The original three theme parks at Walt Disney World have long been known for their annual holiday celebrations, from the Magic Kingdom’s massive Christmas tree and Epcot’s international storytellers to the dazzling lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This year, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has also gone wild for the season with brand-new 2019 holiday decorations in Pandora, DinoLand U.S.A., and elsewhere around the park, as the “nahtazu” finally joins its sister attractions in cranking Christmas up to 11.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom traditionally hosts a large Christmas tree outside its main entrance, and this year is no exception, despite the construction currently going on in the tram drop-off and security check area.
This year, Animal Kingdom’s tree is decorated with hidden (and not-so-hidden) references to dozens of Disney characters. How many can you name?
This holiday, Discovery Island has become home to a “Merry Menagerie” of life-size, artisan-sculpted animal puppets — including birds, reindeer, foxes and polar bears — that are absolutely delightful to interact with. The whimsical puppets appear from morning through late afternoon, and are not to be missed.
In addition, the rooftops and walkways around Discovery Island are illuminated by animal lanterns and adorned with woven snowflakes, which were handcrafted in Georgia by adults with physical and cognitive disabilities.
Russell and Dug from Pixar’s Up have also joined in the island’s celebrations with these personalized trees at their meet & greet location.
At night, The Tree of Life awakens with wintery variations on its usual projection mapping presentation. The video vignettes run every few minutes after sunset, so be sure to stop and watch one on your way out of the park.
The iconic brontosaurus fossil at the entrance to DinoLand U.S.A. has been done up with dynamic color-changing lights this year, the first of several festive additions to a typically dark corner of the park.
Donald Duck and feathered friends are dressed up for the season, and the walking trail where they hold their Dino-Bash meet and greets has also been done up for the season.
Decor-wise Chester and Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures is one of the most underappreciated gift shops on Disney property, and it’s interior only gets more eye-popping during the holidays.
DinoLand’s Dino Bite snack stand is home to the sweetest seasonal treat we’ve tasted at Walt Disney World so far this year: the overstuffed Double-Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Sandwich, with two full scoops squeezed between the decadent candy-topped cookies. Don’t skip this dessert, assuming your diet can handle it!
In Animal Kingdom’s Africa-inspired section, you’ll spot trees, wreaths, and other seasonal decorations that incorporate authentic African colors and textiles.
This year, Harambe is also home to a small collection of holiday market stalls, where artisans are crafting one-of-a-kind gifts.
Pandora – The World of Avatar
Finally, we conclude our Animal Kingdom Christmas tour on the far-off moon of Pandora, where the human holidays are being celebrated for the very first time. According to Disney’s backstory, the expats living and working in the Avatar-themed land have brought a little Christmastime cheer to their alien home by cobbling together kitschy décor from vintage Earth artifacts and indigenous materials.
The decorations are concentrated around the dining locations and the Flight of Passage exit, with the centerpiece being this Santa-ized exo-suit outside Pongu Pongu.
And lest you think that only Christmas is celebrated in space, it seems a member of the ACE team observes Hanukkah as well:
In addition to these attractions we’ve detailed, you’ll also find glowing flowers, lanterns and more in Anandapur, where residents have decorated the theater district in celebration of India’s Diwali festival, as well as a seasonal character meeting with Mickey and Minnie Mouse at Adventurers Outpost. And remember, all of Animal Kingdom’s holiday offerings are included in your regular park admission.
For all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.