For the first time, Disney World’s Animal Kingdom goes all out for the holidays

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ORLANDO, Fla. — It’s light and bright in all the merriest of ways at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom this holiday season.

For the first time since the park opened in 1998, there’ll be holiday-themed entertainment and decor throughout the 500-acre park, reports Florida Today, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.

The twinklers lining rooftops and other new seasonal touches add just enough jolly without detracting or distracting from its creatures big and small and the innate natural beauty of the park (now Central Florida’s second most popular theme park, behind Magic Kingdom).

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A few tips for making the most of moments between rides and shows:

Listen for familiar holiday music throughout the park. Hearing it wafting through the trees  near sunset is a little odd and a lot awesome inPandora, where at Pongu Pongu, check out the holiday décor handcrafted from materials indigenous to Pandora.

Look to the trees — not your run-of-the-mill branches here. They’re wonderful at night when they’re a-glow, but you’ll get full detail during daylight hours, down to tiny birds and trees inside the trees at spots including outside Kilimanjaro Safari.

Once you’ve crossed the bridge to Discovery Island, feel free to walk and talk with the animals — well, the life-size sculpted animal puppets (and yes, there are reindeer). Look high for the bird lanterns.

Make sure to check the abundance of wreaths, too, including as your cross the bridge. They’re everywhere, and they’re crafty cool, made in eclectic ways with everything imaginable, down to bottle caps dotting spoked wheels.

At DinoLand, Donald’s Dino-Bash, the dance party’s complemented by holiday decorations chosen by Donald Duck’s pals, with all kinds of holiday merch available for sale at the gift shop.

Diwali, India’s festival of lights, is celebrated over in Asia, while in Africa, African celebrations blend with Western traditions, making a stroll through Harame for food and shopping a colorful mix of tastes and treats.

And while it’s gorgeous before dark,the wintry scenes lighting up the Tree of Life in the evening are accompanied by a sure-to-make-you-smile score. “Tree of Life Awakenings” runs about every 10 minutes after dark, until the park closes.

The holiday celebration at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom runs through early January. Visit Disney’s website for exact dates, park hours and ticket prices at all Disney parks.

News Source: USA Today.

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