Animal lovers and fans of Disney’s Animal Kingdom are in for a treat as National Geographic’s “The Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom” docuseries returns for season two beginning Jan. 1, 2023.
By Blake Taylor
The show, whose episodes clock in at just under 40 minutes each, takes viewers behind the scenes of animal care facilities at Walt Disney World. It’s a thorough peek for anyone interested in seeing some of Walt Disney World’s backstage areas, which are strictly off-limits to guests.
While mainly focusing on Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the series sometimes spotlights other locations, like The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot, Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Season two of “The Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom” will include 10 episodes, an increase from season one’s eight-episode order, which debuted in 2020. Season two will premiere simultaneously on National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild on Sunday, Jan. 1, at 8 p.m. EST. After that, it will air Fridays at 10 p.m. EST on National Geographic beginning Jan. 6. All 10 episodes of season two will be available Wednesday, Jan. 4, on Disney+.
Dr. Mark Penning, vice president of Disney Parks’ Animals, Science, and Environment, announced the news Dec. 1 on the Disney Parks Blog. The show also debuted a brief teaser for season two, which is part of Disney’s 100 Years of Wonder centennial celebration.
In the series, viewers get to know individual animals who make up the cast of such Animal Kingdom attractions as Kilimanjaro Safaris, Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, and others. The show journeys along with the animals as they celebrate special occasions, get acclimated to a new home, or undergo operations, among other situations. Watching the series makes visiting Animal Kingdom a more personal experience, being familiar with the intimate portraits the show conveys about its subjects’ stories.
Along the way, the series also teaches its audience about initiatives like the Disney Conservation Fund, and how they can do their part from home to help our planet.
“Disney has brought people and nature together for nearly a century through inspiring storytelling and memorable experiences,” Dr. Mark said. “and we can’t wait to update you on some of your favorite stars from season one, along with new stories that inspire connections with the wonders of the world around us.”
(Incidentally, Dr. Mark has an insightful Instagram account that anyone who loves zoology should follow.)
Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf in “Frozen” (and newly named Disney Legend), narrated season one. Dr. Mark’s blog post didn’t mention Gad or any specific narrator for season two.
Guests inspired by “The Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom” may want to check out some of the behind-the-scenes tours available as upcharge experiences at Animal Kingdom itself. The park’s current selection includes peeks backstage at the facilities of elephants and rhinos.
From Disney, here are the descriptions of each episode in season two of “The Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom”:
“Giraffic Jam” – Giraffes on the savanna hold up guest traffic and find a way to get more food from keeper Rory; Tolstoy the 100+ year old loggerhead sea turtle undergoes treatment to help him eat properly; a new hippo, Rosie, attempts to make friends with the rest of the bloat; and an aging collared brown lemur celebrates his birthday in style.
“Sea You Later, Turtles!” – Love is in the air as Nadirah and Mac the elephants go on their first date, and hopefully create new life. Lilly the Cinderella pony fulfills her destiny and makes a bride’s dream come true. Tiny wild turtles hatch at Disney’s Vero Beach, and Spike the gorilla struggles with the lasting effects of a dangerous infection and severe osteoarthritis.
“Sea Turtle SOS” – A group of rescued wild sea turtles arrive at Epcot in need of urgent medical care before being released back into the ocean; a young rhino receives special treatment backstage after he cracks his horn; the Disney team creates a new chew toy to entertain the lion pride; and Heidi the Hartmann’s mountain zebra gives birth.
“Okapi Bundle of Joy” – Olivia the pregnant okapi has a successful ultrasound scan and delights her keepers by giving birth to a healthy baby; Logan the raven learns some new tricks before wowing audiences during his stage show; Princess the elderly mandrill arrives at the park in search of a new home and family; and Disney’s first blacktip reef shark prepares to join the main underwater environment at The Seas.
“Gorilla Divemaster” – A western lowland gorilla takes a road trip to receive pioneering hyperbaric oxygen therapy; a black rhinoceros is fitted with a fitness tracker to study his movements; the veterinary team investigates what might be causing a roan antelope to drastically lose weight; and the Galápagos tortoises celebrate their tenth birthdays with a wild party.
“Flocks of Love” – Lily the Masai giraffe needs an X-ray to determine if she’s broken her toe, but she’s reluctant to be anesthetized. The park’s tight-knit pack of painted dog brothers must be separated to get their annual health check. And at the Tree of Life, the lesser flamingo flock gets a visit from the stork with a very cute addition for Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
“That’s Amore Eel” – Sigsbee the anemic green moray eel gets a health check; Tequila the Nile hippopotamus has a painful toothache; and Hank the wild gopher tortoise digs herself a new home on Disney grounds. Then the granddaddy of the resident purple martin flock, Steve, disappears without a trace. And Harper, a beloved white-cheeked gibbon, prepares to leave the park to start her own family.
“Chilled-Out Cheetahs” – A young zebra undergoes urgent abdominal surgery after an encounter with an eland’s horn; two meerkats jostle for top position in the meerkat mob; a frogfish is given a bone graft to mend his broken jaw; and the Disney Imagineers build a motorized ball to help keep a trio of chilled-out cheetahs entertained.
“Giant Leap Forward for Rhinokind” – A critically endangered antelope is losing weight fast and needs urgent surgery; a baby rhino takes her first steps out on the savanna to meet her extended family for the first time; a dig-happy warthog gets the perfect piggy pedicure; and a beloved manatee struggles with a toothache – time to visit the dentist!
“Gesundheit, Jolo!” – Jolo the rescued manatee battles a potentially deadly parasitic infection that puts her release into jeopardy; Kianga the elephant throws a temper tantrum in the pool; Maathai the cheetah has tummy troubles that must be investigated; and Kevin the crested coua chick shows his keepers how to keep his food on target.