Walt Disney World has announced the end of KiteTails at Animal Kingdom. In this article, we’ll share details and dates, commentary on news, new exercise entertainment, and our thoughts on this daytime kite show.
Here is the official announcement from Walt Disney World: As you know, Disney KiteTails has made its debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park to kick off Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th anniversary celebration. After this first year, we will transition from entertainment on Discovery River Lagoon to flotillas. The last flight for Disney KiteTails will be on September 30, 2022.
We look forward to seeing our guests continue to greet their Disney Friends on Flotilla Cruises, hug Disney Friends with Close Encounters, and more to come as we introduce our holiday offerings in the months coming.
KiteTails was first introduced on October 1 last year for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary. Aside from a few statues of animated movie characters, this was the only addition to the animal kingdom for the world’s most magical celebration.
In its early days, KiteTails featured a puppeteer pre-show featuring creatures from The world of Nemo parade on stage. The theater was decorated with vibrant lanterns and banners, upbeat music played before the show, and the colorful character puppets were a delight.
Afterwards, the main show made up of huge kites of characters from The Lion King or The Jungle Book danced gracefully around the Discovery River lagoon behind jet skis. Sometimes the kite dances weren’t so graceful, that’s when the KiteTails really shined.
In fact, I like KiteTails.
It looks like a weird concoction made late one night by raiding the fridge. He reused Epcot Forever’s remaining jet skis and kites, then added gigantic kites of lions, bears, monkeys and birds. Boom, KiteTails was born.
The big things KiteTails pulls off are tone, atmosphere and energy. Everything in KiteTails feels natural and pure. The performers give their all, and the end result can be summed up as cute and charming.
Of course, it’s the (sometimes) controlled chaos that’s the highlight of the series. The team behind KiteTails quickly learned that it was the epic kite landings that had people racing in the stands, and it was quite fun to watch the “KiteFails”. It’s nice (and rare) to see a Disney production that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Just a good time all around.
However, KiteTails was not without its problems. Crash landing kites are a great time for people like me, but Simba diving into the cheap seats or King Louie taking off for the trees might not have been what Walt Disney World had in mind for this show.
Beyond that, there are issues that make observing KiteTails uncomfortable or difficult. The amphitheater is not shaded, so guests who arrived early would be roasting in the sun and often getting a “was that?” reaction to the show. Some might even leave early and miss its climax, the aforementioned KiteFails epic. There is also the practical reality that kites depend on the wind, and this has caused many cancellations or changes.
That’s why, earlier this summer, Walt Disney World changed KiteTails. According to the company, they’ve changed focus so guests can experience KiteTails from anywhere around the Discovery River lagoon, with shorter, more frequent performances throughout the day.
The idea behind it was to reposition KiteTails as a diversion rather than a standalone show that was worth arriving early to see in full. It made sense to some degree.
While I enjoyed it, I’m very aware that KiteTails performed poorly and disappointed casual audiences, especially those who took time out of their day and arrived early to see a show. KiteTails does not offer the “traditional” means one would expect from a Disney entertainment production.
Unfortunately, the changes also downplayed one of the show’s big draws: those up-close and personal KiteFails.
From my perspective, the only reason KiteTails “works” is because of the energetic performers rocking the crowd, the near misses as the kites skim the water and swing unpredictably, and the epic landings up close.
The previous change transformed KiteTails into seeing kites flying while walking around Animal Kingdom. Colorful kites gliding calmly across the lagoon is cool, but chaos is even cooler.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see why KiteTails is coming to an end.
Customer satisfaction may have increased with the changes made earlier in the summer simply due to lower expectations and less disappointment, but interest and awareness are likely to have declined. KiteTails is probably on a few guests’ radars at this point, and families probably benefit more from seeing flotilla characters.
It also means that Walt Disney World is 0/3 on added entertainment for the 50th anniversary. Disney Enchantment, Harmonious, and KiteTails have now all been announced to end this year or next. None of these were originally intended as temporary or limited editions.
Unlike nighttime shows, KiteTails won’t even survive the end of the world’s most magical celebration. This ends at the end of March 2023. Meanwhile, KiteTails will end at the end of the current fiscal year.
Speaking of which, the turning point for new drills has long been “entertainment watch” at Walt Disney World. Before the closing, it was common for shows, streetmosphere and other acts to end shortly before the start of a new fiscal year.
Typically, this entertainment would not receive a 1:1 replacement, but a new replacement entertainment would debut around the start of the following calendar year. (In fairness, Walt Disney World usually adds a lot of entertainment for the holiday season, which means gaps in the entertainment lineup in October and January/February, but not so much in November or December.)
This hasn’t happened in the last two years, mainly because there’s nothing to cut.
On the contrary, the animations were restored last year between the end of September and the beginning of October. World Showcase has been a big beneficiary, with more musical acts returning last fall and again this year for the start of the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival.
It remains to be seen what the start of the upcoming fiscal year will bring. There’s still not much to cut by historical standards, but we wouldn’t bet the farm on KiteTails is the only casualty of the new exercise.
Still, more entertainment is more likely to be added or restored around the start of October 2022. At one point, Walt Disney World’s goal was operational normalcy at the start of the new fiscal year. (Previously, that was the goal a year ago!) It won’t happen, but they’re still heading in that direction.
Either way, we’ll be watching artists’ Facebook pages for quiet announcements (good or bad), as well as Disney press releases or sneaky web page updates. We’ll keep you posted and share more entertainment news if or when there’s more to share. So stay tuned!
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What do you think of the end of the Disney KiteTails? Will you miss KiteFails, or were you not a fan of this show at all? Hoping to hear more (positive) entertainment updates for EPCOT and Animal Kingdom? Do you expect more good news… or more reductions on the horizon? Do you agree or disagree with our comment? Questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback – even when you disagree with us – is both interesting for us and helpful for other readers, so share your thoughts below in the comments!