The Return of Merry Menagerie at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Credit: PaulaK

For years Disney’s Animal Kingdom was not considered a top holiday destination at Walt Disney World. Sure, there was a giant Christmas tree at the entrance and some decorations scattered around the Park, but it was not even close to the other three Theme Parks or even Disney Springs.

Credit: PaulaK

That changed in 2019. Extra decorations were added around Discovery Island, but there was something even more special than that. We’re talking about Merry Menagerie.

Credit: PaulaK

Merry Menagerie features puppets of winter animals. You will find polar bears, penguins, white seals, and more.

These are not your normal puppets. They are larger than a regular puppet, and they move fluidly. They are a lot of fun to watch.

Credit: PaulaK

The best part of Merry Menagerie is the Cast Members who are operating the puppets. They are skilled at what they do, and they really make the animals come alive. They are happy to interact with the Guests.

Last year there were no puppets on Discovery Island because they attract crowds. With the current CDC guidelines, they are back. Everything is outside, and the Cast Members operating the puppets are wearing face coverings.

Credit: PaulaK

New this year is a musician who strolls through Discovery Island. He plays along with the Christmas songs that fill the air. It’s a nice touch.

If you or someone in your party falls in love with the puppets, there are now some for sale. These are more plush and cuddly than those used by the Cast Members, but they could be a great souvenir.

Credit: PaulaK

The puppets are out only during the daylight hours. After dark, Discovery Island is still festive. There are luminaries of smaller winter animals lining the tops of the buildings. It is a beautiful effect that is sure to put you into a holiday mood.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom now holds its own as a holiday destination.

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About Paula K

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.