If you’re a fan of nature shows, or just a fan of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you’ll love the new Disney+ show, “Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom”.
It’s produced by National Geographic, narrated by Josh Gad, and gives you a backstage pass to the animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot. Each of the eight episodes dives into many different aspects of animal care and Imagineering.
If you’ve seen any of the other nature shows on Disney+ like “Secrets of the Zoo”, then you know what this show is like. In fact, when “Secrets of the Zoo: Tampa” premiered on Disney+, I was thinking “why are they presenting a show about Zoo Tampa instead of their own ‘zoo'” (Nahtazu). I guess they were thinking the same thing. The show isn’t just a long commercial for the park, they are legit animal documentaries produced by National Geographic.
Josh Gad does a great job with the narration. In many shows he’s done, I end up picturing Olaf speaking, but that’s not the case here. I’m not sure if he was actually watching the show as he delivered his lines, but it sounds like he was, which is great.
While the main focus is on the animals themselves, they also show some fun behind the scenes with Imagineering and the overnight maintenance team. For example, you’ll learn a bit about how they create the magic of one large savannah while actually keeping the animals separated, and how they created a light that looks like a palm tree. And yes, Imagineer Joe Rohde is in a few episodes, but briefly.
If you regularly visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or are planning a visit, this show will enhance your visit. Once you’ve watched the episodes, you’ll know some of the animal’s names, what they’ve been through, and you may even recognize some of the animal keepers you’ll see in the park.
For example, my son visited the park after watching the episodes with me and was able to ask about Popcorn the chicken (who unfortunately passed away), and if the elephant has finally been able to cross the bridge (she’s still too scared). Watching brings a deeper connection to the animals you see.
Most of the episodes focus on the park’s breeding program, so you get to see a lot of cute baby animals. Most of the other stories are on injured animals and how they are able to take care of so many different kinds of animals. One episode even shows surgery on a shark named Flash who ate an almond that he shouldn’t have, which was thrown into his tank by a guest at Epcot. (Please don’t feed the animals.)
Starting on Disney+ on Sept. 25, 2020, “Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom” showcases the parks’ array of more than 300 species and 5,000-plus animals and the incredible tasks their animal care experts undertake to keep things running day and night. Give it a watch before your next visit to Walt Disney World. There’s no need to watch them in order if you don’t want to. Here’s hoping for a second season.
Here’s a trailer for the show, followed by a Q&A with Rohde and the park’s keepers and vets: