Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Disney's Animal Kingdom Park Plan

Preface: I've had a busy week filled with computer issues and school commitments, so I was unable to finish up a new content post. So this is the last of the WDW expansion plans that some of you may have seen before, though there are a few differences. I had hoped to save this for later, but I wanted to have something up this week. Also, as you'll see below, I did not develop part of the park but have plans to get back to that soon. So this plan will see another round of development over time.

I also just now realized that today is the birthday of Animal Kingdom. What a coincidence. Well good that this worked out like this then.

The Animal Kingdom is currently one of the most unique theme parks in the world, but one that is unfortunately lacking in content compared to the rest of the Walt Disney World Resort. It is quickly getting better. The additions of more continent based lands, more attractions, and most importantly more animals would make this a complete park.

Outside the park, the Rainforest Café is removed. It does not thematically or tonally fit the park, and the addition of new food locations in the park makes it unnecessary. Inside the park, a significant and unexpected addition is found at the end of the Oasis: a train station. Looking at the expansion possibilities for this park, the most viable option is to expanded north between Asia and Planet Watch. The issue with this expansion location is access and distance, as it would require walking the full distance of the park, which is about two Magic Kingdoms. This is a possible walk but a secondary movement method would help, so I propose rerouting the existing train so that it travels two ways on a single track from the existing station in Africa, around the park, and to a new station in the Oasis. It passes along an enclosed raised track through the backstage areas between the Oasis and the rear of the park. The cars are reconfigured so that all seats face inwards along the journey. The situation is not ideal, but a train between the top and bottom of the park solves a major functional problem of expansion. And more motion and kinetics are always welcome.

On Discovery Island, It’s Tough to be a Bug is removed and replaced by a new movie based on the Disney Nature franchise. This new movie would better represent the entire animal kingdom, not just the narrow view of bugs. Also on the island, an exclusive club is built, looking across the water to Expedition Everest, serving a mix of world cuisines.

There are many additions to Dinoland, including an overarching backstory change. In light of the Dino Institutes successful Time Rover technology, they have begun an ambitious plan to bring targeted animals to the present day to live in their research compound. In order to differentiate this area from Jurassic Park at Universal, the time unique travel element needs to be emphasized. Therefore, the entirety of Dinorama is removed and the plot of Countdown to Extinction receives some subtle changes to fit this new story. Three new attractions are also added.

Near the original Dino Institute building, guests can have a close encounter with recently time displaced dinosaurs in the rehabilitation building. Inside is a large grassy holding area, where two full sized, free roaming animatronic dinosaurs are grazing. Hidden by the grass, the dinos are supported by low profile wheeled bases similar to the designs of the Creature Technology Company. The figures are wire guided and are live puppeteered in order to be interactive. Guests watch from a raised walkway while listening to a guide before getting a closer look when one of the dinos approaches the group.

Taking up the space of Dinorama is the main dinosaur enclosure, evidenced by high walls and fences and the mountain looming beyond. According to the backstory, this area was originally an active dig site for the institute's original research purpose before the time traveling dinosaurs were brought in. The next attraction is a coaster through the former dig site, hevaily based on the Excavator coaster that was originally planned for Dinoland. The queue and load area are built behind the current Dig Site area, and the coaster passes above the walkway for a fast trip through the dig. The last attraction is a major flume that takes guests through the enclosure and mountain tracking a missing dinosaur before encountering an active geyser that propels the boat to the top of the mountain. The only way down is by plunging down the large waterfall. The large boats pass through extended outdoor segments and past many large dinosaur animatronics on the adventure.

In the expansion area next to Expedition Everest, an indoor Polar themed land is built. Inside the polar cave entrance is a large simulated outdoor icy clearing, with the aurora borealis projected above. In the clearing is a tea cups style ride, featuring large sliding ice blocks, and a small counter service location. Off the icy area is the animal trail area of the land, featuring Arctic Foxes, Penguins, Seals, and Polar Bears. There is also a family dark ride/spinning coaster that follows a polar bear family through the adventures of polar life.

The area between Africa and Asia is reconfigured to allow for the path to the north expansion area while also adding an attraction to Asia, a dark ride through the Jungle Book. Following the precedent of the new Harambe Theater, the park uses the philosophy of animated films placed into the appropriate geographic lands in realistically designed and detailed settings. The outside reflects the mature and realistic design of the appropriate land while the inside portrays the animated world. Set in an abandoned temple, this is a classic dark ride through the story and environments of the movie. The current Flight of Wonder Theater is removed but a new iteration is built across the path, this one built to present shows that feature more than just birds but all animals. The path north slopes up to pass over a backstage support road and then comes back down to level.

The first new land found is Adventurers Paradise, home to The Adventurers Society. The land holds a modified copy of Mystic Manor, now with a prominent animal appreciation theme, a table service Explorer’s Club, and a spinner themed to the flying inventions and artifacts that the adventures have collected.

The path splits to Australia on the right and South America on the left. Through the trees, we immediately see two large hot air balloons marking Australia and the entrance to the main attraction, a balloon flight simulator. A large “basket” filled with seated guests lifts into a 360 degree projection sphere for a balloon flight over the outback of Australia. In the land is also a new iteration of a Finding Nemo darkride, with emphasis on the Australian reefs. The animal trail of the land features koala, emus, and kangaroos.

South America represents a much less urban take on Brazil than the one in EPCOT. The land is mostly filled with vegetation with only small, almost temporary looking structures. In the land, there is a large counter service location and a realistic Jungle Cruise style boat ride through the jungle, passing real animal habitats before traveling through a series of indoor scenes. Carl Fredericksons house marks the entrance to UP UP and Away, a suspended dark ride utilizing a multitrack system to create the illusion of a trackless suspended ride through the jungles near Paradise Falls. The animal trail of the land features owls, howler monkeys, capybaras, frogs, llamas, sloths, and jaguars.

Last, North America is represented in a redwoods national park themed area, including a carousel, a counter service restaurant, and the animal trail featuring raccoons, beavers, otters, elk, and grizzly bears. A canoe dark ride takes guests just around the riverbend through the story of Pocahontas. Lastly, inside the great lodge of the national park, guests board a jeep for an adventurous trip through the park. Passing through active hot springs, rock slides, and encounters with the animal inhabitants of the park, the jeeps eventually make it back safely to the lodge. A new train station served both North America and Planet Watch.

This plan was designed during the development of the World of Avatar but before its opening, so the south west corner of the park is left vacant. I will likely work out one or two other proposals for this corner, including Beastly Kingdom, at some point in the future.

I wanted to give an update on what is going to be happening with the blog soon.

Right now I am in the last weeks of the semester so am extremely busy. I had hoped to do a new project this week and save Animal Kingdom for later on but didn't have the time to write and edit the work for a new post. But soon I will be a little less busy and will be able to start something new. I have a list 20 or 30 projects deep of things in progress or that I want to work on to put up here so it becomes difficult to figure out what should come next. But I have tentatively set out the next few months of work, and I believe I have given myself realistic time frames to get it all done.

If all goes according to plan, over the summer and fall, I will be going in depth on an original resort plan, including attraction plans and elevations, as well as a few more WDW attraction plans that you have not seen before. I also want to try to get more into analyzing the architectural and cinematic tools that make a successful theme park design by writing a series of posts about significant design elements. That will be near the end of the year. I also plan on making some edits to my presentation drawing style soon, so all the existing plans will be replaced over time.

Leave a comment with thoughts or suggestions about the plan, and please share it with anyone who would be interested. Thanks!


  1. A well done expansion plan for Animal Kingdom. Although while I will say I miss the small Bugs Land section that was in your original park, I could see why you may have removed it, but I do believe it could potentially fit in a small area before going into the expansion area. I love seeing Mystic Manor in this park by the way, the video of it I saw on youtube looked really cool.

    By the way, why is there a Finding Nemo ride, if there is already a show, especially one on the other side of the park? It feels a little weird truth be told. Perhaps you should replace the finding Nemo show with a new show, maybe a dinosaur themed show for the area?

    1. Bugs Land was removed for a few reasons:it defied the overall idea that land groupings should be by geography not animal type, it was too single property based for my taste in such a diverse park, and it could never be approached with the utter realism that the other lands of the park feature. Plus I decided it made a better park to spread the flat rides around instead of keeping one grouping.

      Yes Finding Nemo the Musical is problematic. I repeatedly switched Australia to the adjacent expansion area but could never make it work with the size of Everest next to it. So I assumed in the plan that it is replaced but the theater stays intact, but I'm not sure what show moves in, so I didn't mention it. It is a weird location for the theater because it is practically landless. That may mean it needs to become something that represents the whole park. Maybe a revue style show with exclusively animal based properties? I'm sure there is something better, but I don't know right now.

    2. Perhaps you could tie the show to Asia and have it be about Mushu from Mulan, who is a Chinese Dragon. Chinese Dragons are different from European dragons so if you do Beastly Kingdom, it wouldn't be too repetitive to have the indoor Dragon rollarcoaster originally designed for Beastly Kingdom.

      Either that, don't put the Finding Nemo dark ride, or just remove the theater and put a dinosaur based ride in the area.