Disney’s Animal Kingdom to Close Rafiki’s Planet Watch Oct. 20

According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, Oct. 20 will be the last day for   Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We had been hearing rumors of this for several days, but a Walt Disney World spokesperson has now confirmed the closure.

Rafiki’s Planet Watch is a quasi-backstage peek at how Animal Kingdom’s animals are kept happy and healthy. It features hands-on displays and the opportunity to participate in conservation and species-survival efforts as well as an area where guests can meet and pet small animals.


This area of the park is only accessible to guests by a ride on the Wildlife Express Train. Once in the area,  you can visit Conservation Station, the Affection Section or Habitat Habit. There were also a few character meet-and-greet opportunities — Disney Channel’s Doc McStuffins was recently added.

In the early mornings, there is often the chance to observe simple medical procedures being performed on some of the park’s inhabitants.

Rafiki's Planet Watch Medical Procedure
Planet Watch used to showcase animal care cast members at work

Disney’s animal care specialists will remain working at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, but other cast members in the area have been reassigned.

Disney has not announced any future plans for the area.

Will you miss this unique look at the animals in Disney’s Animal Kingdom? We will! Let us know what you think below.

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Debra Martin Koma wrote about food, travel and lifestyle issues for a number of local and national publications before she fell in love with Walt Disney World on her first visit — when she was 34! She's returned to her Laughing Place more times than she can count in the ensuing years, and enthusiastically shares her passion with readers of AllEars.Net and AllEars®. Deb also co-authored (along with Deb Wills) PassPorter's Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line, a travel guide designed for all travelers to Walt Disney World who may require special attention, from special diets to mobility issues.

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7 Replies to “Disney’s Animal Kingdom to Close Rafiki’s Planet Watch Oct. 20”

  1. I use it to kill time, the train ride lasts longer for me than what I spend at the attraction. Great place for one of the few AK bathrooms with a/c. Every time I visit I wonder why they don’t use the area for more. It even has shaded tables for eating if you brought food, it makes me wish they had a QS there. Hopefully they make it a more useful space.

  2. Loved the train and the whole area. Glad we sold our Disney timeshares and are done with it. Too many things we liked have disappeared, and too many people in the parks.

  3. My grandson wants to be a Zoo Keeper or Veterinarian and was inspired by this place at AK. Hope they use the space for an equally inspiring area!!

  4. We also are sad to see this go! We were fortunate to watch medical procedures on a tiger during one of our visits there. Enjoyed seeing the various insects. It was a place to go to unwind from the crowds and enjoy nature.

  5. I find this disappointing

    I am member of our local zoo. Every so often they offer a conservation presentation at night. After the presentation, they often offer a tour of a “backstage” area. For example the giraffe or elephant barns.

    While not a direct correlially Rafiki’s gave a decent up close experience.

  6. I am sad to see it go. I definitely can see an update was needed or adding to it, but will for sure miss it. The train in itself was an adventure and a break from walking. I also always knew I could meet Rafiki there and get my picture as he is a favorite of mine. We learned a lot about animals there and about being stewards of the earth. Hopefully there is a plan.

  7. I am sad to see this go. Always felt it was an interesting hidden place and loved being there to watch any medical procedures being done. Back in the day, you could meet Jimminy Cricket and Pocohontas there, which was great.