For Disney's Animal Kingdom fans ... It's one of those bad news / good news kind of day.
The bad news is ... Plans for DAK's long-in-development nighttime parade -- "Rivers of Lights" -- have been tabled. Not because Animal Kingdom management lost confidence in Steve Davison's original concept. But -- rather -- because the Mouse wasn't willing to make the sorts of physical changes to that theme park that would have been necessary in order to safely operate this after-hours extravaganza.
What sort of changes are we talking about? Ripping out thousands of trees & plants that currently line Animal Kingdom's streets as well as pushing back dozens of walls & fences. So that there'd first be enough room for the thousands of guests who wished to stand & watch "Rivers of Light" (Which was to have been a Disneyfied version of a Japanese Lantern parade). But then -- directly behind those folks -- there'd also be a wide enough pathway to accommodate those WDW visitors who didn't want to watch "ROL." Who were just looking to move through that theme park and get to their next ride, show or attraction while DAK's nighttime parade was still going on.
The belief in-house was that -- were Disney World to make these sorts of changes to Animal Kingdom ... Well, never mind undoing a decade's worth of carefully cultivated horticulture. An effort like this to deliberately thin the foliage & widen DAK's walkways would fundamentally change the look & character of this theme park. Making Animal Kingdom seem far less wild.
Copyright 2001 Disney. All Rights Reserved
And given that it's this very thing that differentiates DAK from the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and/or Disney's Hollywood Studios ... Disney World officials (to their credit) weren't willing to compromise this aspect of Animal Kingdom just to accommodate a new nighttime parade. Which is why "Rivers of Light" was extinguished.
But the good news is ... Because WDW execs are still looking for ways to extend DAK's operating hours, guess which concept for a brand-new "land" at that theme park has just been dusted off? Would you believe Beastly Kingdomme?
Mind you, you can just forget about "Dragon's Tower," "Quest for the Unicorn" or any other ride concepts that were previously proposed for this Animal Kingdom addition. My understanding is that WDI is now looking to get a fresh start with this part of the park. More importantly, that any shows or attractions that are being proposed for this revamped version of Beastly Kingdomme will have to have strong ties to already well established Disney brands.
I know, I know. Those of you who are already up in arms about those Disney characters that are allegedly going to be added to Disneyland's "it's a small world" attraction now have yet another reason to bitch & moan. But face facts, folks: One of the main reasons that most people go to the Disney theme parks is because they actually want to see the characters. And given that DAK is pretty light when it comes to rides, shows and attractions that prominently feature the Disney characters (To date, there's only seven of these in that entire theme park: "It's Tough to Be a Bug," "Finding Nemo - The Musical," "Dinosaur," "Festival of the Lion King," "Pocahontas and her Forest Friends," "Rafiki's Planet Watch" as well as Camp Minnie-Mickey's character greeting area) ... Reimagining Beastly Kingdomme as a character-friendly addition to that park will probably be a smart move in the long run.
Copyright 2006 Disney. All Rights Reserved
And speaking of long range planning ... WDW officials have already begun meeting with DAK curators to discuss who'll be staying on at Animal Kingdom and who'll be leaving to go take care of the creatures that will soon be on display at Disney's Night Kingdom. Given the specialized training that's involved here, the Mouse wants to make sure that WDW has enough cast members on hand to properly staff both facilities when DNK opens in the Fall of 2011.
And please note that (in spite of those rumors that are currently making the rounds on the Web about how Disney's Night Kingdom won't be a true 5th gate for the WDW resort. But -- rather -- just an after-hours experience at Animal Kingdom) I did say two separate facilities. And -- again -- in spite of any press reports that you may have read which insisted that DNK will be built right next door to Pleasure Island, this $520 million project won't be built there. Night Kingdom's construction site is actually located in the upper northwest corner of WDW property, to the west of the Magic Kingdom.
Look for more stories here on JHM about Disney's Night Kingdom in the not-so-distant future. About how the Mouse will only need 2% of WDW's annual visitors to visit DNK annually in order for this project to become a financial success. More importantly, how Night Kingdom will mostly become a lifeboat for hundreds of PI employees as Mickey makes plans to close even more of Pleasure Island's night clubs.
But -- for now -- let's turn our attention back to Disney's Animal Kingdom. To be specific, that theme park's upcoming 10th anniversary. To date, nearly 350 people have signed up for that "A Wild Decade" event that WDWCelebrations will be holding in that theme park on April 22nd. And if you'd like to get in on the fun, then I suggest that you click on over to the WDWCelebrations website and register for this 10th anniversary event ASAP.
Copyright 2008 WDWCelebrations.com. All Rights Reserved
Beyond that ... Do you respect WDW's decision to not rip out hundreds of Animal Kingdom's trees & plants in order to accommodate that proposed "Rivers of Light" nighttime parade? More importantly, what do you think of WDI's plan to reinvent DAK's proposed Beastly Kingdomme addition as a character-based "land" ?
Folks, Dino-rama certainly DOES fit the theme of the park because it is about a certain animal's attitude and "take" on the extinct members of the animal kingdom. In short, the "animal" being examined in all of its cultural, habitat, and other aspects is....MANKIND!
But JohnWayne...using that argument, they shouldnt dump the trashcans or clean up the park to show how man has polluted the earth. If you walk around AK..every land blends...most of Dinoland works just fine...until you run into Dino-rama...but if you dig it..hey thats cool...
Uh, no. Mankind's attitude towards trash isn't necessarily relevant to his attitude towards extinct dinosaur relics at roadside attractions, but hey, maybe you can peddle the idea to Pixar? They could call it "Dino-E" or something (smile.)
Wait - Disney spend those hundreds of millions on Animal Kingdom, and neglected to plan a parade route?!? That's just crazy.
Also, I disagree that people want character-based rides. Look at PotC (before the movies), Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Autopia, IASW, BTMRR, Jungle Cruise, Matterhorn, Everest, Spaceship Earth, ToT... these are some of the most popular Disney rides, and none of these are based on previously-established characters.
I'd go so far as to say that the non-character-based rides are generally much more popular than the character-based ones.
I know I'm a little late posting a response, but I've been busy with school. Anyway, I'm very happy to hear that Disney didn't rip up DAK just to install a parade. That's the correct move in my opinion. As far as a character based Beastly, well like anything else (character based or not) the attraction needs to be good, and frankly I can't think of anything character or not that beats the original plans, but that's just me. As far as character based attractions in general, I think it only works when the characters fit seamlessly. For example, I think the Jack Sparrow fit great in POTC (And pirates has been my favorite ride since I was a child, and I'm very aware and well-read on it's history), but fir every good fit there's a Tiki Room: Under New Management.
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