When Walt Disney World opened Monday, several of its major attractions were mysteriously closed – with Frontierland, Adventureland and Liberty Square unavailable to guests – after a wild bear was reportedly spotted in the theme park.
The honest-to-god black bear was hanging out in a tree over by Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland, according to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. As the song once said: The bear necessities of life, they come to you.
Local TV reporter Ashley Carter also confirmed the bear sighting on X:
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission has confirmed that biologists with its Bear Management Program are on the scene after reports of a black bear in a tree at Magic Kingdom. https://t.co/zKBLmoRCS2
— Ashley Carter (@AshleyLCarter1) September 18, 2023
“We are working with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and have made the decision to reopen Frontierland, Liberty Square and Adventureland at Magic Kingdom Park,” Disney later said in a statement to TheWrap.
The commission said in a separate statement that it had officers on site to deal with the animal:
“The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is aware of a black bear reported in a tree on Walt Disney World property at the Magic Kingdom. Biologists with the FWC’s Bear Management Program, as well as FWC Law Enforcement officers, are on scene. In most cases, it is best for bears to be given space and to move along on their own, but given this situation, staff are working on capturing and relocating the bear.”
Among the attractions impacted by the furry interloper are iconic (and, crucially, high-capacity) favorites like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Hall of Presidents, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Walt Disney World Railroad, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room and, of course, the Country Bear Jamboree (which was recently announced would get a high-profile makeover).
Walt Disney World is situated on Florida swamp land, which is teeming with wildlife, and there is a high percentage of the property still devoted to conservation.
A bear wandering into the Magic Kingdom is clearly not outside the realm of possibility and the resort has had issues with unwanted animal interactions in the past, most notoriously in 2016 when a toddler was eaten by an alligator while on property (at the Grand Floridian Resort).
Magic Kingdom is, historically, the most visited theme park in the world, with a single day ticket to the park costing more than $100 per person. If you’d paid that much (plus hotel and travel), you’d probably want more than half of the park to be open.
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