In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney World, all four Disney theme parks at the Florida Resort got upgrades, some of which included the opening of new rides and experiences, visible touch-ups to existing structures, surfaces, and buildings, new park signage, new costuming on the Disney characters, and the like.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom got KiteTails.
KiteTails is an aerial show that takes place at Discovery River Theater near Dinoland, U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. And it is delightful! (But not for the reasons Disney originally created the show.) The Walt Disney World website describes the show as something meaningful, spectacular, heartwarming, and hopeful against a backdrop of familiar Disney music:
“Hearts and imaginations will soar as elaborate, 3-dimensional kites and incredible windcatchers dance through the air to the beat of beloved Disney songs during this high-flying performance at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Be awed by 2 unique, 10-minute shows.”
But the show, which features huge, elaborate, and brilliantly colored three dimensional kites (which double as oversized props) pulled by tethers held by Cast Members on jet skis, is more along the lines of eventful, hilarious, Instagram-worthy, and unpredictable, and not one of those adjectives describes the show we feel like Disney thought it was producing. There’s definitely a magic to it, though that magic may look a bit different from what Disney had planned. But sometimes, perceived “flops” end up being better than the originally conceived idea.
Such is the case with the KiteTails offering at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
For example, that bit about the magic of KiteTails evoking the soaring of hearts and imaginations might be a bit unintentionally misleading, because, well, let’s just say that the laughter and hijinks are soaring, but there’s little to be left to the imagination, as the ginormous 3D kites at the center of the show often take to the skies briefly before nose-diving into the waters of Discovery River, and that’s if they don’t crash-land into the stands within feet of unsuspecting Guests.
The show was first touted by some as lots of hype and little delivery, but soon the continual, almost inevitable crashing of some of our most favorite Disney characters had Guests raving. And in a good way.
Now KiteTails comes with its very own warning. Before the show begins, Guests are warned that “what goes up must come down,” in an effort to prepare them for the spectacle of massive kites falling back to earth after they take off, and also so that Guests understand that the kites’ behavior is to be expected.
The spectacle is something Guests find amusing, no, hysterical. Social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter are all abuzz with photos and commentary about the death-defying kites inspired by Simba, Zazu, Baloo, Mufasa, and other characters from Disney’s The Lion King and The Jungle Book.
As with most offerings at the Walt Disney World Resort, Kitetails is surely open to interpretation, but we won’t fault you for finding magic in the comicality that has Guests returning time and time again to see KiteTails.