Halloween at Walt Disney World Resort

Wildlife Wednesdays: Halloween Celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Helps to Keep Bats ‘Hanging Around’

posted on October 23rd, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Hanging up bat decorations for Halloween is great holiday fun but at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we also want to keep real bats hanging around. Bats play a critical role in nature, helping to control pests and pollinate countless plants, including delicious fruits like bananas and mangoes.

Wildlife Wednesdays: Halloween Celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Helps to Keep Bats ‘Hanging Around’

On Halloween, we’re celebrating Bat Day with special activities at Rafiki’s Planet Watch where guests will discover that bats are cool, not creepy. Guests can enter a “bat cave” and test their skills at identifying North American bats. Fun games help guests learn what bats eat and what challenges they face. Guests also can meet our bat keepers and find out how we care for the bats that make their home on the Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. They might even see one of our bats getting its wellness exam in the Veterinary Hospital.

Wildlife Wednesdays: Halloween Celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Helps to Keep Bats ‘Hanging Around’ Wildlife Wednesdays: Halloween Celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Helps to Keep Bats ‘Hanging Around’

Did you know?

  • The Malayan Flying Fox, which guests can see on the Maharajah Jungle Trek, is one of the largest bats in the world with a wingspan of close to 6 feet. Another bat species at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the Rodrigues fruit bat.
  • Contrary to popular myths, bats are not blind and do not become entangled in human hair.
  • For 2013, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) is supporting Bat Conservation International projects that are helping to protect long-nosed bats in the Caribbean, golden-capped fruit bats in the Philippines and straw-colored bats in Africa. This year, the DWCF also is supporting a Lubee Bat Conservancy project that is helping flying foxes in Madagascar.
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Worldwide Conservation Leaders Gather at Walt Disney World Resort to Focus on ‘One Plan’ Approach to Help Wildlife

posted on October 16th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Did you know that the beautiful golden lion tamarin — which guests can see at Disney’s Animal Kingdom — might be extinct in its native Brazil if zoological facilities hadn’t helped? With fewer than 200 left, zoos around the world banded together to reintroduce golden lion tamarins born in their facilities to the wild. These animals joined wild golden lion tamarins to bring this species back from the brink of extinction.
A Golden Lion Tamarin, Like the Ones Guests Can See at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Most people think of zoos, aquariums and other wildlife parks as great places to see amazing animals and to connect with nature—and they are. What people may not be aware of is all of the conservation work that these facilities do and what a huge impact they have. This includes, of course, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot.

Over the past week, we’ve been proud to host here at the Walt Disney World Resort conservation leaders from around the world. Some are here as part of their attendance at the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) Annual Meeting. (CBSG is a global network of conservation professionals.) The remainder are here to attend the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) Annual Conference. (WAZA members are leading zoos, aquariums and related organizations from around the world.)
Jörg Junhold, Director, Leipzig Zoo, Germany, and Gerald Dick, WAZA Executive Director, with Jackie Ogden

The success of the effort to save golden lion tamarins is a great example of what CBSG and WAZA members refer to as a “One Plan” approach to species conservation, with a goal of one comprehensive conservation plan for wildlife whether they are in human care or in their native habitats.

Did you know?

  • Golden lion tamarins are an endangered species native to Brazil’s Atlantic coastal forest. The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has helped support long-term conservation efforts to protect the golden lion tamarin’s forest home.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom also is home to two other tamarin species: emperor tamarins and cotton-top tamarins (visit www.proyectotiti.com to find out more about conservation efforts led by Dr. Anne Savage, Conservation Director at Disney’s Animal Kingdom).
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Elephants Eat Their Fruits and Veggies, and a Whole Lot More! Find out on Elephant Appreciation Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on September 25th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


We know that lots of fruits and veggies are part of a healthy diet. Apparently, elephants know that too. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, an adult male elephant will eat 28 pounds of produce in one day–and that’s not all! He’ll also eat 7 bales of hay, 5 bundles of grass, 2-to-3 bundles of browse, and 15 pounds of grain. And as we try to drink 8 or more glasses of water each day, elephants will guzzle 25-50 gallons of water. It all adds up to about 400-600 pounds of food in a day, which is as much as an average person eats in an entire year.
Elephants Eat Their Fruits and Veggies, and a Whole Lot More!

Guests who visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom tomorrow (September 26) will learn lots of fun and informative facts about elephants during our Elephant Appreciation Day celebration, taking place at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

In addition to learning what—and how much—an elephant eats, guests who stop by Rafiki’s Planet Watch can:

  • Test their skills at “eating like an elephant” using a replica of an elephant trunk.
  • Color an elephant mask that they can take home.
  • Learn about the elephants that make their home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and talk with members of our elephant care team.
  • Discover how bee sounds are being used to help keep elephants away from crops.
  • Find out about elephant conservation efforts supported through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund

Elephants Eat Their Fruits and Veggies, and a Whole Lot More!

Did you know?

  • Every day, guests experiencing the Kilimanjaro Safaris and Wild Africa Trek can see members of the Disney’s Animal Kingdom elephant herd.
  • Jabali, who is two years old, is the youngest member of the herd. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is part of a breeding program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that is focused on sustaining the elephant population in North America.
  • Disney scientists study elephant communication—using audio-recording collars. Elephants make powerful, low-frequency “rumbles” that humans often cannot hear and can communicate over distances of several miles using these rumbles. Learn more at the Wildlife Tracking Center at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

Disney scientists conduct hormone analyses, using specialized tests called immunoassays, to monitor the reproductive status of the female elephants before and during pregnancy. Guests can watch scientists perform these and other analyses in the Wildlife Tracking Center.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Vultures and Manatees Demystified at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot

posted on September 4th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Vultures and manatees are two creatures that often are misunderstood. That’s one reason why it’s so much fun for us to showcase them with special activities — there’s so much to learn about! For example, take a look at the following:
“Vultures

  • Myth or fact: Vultures can help prevent the spread of rabies. This is a fact — by eating the carcasses of dead animals, vultures help prevent the spread of life-threatening diseases, such as rabies, among animals and humans.

“Manatees

  • Myth or fact: Manatees are closely related to cows (or walruses, or seals). This is a myth — although they are sometimes called sea cows, elephants are one of the manatee’s closest relatives.

Guests can find out all about vultures during special activities in celebration of International Vulture Awareness Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on September 5 and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge on September 7. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, activities will take place near the Tree of Life and at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, activities will take place in the Jambo House lobby. Year-round, guests can see lappet-faced vultures at the Tree of Life, black vultures at Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Ruppell’s griffon vultures at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

At The Seas with Nemo & Friends on September 7, special activities are designed to help guests learn about manatees and how to protect them in celebration of International Manatee Day. For example, guests will find out that manatees belong to a group of aquatic, plant-eating mammals called sirenians. They also will learn that actions all of us can take to keep waterways clean, such as recycling plastic bottles and used fishing line, can protect these majestic mammals. Rescued manatees Lou and Vail make their home at The Seas. The marine mammal team said that Lou and Vail will be celebrating International Manatee Day too, by eating fruits and vegetables from local farmers markets.

Among the 2013 projects supported by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund are projects helping protect vultures and manatees. To find out more, visit www.disney.com/conservation.

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Disney Parks Blog Fans Choose ‘Mosi’ As Name For First Masai Giraffe Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on July 31st, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


The votes are in! Disney Parks Blog fans chose “Mosi” (which means “first”) as the name for the first Masai giraffe calf born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Our animal care team is thrilled that so many people voted to help choose his name. Other choices that received a lot of votes were “Baraka” (which means “blessing”) and “Shingo” (which means “long neck”), but ultimately “Mosi” was the winner. Thank you so much for caring as much about the baby giraffe as we do!

Mosi, the First Masai Giraffe Born at Disney's Animal Kingdom Mosi, the First Masai Giraffe Born at Disney's Animal Kingdom

I have some more great news – yesterday, Mosi ventured out with his mom on the Kilimanjaro Safaris savanna for the first time. We are very pleased to share a photo and some video of Mosi’s first day on the savanna. Enjoy!

 
The next time you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, be on the lookout for Mosi and the rest of the giraffe herd on Kilimanjaro Safaris and Wild Africa Trek.


Read on for more updates from Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Vote To Name the First Masai Giraffe Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on July 24th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Vote To Name the First Masai Giraffe Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Our very first Masai giraffe calf, a male, was born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom recently and will go out on the Kilimanjaro Safaris savanna within the next few weeks. We are excited to have you pick the baby’s name from a list prepared by our animal care team. It’s easy to cast your vote. Check the list below, make your choice and keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog to find out what name gets the most votes—I’ll post the results next Wednesday (July 31).

Did you know?

  • There are two subspecies of giraffe—Masai and reticulated—roaming the Kilimanjaro Safaris savanna. Most are now Masai giraffe, with reticulated giraffe making their home on the savannas of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Having two kinds of giraffe enables cast members to share even more great stories about these amazing animals.
  • The Masai giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) can be found in southern Kenya and throughout Tanzania. Reticulated giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) are widely found in northern Kenya and in Somalia.
  • The Masai giraffe’s coat features jagged-edged patches. The patches are dark brown on a cream background, making the Masai the darkest-colored subspecies. The reticulated giraffe’s coat features a pattern of very defined patches that usually are orangish brown. The patches are separated by bright white lines, and the lower part of the legs are a lighter color.
  • It is estimated that there are fewer than 40,000 Masai giraffe in the wild. The reticulated giraffe is more threatened in the wild, with numbers fewer than 5,000. Giraffes are threatened by habitat loss and habitat fragmentation, poaching, and human-wildlife conflicts.
  • The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) helps to support conservation programs for wildlife like giraffes. For example, through a recent project, the DWCF helped Tusk Trust USA and the Ruko Community Wildlife Conservancy reintroduce Rothschild’s giraffes in Kenya. This program also enhances community awareness of wildlife conservation through anti-poaching, wildlife monitoring, and educational programs in local schools. Since its inception in 1995, the DWCF has provided more than $4.5 million to support habitat conservation for giraffes and other African wildlife. Through a collaboration with Disneynature and the “See ‘African Cats,’ Save the Savanna” campaign, the DWCF also helped the African Wildlife Foundation to protect more than 65,000 acres of land in Kenya’s Amboseli Wildlife Corridor to enable indigenous animals including giraffes, cheetahs, and lions to roam freely between protected habitats.

What name did you vote for? Tell us about your favorite in the “Comments” section below or join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #DisneyGiraffe.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Bounce Like Tigger Over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom for Special Tiger Day

posted on July 17th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Look closely at this tiger photo taken at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and you’ll discover some of the special characteristics of this magnificent animal — the largest of all cats.

Tiger at Disney's Animal Kingdom - this Magnificent Animal is the Largest of all Cats

For one thing, you may notice that the tiger’s ears can turn independently of each other, allowing them to pick up sounds from different directions. The ears also have distinctive white circular spots—think eyes in back of their heads to scare off potential predators, according to one theory.

Guests visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom on July 25 will discover even more about tigers and learn about efforts to conserve them as the park celebrates Tiger Day with special activities at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Families can test their skills at identifying tiger calls, find out where in the world tigers live and how they travel through the forest, and see if they can leap as far as a tiger, among other activities.

Tiger at Disney's Animal Kingdom - this Magnificent Animal is the Largest of all Cats

Of course, every day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests love seeing our tigers on the Maharajah Jungle Trek, where the tigers can enjoy a dip in the water, nap on the grass, and play with a variety of tiger toys. Unlike some other cats, tigers seem to enjoy water and can swim well. They use rivers and lakes to seek relief from the heat and to catch fish.

The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) is helping to conserve tigers. So far, the fund has contributed $1.4 million to projects working to protect tigers and other big cats like lions and leopards. Last year, for example the DWCF provided funding to the Wildlife Conservation Society to help the government of Thailand train and equip park rangers to reduce the threat of poaching and wildlife trade for tigers and other forest wildlife in that country.

More tiger fun facts:

  • Did you know that a tiger’s stripes help it hunt? The stripes break up their outline, helping tigers to remain undetected as they close in on their prey in their forest homes. And not only is a tiger’s fur striped, but its skin underneath is too.
  • During the day tigers can see about as well as humans, but their night vision is six times more powerful.
  • Tigers use their whiskers as “feelers,” helping these large cats to navigate their way through dark and heavily wooded areas.
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Nemo and the Gang Celebrate World Oceans Day at Epcot

posted on June 5th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Join Nemo, Dory, Crush and the rest of the gang in celebrating the wonders of the oceans on World Oceans Day at The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot on June 8. There’s a host of special activities:

  • From endangered Florida manatees to bottlenose dolphins, discover the important role marine mammals play in the ocean ecosystem. Find out how the actions you take, such as recycling plastics and used fishing line, can protect these majestic mammals.
  • Baby sea turtles face great obstacles in order to reach adulthood, which is why all species of sea turtles are either endangered or threatened. Experience an interactive model of a turtle excluder device, used on fishing boats to assist in preventing sea turtles from getting caught in nets. Find out how you can do your part to protect sea turtles, and how you can adopt the nest of one of the sea turtles that lays her eggs this year near Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.
  • Coral reefs often are described as the rainforests of the oceans due to the abundance and diversity of life they help to sustain. Just like the rainforests, coral reefs face many challenges. These include overfishing and damage caused by pollution. Talk with Disney scientists, who are helping to restore coral reefs in The Bahamas.
  • Sharks and stingrays play a vital role in marine ecosystems and, without them, many fish species would be in trouble. Find out what a shark’s tooth feels like and learn about the role sharks and stingrays play in the oceans’ food web. Learn about the impact of marine debris and how disposing of trash properly and recycling can keep the oceans clean.
  • Everyone can make a difference by becoming wildlife-friendly shoppers. Participate in a “green shopping spree” and discover how environmentally friendly products help to save the environment, including our oceans, and wildlife.

Wildlife Wednesdays: Nemo and the Gang Celebrate World Oceans Day at Epcot

Surrounded by the Pacific in Hawaii, Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, is joining the World Oceans Day celebration with special ocean-themed activities for guests. And, in addition to supporting conservation year-round, the resort is contributing a portion of the proceeds on June 8 from the Rainbow Reef snorkeling experience to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, which helps to protect wildlife on land and in the oceans around the world.

On World Oceans Day, and every day, it’s important to remember that no matter where we live we are all connected to the oceans—any action we take that reduces waste (including recycling everything possible), saves water or keeps it clean, protects ocean wildlife or reduces emissions helps our oceans.

Upcoming 2013 events for connecting families with nature (as always, dates subject to change):

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom -

  • July 25: Tiger Day
  • August 1: Primate Day
  • August: Cotton-Top Tamarin Month
  • September 5: International Vulture Awareness Day
  • September 26: Elephant Day
  • October 31: Bat Day
  • November 12: Rhino Day

At The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot -

  • September 7: International Manatee Day
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Disney’s Animal Kingdom is All Abuzz on Pollinator Day

posted on May 29th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Bees, butterflies and other pollinators are the focus during the Pollinator Day celebration June 5 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is All Abuzz on Pollinator Day, June 5 at Walt Disney World Resort

At Rafiki’s Planet Watch on Pollinator Day, guests can view live bees (very safely, of course!) and learn about the important role they play in pollination. Afraid of bees? Elephants are too! Guests can find out how this fear is being put to use to protect both elephants and people. Guests also can try on a pair of insect wings, follow the paths different pollinators take in a fun game, and learn how to create a pollinator garden.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is All Abuzz on Pollinator Day, June 5 at Walt Disney World Resort

Fun facts about pollinators:

  • About 1,000 plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices and medicines depend on pollinators to grow. In fact, an estimated one-third of all foods and beverages is dependent on pollinators.
  • Most pollinators (about 200,000 species) are beneficial insects such as butterflies, bees, beetles and wasps. About 1,000 pollinators are vertebrates, such as birds, bats and small mammals.
  • You can help pollinators by reducing pesticide use and by creating a pollinator-friendly garden with native flowering plants that supply pollinators with nectar, pollen and homes.
  • The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) helps pollinators through a variety of projects around the world. Through support from the DWCF, a new species of butterfly was discovered in Myanmar, a country in southeast Asia.

Upcoming 2013 events for connecting families with nature (as always, dates subject to change):

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom -

  • July 25: Tiger Day
  • August 1: Primate Day
  • August: Cotton-Top Tamarin Month
  • September 5: International Vulture Awareness Day
  • September 26: Elephant Day
  • October 31: Bat Day
  • November 12: Rhino Day

At The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot -

  • June 8: World Ocean Day
  • September 7: International Manatee Day
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Does Crush Have Ears? Test Your Turtle Knowledge at Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 8th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Turtles are fascinating creatures, and really cool dudes, too – just ask Crush! Although they don’t have visible ears, turtles, including sea turtles like Crush, do have eardrums covered by skin. They hear best at low frequencies, and their sense of smell is excellent. Sea turtles don’t have teeth, but their jaws have modified “beaks” suited to their particular diet. Their vision underwater is good, but they are nearsighted out of water. Their streamlined bodies and large flippers make them remarkably adapted to life at sea. However, sea turtles maintain close ties to land. Females must come ashore to lay their eggs in the sand, so all sea turtles begin their lives as tiny hatchlings on land.

Learn About Turtles and Test Your Knowledge on Endangered Species Day at The Seas at Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Learn About Turtles and Test Your Knowledge on Endangered Species Day at The Seas at Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Guests can find out even more about turtles and participate in a variety of activities for the whole family this month during two special events at Epcot and one at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. On May 18, The Seas with Nemo & Friends will observe Endangered Species Day with a special focus on sea turtles, manatees and coral reefs. And on May 23, both The Seas and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will celebrate World Turtle Day.

Test Your Turtle Knowledge on Endangered Species Day at The Seas at Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Climb Through a Full-Size Model of a Turtle Excluder Device on Endangered Species Day at The Seas at Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom

On Endangered Species Day at The Seas, guests can discover how all of us can help keep waterways safe for manatees, and talk with Disney’s Animal Programs scientists who are helping restore coral reefs in the Bahamas. On both Endangered Species Day and World Turtle Day, children can climb through a full-size model of a turtle excluder device, used on fishing boats to prevent sea turtles from getting caught in nets, among other activities. And, of course, every day, kids can ask Crush all about sea turtles at Turtle Talk with Crush.

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests may see a turtle getting a veterinary exam, find out if they are smarter than a turtle, and get an up-close look at some of the turtles and tortoises that make their home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and learn about how we care for them.

The Animal Care Team at Disney's Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends Have Nursed More Than 320 Endangered Sea Turtles Back to Health Over the Years

Of course, the teams at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends celebrate and conserve turtles and tortoises every day. Over the years, our animal care team has nursed more than 320 endangered sea turtles back to health and released them back to the wild.

Guests at The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Vero Beach Resort (which also participates each year in the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s Tour de Turtles) can help turtles by adopting a sea turtle nest. The adoption fee helps sea turtle conservation efforts in Florida through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF). Guests receive an adoption certificate complete with the date of adoption, the date the nest was laid, the species of sea turtle, and the nest number; a Squirt keychain; and a Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund hero button. Since its inception in 1995, the DWCF has contributed more than $1.1 million to sea turtle research around the world, including here in Florida.

All of us can help turtles and tortoises by taking action to reduce, reuse and recycle, by making sure that we dispose of trash properly, by becoming wildlife-friendly shoppers, and by observing turtles and other wildlife from a safe distance, taking care not to disturb them or their habitats.

Upcoming 2013 events for connecting families with nature (as always, dates subject to change):
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

  • June 5: Pollinator Day
  • July 25: Tiger Day
  • August 1: Primate Day
  • August: Cotton-Top Tamarin Month
  • September 5: International Vulture Awareness Day
  • September 26: Elephant Day
  • October 31: Bat Day
  • November 12: Rhino Day

At The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot:

  • June 8: World Ocean Day
  • September 7: International Manatee Day
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