The Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Review

Magic of Disney's Animal Kingdom by National Geographic

The Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a National Geographic documentary series which explores the behind the scenes magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The series is exclusively available to stream on Disney+.

As the title suggests, The Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom explores what it takes to care for some of the 5,000 plus animals which Disney has to offer. The series offers a backstage pass to viewers, with each episode looking at a variety of different animals at the park and their interactions with Disney’s animal care team, the majority of which you wouldn’t see if you were a visitor to the park. This behind the scenes insight is fascinating to watch, particularly when watching some of the many trials and tribulations the animal care team have to deal with.

As well as looking at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, the series also looks at some of the animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and The Seas With Nemo & Friends at EPCOT. With many of the episodes jumping between the parks, you almost get a sense of park-hopping as if you were there! Cutting from looking at a troop of gorillas in one moment to a pregnant sting ray in the next, each episode feels varying, with there never being too much of the same thing. 

Having visited the Disney Parks in Florida early last year, I definitely think you get an extra sense of appreciation for the series if you’ve been to the parks first hand. The Kilimanjaro Safari ride at Animal Kingdom was one my favourite rides across all the parks and seeing how the Disney team emulate the savanna of East Africa from behind the scenes definitely added to my enjoyment of the series that little bit more.

The series is narrated by Josh Gad, who of course voices Olaf in the Frozen series of films. The novelty of having the actor of one of Disney’s most popular characters narrate the series is a brilliant touch. There’s also a good balance in the series between the narration from Josh Gad and hands on interviews with the Disney animal care team, which again means that each interaction with the animals never becomes too boring.

Throughout the series, there is an overriding sense of passion and devotion from the animal care team, be it a veterinarian, animal manager or biologist, you can instantly tell that these are people that absolutely love what they do. Their passion for caring for the animals is truly awe-inspiring and watching the bond between some of the keepers and their animals is jaw-dropping at times. For example, there’s one moment in the series where a keeper gets an elephant to open its mouth, simply on command.

One element which I really did enjoy in the series was that it incorporated technology and science into the production of each episode. From underwater camera systems capturing a pair of fighting hippopotamus, to using a GoPro to check inside an elephant’s mouth for health issues, it’s clear to see how much effort was gone to in achieving some of the stunning footage the series has to offer.

There’s also a consistent theme that working with animals is never easy! One of the most heart-in-mouth moments of the series comes when a blind bamboo shark accidentally swallows a foreign object, resulting in the animal care team having to put the shark under anaesthesia before using a microscopic camera inside the shark’s stomach to identify the blockage. Thankfully, the object was removed and the shark made a full recovery, but its these moments in each episode that make you realise how important the work is that Disney do.

The Verdict

With the production value of a dazzling National Geographic documentary and a brilliant behind the scenes insight into Disney’s largest family, The Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is an awe-inspiring watch. 

Rating: 8 out of 10.

8/10

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