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No, No, No Disney, Just NO

animal kingdom theme park disney world theme park dinoland usa animals new attraction beastly kingdom
Credit: Disney, Pixar Animation Studios, Canva

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.

Guardians of the galaxy cosmic rewind Epcot Animal kingdom theme park Walt disney world tree of life discovery island DinoLand USA retheme zootopia bug encanto Indiana Jones dinosaur disney park

Credit: Disney

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.

Animal kingdom theme park Walt disney world tree of life discovery island DinoLand USA retheme zootopia bug encanto Indiana Jones dinosaur disney park Asia Africa Central America

Credit: Disney, D23/ X

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…

Animal kingdom theme park Walt disney world tree of life discovery island DinoLand USA retheme zootopia bug encanto Indiana Jones dinosaur disney park Asia Africa Central America

Credit: Disney, Lucasfilm, Canva

Encanto and Indiana Jones. Encanto and Indiana Jones? Huh? Why? How does that fit into Animal Kingdom Theme Park?

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.

Animal kingdom theme park Walt disney world tree of life discovery island DinoLand USA retheme zootopia bug encanto Indiana Jones dinosaur disney park Asia Africa Central America

Credit: Disney

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.

Guardians of the galaxy cosmic rewind Epcot Animal kingdom theme park Walt disney world tree of life discovery island DinoLand USA retheme zootopia bug encanto Indiana Jones dinosaur disney park

Credit: Disney

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.

About Lana Porter

Lana has never lost a Disney Trivia night. Maybe it’s the hundreds of times she’s been to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, her love for Disney’s ’90’s era hand-animated musicals, or the fact that she’s often likened to cartoon characters, but Disney and its magic have a special place in her heart. Her favorite Disney experiences include the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, eating Mickey Bars on the PeopleMover, and crying during the Magic Kingdom fireworks show. One day she hopes to be chosen as the rebel spy on Star Tours. When Lana isn’t Park Hopping, she’s at home reading books of all topics, watching her favs on Disney+, or snuggling her two cats, which she swears are not named after Disney characters. She loves surprising people with her knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but admits she is still catching up with Star Wars. She is happy to combine her excitement for writing with her love for Disney-style storytelling and share what she can with the world!

One comment

  1. I rarely agree with article writers but 100% in on this. I don’t know if this is an executive problem or an imagineers issue but it’s all terrible. Indiana Jones in AK? Disney’s wheels are off the tracks and instead of correction they heading off the cliff. Bad decision after bad decision without any clear thought or direction. The Disney disappointments continue to pile up.

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