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A “DiVine” Visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Friday, February 18, 2011

Many Disney theme park fans are aware of the various costumed and non-costumed characters who roam the parks on a daily basis.  These characters visit with guests, take photos with children, sign autographs, and even entertain families while lines form and build behind them.  In most cases Cast Members are on hand to manage the character meet and greet lines and to make sure the characters are getting their proper rest and water breaks.  It’s not often a meet and greet character will draw a crowd just to watch an act or a playful spoof.  This is rarely the case.

Over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park there’s a costumed character who you wouldn’t even know was there unless you were looking for her.  Even if you are looking for her you could still miss her.  Keep a watchful eye open because you never know when a tree branch with leaves might move or suddenly appear from behind another tree.  In some cases you may think you are looking at ivy wrapped around a sign leading you to the Africa section of the park.  If you thought you saw the ivy and branches move don’t second guess yourself….You did!  One of the most admired characters inside the Animal Kingdom is DiVine.  She’s a character who is hired by Disney to help convey the park’s theme of the intrinsic value of nature.  She’s painted green, walks on stilts, and is wrapped in leaves and ivy to camouflage herself into the rest of the park’s foliage. 

DiVine entertains guests and crowds on a daily basis with her contortions, unpredictable movements, and sheer beauty.  She was brought to Disney’s Animal Kingdom not too long after the park opened in 1998.  Here’s somewhat of a spoiler for you; there’s more than one person who plays DiVine.  If you’ve ever seen her more than once and have a keen eye you could probably tell her face was different.  Truth be told DiVine does not work for Disney.  She is contracted by Disney through a company called Living World Entertainment.  Not only does DiVine appear at Disney’s Animal Kingdom she can also be booked for parties or other special occasions and events outside the theme park. 

On a recent flight to Orlando my daughter and I sat next to one of the women who plays DiVine at the Animal Kingdom.  It was a pure coincidence and we discovered her role after striking up a conversation with her.  She was returning from a backyard house party in Indianapolis where she played DiVine and entertained guests.  During our conversation we discovered several facts about DiVine including her ivy style costume, the company she works for, her work schedule, and her physical requirements.  DiVine must have a background in dance and fine arts.  She has specific height and weight limits she must meet in order to play DiVine.  The reason for the physical requirements are pretty obvious.  She also uses a special body spray so the leaves and ivy don’t fall off of her in the hot and humid Orlando weather.  It was amazing to hear the level of detail DiVine must go through in order to entertain guests on a daily basis. 

DiVine can typically be found near the pathway between Africa and Asia inside the Animal Kingdom.  She also appears on occasion near the front entrance to the park.  She typically makes appearances between 10:00AM and 2:00PM.  A few other fast facts about DiVine are she does not talk, nor does she make eye contact with guests.  She’s not being rude; she’s simply playing the role of a plant.  She cannot sign autographs, but she does pose for photos on occasion provided you have your camera ready and move quickly.  Otherwise, she continues her contortions and movements while entertaining the crowd.  She is on stilts so her height can vary between 7 and 16 feet depending on what she is doing with her hands and legs. 

DiVine is a mystical character.  You can’t really notice her when she is standing still next to a tree or bush.  When she crosses a pathway you can’t miss her.  When she is discovered she quickly draws a crowd.  As other guests join the crowd they are usually puzzled.  They’ll ask, “What is everyone looking at?”  When she moves you’ll hear short breaths of astonishment when unsure guests finally realize the vine is moving.  DiVine is an artist and can hide from guests by simply wrapping herself around a nearby tree or bush.  Its camouflage at it’s best. 

When our family visits Disney’s Animal Kingdom we make it a point to look for DiVine when we walk between the Africa and Asia sections of the park.  I don’t have the best vision in the world so trying to spot DiVine is more difficult for me.  I usually rely on my daughter and wife to spontaneously tell me where she’s hiding.  That is, of course, if she can be spotted at all.  She may stand around for a while before she’s spotted by a single guest.  Her talent and costume are that good. 

The next time you visit the Animal Kingdom don’t forget to bring your vision and sixth sense.  Be on the lookout for moving greenery or else you might walk past one of the most spontaneous experiences at Walt Disney World without even knowing it.  She is a must find.  Trust me when I say Disney World is not a place to enjoy with your head down.  Missing a chance to see DiVine would be disappointing so look up, look around, and be on the lookout for moving greenery.  It’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss.   

Next Up:  Resort hopping continues as we visit a place where the past several decades are revisited

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About this column

Aaron DelPrince looks at the various activities you and your family can experience at Walt Disney World


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