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

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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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  • Do you remember that niche park which the Imagineers toyed with building back in 2008? You know, that

  • How about finish building the Animal Kingdom, rip out the crap-tacular DinoLand USA, fix the Yeti, and then you'll have the four corners of the globe covered.  That park is already charging $90 a day for a 1/2 day experience, why would anyone want to spend $300 for a 5 hour experience?

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