2016 is going to be a transformative year for Disney’s Animal Kingdom as this park transitions to a new schedule of full-day operations with the addition of nighttime attractions, the Rivers of Light evening spectacular and the Tiffins restaurant. Though there's never been a shortage of fun things to do at this park, many have referred to Disney's Animal Kingdom as a half-day park due to its early closing time (relative to the other three Walt Disney World park)

Though we still don't have a date for when the new full-day operations will begin, we’re probably still several months away from these milestones (some rumors are suggesting April, but considering the progress on the Rivers of Light construction, that seems a little generous). However, in the meantime while we're all waiting for this park's transformation to be completed, there have been a number of exciting new developments announced for Disney’s Animal Kingdom that guests can either check out now or in the very near future.

1. The Lion Guard scavenger hunt begins in just a few weeks

Image: Disney

Disney has announced that a new interactive experience for fans of the Disney Junior series The Lion Guard will be debuting at Disney’s Animal Kingdom early next month. Beginning February 7, little guests (and their families) will be able to go on a scavenger hunt throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom for colorful figures that resemble characters Kion, Bunga, Fuli, Beshte, and Ono from the new Disney Junior series. These figures shouldn't be too hard to spot, and will be in areas where little ones can easily take a photo with their favorite character. 

Once little ones finish their quest to find these characters, they will then be able to take a special pledge to become an honorary member of The Lion Guard. To celebrate, each child will get a commemorative button to honor and remember their achievement. This new experience is currently slated to be available for kids and families to experience until late March, but if it proves popular we can't imagine this experience not sticking around, as it seems rather unobtrusive (like the Wilderness Explorers) but still fun for little ones. 

2. A new animal training show becomes permanent? 

Back in December, Cast Members at Rafiki’s Planet Watch began testing an animal agility mini-show in the Affection Section area of the park. However, even though guests were told at the time that this mini-show was just a test, these agility sessions have continued for the past several weeks and now look like they have more or less become a permanent entertainment offering in this section of the park.  

During these animal behavior demonstrations, animal keepers will accompany one of the petting zoo animals (like a goat or a sheep) into an enclosure, and then guide him or her through a series of agility exercises that might include climbing a rock, running through a tunnel or darting through flexible tubes. Of course, as with all animal entertainment, none of the animals are required to perform (and some do decide to protest halfway through), but since this new show is fairly low-key and seems to happen randomly (as opposed to at specific times), it’s not too big of a deal.


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