Home > Imagineering > Disney’s Animal Kingdom of Lights

Disney’s Animal Kingdom of Lights

Anybody who’s been to WDW during the Christmas season knows how crowded it can get. In fact, to say it’s crowded, is probably an understatement. A more accurate description might be something that I’ve heard on the DisUnplugged podcast as “Stupid Crowded”. There are many times over the holiday season where the parks will reach or come near to reaching their capacity. So, I would like to propose another option for dispersing some of the Christmas/Holiday crowds.

Recently, I visited a local attraction called Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas and went thru their Festival of Lights, which was quite enjoyable, and easy on the wallet too at only $5.95 a person. At the heart of their “festival” is just a simple outside walk-around their buildings with various displays of Christmas and seasonal favorites but also animals and some other not-to-be named famous (non-Disney) characters. It’s not too garish or over the top, but in my opinion just right. They also have an ice rink set up where you can skate for free, if you brought your own skates, or rent theirs for another $5. Really though, it was an enjoyable evening for all of us.

Visiting Moody Garden’s light festival got me to thinking how simple yet enjoyable it was to just walk thru and look at the lights and how something like this could be a great addition to WDW, specifically Disney’s Animal Kingdom (DAK). This park has no nightly festivities or major activities during the Christmas season other than Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade which is just a holiday overlay of the regular Jammin’ Jungle Parade in the day time. So, why not add it to the list? They could set up lights all around the perimeter of the park walkways, themed to the particular area including animals and music.


  • Low priced, $5-10. Make it very inexpensive in order to allow a low cost option for guests to be able to experience the walk-around only.
  • Offer a more expensive ticket that would allow guests to ride some of the attractions. The attractions that would be open would be those that would normally be open for EMH at DAK.
  • Souvenir, and snack Stands open for Hot Chocolate and maybe regional/area refreshments and souvenirs.
  • Special Christmas Lion King show. Or, just a special Christmas show somewhere in the park.
  • Open the boats for a ride around the river where even more lights would be set up for viewing. Offer hot chocolate and other goodies for the ride. This could be free, or an add-on ticket option.
  • Use the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch as another ride to see more lights and perhaps visit Santa at Planet Watch. Again, this could be free or an add-on ticket option.
  • Of course, they would need to have meet and greets with Disney characters throughout the parks.
  • Open Tusker House, Rainforest Cafe and Yak & Yetti and offer a combo ticket with dinner included at a reasonable price.
  • Special Holiday lighting for the Tree of Life. Instead of the normal white lights that are usually cast on the Tree, add some color, make it festive!

I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this wasn’t already in the long-range plans for WDW and DAK. If so, great! I’m sure they probably have some even better ideas than mine. Regardless, I think the time is about right for them to roll something like this out, if for nothing else to help alleviate some of the crowding that occurs in the parks during this time of year. Anybody else?

Note: I changed the name of this post from the original “More Christmas Options”,  it just seems to fit better.

  1. GrumpyFan
    December 23, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Thanks Scott. You might be right about the cost. They might have to bump it up a little. But, the thought was to keep it low in order to provide another option on property that was “easier” for everybody. And, by “easier” I mean more affordable, which in turn also makes it more enjoyable if you have a large family. Perhaps the solution might be to have different prices based on whether you are a resort guest or not, or just offer a discount if the ticket is added on from your resort. However, I think the optional features or ticket upgrades might help cover most of the overhead costs.

  2. December 22, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    I like this thinking. Adding value to your stay at WDW Resort rather than taking it away, and charging something for it to boot! 5 or 10 bucks might be a little low; I don’t know the cost of keeping the park open late and lit and have staff and even open rides if you’re selling those kinds of tickets. (Better sell quite a few of them, I’d guess, to make it worth keeping rides open…)

    The extra-magic hours always seemed to me to be a huge “plus” for resort guests, a time where they weren’t charging ANYTHING extra and still giving those guests something of value to them, ie, the accessibility of rides and such. Kevin Yee posed a question on Facebook a while back about what to cut at DHS in order to save money. (Shows, rides, hours…etc…) My answer was don’t cut anything but add a hard ticketed event several times a year where you would get the red carpet treatment, like Hollywood Premiere and Hollywood Oscar night all rolled into one. Make money by charging for something that guests will likely value and be willing to purchase. That’s the approach to the resort that I’d be happy to see. I like the idea of holiday lights at DAK a lot. I’d pay something to wander around that beautiful park in the evening and look at the lights…

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