Towards the end of the D23 Event in Anaheim, California, something extraordinary happened: Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro, Imagineering Portfolio Creative Executive Chris Beatty, and Walt Disney Animation Studios Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee came together onstage to present a live exploration of Imagineering.
The three Disney powerhouses proposed hypothetical situations supplying some of the exciting ideas currently being explored by the creative teams. For instance, In Animal Kingdom, the long-outdated Dinoland was provided as an example, potentially seeing a complete retheme to the tune of Moana or Zootopia, leaving the crowd buzzing with intrigue and possibilities.
Though D’Amaro did make a specific comment that it was not currently in the works, he also made mention of a long-awaited villain’s concept that could be implemented at some point. Fans were quick to speculate that Zootopia might likely be in the cards for Animal Kingdom due to the apparent “animal” theme tie-in and the current expansion project in Disneyland Shanghai under the same umbrella.
The blue-sky session was full of what-if style possibilities, including talk of incorporating more recent characters from movies like Coco and Encanto into the parks, indicating the possibility that an area behind Big Thunder Mountian Railroad might see some new innovation in the years to come. The nature of the D23 presentation was to celebrate potential and invite the audience into the process at a fundamental level, so we may not see these specific ideas come to life, or even at all. That said, the other half of me can’t help but think they are smarter than that, and even though no one is ready to stamp a timeline on, these plans must have already broken some sort of surface to warrant an intentional mention at the most public of Disney events.
Reports quote D’Amaro as saying, “We see tremendous opportunity here, a chance to tell new stories that fit right in with what Animal Kingdom is all about,” A premise that represents the constant evolution of Disney in a way that fits with Walt’s original intentions. Even though they emphasized that none of these ideas were in concrete just yet, there is hope. After all, every single one of our favorite Disney attractions was once at this point of the planning stage, waiting to emerge into the greatness we know them to be.
We can’t wait to see what is next for these areas of Disney parks. Which theme would you rather see implemented in Animal Kingdom or the outskirts of Magic Kingdom?
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
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