New Details: Disney KiteTails 50th Anniversary Show at Animal Kingdom

Disney KiteTails is a new show coming to Animal Kingdom for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. This kite entertainment will take the magic of nature and Disney storytelling to new heights, “immersing everyone in a gala performance of color and movement.” This post shares more details, concept art, a video sneak peek, and everything we know so far about this new anniversary show.

As a reminder, the “World’s Most Magical Celebration” will kick off on October 1, 2021 and last for 18 months during which time Disney Enchantment is slated to be shown (and perhaps beyond). The event will be celebrated at all four theme parks throughout 2021 and 2022. You can read everything that’s officially announced and rumored for the festivities in our Ultimate Guide to Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary.

To our knowledge, Disney KiteTails is the “biggest” thing coming to Animal Kingdom for the the anniversary celebration. The only other things are Beacons of Magic on the Tree of Life and possibly some of the critter Disney Fab 50 character statues. Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios seem like they’re doing a lot less for the festivities than Magic Kingdom and Epcot…

As for Disney KiteTails, the show is set to happen several times daily at the Discovery River Theater, near DinoLand U.S.A. As you make your way into the outdoor amphitheater, you’re joined by a team of performers bringing with them a colorful collection of oversized props and kites.

These kites are adorned with Disney animal friends from “The Little Mermaid,” “a bug’s life” and “Finding Nemo.” Original, worldbeat arrangements of favorite Disney tunes fill the air, and the excitement builds toward the launch of an impressive show of kites over the lagoon.

As Disney KiteTails begins, watercraft zoom into view, pulling with them dynamic kite trains and enormous, three-dimensional kites depicting familiar characters from “The Lion King” or “The Jungle Book.”

From one performance to another, you may see Baloo the bear dancing in the sky or Zazu the red-billed hornbill chasing after Simba.

These character kites are of all shapes, sizes, and styles. Some as large as 30 feet in length are inflated by moving through the air, allowing characters like King Louie or Timon and Pumbaa to soar like never before. (Pumbaa is not exactly known for his soaring!)

Here’s a video showing some Disney KiteTails rehearsals:

Officially, Walt Disney World is referring to KiteTails as a “daytime activation” (who talks like that?!), which means it’s probably not a lengthy or large scale show.

Think of it as akin to a cavalcade, as compared to a fully fledged parade. At least, that’s our expectation based on the video.

With that said, I’m cautiously optimistic about Disney KiteTails. I’m keeping in mind that it’s probably a short diversion and the production quality might be middling, so it’s not like my expectations are off the charts.

For one thing, I’m amused by puppets and kites, and am easily impressed by colorful objects that dance in the sky. That’s not sarcasm.

For another thing, it’s heartening to see Walt Disney World announce the debut of entertainment that’s performer-heavy and isn’t projections.

I know that’s a really low bar, but given all of the entertainment acts that still haven’t returned to Walt Disney World, this is nice to see. Even if this is still a relatively modest production, at least it’s something different–with actual human performers engaging guests.

Third, Animal Kingdom has an excellent track record with puppets and kite-like objects.

We’ve been singing the praises of Merry Menagerie for a while, which featured life-size artisan-sculpted puppets that included reindeer, foxes, polar bears, penguins, birds, seals—and probably other critters we missed. It debuted for the Christmas season pre-closure, and didn’t return last year.

This was an underrated gem that didn’t get nearly enough attention because Walt Disney World fans overlook Animal Kingdom. Merry Menagerie was far from a lavish production; it resonated because the puppeteers breathed life into those woodland critters. Something similar is possible here.

While Disney KiteTails will obviously be very different, it seems like a similar idea with guests “immersed” among the puppeteers and kite operators. (And who knows, maybe this is a precursor to Merry Menagerie returning?!)

About the only downside of Disney KiteTails that immediately jumps to mind is that the (former) Rivers of Light amphitheater is unshaded and gets really hot during the middle of the day. We spent some time there last summer when it was a Relaxation Station and to see the flotillas, and we couldn’t last more than ~20 minutes in there. At least Disney KiteTails is debuting in October, when the weather should be more pleasant, though.

If Walt Disney World really wants to go all out on the puppet fun, it’d be awesome if they brought out the Carnivale Sky Puppets that served as a pre-show for World of Color at DCA. I’ve finally accepted the harsh reality that Paint the Night isn’t coming to Walt Disney World anytime soon, but a cavalcade of light-up night puppets would be a decent consolation prize!

Failing that, maybe Disney could light these kites on fire (a la Epcot Forever) post-sundown to provide some nighttime pizzazz. It’d be a fun addition for the World’s Most Magical Celebration, and might solve Animal Kingdom’s problem with keeping guests in the park after sunset.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!


What do you think of the Disney KiteTails entertainment for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary? Excited for new puppets and kites, or does this sound unimpressive to you? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary celebration? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

16 Responses to “New Details: Disney KiteTails 50th Anniversary Show at Animal Kingdom”
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