Wild Animals at Walt Disney World

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Yes, there are plenty of exotic animals on display at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom theme park, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about.

When you’re vacationing at Disney World, it’s a near certainty that you will encounter some real-life animals in the theme parks and resort grounds. Over the years I’ve run across lizards, snakes, rabbits, squirrels, deer, fish, turtles, and several bird species including ducks, egrets, turkeys, seagulls, and even hawks. Many of these creatures are entertaining to look at, but they’re not part of the show.

Here are some things to think about as you pass live animals in your travels around Disney World:

  • Do not feed the animals. Feeding human food to wild animals is not ideal for their health. Artificial food sources also change animal habits that may have negative repercussions.
  • Do not allow animals to feed on your food when you’re not around. It’s fine to leave many non-valuable items in your parked stroller while you’re off on the rides, but please make sure that any food is wrapped up tightly. If there is easily accessible food in or on your stroller, a squirrel or bird will find it.
  • Be wary of eating near seagulls. The seagulls at Disney World, particularly in the EPCOT resorts area, can be quite aggressive. I’ve seen one take an ice cream cone right out of a woman’s hand. If you’re in an area with many gulls, consider eating indoors.
  • Do not chase the animals. Would you want to be chased around all day?
  • Do not hold or attempt to hold the animals. Depending on the species, you or the animal are likely to become injured.
  • Do not litter. Foreign objects can pose danger to wild creatures. Trash bins are plentiful at Disney World; please try to use them.
  • Pay attention to warning signs. When Disney posts warning signs, they’re doing so for a reason. There have been a few human/animal encounters at Disney World that have had tragic consequences.
Assume that there are wild animals in and around any body of water.
Snake at the Beach Club resort.
At Magic Kingdom. If there is food in your stroller, animals will eat it.
Squirrel at Epcot, eating human food, next to garbage, while a human tries to touch it. So many problems in one photo.
Hawk resting next to the Wilderness Lodge bus stop.
Guest attempting to catch a lizard at the Boardwalk resort. Why? What are they going to do with it if they catch it?
Rabbit at the Magic Kingdom.
Ibis at the Magic Kingdom.
Ducks at the Magic Kingdom.
Deer at Fort Wilderness
“Do not feed the birds” sign at Grand Floridian

What wild animals have you seen at Disney World? Tell us about your experiences.

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

7 thoughts on “Wild Animals at Walt Disney World

  • February 11, 2021 at 11:36 am
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    This week at Magic Kingdom while waiting for the Tiki show we saw a squirrel take a cone of roasted almonds out of a stroller, drag it to the ground, tear open the paper and start eating the nuts. The cast member there said she has seen them open bags to get food out. I wouldn’t leave any food in a stroller there.

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  • February 11, 2021 at 5:11 pm
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    We were staying at All Star Sports and there was a raccoon hanging around. We didn’t feed it but saw other guests doing it. He was cute until he tried to run into my room when I opened the door!

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  • February 11, 2021 at 5:22 pm
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    We’ve seen many of the common animals mentioned (various birds, lizards, squirrels, etc.). While waiting for rope drop one Oct. morning, we got to see an armadillo wander around Epcot. We also saw a hawk fly over MK with a rat in its talons.

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  • February 11, 2021 at 5:32 pm
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    We stayed in a ground floor room at OKW overlooking some water, so we had a patio. Clearly people had been feeding the ducks there, since as soon as we opened the patio doors, hoards (seriously, hoards) of ducks would waddle over, quacking away, so we had to run back in and close the doors. Not only couldn’t sit on the patio due to them, but couldn’t even open the doors

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  • February 11, 2021 at 5:35 pm
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    On our last trip, we saw squirrels, rabbits and birds at the All Star Resort, on our Magic Kingdom day we saw a snake & ducks (snake wrangler came to grab the snake).

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  • February 11, 2021 at 7:31 pm
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    Saw an armadillo once at the Caribbean Beach Resort. He was out for a stroll.

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  • February 21, 2021 at 2:39 am
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    I once saw adults laughing at a toddler as the toddler was chasing and trying to pet a swan. These folks obviously know nothing about swans.

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