Saturday, September 10, 2016

Animal Kingdom

It's been a while since I've shared an Animal Kingdom plan on this site:

The drawing includes all the recent and upcoming changes, including Pandora (some guesswork involved), Harambe Marketplace, the Harambe Theater district, Rivers of Light Amphitheater, and the new additions to Discovery Island.  

Now, on to the Ideal Build-out changes... 

- I think Brian K. was the one who suggested changing the current Dinoland, USA to a South American land (and moving dinosaurs elsewhere), featuring the natural re-theme of Dinosaur to Indiana Jones Adventure.  While I wouldn't pick Indy to take over the EMV ride
(it's not a property that is Animal/Nature-centered enough for this park, IMO), I like general idea of a South America re-theme.  I don't think it would take too much work to change Restaurant-o-saurus to feel like an Amazonian outpost as seen in DisneySea (art by WDI Phillip Freer):

-The crocodile exhibit could be changed out for caimans.  The Boneyard would become a Rainforest Explore Zone, featuring huge tree trunks (artificial) and canopy rope bridges.  

-Dinosaur would use the same underlying ride system and track, but be re-themed to an invented ancient lost civilization in the Amazon and would be centered around the wildlife they revered: a giant Anaconda, jaguar, etc..  It's exterior would be marked by a Mayan-esque temple half-reclaimed by the jungle.

-The less foreboding part of South America would be based on the colorful Bahia region of Brazil and feature a carousel, new restaurant, shopping and a long, indoor musical boat ride (original attraction).  This is the park's much-yearned-for, climate-controlled, high-capacity, kid-friendly attraction.  The Mata Atlantica (not to be confused with the much larger, more famous Amazon Rainforest), one of the most biodiverse and endangered ecoregions on the planet, would serve as the setting for the attraction (art by Nathan Fowkes for "Rio").


-In Africa, Asia and South America, I think it is crucial to staff the lands (entirely) with College Program & older Cultural Representatives who hail from the regions represented (Africa, Nepal & India, Brasil, etc.), just as in EPCOT.   It makes the experience vastly more authentic, interesting and credible for the guest.  

Kilimanjaro Safaris:

-The Safari loses all traces of the Wild Africa Trek (which, ironically, has made the area look/feel much less wild).  

-All the currently-visible man-made fencing is eliminated/disguised/hidden (e.g. Okapi paddock, Hyena paddock, Cheetah paddock, etc.).  The park as a whole needs to return to its roots of making animal barriers naturalized and invisible - this for me was/is its greatest asset. 

-The domesticated Ankole cattle are removed.

-A more dramatic story/script/soundtrack is re-introduced, including, potentially, a professionally-narrated, recorded spiel.   Bring back and improve the rough, speedy ending.  I'm imagining a safari experience that has an aural impact similar to the Serengeti imax film:

 -At the northern part of the attraction, the flood control canal is re-shaped into a naturalistic "Masai River".   And beyond, in the distance, are seen larger herds of elephants, buffalo, giraffe or other ungulates in what is currently the acclimatization paddock.   Having large numbers of animals in the fore-, middle- and distant- ground makes for an awe-inspiring visual experience, that one typically would only see in the real savanna.

- When the safari trucks turn Southward after this view of herds on the far riverbank, an even greater visual appears, a giant, snow-capped volcano - Mt. Kilimanjaro - and forms the distant backdrop to the Rhino paddock and Lion Kopjes:

Wildlife Express
    - This attraction becomes story-based and "on-stage".  It no longer violates the land's theme by showing the backstage areas.  The African Station and train itself are already well-themed.  In this build-out, the ride includes numerous sights worth seeing.  It takes passengers on a journey across the plains of India (where such trains were common), into caves where mysterious creatures dwell, past a wild African setting (via an SFX diorama) and into a Lost World where prehistoric giants still thunder on.

- A forested berm forms the backdrop to the Tiger paddock.  It is the new route of the Wildlife Express. The Express passes through a cavern scene where Indian troglobites dwell.

-The huge volcano has several facets based on one's viewpoint: when seen rising up behind Maharajah Jungle Trek, it is India's extinct volcano, Dhinodar.

-This new land is dedicated to extinct kingdoms: both from the Age of Dinosaurs and from the Age of Mammals.  These animals have somehow survived through epochs and live in this secret, hidden valley/island (a zoological Shangri-La).

-The Volcano not only serves as a visual backdrop to Africa and Asia, but also as a massive show-building for the two major indoor-outdoor E-tickets in this all-original land.  DinoStorm is a long, high-speed darkride focusing on the giant lizards of 100 million years ago.  The River Voyage is a water adventure featuring mammals from 50,000 years ago, including giant sloths, mastodons and sabre-tooth cats.

-The tech-stetting of the land is a 1950s scientific expedition.  All technology/architecture conforms to this period (or earlier) and - because this is a place discovered by scientists - has a "Popular Science/Mechanix" flavor to it.

-The pedestrian path to this land dips into a cavern that hides/passes below the (raised) train tracks.  The second access point is the Wildlife Express station at the northern end of the land.  

-PlanetWatch is no longer accessible to regular guests, but could be used as part of a "Behind the Scenes Tour" like those EPCOT used to run.  



SPG said...

Hi SW,

Congratulations on another great blog post. Once again your buildouts address the major thematic concerns of the park and create new cohesive experiences.
I have seen the South America idea before for the vacant space to the northeast of the park, but I did not think to move the extinct animal theme to that space.
I love your idea of "The Lost World" as an area where all these extinct animals have survived in a hidden valley through the eons. I imagine it like "The Great Valley" in Land Before Time. See image link below:
Extending views across the canal in the Safari is also a great idea. It is not guest accessible but provides a larger view to see more grazing animals in the distance.

Jared Long said...

Another excellent update! Each land is enhanced in such a way to make incredible individual experiences while tying the park together in a interesting way. The South American overlay makes so much sense. The plan for the Lost Valley is such a unique concept and a great way to keep a prehistoric land in the park while bringing it up to modern thematic standards. The DinoStorm/River Voyage event building is a clever use of space and is respectful of the sight lines from other parts of the park. Great job.

mark russell said...

Ah, a return to a very early project. Mammoth Falls reborn!

protojimbo said...

A great post, SW! Dinoland USA is probably the worst area in recent imagineering and South America is long over due, whether in Epcot or here.
Even with Pandora, the park still needed that one more thing and the Lost World area fits that perfectly. Thanks for giving us something new to dig into!

SWW said...

^^^^ Thanks for the kind words!

Anonymous said...

Will there be a new post soon?

SWW said...

^I've got an idea of what I'd like to do, but it's going to take a while to complete (X-mas gift).

Anonymous said...


The American Crocodile could stay, since they live in coastal northern South America as well.

samia hussain said...

nice post

mark russell said...

I think the challenge of basing a storyline around a safari is that it has to be very loose and flexible. With the Jungle Cruise, you know the animals will always be in the same place because they are animatronics. For actual animals, they won't, because, well, they are animals. It would be a bit like Jurassic Park, with a pre-recorded narrator pointing out animals but they are no-shows. A cast member actually in the vehicle would be able to provide better entertainment, even if the animals are doing their own thing.

top american writers said...

South America idea is really good for the vacant area. Otherwise, one could think of a fantasy theme. It would really surprise the visitors.