Friday, April 12, 2013

Animal Kingdom - Anniversary Special

In honor of DAK’s 15th anniversary, I thought I’d share this Illustrative.  This plan is mostly about adding two new lands to the park: the forthcoming Pandora (not in the southwest where it is actually planned to go) and an original Mythological Animals land.
Some key changes:

-The Erasure of Wildlife Express and Planet Watch.  I think showing the guests the backstage animal housing and care areas via the Wildlife Express might not have been the best idea: akin to an illusionist adding a bit to his show where he explains to the audience how he did his tricks.  So much effort was put into making the on-stage animal areas transport the visitor to Africa and Asia that to have a themed train show the “hidden” aspects seems to me to undermine all of that, spoiling the illusion.   Seeing that kind of stuff, as well as animal veterinary services, could be done via a special, behind the scenes EPCOT-style tour add-ons, but via general admission.  Eliminating Planet Watch rids the park of its “train to nowhere” problem – a long journey via train and foot to reach a fairly mundane experience.   

-The Return of the Discovery Riverboats.  When the park opened Discovery Riverboats garnered long wait-times and dissatisfied riders, due mostly to the scarcity of rides at the park.  In this plan, that scarcity is a thing of the past, so the Riverboats can return to being an ancillary, B/C-ticket attraction (akin to EPCOT’s Friendships or Disneyland’s Monorail) – a relaxing way to get off one’s feet and be in the shade for a time, not intended to draw big crowds.  There would be minor features and effects throughout, similar to what was originally there (geysers, Siren rocks, iguanodon).

-The Revamp of Dinoland.  This plan features the Dinoland re-vamp I sketched out and posted here a while back, where Countdown to Extinction takes on a 1950s University setting and a major flume is added based on Ice Age giants and the spinner is converted to Ice Age fliers.

- Everest Changes.  Everest gets some additional rockwork (e.g., the bare side facing the parking lot - to draw and impress from a distance, interior tunnels) and a new rockwork ridge concealing the trains after they enter the monastery pinnacle (no trestle).  Having the coaster train on the trestle visible to those on the ground destroys the visual scale of both the upper peaks of the mountain and the monastery:

- Kali River Lengthened.  I added some rainforest/river stretch prior to the deforested part of the ride to help add to the overall duration and impact of the attraction (maybe an AA panther in the Cavern section to liven things up?).

- Africa changes.  The newly-themed Harambe Community Theater takes over the area where the Train Station once was and a new pathway links to Pandora and Asia, providing a second access-point to the land.  The Safari would lose all traces of the Wild Africa Trek, which I feel compromises the park's marquee attraction, by adding roads, huts, pick-up trucks, rope bridges, tourists and other things that undermine the sensation of a Wild Africa.   If visitors sign up for the Backstage Tour, that could include Wild Africa Trek features (like dining on the Serengeti) on the large “Acclimation Savanna”, out of view of the main Safari.  The Watusi cattle, a domestic animal, would also be removed from the Safari.   There would still be the high-speed finale through the hot-springs, and flooded canyon with shooting poachers... with the attraction once again ending on a climax. 

- Pandora is accessed via entering a cave in between Africa and Asia.  Once inside, openings in the rocky ceiling show the swirling nebulae and galaxies: the idea is to simulate traveling to Pandora via a wormhole.  Visitors exit the cavern and arrive at the Peace Plaza, where humans have now settled as stewards of the moon, rather than pillagers.   A special effects-laden theater presentation could show how Earth’s biodiversity was wiped out in the Sixth Extinction, serving as a reminder of the need to preserve Earth’s current species.  Beyond the human settlement are the wilds of Pandora.   I drew this plan before the Avatar ride blueprints leaked, but, convergently, we both were thinking of a Banshee Riding e-ticket featuring a moving harnesses set into multiple, medium-scale, inverted omni-dome simulators.  The exterior setting for my version is a rocky cove where a Tree of Souls is located.   There is a Bioluminescent Forest exploration trail on the same scale as Pangani and Maharajah, but featuring the AA animals and glowing plants of Pandora.   There is also a large-scale, family, dry-for-wet dark ride exploring the Seas of Pandora, as this environment is said to be featured in sequels.

-The mythical animal land in this version of the park is more strictly themed to the beasts and of Classical Mythology.  Adventurers set off from an Ancient Greek port on the Aegean, for a series of original (non-pre—exising IP) experiences.  As the park needs family-friendly rides, Mythic Voyage is a long, musical family boat ride in the vein of DisneySea’s Sinbad.   The land’s coaster features a giant AA hydra (in place of the fire-breathing Dragon originally planned).


The following graphic illustrates the master-plan's development over a 15-20 year schedule, phase by phase:

1998: The park opens, heavy on atmosphere, but still light on attractions.  The budgets for Camp Minnie-Mickey, Wildlife Express and Conservation Station are diverted towards giving Mythia a foothold and the park a family-friendly, high-capacity, long, indoor ride (Mythic Voyager).  Every land (save Pandora) is represented (Asia has the table service restaurant and one Gibbon habitat).
1999: Within a year, Asia opens Maharajah Jungle Trek and Dinoland opens a family spinner.  The Harambe Theater (Lion King) opens to help absorb crowds. 
2000: Kali River opens in Asia.  Minotaur Labyrinth opens in Mythia
2003: Five year-anniversary sees Everest rise in Asia.
2006: Another major E-ticket, Mammoth Falls opens.
2009: Mythia doubles in size with Hydra coaster and Greek Theater. 
2011: Pandora Phase I opens
2014: Pandora Phase II opens.  Park achieves arĂȘte: Ideal Buildout.


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