Animal Escape at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Could It Happen and What to Do if It Does

Wild animal escape animal Kingdom
Credit: Disney

Animal Kingdom is one of Disney’s most unique parks. The Park blends the concept of conservation, animal encounters, and theme park masterfully to create an experience unlike any other. When it first opened, it used the catchphrase “natazu” as a pseudo-African word to signify that it is, in fact, not a zoo. The phrase has fallen out of fashion, but the sentiment remains the same: it is so much more than a zoo! This does not change the fact, however, that the theme park is home to many wild animals, and that does present an element of danger, however small, to a visit.

Tiger Animal Kingdom

Credit: Dr. Mark Penning

A dangerous animal escape isn’t likely, but it is possible. Despite every safeguard Disney has put into place, there could come a day when the perfect storm aligns just so, and one of its animals breaks free from its enclosure. This recently happened at the Dallas Zoo. A leopard escaped its enclosure, and its whereabouts were unknown for nearly a day. It likely wouldn’t take an entire day for Disney to locate one of its animals within Animal Kingdom. Still, it is important to know the safety procedures just in case it takes a bit longer than anticipated.

Wild animal escape Animal kingdom

Credit: Touring Plans

Have you ever noticed the bathrooms at Animal Kingdom are different from the other three parks? We couldn’t blame you if you didn’t; it’s subtle. At Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios, most bathroom entrances don’t have doors. Guests walk through an open threshold to enter the restroom facilities. Not so at Animal Kingdom. Every bathroom in the Park has a door, and every door has a lock.

Related: Is Wildlife Getting too Comfortable at Disney World?

This is by design. Imagineers understood that Guests might one day need safe shelter from an escaped animal, and that shelter happens to be the bathrooms. While less than ideal and certainly not comfortable, it is an ingenious plan: unlike retail stores or restaurants, the bathrooms only have one way in or out, making it easier to guard against.

Lion Disney's Animal Kingdom

Credit: Disney

In the event of an animal escape emergency, Cast Members will direct you to the nearest bathroom, and when as many people as possible are safely inside, they will enter and lock the door from the inside. Once given the OK, the Cast Member will unlock the door, and everyone can return to their business. While it may be no fun to be trapped in a crowded public bathroom, there are the safest places in the Park in the event of an emergency. If you ever find yourself in this situation, it’s essential to listen and follow all directions given to you by a Cast Member.

Related: A Shark at Disney World!?

In the 25 years, Animal Kingdom has been open, this system has never had to be used, and hopefully, it never will. A monkey has escaped here and there, but there has never been a dangerous animal breech. Disney takes both safety and animal care very seriously. It is nice to know, though, that safeguards are in place, just in case.


About Jill Bivins

Jill Bivins has been visiting Disney Parks since she was 2 years old and loves sharing her Disney adventures with the world. She likes to say Disney is in her blood and writing is in her bones — so any time she has the opportunity to combine these loves she is one happy camper! She has a deep abiding love for Epcot and as a die hard Star Wars fan has a serious love for Hollywood Studios as well. When she isn't exploring or writing about Disney Parks, Jill is homeschooling her 8 year old son, playing with her brand new baby son, or pretending to be a farmer on her family homestead (despite being unable to keep even a cactus alive). Find Jill on Instagram @minnieonmain.