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How To Transform Disney’s Animal Kingdom

How To Transform Disney's Animal Kingdom dak-tree-of-life-feature

Indiana Jones? Encanto? Zootopia? No one knows for certain what is next for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Pandora: The World of Avatar was the park’s last big swing when an Imagineering team headlined by Joe Rhode brought the film to life in 2017. But it’s clear that the park needs more.

It’s all but certain that DinoLand USA will be the next Animal Kingdom casualty. Primeval Whirl, a spinning coaster that occupied the land for over a decade, was finally torn down in 2021. Fans speculated this was a sign of an imminent closure of the land and subsequent replacement. Instead, the area where the ride once stood has been turned into a seating area and the rest of the land lacks attractions and theming that would draw widespread interest.

In September, hopes were rejuvenated that DinoLand may finally be getting its long-anticipated replacement. Disney Parks chairman Josh D’Amaro led a presentation at this year’s Destination D23 event where he confirmed the company’s intentions to bring new experiences to Animal Kingdom.

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One new attraction was officially announced as a Zootopia show that will be replacing It’s Tough to Be a Bug in the Tree of Life Theater, but there was no concrete answer on DinoLand’s fate. D’Amaro instead shared two “blue sky” considerations along with a piece of concept art that shows potential additions themed to Encanto and Indiana Jones. These additions would presumably fully take over DinoLand and even further expand the park.

A new land featuring Indiana Jones and Encanto would definitely lead to a boost in attendance, but it’s fair to question how the properties would fit in the park. What do these films have to do with the rest of the park’s theme of a celebration of the animal kingdom and its creatures? In my opinion, absolutely nothing. Here are some ideas I hope make it into Disney’s next set of “blue sky” projects that may be a better fit in Animal Kingdom.

Zootopia Land

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I believe Zootopia is being put in the wrong area of the park. I don’t see a reason to replace It’s Tough to be a Bug at this time. While it’s not my favorite attraction, the show does not come to mind when I think of what changes the park needs. A land expansion similar to the one coming to Shanghai Disneyland this year would be a better way to incorporate the film into the park and likely generate more revenue. This could be an incredibly immersive area that brings in a wide range of audiences.

The Jungle Book

Rumors swirled of a boat ride themed to the 2016 live-action Jungle Book movie years ago. It would not be a bad idea for this to be revisited. A relaxing ride with a track similar to Na’vi River Journey (with animatronics instead of screens) would be another perfect addition to the park. A recreation of The Bare Necessities scene in animatronic form would be an instant hit.

Pandora Expansion

There is an area of land behind Pandora’s current dimensions to expand upon what is already one of the most immersive areas Disney has created. This seems like a foregone conclusion to happen someday, but Disney should take advantage of the hype the sequels will bring soon. My proposal is the addition of a third attraction to the land and a table service restaurant.

I believe these additions/expansions make a lot more sense for Animal Kingdom. They will require a large financial investment on Disney’s part. But CEO Bob Iger has shared plans to increase investments in the parks by tens of billions of dollars over the next ten years. Why not take a chunk of that money to make improvements to a park that desperately needs them?

I am a lifelong Disney fan and have visited the parks my entire life. I was lucky enough to have been a Cast Member as well, spending over two years in Tomorrowland merchandise. I'm excited to share my passion and thoughts on Walt Disney World.


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