PHOTO REPORT: Disney’s Animal Kingdom 12/28/18 (New Merchandise, Construction Updates, Holiday Crowds, ETC)

Jambo! This week we head to Animal Kingdom to check up on some ongoing construction around the park, as well as some new merchandise, and post-Christmas holiday crowds. Lets get started!

We start this week with a quick update on the animal ambassador experience featuring Jack and Jill, the two veteran donkeys who have called Animal Kingdom home since it opened. I asked an education expert about the experience and was told that it was being delayed until the new year due to the holiday crowd levels, and some unexpected kinks being worked out in the meet and greet area. I was told January 5th would be the first day of the experience however that is an unofficial word. The exact location of the experience was also unclear, however I have since learned it will be just across from Creature Comforts, next to the Cotton-top Tamarin enclosure on Discovery Island. I’m really looking forward to this experience and I’m hopeful for it’s success. Seeing other animals included in experiences like this in the future would make a fantastic addition to the park!

Otter Exhibit Construction

moving to some pictures now, the Otter exhibit in Discovery Island is still under construction. It has been this way for over a month now, with no real sign of the area nearing completion.

The walls run along most of the left side of Discovery Island, making a pretty ugly first impression for guests just entering the park.

This tiny box wall is the entrance to the trail.

Lots of orange gating and construction equipment can be seen from the entrance to the Discovery Island Trails.

Dinosaur Area Construction

In the Dinosaur main entrance area, the Wilderness Explorers station is still under construction (it has also been this way for over a month) the activity and sticker area was moved to the left of the main building, just outside the Dinosaur extended que.

No word as to when either of these projects will be re-opened. However construction around Animal Kingdom seems to be a bottom priority right now as both the Otter exhibit and Wilderness Explorer area have been under construction for quite some time.

Christmas Decorations and Crowds

This report was done on December 26th, the day after Christmas. Crowds remined heavy throughout the resort, and Animal Kingdom was no exception. Wait times exceeded 30 minutes continuously for almost every single ride (yes, including It’s Tough to be a Bug). This of course isn’t rare during major holidays.

The excellent and creative decorations remain up around the park, this street lamp leading up to Dinoland is one of my favorites.

Christmas Decorations will remain up in every park through the New Year so you still have time to see them for yourself!

Rafiki’s Planet Watch

As a reminder, Rafiki’s Planet Watch is still closed. The area is undergoing extensive refurbishments, and it remains unclear as to what might replace it. For now, the area leading up to the train station is still explorable. The Wilderness Explorers station has been moved to the main entrance just next to the sign pictured above.

Rivers Of Light Daytime Seating

As another reminder, especially during this extremely busy Holiday rush, the Rivers Of Light seating area is open during the day as a general area to sit and relax for a bit. A great place to eat lunch, plan your day, or just escape the crowds for a bit.


A couple new pieces of merchandise were spotted around the park. At the Serka Zong Bazar, the Expedition Everest gift shop, a new shirt, plush, and mug were spotted

Yeti Athletics kids shirt – $24.99
Yeti Plush – $14.99
Yeti Plush (but cute) – $19.99

Cute Yeti hat – $21.99

Cute Yeti Mug – $13.99

These neat new Ugears wooden 3D puzzles have hit shelves around the resort. They feature three Disney World transportation systems (Train, Monorail, and Car Trolly) and go for $99.99 a piece.

The monorail is likely the most difficult of the three, containing 710 pieces.

Now that Christmas is officially over, sales have begun on the Christmas related merchandise. The first one of the year is buy one get one 50% off on table top items. This is also a resort wide sale and almost all of these items can be found at World Of Disney at Disney Springs.

Finally, the new Minnie ear headband of the week has debuted. The all purple ears will make a great addition to your already massive collection of Minnie headbands that you’ll probably only wear once before the next new one comes out. Your bank account will thank you too!

These ones go for $27.99

That about wraps it up for this week at Animal Kingdom. It has been a fairly slow month at the park, with not a lot progressing or going on. We look forward to a new year with many great new additions to the park, including Jack and Jill!

Which animals would you like to see included in future animal ambassador experiences?

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2 years ago

VIP tour guide told us in Nov he was allowed to confirm that Rafiki’s planet watch area is to become Wakanda. Don’t know why Disney hasn’t officially announced it yet.

2 years ago
Reply to  SJames

VIP Guide has no clue.