Change is on the way for Walt Disney World’s fourth theme park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom. With news of an entire land replacement, fans are left to speculate the potential replacement for the iconic attraction, DINOSAUR, located in DinoLand U.S.A.
A brand-new Indiana Jones-themed attraction could be the new anchor attraction to replace DINOSAUR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as Disney’s Parks President says the new attraction would be in keeping with Animal Kingdom’s storyline.
Goodbye, DinoLand U.S.A.?
It was the news in September 2023 that many Disney World enthusiasts dreaded hearing. DinoLand U.S.A., at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, will ultimately close to make way for a completely new land.
Mixed responses of “Say it ain’t so!” and “It’s well overdue” were heard among diehard fans of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and, more specifically, of Dinoland U.S.A.. Disney shared plans for the removal of Chester and Hester’s old stomping grounds to make way for a brand-new themed area of the park called The Tropical Americas.
DinoLand: A Themed Land With a Huge Fan Following
DinoLand U.S.A. has been a guest-favorite area at the Walt Disney World Resort since it opened with the park on April 22, 1998. Fans of the prehistorically-themed land have enjoyed the DINOSAUR attraction, as well as TriceraTop Spin, the Boneyard, and the now-removed Primeval Whirl attraction for more than 25 years, and news of its demise hasn’t gone over well with many of them.
While the news was met with sadness and even frustration by many of Disney World’s frequent guests who love the dino-themed land inside the resort’s fourth gate, others met the news with a fresh perspective on what might be in the works for the new area at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and those who are looking to the stories of Indiana Jones for clues about the new land’s major attraction are reportedly “digging in the right place,” if you’ll pardon the excavation pun.
Indy vs. DINOSAUR
During a press preview for the long-awaited opening of Hong Kong Disneyland’s World of Frozen, Disney’s Parks and Experiences Chairman, Josh D’Amaro, teased an Indiana Jones-themed replacement for the DINOSAUR! attraction, which has served as DinoLand’s signature attraction since April 22, 1998 – the first day of operation for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
“I think I actually played some music, didn’t I?” D’Amaro teased, referring to his presentation at the Destination D23 event in September 2023, during which he revealed an artist’s rendering that depicted an Indiana Jones-style temple situated in place of the current DINOSAUR! attraction.
During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, D’Amaro talked further about plans for an Indiana Jones presence in the location that is currently DinoLand U.S.A.
D’Amaro talked briefly about a piece of concept art that was originally shared at the Destination D23 event in September 2023, saying that the artwork was not a final piece. But he did say that the image depicted in the artwork, which shows DinoLand U.S.A. revamped into a wholly new land with a tropical Americas theme, shows “where [execs’] heads are” as the discussions about new plans for the area continue.
“We’ve got so many stories to tell,” D’Amaro explained. “We have so many things we want to make even better in the theme parks. My plan is to continue to share that with the guests. I know people are like, ‘My gosh, I can’t believe he’s saying this. Is he serious, is he not?’ The answer is, we are absolutely serious.”
Fans Left to Wonder About Indy’s Role in the Park
In the days following news of DinoLand U.S.A.’s eventual demise at the Destination D23 event in September, fans began to question just how Disney would try to use the stories of Indiana Jones at Animal Kingdom, a park that has been devoted to specific themes and principles, including wildlife conservation since it first opened more than 25 years ago.
Would those stories be in keeping with the theme of the park as a whole? Would they add to it–or worse, detract from it?
In response, D’Amaro, who previously held the position of Vice President of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, said he wasn’t ready to dive “deep into” specifics about the addition of Indy at this time but said that he remained optimistic about guests’ reception of ideas for the new themed land and attraction.
“Animal Kingdom is about exploration and adventure,” D’Amaro explained. “I was fortunate enough to have run that theme park, so I know how special it is, and I think there are a lot of stories that we can [use and] stay true to Animal Kingdom and express new properties in there, and that’s what you see us starting to do.”
A Carbon Copy of a Disneyland Attraction From 1996?
It’s important to note that DINOSAUR is an opening day attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom that debuted in 1998 using a ride system very similar to the Indiana Jones Adventure attraction that opened at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, in 1996.
As such, some fans have speculated that an Indiana Jones-themed attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom might be a carbon copy of the one at Disneyland, though there’s been no confirmation of this as of the time of this publication.
As always, we will be sure to keep Disney Dining readers updated as we learn more about what’s to come for DinoLand, U.S.A., and the iconic attraction, DINOSAUR.
Are you excited about the changes ahead? Let us know in the comments!