A Different Kind of Entertainment – Live Animals at the Disney Parks

I can’t have a week where I’m looking at Animal Kingdom entertainment and not address the obvious – there are real, live animals to see there too – not just Disney characters!

But actually, there are live animals at a lot of the Disney Parks (aside from the obvious local birds and such), more than people may realize! And they can also be a lovely, entertaining and even educational part of your park experience, especially as much of the focus at Animal Kingdom and EPCOT is dedicated to conservation and preservation!

So if you would like to know where to see some live animals at the parks, here are some places to look for them!

Disneyland Resort

Disney California Adventure

  • You may see some of the Disneyland ducks enjoying themselves in the waterways around the park, especially by the Pacific Wharf, where they and other birds are attracted by the food in the area! But generally Disneyland Park is where the live animals are.

Disneyland Park

The Dapper Dans serenade some guests aboard the Horse-Drawn Trolley!

The Dapper Dans serenade some guests aboard the Horse-Drawn Trolley!

  • Main Street, U.S.A. – Start your day with a leisurely ride on a Street Car drawn by one of the parks’ horses. These magnificent, massive creatures are particularly impressive up close. (If you’re lucky, the Dapper Dans will hitch a ride along too!). And if you’d like to see some of the horses when they’re not “working”, try visiting Frontierland where they can sometimes be found along with other animal friends…
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Just some of the animals to be found at the Big Thunder Ranch Petting Zoo!

  • Frontierland – The Petting Zoo at Big Thunder Ranch is the place to take the little ones to meet many animals who make the Disneyland Resort their home. From the beautiful horses who pull the trolleys to cows, goats, burros and more, the petting zoo is a great place for some downtime at the parks, enjoying the peaceful joy of greeting the animals.

Mousertainment Tip: The Petting Zoo, along with all of Big Thunder Ranch will be closing January 10, 2016 due to the imminent groundbreaking for the new Star Wars Land. So visit now while you can!

Ducks swim above with koi below in the pond along Big Thunder Trail.

Ducks swim above with koi below in the pond along Big Thunder Trail.

  • Big Thunder Trail – halfway up/down Big Thunder Trail you’ll come to a pond filled with everything from ducks to big, beautiful koi and last time I was there, I spotted a mama and baby turtle there, too!
  • Frontierland waterways – at the entrance from Main Street to Frontierland, there is a waterway that is popular with the ducks from the Resort as they can often be found swimming there or resting along the banks!
  • The Rivers of America – While a lot of animatronic animals can be spotted along the Rivers of America, many of the park’s duck population like to swim here, too!

Mousertainment Tip: Keep an eye out especially along the tram route at night to see if you can spot any of the feral cat community that make their home at the Disneyland Resort! But as with any animals you see at the park, for their safety and yours, please do not feed them or attempt to pet them (except as allowed at the petting zoo)!

Walt Disney World Resort

Animal Kingdom

  • Make sure one of your FastPass+ reservations is for the Kilimanjaro Safaris if you’re an animal lover! Here, your vehicles will roll right past and sometimes even across the paths of the various wild animals that call this park their home.
  • Or take one of the many treks and trails around the park to enjoy both the lush scenery of what simply must be THE most beautiful Disney park in the U.S. – as well as viewing the various wild animals who inhabit it – from birds to monkeys!
  • If you’re a bird-watcher, the place to be is at Winged Encounters – The Kingdom Takes Flight – where you can see beautiful birds in action!
  • If you’re looking for a petting zoo here – head right on over to the Affection Section of Rafiki’s Planet Watch!
  • And for those curious about some of the behind-the-scenes work here, you might want to check out the Conservation Station also at Rafiki’s Planet Watch to learn how animals are cared for in the park.

EPCOT

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A dolphin swimming inside The Seas with Nemo & Friends!

  • One of my favorite spots in all of EPCOT is The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion. I could spend hours there just watching all the amazing creatures cavorting in the massive aquarium in this exhibit! Plus: manatees!!!
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A manatee munching on the cabbage in its tank.

  • Another wonderful viewing experience for sea life is taking in a meal at the Coral Reef Restaurant which surrounds you with aquatic life until it’s hard to tell whether they’re in the fish bowl or you are!

Magic Kingdom

  • Like its Anaheim counterpart, the Magic Kingdom also has a Horse-drawn Street Car, however the hours of availability for the Main Street Vehicles here are often limited to early morning, so if this is something you’d like to experience, put it early on the to-do list for the day!

And don’t forget the Resort Hotel locations, too!

Care for a carriage ride through the Port Orleans Resorts?

Care for a carriage ride through the Port Orleans Resorts?

  • Some of the Resorts, like the Port Orleans Resorts and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, offer horse-drawn carriage rides. Fort Wilderness even offers “sleigh rides” at Christmastime!
  • While the horses’ corral at Disneyland Resort is not open to the public, guests at the Walt Disney World Resort may visit the Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Fort Wilderness to watch the horses being cared for.
  • And many Resorts including Fort Wilderness, the Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and of course Animal Kingdom Lodge can put you right in the midst of the wildlife!
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge in particular is known for its beautiful rooms with amazing views of the animals inside Animal Kingdom park itself! If you’d love to know what it’s like to be on a photo safari in the comfort of your own room – then Animal Kingdom Lodge is where you’ll want to stay!

Both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts are filled with wildlife and domesticated creatures. What was your favorite animal encounter at a Disney Resort?

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