Freeze Coming to Animal Kingdom – Disney’s Plan to Keep Animals Warm

Disney's Animal Kingdom

The Walt Disney World Resort–and the rest of the Orlando, Florida area–is about to experience its coldest freeze in years. While we at Disney Fanatic work to keep Guests informed and remind them to stay warm, our thoughts turn to the beloved animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. And we asked the same question many of you probably have already: How does the Walt Disney World Resort keep its wildlife safe from freezing temperatures?

Related: Disney World Guests: Get Ready for a (Literally) Freezing Weekend!

Well, according to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney already has a “full-blown cold-weather plan” to keep everybody warm! The only catch: they might all be indoors this weekend.

“We actually have specific temperature parameters for every species in the Park,” said Dr. Scott Terrell, director of animal and science operations for Walt Disney Parks. “If it’s below this temperature, the animals either are given access to indoor spaces where we have supplemental heat or in some cases, we make sure that they stay in comfortable quarters and conditions so that they’re not exposed to the elements, the extremes of the elements.”

Gorillas, Disney's Animal Kingdom

Credit: Disney

“If we get to extremes — like this weekend — we actually may not give them the choice to go outside,” Terrell continued. “But we really reserve that for the extremes because our preference is always that the animals are able to choose what makes them most comfortable.”

Disney accounts for 2,000 animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which represent 300 different species. In that vast number is a spectrum of comfort levels in cold conditions. For example, Terrell mentions that the tigers and lions enjoy the cooler temperatures, and antelopes might be spotted roaming outside when the temperature is in the 40s. The age of the animals also comes into play when determining the subjective comfort levels.

Baby Rhino, Disney's Animal Kingdom

Credit: Disney

Related: Mylo the Baby Rhino Meets His Brother at Kilimanjaro Safaris

“We’ve got the science side, which is the numbers, and then we’ve got the art side,” he said. “We know what it feels like to us, and so we want to be focused on them and their comfort.”

What this means for Guests bound for Disney World’s youngest Theme Park is that animal sightings look to be slim to none on attractions like Kilimanjaro Safaris, the Maharaja Jungle Trek, and the Gorilla Falls Expedition Trail. Animal-centered shows such as Feathered Friends in Flight, and Winged Encounters might also cancel their showtimes. Combine these possibilities with Expedition Everest’s continued closure, and it might be wise for Guests to schedule their Animal Kingdom Day for another day if they can.

Kilimanjaro Safari

Photo Credit: Disney

As of now, Theme Park Reservations are still available at all four Disney Parks for this weekend. We Disney Fanatic will stay on top of Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s situation with this freeze and continue to update our readers as more information comes to light.

The Walt Disney World Resort has included extreme weather preparation as part of the Park’s planning process from the very beginning. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park will turn 25 in 2023.

Tree of Life, Disney's Animal Kingdom

A warm light emanates from the Tree of Life when it transforms into a Beacon of Magic at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, as part of the resorts 50th anniversary celebration. (Todd Anderson, photographer)

“The plan actually starts way at the beginning in that we choose animals to share with our guests that are appropriate for the climate that we have here in Florida. So whether it’s for heat or cold, we know that the animals that we have here can deal with most of the temperatures,” Terrell said. “And when we get to the extremes, like we have this week … we’re ready to help them.”

About T.K. Bosacki

Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, TK Bosacki is a professional writer, amateur adventurer, and lifelong Disney Fanatic. His Disney Park days include Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Nomad Lounge. He believes in starting at the Canada pavilion (IYKYK), and the Monorail is superior to all Ferry Boats.

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