The Surprising Place We Didn’t Expect to See This Animal Kingdom Experience

Disney’s Animal Kingdom takes Guests out of Central Florida and transports them into exotic locales like Asia and Africa, into the past with DinoLand U.S.A. and even into other universes with Pandora: World of Avatar.

As such, the holiday season at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is like no other experience at Disney Parks, especially on Discovery Island. A fan-favorite holiday experience at the theme park is the Merry Menagerie, a group of artisan-sculpted puppets of a variety of winter animals that make their way throughout the area in front of the Tree of Life.

The Merry Menagerie is a uniquely “Animal Kingdom” experience, so you may be surprised to learn where these puppets recently made an appearance…

Credit: PaulaK

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Since the holiday season is still a little ways off, the Merry Menagerie have plenty of time before they need to be back in Animal Kingdom. Most recently, they were spotted in Alaska of all places, aboard a Disney Vacation Club member cruise!

The puppets have been cruising the high seas with Disney Cruise Line aboard the Disney Wonder to make an appearance during the ship’s most recent Alaskan Cruise out of Vancouver, Canada.

Theme park journalist Brooke Geiger McDonald shared photos of the Merry Menagerie puppets onboard the Disney Wonder to Twitter:

The Merry Menagerie puppets have not appeared outside of Disney’s Animal Kingdom before, so this surprise was likely a special exception to their normal home on Discovery Island just for the Disney Vacation Club cruise.

Disney’s official description of the Merry Menagerie reads:

During the holiday season and beyond, nature holds the truest magic at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. As a part of this year’s yuletide entertainment, Discovery Island will spring to life with a Merry Menagerie of winter animals, realized in the form of life-size, artisan-sculpted puppets. Reindeer, foxes, polar bears, penguins and more interact with guests, accompanied by serenading musicians as they create a whimsical display and playful atmosphere for guests of all ages to enjoy.

Merry Menagerie

Credit: Disney

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Will you be seeing the Merry Menagerie puppets during this holiday season at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Or were you lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them at sea? We can’t wait to have this exciting experience back on Discovery Island soon!

Last year, Disney confirmed that the Merry Menagerie would return to Animal Kingdom this holiday season, with no official start date listed so far. We will continue to monitor all upcoming holiday events at Walt Disney World, and will report back here on DisneyTips as we have more details in the coming months.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."