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Sunday, October 1, 2023

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I Survived a Bear Attack at Disney World

I Survived a Bear Attack at Disney World

by James Coulter

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one looking for the bare necessities at Disney World. On Monday, a black bear was spotted in the Magic Kingdom Park.

Coincidentally, I was visiting the park on the same day of the incident. What a day for me to use my annual pass several months after my big family trip.

My stepfather and I arrived at the park late that morning. We parted ways at Fort Wilderness. He was going to explore the campgrounds while I decided to take a trip to the Magic Kingdom.

I was riding the boat across the Seven Seas Lagoon on the way to the park when I decided to check the My Disney Experience app for ride times.

To my surprise, about half the rides at the park were “temporarily closed”: Big Thunder Mountain, Pirate of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Tom Sawyer Island, Hall of Presidents, and even the Country Bear Jamboree!

It was quite a curious predicament. What was going on at the park that half the rides were closed? Was there a partial power outage? A gas leak? A water main break? Something was evidently up.

Upon entering the park, I decided to head over to Liberty Square. Turns out several cast members were waiting at the entrance. They informed me that part of the park was closed.

Well, I shrugged my shoulders and decided to visit Tomorrowland instead. I grabbed a bite to eat at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café before heading to Space Mountain.

While waiting in line for an estimated 100-minute wait time, I decided to check my phone. I nearly double take-d at a news headline: “Wild Bear at Magic Kingdom forces closure of more than 10 rides.”

Well, I thought to myself, clearly one of the animatronic bears at the Country Bear Jamboree decided to pull a Five Nights at Freddy’s.

Turns out it was a female black bear, which had been spotted in a tree near Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. (I guess they wanted to see the Country Bear Jamboree before the ride shut down for its upcoming refurbishment!)

As reported by the Washington Post: “Law enforcement and biologists from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) were on the scene to capture and transport the bear. FWC reported it had recovered the animal around 2:45 p.m. and planned to relocate it ‘in or around the Ocala National Forest.'”

“In most cases, it is best for bears to be given space and to move along on their own, but given this situation, staff have captured the animal and are relocating the bear out of the park to an area in or around the Ocala National Forest,” the FWC announced through a statement on its website.

The Florida Black Bear is the most common type of bear here in Florida. As the FWC website states: “While bears can be found almost anywhere in Florida, they prefer a mixture of flatwoods, swamps, scrub oak ridges, bayheads and hammock habitats.” (The natural wilderness surrounding Disney World certainly fits that criterion.)

So, yeah, it’s safe to say that my latest visit to the “Happiest Place on Earth” was an eventful one, even despite the 90-degree weather, large crowds (for a weekday in September), and only being able to ride three rides.

Perhaps next time, I’ll check for bear sightings before my next visit.

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