Welcome to Disney Dining, a news source where you can dine on all things Disney and more. That’s right people, we’re more than just food over here. And I’m about to use this smorgasbord of Disney information as my own personal diary/ confessional/ concerned citizen letter, so…expand your horizons and chow down.
Speaking of expanding horizons: Animal Kingdom. If you’re a big Disney fan you probably have heard all of the recent breaking news about Disney Parks’ plan on refreshing and expanding offerings at it’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. If you haven’t, allow me to devastate you.
The focus of Animal Kingdom was always meant to be just that – wildlife and the natural world that they live in. Originally, three main ideas were to be explored by the park: real life animals alive today, prehistoric animals of the past, and fantastical beasts of imagination. While the fantasy section never came to fruition like the other two ideas, I file Disney’s 2017 addition of Avatar’s Pandora land under that idea – even though it still feels like more of a cash grab than a theming effort.
With the updates just announced for Animal Kingdom, I have to say I’m disappointed in the direction the Disney Parks are taking. “It’s Tough to Be a Bug!” is being replaced by a Zootopia-themed show and I’m fine with that – happy even! While A Bug’s Life (1998) doesn’t have much park representation, the 4D show had a good run and Zootopia is a great, popular film. Plus it’s all about animals, so adding it to Animal Kingdom tracts.
The thing that’s really getting me down is the refreshment plans for DinoLand USA. Hey, DinoLand is cool and all, but I’m no die hard fan of the area. It’s the least visited section, is a little shabby, and could use a modern update. I WILL however mourn the DINOSAUR ride, as I am always up for accidentally bringing an Iguanodon back from the Cretaceous period.
The problem is the incoming themes, which are of course, IP (intellectual property) rather than true theming. A bit of a cop out, but Disney is a company after all. The IP taking over DinoLand include….wait for it…
I guess Mirabel’s cousin Antonio does have the gift of communicating with animals, but is the whole land going to be focused on that subplot? Isabella’s floral power kinda works I guess, but overall the concept seems shoehorned in. Encanto definitely would fit better in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland or EPCOT’s World Showcase if there was a Colombian Pavilion.
And Indiana Jones already has a stunt show at Hollywood Studios, why have separate theming at Animal Kingdom, too? Sure Indy adventures through jungles and temples and stuff…but what does that have to do with animals of the past, present, and imagination? Disney and Lucasfilm just want to capitalize on the franchise and are shamelessly forcing it into a park it doesn’t fit in.
So how is Disney categorizing these new additions and getting away with it? The Encanto and Indiana Jones sections will supposedly fall under the geographical heading: “Tropical America.” Two sections of the park are themed after other continents, Africa and Asia.
Sure. Fine. You can make a case for it, but ultimately I’m sad that the differences and uniqueness of each Walt Disney World Park is becoming muddled. Something special about Disney World was the individuality of the four sister parks, now we have a Guardians of the Galaxy ride in EPCOT which stands out like a sore thumb. Don’t get me wrong – great ride – just bad placement.
Fans, including myself, fear that Disney has lost that spark that Walt gave his creations 100 years ago, and that the company is not in tune with what audiences may actually want and feel connected to. Sure it’ll be fun and entertaining and it will make Disney money, but I feel like the brand has been slowly cheapening with each new decision. Animal Kingdom Theme Park is just up next.
And with each live action remake – but that’s a meal for another time.