Wild Animals at Disney: The Surprising Creatures You May Encounter on Your Park Vacation

Wild animals at Disney
Credit: Disney and Canva

Every Disney fan knows that visiting Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort is a truly immersive experience. Entering a Disney theme park means entering a world unlike any other, where magical experiences and adventures can be found around every corner. The expansive Disney resort properties make the perfect natural backdrop for the enchanting worlds found inside.

However, the nature that lies outside these Disney Resorts does not always know to not come within the Park walls. Over the years, Guests have encountered some incredibly unique animals within the Disney theme parks, and not just at Animal Kingdom Park. Aside from the usual ducks, squirrels, lizards, and snakes, Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort have also become the home of some much more peculiar animals over the years.

zebra grazing at animal kingdom villas jambo house

Credit: Disney

No Lions and Tigers… But BEARS!

Earlier this month, the Disney community was turned upside down when the news broke that a wild bear was found on Disney property (and no, we aren’t talking about the Chicago Bears sports team or the Country Bear Jamboree!)

On September 18, 2023, a large section of Magic Kindom Park at Walt Disney World Resort was shut down after a wild female black bear was spotted hiding out in the theme park. The news instantly went viral on the internet, with many fans expressing their shock and concern over the incident.

Thankfully, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was able to remove the bear in a safe and timely manner. The bear was relocated back into her natural habitat in the Ocala National Forest.

black bear released from wildlife transport vehicles at nighttime

Credit: Florida Wildlife Commission

While this situation certainly shocked the public, it is far from the first time that such an occurrence has happened on Disney’s property. In fact, encounters with unique wildlife happen every single day at both Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.

Like a Service Dog, but With Hooves!

While these animals may not be wild, that doesn’t stop fans from staring when they trot past. One of the lesser-known facts about Walt Disney World and Disneyland is that both resorts allow miniature horses to enter the Park as service animals. While they are not nearly as common as dogs, miniature horses can be trained and used as service animals.

It is common to see a larger horse taking center stage during one of Disney’s fabulous parades, but seeing a mini horse is a much more unique experience. Miniature horses are allowed into the Parks as part of Disney’s commitment to making the Parks as accessible as possible for Guests with disabilities.

Not only are mini horses allowed within the Parks, but they are also allowed on the attractions! Any ride that a service dog is allowed on, a miniature horse is allowed on as well. While it doesn’t happen often, getting to see a miniature horse experience an attraction is nothing short of adorable!

horse wdw

Credit: Disney and Canva

Disney’s Feline Residents

Just like the movie The Aristocats, Disney also has its own troupe of working feline friends. An interesting fact to know is that feral cats inhabit both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. While these stray cats are not treated as pets by Disney, they actually do serve a critical role in the Parks.

In a place with as much garbage as Disney, rodents and other pests can become big problems for the Parks. I mean, we have all seen how big the squirrels can get; imagine if a rat or a mouse reached that size! In order to minimize this possibility, Disney permits a feral cat population to exist on Park property. In return for a free place to stay, these cats work tirelessly, keeping the rodent population under control.

In order to keep the cats hard at work, Disney makes sure that they do not get domesticated by Guests or Cast Members. While they are adorable, it is important not to pet or feed these animals. They have a job to do and are actually quite happy and content with their work.

disney cats

Credit: Disney and Canva

In cases where cats are domesticated or simply grow too old for the job, Disney relinquishes them of their duties and puts them up for adoption. In the past, it has often been Cast Members who end up taking in a retired stray cat.

As a reminder, these feral cat colonies are meant to be appreciated but not disturbed. No matter how adorable these feral cats are, they are not meant to be petted or played with by Guests.

What’s That in the Sky?

Not all Disney Park animals are as adorable as the ones mentioned above. In fact, some are downright creepy! Hiding in tiny crevices throughout the Parks (and not just in Animal Kingdom Park), many fans have reported seeing bats.

There have been bats at Disney for a while, it seems, and although these flying vampires may look scary, they truly do not pose any harm to Guests. Bats are not inherently dangerous, and they really just need to look for a place to live.

However, these bats do often cause problems on the rides at Walt Disney World Resort. Videos have circulated showing what appears to be a bat infestation in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in Magic Kingdom. Some fans and Cast Members have even claimed that the bats have closed down the ride at Walt Disney World Resort before!

Pirates of the Caribbean attraction

Credit: Disney

Respecting Disney Means Respecting Nature

While encountering a wild animal at Disney may be shocking and even scary at times, it is very important that we remember to respect these animals. Long before Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort existed, the land they now sit on belonged to these wild animals. As much as wild animals can be scary, the intentions of these animals are not to cause harm or fear within Guests.

Oftentimes, these animals are falsy lured into the Parks because of the smell of food that often wafts throughout the air. Regardless of whether it is a feral cat, a snake, a squirrel, a bat, or even a miniature pony, it is always a good idea to be respectful and cautious around animals at Disney. If you are looking to see wild animals in a safe, respectful way, head over to Disney Animal Kingdom theme park to have an incredible experience of this kind.

About Eva Miller

Eva was born and raised in the beautiful state of Oregon but has since relocated and lives in New York City. Since she was young, Eva has loved to perform in musicals, especially Disney ones! Through performing, Disney’s music became the soundtrack of her childhood. Today, Eva loves to write about all the exciting happenings for the Walt Disney Company. In her free time, Eva loves to travel, spend time in nature, and go to Broadway shows. Her favorite Disney movie is 'Lilo and Stitch,' and her favorite Park is Disney's Animal Kingdom.