On the last edition of Magical Makeover I looked at Disney's Hollywood Studios and extrapolated on the rumors of the Pixar and Star Wars expansions planned for the park. This time I'm taking a look at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The park already has several expansions and additions planned or already under construction, but there is one particular area I'd like to focus on.
Pandora is already planned for a 2017 debut, replacing the temporary land of Camp Minnie-Mickey. The new Rivers of Light show is planned for sometime in 2016 and a nighttime safari is strongly rumored for the next few years. Smaller changes are currently happening to spots all over the park like the Pizzafari sit-down restaurant, Flame Tree Barbecue expansion and Harambe Marketplace addition. So what is left to "makeover"? Like Camp Minnie-Mickey, another land in the park ended up less spectacular than intended due to budget constraints: Dinoland USA.
Dinoland USA is probably the most maligned land on Disney property. The land is basically a parody on itself. I'm sure when the Imagineers looked at the budget for the land they must have thought "if you're going to give us the budget for a roadside attraction, that's what you're gonna get."
For what the land is I can appreciate the subtle story of Chester & Hester and their third-rate attempt to cash in on the Dino Institute. With that said though, nearly the entire land can and should be leveled. And here's what should go in its place.
My proposal is for the land to be converted into a South American themed land. South America would be the third continent represented in the park. I think the addition of a third continent makes the existence of African and Asia make a little more sense in the grand view of the park.
The faux amusement park of Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama! has to go. But without the trappings of the rest of Dinoland Dinosaur, the ride, makes little sense to remain as is. The replacement is an obvious one and was the inspiration for me to theme the new land to South America in the first place.
Some of you might know that Dinosaur shares its ride vehicles with the Indiana Jones Adventure in Disneyland. They even share a similar layout. Bringing one of Disneyland's most liked attractions over to the East coast seems like a no-brainer. Not to mention Disney now owns Indiana Jones in addition to Star Wars from Lucasfilm.
The addition of Indiana Jones into the new land would mean some remaining structures would only need minor tweaks to fit with the new theme. Restaurantosaurus could be easily tweaked to be a "dig site" themed restaurant. The Boneyard kids play area is another easy change, just deemphasize the dinosaur aspect and you'd have an archeological dig Professor Jones would be at home in.
Now to deal with the smoking crater that once was Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama! What should replace the rides there is not as simple. The space is relatively small so another dark ride wouldn't be possible, but perhaps another attraction could be moved from a different park to a new home. The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular seems like a good choice. Some additional land would be needed but I think it would be possible.
Relatively speaking, I think the expansion to this area of the park wouldn't be so far-fetched. It would even create a new opportunity to introduce animals found mostly in South America like capybara.
The map I chose isn't exactly geographically accurate but if you look at a Google Maps satellite view of the park, you'd see there is a pretty nice chunk of mostly unused land near Rafiki's Planet Watch. This would be a perfect location for Mystic Point.
For those unaware, Mystic Point is an recent addition to Hong Kong Disneyland. It is a small land by most definitions but contains Mystic Manor, a state of the art dark ride featuring a trackless ride system. I could explain how incredible this ride looks but you're better off just watching this ride-through. The land is all about adventuring into strange, mysterious and exotic lands. Mystic Point would be right at home in Animal Kingdom.
Requiring guests to take the Planet Watch train to access the area might be a little rough logistically. I think the experience of "taking a train deep into the jungle" then forging the rest of the way on foot to the supernatural land would be a great "scene 1" so to speak. Making guests ride the train will likely ensure more will visit Rafiki's Planet Watch as well.
There you have it. My proposal for new lands at Disney's Animal Kingdom. I really enjoy Animal Kingdom the way it is now but the park really could thrive and become a much more popular park with theses added additions.
What do you think of the theoretical new Animal Kingdom? What changes would you like made to the park?