A black bear went visiting Disney World Florida, shutting the park down

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulSep 19, 2023 | 12:40

A black bear went visiting Disney World Florida, shutting the park down

In an unexpected and slightly surreal turn of events, a black bear found itself as the centre of attention at Disney World's Magic Kingdom Park in Florida, temporarily shutting down parts of the beloved theme park. The incident, which took place on a Monday, concluded with the successful capture of an adult female black bear, marking a rare and unusual chapter in Disney World's history.



Picture this: A regular Monday morning at the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’, with eager visitors lining up for their favourite rides. But then, out of the blue, a furry surprise decided to drop in, quite literally, found perched up a tree near the iconic Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland.

Now, it's not every day you see a bear trading in the forest for a theme park, but the safety of both our fuzzy friend and park-goers became priority number one.

So, who do you call when you have a bear in the Magic Kingdom? 

Safety and relocation

Handling this situation required a coordinated effort between park staff and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

  • Typically, wildlife encounters call for giving animals space to find their own way out of unfamiliar territory.
  • However, given the high traffic and safety concerns at Disney World, the decision was made to capture the bear. This decision was made with the bear's well-being in mind, as well as the safety of the park's guests.

The successful capture took place during the afternoon, and the bear was subsequently prepared for relocation. The FWC announced that the bear would be relocated to an area in or around the Ocala National Forest, a more suitable habitat for this native Florida wildlife species. 


During the incident, a portion of the park had to be temporarily closed to ensure the safety of all involved.

  • Adventureland, Frontierland, and Liberty Square, home to popular attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the Swiss Family Treehouse, and Tom Sawyer Island, were temporarily off-limits.
  • The measure allowed biologists and law enforcement officers from the FWC to work diligently on capturing the bear without risking any potential encounters between the bear and park visitors.


The presence of the bear in Disney World was likely driven by its instinctual need to prepare for winter.

As fall approaches, bears typically increase their food intake dramatically, consuming as many as 20,000 calories a day to build up fat reserves. This behaviour, known as hyperphagia, is crucial for their survival during the colder months when food becomes scarce.

Now, while this bear's escapade was definitely unusual, it's a gentle reminder that Florida is not only home to Disney magic but also to a diverse array of wildlife. In fact, the FWC has been tracking black bear sightings in the area for the past five years. 


Florida's ecosystem

The presence of bears in these regions underscores the importance of responsible coexistence between humans and wildlife, as well as education about how to respond to such encounters safely.

  • In 2016, a tragic incident involving an alligator attack on a two-year-old child occurred on Walt Disney World property, highlighting the need for vigilance and awareness of the local wildlife.

While Disney World is renowned for its enchanting and carefully curated experiences, it's worth remembering that the magic extends beyond the attractions themselves.

The very environment that surrounds the park is home to a rich tapestry of wildlife abundant in the Floridian marshes, and reminds us of the importance of preserving and respecting the natural world, even within House Mouse’s realm of fantasy and imagination.

Last updated: September 19, 2023 | 12:40
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