In an incredibly vague and pretty confusing segment of the D23 Expo, Josh D’Amaro talked about Animal Kingdom. DinoLand was the topic and there were potential replacements brought up (announce seems like a little much) that could take the land’s place.
Zootopia and Moana attractions (err lands?) were the main idea behind the concept art shown during the panel. This announcement was so confusing that I don’t even know if there are more details to say here.
Midway through this section of the Disney Parks Boundless Futures presentation I turned to Melissa, who was seated next to me, and gave her a confused shrug. Moments before Josh D’Amaro had brought Imagineer Chris Beatty and Jennifer Lee of Walt Disney Animation Studios out on stage and the tone shifted to something similar to what a phone call from a person who had been kidnapped but couldn’t tell you they’d been kidnapped. Well, I should say that there was no threat of immediate violence.
The whole point of this section of the presentation, which also included Magic Kingdom, was that Disney is in the early stages of expansion at their theme parks. They threw out a few ideas of how that could look going forward. The Animal Kingdom portion of this did seem less vague, at least in concept, than Magic Kingdom. There was at least concept art of the entire proposed land in this situation.
That concept art does look cool and fits into the Animal Kingdom vibe with a ton of greenery and water. There appears to be a flume ride and a spinner in the immediate foreground before moving on to a lot of whimsical stuff. I’d caution against looking too far into this since they didn’t even release it on the Disney Parks Blog, instead just showing it at the presentation. Not to mention that “well, maybe this is happening” tone that I talked about.
If we do take this as an actual announcement, I think there are two pieces of good news and one piece of bad news. Let’s start with the good!
DinoLand desperately needs replacing or renovating. While I like Dinosaur (the ride and the species!) the rest of the land sticks out like a sore thumb. Yes, there is some backstory to discover and that’s well thought out but it doesn’t excuse the ugliest part of an otherwise gorgeous theme park. With Primeval Whirl demolished, that section of the park doesn’t really add any capacity. There is a way to keep Dinosaur and The Boneyard while getting rid of the rest of DinoLand. That seems like the best move in my mind, as Animal Kingdom could use a number of attraction additions.
Moving to the potential replacements, Moana makes some sense within the park as that movie embraces nature and discovery, something that is also in Animal Kingdom’s mission. It might be stretching things a little bit similarly to how we all questioned Avatar’s fit into the park originally but when you get to the movie’s actual themes it makes sense. Since original stories for theme parks seem to be a longshot at this point (that’s a blog post for a different day), I’d be okay with Moana going into Animal Kingdom.
Zootopia, on the other hand, doesn’t make sense to me. The connection appears to be that there are animals in the film and there are animals in the theme park. Zootopia’s themes don’t match Animal Kingdom’s and there should be higher level thinking than equating animals in a movie to the name of the park.
Digging back into the concept art, I am glad to not see the cityscape where most of Zootopia takes place in added to Animal Kingdom. There are some beautiful nature scenes in the film and if it has to be added to the park then I hope they draw from those.
All things considered, it’s promising that they are looking into expanding past DinoLand and getting rid of Chester & Hester’s. There is no reason to keep that section in the park at this point and the sooner they can make the change the better! I’m still hopeful for other options, as a South America section that could feature an Indiana Jones attraction makes the most sense to me. The presentation led me to believe that there are plenty of other options on the table.
Would you be intrigued by Zootopia and Moana coming to Animal Kingdom? Let us know your thoughts, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below! Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our Disney World Trip Planning Guide to help you out. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!