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Image: Jett Farrell-Vega

ReCyclops would be pleased…

Disney has had a long history embracing conservation, and nowhere in Walt Disney World is that more apparent than at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. While Epcot is generally the park associated the most with seasonal events and festivals, Disney’s Animal Kingdom leaned into a special celebration of its own this month surrounding the arrival of Earth Day 2021.

The biggest announcement of the event came on Earth Day itself (April 22nd) when Disney unveiled an extensive renewable energy plan surrounding the building of two new solar farms that will power around 40% of Walt Disney World. To celebrate this and Earth Day weekend, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is currently offering a series of special experiences for guests to enjoy. While some of these activities are only available during the very limited window of April 22nd-24th, other experiences will be available throughout “Earth Month”.

So how did the Earth Day celebrations at Disney’s Animal Kingdom measure up compared to other Walt Disney World events? Let's take a closer look.

The Animation Experience is a win!

Screen with partially-drawn Baby Dumbo and participating audience at the Animation Experience
Image: Jett Farrell-Vega

It’s been a while since guests have been able to take the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, but the Conservation Station is back with a brand new experience—one that we hope lasts beyond Earth Month.

Guests who travel to the Conservation Station have the opportunity to participate in The Animation Experience, a series of short drawing classes where guests learn how to draw some of Disney’s classic animal characters and learn about the animals that inspired them.

I was impressed across the board with the Animation Experience. I honestly expected to just stand back and take some photos, assuming the class probably required some level of pre-registration like those offered during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. I stepped into the line just to get a chair and before I knew it, I had a very nice drawing board, paper, and pencil in my hands and was seated in the class.

Drawing board, pencil, and paper for the Animation Experience
Image: Jett Farrell-Vega

On my visit, the character we drew was a freshly-born Dumbo. I’m not drawing-savvy, but the animator broke down the steps in easy terms (“Let’s draw two little eggs here… Now we’re going to add some little spoons here…”). The biggest challenge was that he moved fast, to the point it was hard to keep up at times.

Baby Dumbo drawing
Image: Jett Farrell-Vega

A nice component of the class is the inclusion of facts about the animals behind the characters—in this case, the Asian elephant. Getting to Rafiki’s Planet Watch definitely took an investment of time, but I’m glad I went, and the Animation Experience was hands down the biggest win of the Earth Day celebration in my opinion.

A Trio of Cupcakes

Honey Bee Cupcake at Walt Disney World
Image: Jett Farrell-Vega

As with most Walt Disney World special events, food was part of the magic for Disney’s Earth Day. Unlike Epcot’s festivals, they didn’t do anything too elaborate, but they did offer a trio of impressive cupcakes across the park.

My favorite was the Honey Bee Cupcake at Creature Comforts (aka Starbucks)—both for its more subtle flavor choice and the fact you could see the actual cupcake before ordering in the bakery case. These cupcakes were all on the pricier side at $6 each, but they are good sized and nicely decorated.

Flamingo Cupcake picture behind glass
Image: Jett Farrell-Vega

The other two cupcakes were a little more difficult to track down as you had to ask about them specifically. Flame Tree Barbecue offered a strawberry flavored Flamingo Cupcake, while Restaurantasaurous offered a Sea Turtle cupcake.

Sea Turtle Cupcake
Image: Disney

Special cupcakes have kind of become a regular thing at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, so these fit into that lineup well. The park is also offering a selection of alcoholic beverages connected to the celebration.

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