Disney’s Animal Kingdom will begin a new tradition next Monday with its first nightly bat release. Each night, just before closing, some 300 bats of various species will be released from special pens near the park entrance. They will fly just above guests’ heads, accompanied by a stirring rendition of “Night on Bald Mountain,” through the park to the Tree of Life where they will echolocate themselves to comfortable, custom-made “caves”.
Says Animal Kingdom animal entertainment spokesperson Eaton Mutton, “At one time, the Magic Kingdom had a tradition of releasing a gigantic swarm of doves each night at dusk. Unfortunately, local hawks learned the bird-release schedule — from the Internet, most likely — and began hanging around the park to pick off young or weak birds from our flock. When the hawks didn’t respond to legal action, we were forced to cancel the nightly bird releases. Our hope is that these bat releases will have all the thrill of the dove releases without the wildlife complications. And if any hawks do show up, hoping for an easy meal, they will get one heck of a surprise. These bats can take care of themselves. Seriously, you should see the size of these things.”