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Say "Nighty-night" to Night Kingdom and "Jambo" to Disney's Jungle Trek

Say "Nighty-night" to Night Kingdom and "Jambo" to Disney's Jungle Trek

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Will you be visiting Walt Disney World over the next week-to-10-days? If so, keep a close eye out for any cast members clutching clipboards. Who may want to hear your opinion on WDI's recently revamped plans for Disney's Night Kingdom.

That's right. WDW's answer to Discovery Cove has undergone a rethink. Given that those who were surveyed back in February weren't all that enthusiastic about WDI's initial attempt at a niche park, the guys in Glendale are now taking another stab at this project. Ditching many of the ideas & concepts that would to have made Night Kingdom a truly unique guest experience.

"Like what?," you ask. Well, first of all, you can forget about DNK's original operating hours. Which were to have been 4 p.m. to midnight. In an effort to increase this niche park's capacity as well as its profit potential, Disney's Night Kingdom will now be operated from 12 noon to 2 a.m. daily.

And given that WDW's newest theme park will no longer be an "it only comes alive at night" -type operation a la Pleasure Island ... Well, that means that Disney's Night Kingdom name has to go. Which is why the Imagineers are now leaning toward calling this niche park Disney's Jungle Trek.

"What else has changed about this $520 million project?," you query. Well, in an effort to keep construction & operating costs of this proposed WDW addition down, WDI has been scaling back & cutting corners wherever it can. Cutting the number of ziplines to be built in this park from 5 to 2. Changing Jungle Trek's meal component (Where each guest was to have been served an elegant dinner by that theme park's extremely attentive staff) to a do-it-yourself all-you-can-eat buffet experience.

The Imagineers have even gone so far as to remove the individual "lands" that were to have been built inside of this niche park. Now what guests will find as they explore Disney's Jungle Trek is a global village. Which will feature individual buildings & structures that then represent the four corners of the globe.


This concept art for Epcot's never-build African World Showcase pavilion offers
a hint of the sort of adventurous atmosphere WDW guests can expect
to encounter as they explore Disney's Jungle Trek.
Copyright 1980 Disney. All Rights Reserved

The upside of this revamp is ... Most of the "adventures" that were originally proposed for Disney's Night Kingdom are still in place for Jungle Trek. You can still handfeed the hippos. You can still go spelunking in a cave and then encounter some bats. You can enjoy a dazzling stage show inside of a state-of-the-art theater (Though -- that said -- where Disney's Night Kingdom was supposed to have a 2000-seat theater which would have allowed this niche park to entertain all of its visitors at the same time ... Now Disney's Jungle Trek will have a much smaller, more affordable theater which will then present several shows daily in order to accomodate the crowds).

Speaking of crowds ... Again with an eye toward increasing this niche park's capacity, Disney will be breaking Jungle Trek's operational day into four different phases (i.e. morning, early afternoon, late afternoon and evening). With different groups of guests being loaded into the park during each of these phases to have 5-hour long adventurous experiences.

Of course, what's kind of ironic about all this is that -- while the Imagineers are increasing Jungle Trek's operating hours as well as reducing the scope of this entire project in order to make this niche park seem that much more affordable to Mouse House managers -- you know what hasn't changed about this proposed WDW addition? Its admission price. Which is still projected to be around $300 per person.

Mind you, if you aren't going to be at WDW before the end of August, you may still get the chance to comment on Disney's Jungle Trek. Earlier this week, the Mouse began reaching out to folks in the U.K. Asking them for their opinion on the revamped design for this niche park.

"Why reach out to people in the United Kingdom?"," you wonder. It's simple, really. Tourists from the U.K. make up a good portion of the folks who annually visit SeaWorld's Discovery Cove. And it's these exact folks that Mickey hopes to convince to come visit Disney's Jungle Trek.

So what do you think? Does this revamped version of Disney's Night Kingdom sound appealing to you? Or does it bother you that the Imagineers are already scaling back what was originally supposed to be a premium guest experience for WDW visitors?

Your thoughts?

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  • Well, considering the exciting trek my wife and I have been going through to get to work with the tropical storm over my head still hanging around I gotta say this sounds really lame.

    How is cutting the number of ziplines from 4 to 2 supposed to be an improvement?  How is any of this supposed to an improvement?

    In other news; my wife and I just witnessed a drunk CP almost getting run over while dancing in the intersection with Faye pouring rain on our heads as we got off from work.  Her response to the truck's honk was to laugh and yell out KUN-GA-LUSH!  I'm not trying to start an argument I'm just sharing since it happened ten minutes ago.

  • I'm having a tough time following the logic on this one. "Let's build a 5th gate to offer a premium experience to a small group of high-roller guests... but let's skimp on what we're going to offer because it'll cost too much otherwise."

    Ooooookaaaayyy...

    Why do I get the feeling that this isn't going to turn out well?

  • As long as there is a new A.C. to visit for free or under $30, I do not care what they do because this thing sounds totally LAME!! It seems that Disney is making a last minute attempt to grab on to a niche idea that has already hatched elsewhere. If they build this park as you describe, it will be a disaster. For the first time in my life I planned a winter trip to Orlando and I have no plans to see any Disney park. My wife and I are going to go to Universal, Sea World and spend the rest of the time relaxing and playing golf. I cannot believe that I have went from a "foamer" to someone who is completely apathetic to Disney's effort to keep me coming back. If Universal were smart, they would immediately build an interactive nightclub like A.C. in City Walk. They should capitalize on Disney's mistake, make it state of the art and run with it. In fact, they could even try the nightclub idea that I have posted at my blog site a few years ago at (shameless plug) www.amateurimagineer.com. It would even fit in with their HHN.

  • Yeah, this is a terrible idea. Scaling back a premium experience isn't going to wow guests. Plus, only 5 hours? Yikes. At least 4 to midnight gave you a full 8 hour experience.

    Bad form Disney.

    I will be down there in a week and I hope to take this survey.

    Getting rid of the Adventurer's Club like entrance is also stupid. How many AC fans would do this part just to get one more small taste?

  • I'm just waiting for then inevitable back pedal

  • The UK survey was posted on (and apparently pulled from) wdwmagic.com, but was reprinted on micechat:

    http://micechat.com/forums/showthread.php/wdws_5th_gate_revealed_detail-102183.html

    Read it quick while it's still there...

  • Sounds like the Grand Floridian all over...instead of a a 5-star hotel, we'll build a 3-star and "theme" it as a 5-star and hope high-end customers don't notice the difference.

    In fairness, the "four corners of the globe" idea at least has potential, if they weren't cutting corners like crazy.  But I'm still not sure it's enough to compare with the primal appeal (and highly interactive nature) of a dolphin swim.  

  • This park is very unappealing to me. It's starting to sound so lame that I don't even think I'd shell out the money to try it once.

    Disney already has a Jungle Cruise in Magic Kingdom and an entire animal-themed park. A park called Jungle Trek just doesn't seem that new and different - and certainly not worth $300. To get people to spend that kind of money, the offerings have to be very different and much better than what one could experience at any of the other parks. Instead, they're already cutting corners?

    You'd think after Disney's California Adventure and Hong Kong Disneyland, Disney would have learned that when you give someone half a park, you're not even going to get half the attendance you would have gotten for a full park. I think this concept needs much, much more revamping because as it is now, I think it'll be a huge flop.

  • This is a mistake, and a costly one at that. If the company for some reason has $520 million burning a hole in its pocket, why not concentrate on building up one of the existing parks, like Disney's Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom? Build a couple of new attractions or new experiences, perhaps. If they turn the "half-day parks" into full-day experiences, people will spend more time on the property. That equals more $$$$.

  • I have to agree with what everybody else has said, cutting corners/costs on a premium park is going to come back to haunt them.

    I also couldn't help but think, why not add this into AK? They could stick it in where Camp Minnie Mickey is, and have a special entrance just for the guests coming to it. Dual purpose the area and make part of it open to regular AK guests, and the other parts just for the JT guests. It would help drive interest in it, by giving AK visitors a glimpse of what the park had to offer.

    Also, I still think converting the Rainforest Cafe at AK to the entrance and restaurant for this park/attraction is a good idea as well.

    No doubt this thing will change again before it sees light of day, and the budget will most likely grow.

  • What Disney seems to not get is this: The reason Discovery Cove is popular is that it provides an experience that so many people list on their "things I want to do before I die" list: Swim with Dolphins. My wife tells me constantly that it is a dream of hers to be able to swim with a dolphin at some point. Because it is in this "dream.. once in a lifetime" mentality, people are willing to do it. I am willing to pay their premium to give her than experience. But nothing in this proposed park, as it now stands, falls into that category. I don't have a lifetime dream to ride a zip line (I can do that at home). I don't dream of swimming in a cave with bats. I don't dream of sitting in an theater to watch a show. And to plunk down $1500 for a 4 hour experience with my family of this? No Thanks. There are much better things I can do with my money. Discover Cove has the swimming with Dolphins thing covered. I can't think of too many other things that are on many people's "things to do before I die" list that would cause people to pay that kind of premium. Sorry, Disney.. you missed the boat on that one. Now.. build an exclusive park with all the latest thrill rides, dark rides and roller coasters, themed to the highest disney standards.. you know the long rumored Beastly Kingdom.. I'll go to that!!!

  • jason71-

    From the beginning, the Grand Floridian was designed as a 4-star hotel. Not a 3, not a 5. To be a 5-star hotel, they would have had to make concessions that would have hurt the experience for kids and families. So they downgraded to a 4-star hotel.

    At least, that's what cast members were told during the first training classes for the resort.....

  • jason71-

    Disney didn't make up the hotel rating.  The Grand Floridian earned it.  You're welcome to disagree with it but it's not a case of lying or manipulation on Disney's part.  Plus I believe Priesman is right and that it received a 4-star.

  • Honestly, this is nothing new.  As we've seen in the past, design changes are part of the standard.  They're just trying to keep the park profitable; otherwise, what's the point of having it?  Wait until the park opens; I am sure it will be a very good experience no matter what.

    C'mon, Jim, you know better than that ;)

  • The Grand may have been built as a 4-star, but it's certainly been allowed to slip since then.  Bottom line, it was supposed to be Disney's "luxury" hotel, but Disney cut corners, and now they have to sell land to the Four Seasons to get that market back on property instead of the JW and the Ritz.

    Same idea here.  There's a market for a high-end botique park...DC proves that.  But if you cut corners, making it little different than any other of the parks, then people aren't going to spend the money to go.  There needs to be a level of luxury and service to attract that market segment that I'm no longer sure Disney can provide.

    In any case, I'm still with swfanatic.  Swimming with dolphins is a primal, once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Visiting the world of Harry Potter (as was the rumor before Universal snatched away the rights) could have worked, too.  But a live action Jungle Cruise ending with a variation on Tusker House and the Lion King show?  Not unique enough.

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