Ducks of Disney: Donald’s Dynasty

If you’ve visited Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or the international parks, you’ve likely seen ducks–and we’re not just talking Donald or Scrooge McDuck back in Toontown. Disney’s parks are home to a wide range of waterfowl, and in this post, we’ll pay tribute to these awesome aquatic birds via photos.

While ducks will be the focus of this post, they’re far from the other birds of Disney. This is particularly true at Walt Disney World, which is home to over 200 species of birds either seasonally or year-round. We’ve seen a wide range of birds around the Florida resort complex, with wild turkey being the most exciting (at least, to us). You can sometimes spot them around Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness.

Unfortunately, unlike our Cats of Disney: The Kingdom’s Kitty Keepers, we don’t have any “exclusive” photos of the ducks enjoying the emptiness of Walt Disney World or Disneyland while they’re closed. Nor do we have a really fascinating and true backstory about how Disney cares for its many ducks. To our knowledge, ducks have sort of just made the parks their adopted habitat out of convenience. However, we do have a lot of fun photos and video…

Initially, I wanted to make this Ducks of Disney post a quirky and weird one like the aforementioned Cats of Disney one. I tried to think of ways to accomplish that, but to no avail. To my knowledge, there’s no duck-centric “so bad it’s good” cult classic film like Cats that would lend itself to Photoshop.

Then I thought maybe some off-the-wall captions would work. One of my all-time favorite things on the internet is this Clickhole article: We Let Ed Sheeran Guest-Edit This List Of Fluffy Otters And He Did A Bad Job. However, that’s very taste-specific (and as I’ve found out from friends with whom I’ve shared that, most people do not share my humor).

The truth is that ducks are pretty delightful on their own, and my feeble attempts at humor are unnecessary. So, without further ado are some duck photos from Disneyland and Walt Disney World plus some straightforward observations and fun facts…

Spring is one of my favorite times of year at Disneyland.

That’s in large part due to the baby ducklings that appear in the moat around Sleeping Beauty Castle, in and around the Central Plaza, along the Rivers of America, and throughout Frontierland.

While the scene throughout Walt Disney World is similar, Disneyland seems like a more conducive environment for duck-watching.

Guests are more laid back, there are fewer people around the hub, and people are generally more passive about the ducks.

One of our favorite things to do at Disneyland in the spring is simply sit on a bench in the hub.

We order a Matterhorn Macaroon from Jolly Holiday Bakery, get a perfect view of Sleeping Beauty Castle with the pink blossoms of the Tabebuia trees in the foreground, and wait for the ducklings to appear. Perfection.

Naturally, sometimes the ducklings have ideas of their own, and we have to vacate our bench to give them some space.

It’s the ducks’ park, and the rest of us are just their guests. 

You might think we’re overselling how chill and relaxed duck-watching is at the California parks, so I’d encourage you to watch the above video all the way to the end with the sound on.

That’s quintessential Disneyland. Not to go off on too much of a tangent, but that video succinctly encapsulates so much of what makes Walt Disney’s original magic kingdom such a special place–and why every Walt Disney World-centric fan owes it to themselves to visit.

Of course, Walt Disney World also has no shortage of ducks.

One of my favorite spots to duck-watch used to be at Epcot. The reflecting pool in front of Universe of Energy was secluded from the crowds, and its mix of water and flowers was like catnip for ducks.

On both coasts, the easiest place to spot ducks is in the moat around Cinderella Castle and Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Ducks frequently float around these waterways. At Magic Kingdom, the large swaths of (real) grass between the Plaza Gardens and Cinderella Castle is also popular.

You can often find ducks in the waterfall (pictured above) that faces Cinderella Castle from Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.

In the other side of the bridge, ducks perch on the waterfalls behind the restaurant.

Tomorrowland Terrace is another great duck-watching spot. Really, any of the pathways around the hub are solid options as ducks will frequently rest on the grass in view of the pathways.

Above is a “behind the scenes” Disney Duck Diptych of me capturing an image (by Sarah), plus my photo itself.

Many of the photos here were shot with my Nikon and serious lenses (the 70-200mm is my lens of choice for duck photography).

However, more frequently these days I’m simply using my iPhone for quick snaps that can be shared on social media. (In other words, excuse the quality of the above and below images!)

We’ve found that quite frequently, “posed” portraits of ducks are easy.

They will often approach a fence thinking the camera is a food handout. So long as you can capture the shot before they realize what’s really up and bounce, you should be able to get a nice photo.

I’ve shared this photo before. It’s not my finest work ever, but I did spend over 10 minutes photographing this ducks swimming in the Sleeping Beauty Castle moat at night.

I was entranced by the swirls of color they left in their wake, and how cool that looked. It doesn’t translate quite as well to photos, but you get the idea.

Ducks have even taken up residence in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

On Batuu, the native species have already adapted to blend into their surroundings. Remarkable! 

Ducks are so popular with some guests that they dress their children up as waterfowl to pay tribute.

The “duck butt” trend is actually quite popular (and adorable) at Tokyo Disney Resort, both in costume and snack form.

Of course, ducks are found at the international parks as well. While I don’t have great photos of them readily accessible, we regularly see ducks at Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disney Resort.

Tokyo DisneySea, as the name might suggest, is particularly popular with the waterfowl.

Now for some quick ducks of Disney fun facts.

Walt Disney set aside roughly one-third of his Florida Project as a protected area–that’s over 8,000 acres of wetland and upland habitats.

This area serves as an important corridor for many species of migratory birds, which make Walt Disney World their winter home and breeding ground.

DisneyWorld.com has a dedicated page to migratory birds that’s worth checking out.

However, most North American ducks don’t trek this far south in the colder months.

Of those that do make it all the way to Florida, you’re most likely to spot the Hooded Merganser or Ring-necked Duck.

The vast majority of photos in this post–and the vast majority of the ducks you’ll see at Walt Disney World or Disneyland–are Mallards.

You’re probably already familiar with Mallards, but here’s some additional info from the National Audubon Society.

Ducks aren’t just a popular photo subject with the two of us. Disney has a number of duck publicity photos (including the peculiar one above for Donald Duck’s birthday) and posts occasional updates on the waterfowl of the parks.

There’s also the noteworthy @ducksofdisneyland Instagram account. Like @disneylandcats, this account is out there doing the important work. Follow them for even more distinguished duck content!

Finally, a few photos from around Walt Disney World to file under the category of “definitely not our duckos!”

Obviously, Animal Kingdom is home to some rare and special bird species. Maharajah Jungle Trek is my favorite spot for bird-watching (and photography), but you can also find Northern pintail ducks at the Oasis near the park’s main entrance. There are also other species around Tree of Life and along trails in Africa and Asia. Sadly, no pterodactyls in Dinoland.

Anyone who has visited Magic Kingdom…or sat in any seating area near a turkey leg stand…is probably familiar with the White Ibis. The bird looks pretty and perhaps even downright majestic in this photo, and they are in a true state of nature.

At Walt Disney World, don’t let their looks deceive–they’re aggressive thieves when it comes to turkey legs. We’ve literally seen them steal the snack from kids (more than once!).

Speaking of which, don’t feed the ducks or any other animals at Walt Disney World, for that matter.

These are opportunistic wild animals. The “free roaming” or feral critters are attracted to the parks because they provide a relatively safe habitat with plentiful food sources.

Handing them food or dropping it in their vicinity makes the birds more aggressive and comfortable around humans, which is a lose-lose proposition in the long term.

It may be amusing in the moment, but consider what might happen to the next guest or even the bird itself once Disney deems it too aggressive. Don’t do it.

Getting off our soapbox, here’s a look at the biggest bird at Walt Disney World–Kevin!

She is a new-ish walk-around character at Animal Kingdom, and is one of the coolest additions in years. Not a duck and not even technically a real bird, but I had to give this a quick plug, because it’s a fun interaction and unheralded Walt Disney World offering.

We spotted this owl a couple of times in Tomorrowland a couple of years ago. This photo cracks me up because it looks like Mike Wazowski is about to interview him for Monsters Laugh Floor. Perhaps the bird was going to be that guy! 

Per Walt Disney World Cast Members who worked in this area of Magic Kingdom at the time, this owl used Tomorrowland signage as a perch for hunting. A few reported seeing the bird swoop down to grab rodents–ironic that some of the wildlife calling Walt Disney World and Disneyland their adopted home are predators of mice!

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YOUR THOUGHTS

Hopefully you enjoyed this fun look at the ducks of Disney! Do you have any favorite duck-watching spots at Walt Disney World or Disneyland? Any breeds of rare birds you’ve spotted? Questions? We love hearing from readers, so please share any other thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!


29 Responses to “Ducks of Disney: Donald’s Dynasty”
  1. Amanda A April 27, 2020

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