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Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Review 2020 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew Online
On Earth Day 1998, Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened for business. The theme park was the fourth in the Walt Disney World resort, located just outside of Orlando, Florida. Unlike the Magic Kingdom, which celebrated fantasy worlds, the promise of tomorrow, and the comfort of the past, or EPCOT, the science and discovery park, or what was then known as Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios), which took you behind the scenes of film and television production, Disney’s Animal Kingdom highlighted the natural world and the real-life creatures that inhabit it. The park is home to a rich array of animal species (but, very clearly, something more than a zoo) and some of the most innovative attractions Imagineering has ever dreamed up. If you’ve visited the park, you know what an incredible achievement Disney’s Animal Kingdom is. And if you don’t, well, there’s a new 8-part documentary series from National Geographic debuting on Disney+ that will tell you all about it.
Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the latest in a line of terrific documentary series on Disney+ that also includes the Frozen 2-focused Into the Unknown and Leslie Iwerks’ brilliant The Imagineering Story, is less ambitious than these docs but no less amazing. In its day-to-day, taking-care-of-the-animals format, it is actually quite overwhelming, reinforcing just how special and one-of-a-kind the theme park really is.
Most of the episodes, warmly narrated by Josh Gad, follow a similar structure, as they toggle between various animal issues at the park. There is, say, the lioness with the disquieting lump getting checked out, or a new female aardvark being brought to the park in hopes of mating with the park’s male aardvark (he gets put in a harness and is walked around the grounds as an “animal ambassador”). For variety’s sake, the show occasionally goes beyond the grounds of the parks, traveling to The Seas pavilion at EPCOT where a blind shark eats a foreign object (spoiler alert: it’s an almond) or a surprisingly adorable baby stingray is born; or to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, the hotel adjacent to Disney’s Animal Kingdom which has its own stable of animal friends, including a newborn steenbok named Stark that requires some very necessary surgery.
Much of the show focuses on the attempts of various animals to reproduce, in an effort to repopulate their species. When these issues are discussed, the show wisely cuts away to footage of the animals in their native environment, while Gad or the zookeepers gravely intone how few of them are actually left. And that element of essential conservationism is key to the series success, as is the way in which several abandoned or injured animals (like a sea turtle with a head injury or a plucky – and plucked – chicken) have made their way to Animal Kingdom. Sometimes they are rehabilitated and re-released into the while but other times their injuries are so severe, like a lumpy manatee whose tail got lobbed off by a boat, that they must be cared for by the Disney team for the rest of their lives.
If you’ve seen something like The Incredible Dr. Pol or any number of animal-related documentary series on National Geographic of Discovery, you know what to expect from Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. You watch as these amazing animals do even-more-amazing things (they can train a Nile crocodile to hit a mark so that it makes it easier for the technicians to draw blood), as the zookeepers dote and worry about them, while Gad’s gentle narration gives the whole enterprise the vibe of one of the Disneynature movies.
Occasionally, the show will focus on some part of how the park was constructed, mostly through interviews with the great Joe Rohde, a legendary Imagineer and earring enthusiast who is largely responsible for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. He’ll talk about how a series of hidden moats keep the animals away from each other (and the guests) or how, thanks to the park now being open at night, special lights were required for the safari, like one disguised like a giant tree (it’s pretty cool). But for the most part, the “magic” part of Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the animals themselves. And they are pretty damn magical.
Ultimately, your biggest takeaway from Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is just how much work goes into keeping these animals happy and healthy, and how little of that work is actually seen or appreciated by the guests that visit the park every day. There is just so much that goes on, in terms of actual maintenance and things like getting the various species to mate, that are totally beyond what a theme park should be worried about.
At one point the sick lion goes into the animal-equivalent of an emergency room and the camera pans around to show that one entire wall of the room is glass. On the other side of that glass, greasy tourists are pressing their noses against it, looking at this unconscious big cat, its tongue lolling out of one side of its mouth. Moments like these are key to the Animal Kingdom mission – that everyday people can see these creatures in a variety of scenarios and be inspired by them and their conservation. Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is this writ large. You can’t help but be compelled by their stories and their fight for survival.