Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida, has a gigantic zoo covering 580 acres called Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a new series on Disney+, gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the adventures of caring for the over 5000 animals at the park. With over 300 species, the park hosts a small army of staff to care for the animals. Den of Geek had the opportunity to talk to a couple of those caregivers to get an idea of what viewers will see on the show and what Disney Magic brings to the zoo experience.
“The visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom is being immersed into a beautiful story and to feel, really feel, what it’s like to be in a town in East Africa, on the edges of a nature or wildlife habitat and then going to Asia and experiencing what it’s like to be out in the East and see what kind of animals occur there,” says Veterinarian Dr. Mark Penning, Vice President of Animals, Science, and Environment for the park. “And of course, the story is a uniquely Disney story told only the way Disney can with the wonderful vision of our team of Imagineers.”
“You need to provide those animals with optimal habitat so that the guests can see what these animals look like out in the wild. That is absolutely the goal that we’re trying to achieve,” Penning continues. “The best way to describe it is that when you come to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you have an experience that is not just about animals, but it’s about the habitat.”
Although the park may look like a Disney theme park, it is not the human experience that serves as the basis for creating an immersive environment. “Everything in Disney’s Animal Kingdom starts with the animal and then moves out,” says Animal Manager Rachel Daneault.