Disney’s Animal Kingdom Expansion: Here’s What We Know

Disney's Animal Kingdom Expansion

Change is ahead for Walt Disney World Resort’s fourth theme park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Like Magic Kingdom experienced its “New Fantasyland” expansion in 2012 or the upcoming Magic Kingdom expansion on the horizon, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will soon undergo construction for its own additions.

Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Credit: Disney

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a stunning theme park home to 7 lands, including The Oasis, Discovery Island, Pandora: The World of Avatar, Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Asia, and DinoLand U.S.A. But, as Disney revealed at the 2022 D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, DinoLand U.S.A is going extinct.

Pandora – The World of Avatar’s Success

The impressive land of Pandora – The World of Avatar opened in 2017 with two attractions, including Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. The land has been the most popular land in all of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park ever since. Disney executives have made it clear that the success of this land, themed after the popular Disney film, Avatar (2009), is a perfect example of why more storytelling needs to be brought to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

DinoLand U.S.A.’s Slow Decline

When Disney’s Animal Kingdom first opened in 1998, DinoLand U.S.A. was considered a great land to visit, but it never fully matched up with the theme park’s atmosphere. With bright yellow, blue, and orange colors, dinosaurs are the star of this land that features carnival-style games and lackluster theming.

DinoLand U.S.A. Disney's Animal Kingdom
Credit: @bioreconstruct

The land was home to three attractions, including DINOSAUR, Primeval Whirl, and TriceraTop Spin. The twisting and turning, fair-style roller coaster, Primeval Whirl, was closed in 2020, leaving only TriceraTop Spin among the carnival games, with DINOSAUR a little way down the path. DinoLand U.S.A. has since been an eyesore, with no question that it’s time for a facelift.

DINOSAUR at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Credit: Disney

The one ride we’ve heard Disney fans ask Disney to keep in DinoLand U.S.A. is the DINOSAUR attraction. The fate of the attraction is unknown, but with Disney’s big plans for change, we’re not sure how the dinosaur theme would remain for this one ride.

Zootopia Addition

With Disney executives noting the need for change, DinoLand U.S.A. will be transformed to stay true to the storytelling of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Here enters the news of a themed area that will feature Disney’s animated film, Zootopia (2016).

Credit: Disney

Disney has noted with its “what if” ideas that DinoLand U.S.A. could be replaced with Zootopia features that appeal to all ages. Furthermore, it sounds like a train-style attraction may be in the works. Disney described the experience of joining Judy Hopps as she boards the train to visit amazing landscapes from the film’s different districts, such as Tundratown, Little Rodentia, Rainforest District, and Bunnyburrow. It was also mentioned that there could be new districts and characters we’re never seen in the Zootopia film with this Disney Park addition.

Two Moana Attractions

While we’re excited to hear of the Zootopia addition, Disney executives added that Moana (2016) could also call the DinoLand U.S.A. location home with the new expansion. Guests may one day adventure beyond the reef with Moana to connect with nature. The thrilling experience would allow Guests to help Moana save her people and fight off Kakamora as Guests journey to meet mysterious animals and creatures of the deep.

moana and maui
Credit: Disney

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When taking a closer look at Disney’s concept art for the Animal Kingdom expansion below, fans quickly spotted what looks like two Moana-themed attractions, including a log flume-style ride on the left and a spinning attraction on the right. Off in the distance of the art rendering, the urban city of Zootopia can be spotted.

The Mystery Timeline

The timeline for the “what if” ideas of the addition of Moana and Zootopia at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is still a mystery. Currently, Disney has yet to reveal when DinoLand U.S.A. will be closed permanently. Additionally, Disney’s big reveal contained no construction start date or target opening timeframe for any of these expansions.

Watch: DinoLand U.S.A. Replacement Reveal

Want to hear from the Disney executives at D23? Below is a seven-minute video of the Disney’s Animal Kingdom expansion presentation Disney revealed in front of 7,000 fans:

As always, we will be sure to keep Disney Dining readers updated as we learn more about what’s to come for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park expansion and the removal of DinoLand U.S.A.

About Jamie Sylvester

I'm a Disney nerd! A kid at heart who loves the magic and memories of Walt Disney World. I follow all things Disney and enjoy the vacations, day trips, weekend getaways, and geek out over the planning of such events. My goal is to experience as many Disney desserts and cocktails as possible! Married to another Disney nerd and blessed with a daughter and son, we thoroughly enjoy the magic at Disney and are here to help others experience the magic as well.