Decorations
Holiday Decorations at Animal Kingdom are subtle, animal-themed, and filled with beautiful natural details. Hand-crafted steel ornaments, macrame, and beautifully created animal puppets can be found all over the park. You can find holiday decorations at Animal Kingdom above doorways, on trees, in garlands, and more. Rooftop luminaries and bird lanterns are found across Discovery Island.
Animal Kingdom also has a large Christmas Tree at the entrance of the park, and the rest of the decorations can be found strewn across the park. Including in areas of DinoLand USA and Pandora. And the Indian Festival of Lights, Diwali, is honored in Asia. Check out all the pictures and details below.
Festive Flotillas at Animal Kingdom
Featuring Disney Characters in their holiday best keep an eye out for Festive Flotillas. These floats will appear throughout the day for festive fun to look forward to. And you can see Santa Claus! The big man himself will be floating on a Festive Flotilla down Discovery River as part of the Animal Kingdom Celebrations. While you won’t get to sit on his lap, there will be plenty of magic as part of his arrival!
- Santa Claus Festive Flotilla
- The big man himself will be floating on a Festival Flotilla down Discovery River as part of the Animal Kingdom Celebrations.
- Donald’s Dino-Bash Festive Flotilla
- See Donald Duck, Daisy, and Launchpad from Ducktales happy with holiday cheer while sailing Discovery River.
- Chip & Dale’s Festive Flotilla
- Don’t miss Chip ‘n’ Dale grooving to the holiday music as they float down Discovery River for the festive season.
- Mickey and Friends Festive Flotilla
- Mickey and Friends, in their best safari holiday gear, can be seen from bridges, and alongside Discovery River throughout the day!
- Discovery Island Drummers Festive Flotilla
- Listen for the Island drummers cruising along the river playing fun and festive tunes.
Diwali the Festival of Lights at Animal Kingdom
As part of the Holidays at Animal Kingdom, you can see the story of Diwali that’s told as part of the Feathered Friends show in the park. You can also see Glowing Lanterns and mandala lights decorate the area in front of the Anadapur Theater, and the waterfront stage in Asia.
Merry Menagerie Animal Puppets
Our favorite addition to the holiday offerings at Animal Kingdom is the Merry Menagerie of life-size artisan winter puppets! These puppets are not only absolutely adorable, but they are so fun to interact with! The cast members who handle these puppets are wonderful and really get everyone involved and excited about these creatures. The puppets are located at Discovery Island, near the Tree of Life. They change throughout the day, so be sure to check back to find your favorites!
We were lucky enough to see flying birds, foxes, polar bears, penguins, a baby seal, and reindeer! The detail on these animals is just stunning, so be sure to take your time when visiting them. And take a million photos of them too… because that’s what we did:) Their facial expressions are just priceless and really add to the character of these puppets. In addition to the whimsical puppets, there is also a new wall to match the theme, as well as adorable wintry luminaries atop the shops on Discovery Island, that light up when the sun goes down.
Holiday Overlay in Dino-Land U.S.A
Dino-Land is by far our favorite of the decked-out areas in Animal Kingdom this year and almost has a Hollywood Studios-like aesthetic to it. With Kitschy décor during the day and Christmas lights at nighttime, the atmosphere is definitely jolly in Dino-Land this year!
Santa Claus at Animal Kingdom
Santa Claus shows up in Animal Kingdom for a boat ride down Discovery River! But he also has a meet-and-greet location in Animal Kingdom yet to be announced. To see him on the boat, you can head to the Nomad Lounge balcony and wait for him to sail by. Just behind the Tree of Life is also a great place to see the boats sailing down the river!
Meet Mickey and Minnie in their Christmas Outfits
For the last few years, guests have been able to meet Mickey and Minnie in their holiday sweaters in Animal Kingdom. If you’re looking to play matchy, check out our Mickey and Minnie Holiday Sweaters DIY post for how you can make your own outfit for your next Disney Vacation. Head to Adventurer’s Outpost in Animal Kingdom to see Mickey and Minnie in their Holiday Outfits.
Holidays in Pandora
Pandora has joined in on the holiday fun too; and even though it may be minimal, the Ex-pats on Pandora have brought some handmade holiday decorations to Pongu Pongu. and made it their own this holiday season! And if you need one of the Best Animal Kingdom Snacks while you browse, check out the Pongu Lumpia.
Holiday Tree of Life Awakenings at Animal Kingdom
Before you leave for the night, you’ll want to make sure you stop by the Tree of Life to catch the new wintry scenes and holiday music, specially created for this time of year. It’s such a peaceful and relaxing way to end the night and can be seen from many different angles, meaning there’s plenty of room for everyone! The scenes replay throughout the evening, so feel free to take it all in as much as you want.
With so many new things at Animal Kingdom for the holidays this year, we say Animal Kingdom is an absolute must-do for the holidays. Be sure to set aside some time during your winter trip to enjoy all it has to offer!
Live Holiday Performances at Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom features holiday music throughout the season, and even live performances. Be sure to take the time to see the holiday performances in the park. The Tam Tam Drummers are in the Africa area of Animal Kingdom, and you can head to Asia, to see Chakranadi playing the sitar as well. Intermittently, you can find other performers on the waterfront stage spreading festive cheer!
Holiday Snacks at Animal Kingdom
We are happy to report that Animal Kingdom now has new Disney snacks for the holiday! We tried a double chocolate peppermint cookie ice cream sandwich from Dino-Bite Snacks. It was delicious and all the flavors of chocolate and peppermint, perfect for the season. Be sure to check out all the Snacks at Animal Kingdom for Christmas!
Holiday Character Dining at Animal Kingdom
One of the best ways to add a little bit more Merry to the season is to head to Tusker House, for a Disney Character Meal with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Daisy, Donald, and Pluto. These safari-dressed characters add a little bit of Christmas to their outfits with holiday accessories. With buffet-style options for the holidays, this Disney restaurant is a great choice for families looking for something extra special.
Melanie Renee is a photographer, writer, designer and mom. Visiting Disney destinations since 2010, she is also an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. When she's not creating her next coffee recipe, or designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's seeking beautiful sunsets and planning her next trip .