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Two years ago, part of Disney’s Animal Kingdom was lost.  What was lost, isn’t the sort of thing the typical guest might even notice as a deficiency but those who know Disney’s Animal Kingdom and more importantly know the standard of excellence set by Walter Elias Disney for the Walt Disney Company, could immediately feel the gravity of what had just taken place.  The symbol of the park, the Tree of Life, a symbol of nature, life and freedom was surrounded with protective netting around its base in order to potentially protect guests after a severe storm caused a small artificial tree limb to come crashing down.

In recent years, fans of Walt Disney World, have been pushed into a tepid acceptance of mediocrity.

Though no one was injured the decision to cover all nearby walkways was made and the spirit of Animal Kingdom diminished if only in the eyes of the most passionate.  Fans of Walt Disney World, in recent years, have been pushed into a tepid acceptance of mediocrity and though Disney’s Animal Kingdom is in many ways my favorite park at the world of mouse, it is the most blatant example of this.

 

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Sixteen years after its opening and the park still has such a paltry lineup of attractions that it can’t even sustain a full day’s worth of operations!  Making matters worse, any sense of story was removed from Kilimanjaro Safaris, with story being the basis for almost everything Walt Disney ever did.  Expedition Everest has infamously been marketed as a fully functioning thrill-ride with an epic if ephemeral encounter with the yeti himself.  Of course the yeti animatronic, one of the hallmarks of the attraction has not functioned for as many years as some of its youngest guests have been alive.  The yeti dangles motionless and lifeless over riders as a terrible symbol of a park filled with potential never realized. 

Sixteen years after its opening, the park has such a paltry lineup of attractions that it can’t even sustain a full day’s worth of operations!

 

Over at DinoLand U.S.A., Disney installed such a cheap, thoughtless expansion that I won’t even utter its name because it doesn’t deserve the mention.  It certainly doesn’t belong in anything under the Sun that is attached to Walt Disney’s name.  And remember Countdown to Extinction?  What an incredible name for a thrill ride.  Too bad it was a watered down version of the amazing attraction, Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland.  But that wasn’t the end of the settling Walt Disney World fans had to do.  Remember Dinosaur the movie?  We didn’t think so.  Disney rebranded the attraction name to “Dinosaur” after the lackluster movie, in a move that defies logic and has become the norm at Walt Disney World.  Despite ashes of, what ifs, could’ve beens that lie with budget cuts and lack of foresight, today Disney’s Animal Kingdom miraculously still has hope.  Soon, it may rise like a phoenix and take its rightful place amongst Disney Parks.

 

Despite ashes of, what ifs,

could’ve beens

that lie with budget cuts and lack of foresight,

today Disney’s Animal Kingdom

miraculously

still has hope.

 

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Shaping a Future Land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
New Details on ÒRivers of LightÓ Nighttime Spectacular Coming to DisneyÕs Animal Kingdom

Unquestionably, renewed investment is the overwhelming reason for a potential meteoric rise at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Unquestionably the overwhelming reason for a future meteoric rise at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the renewed investment in the park.  From the AVATAR based land replacing the desolate, glorified meet and greet area of Camp Minnie-Mickey, to the all-new nighttime show, Rivers of Light, the Walt Disney Company is finally giving guests a reason to remain at Animal Kingdom past the typical Disney daytime parade hour.  But even with the incredible importance of the latter expanded attraction and entertainment offerings the most important signal Disney could send to fans of Walt Disney World may come when It’s Tough To Be a Bug and the Tree of Life emerge from behind construction walls.  Will the protective netting be gone, Animal Kingdom’s symbol restored?  Will the Walt Disney Company finally show Walt Disney World fans, it gets it?  After all it isn’t without precedent.

 

Will the Walt Disney Company finally show Walt Disney World fans, it gets it?

 

Disney California Adventure's Entrance Prior to Transformation

 

We’ve seen this Disney story before.

Remember the state of affairs at Disneyland before Disneyland’s 50th anniversary?  How about Disney California Adventure before Cars Land?  We’ve seen Disney renew their parks after years of mismanagement before but of great importance is another lesson.  In order to get guests to buy back in to Disney California Adventure, Disney went out of their way to show that they understood and were listening to their fans and illustrated that by returning to their core principles and values even if that meant spending millions more to do so.  Nearly no expense was too great, what mattered was quality.

It is why even though most will talk about Cars Land because it is undoubtedly the shiny grand jewel of the Disney California Adventure transformation, the reimagining of the entrance of the theme park to be a representation of California when Walt first graced it and making Carthay Circle Theatre the park’s icon are what you’ll hear me talk about constantly.  Because without those changes, Cars Land would be an exceptional series of attractions within a park without a theme.  Luckily John Lasseter amongst others understood this too.  And while the recent Walt Disney World era has forced many not to expect fan outreach the likes of which the Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar provided during the lengthy and arduous reworking of Disney California Adventure into a theme park worthy of carrying the Disney name, at this point we’ll settle for even a simpler sign that Walt Disney World isn’t just the forgotten cash cow.  Remove the nets Disney, restore Animal Kingdom’s breathtaking park icon so that the Disney name can begin to fit this park.

 

Disney California Adventure Entrance Transformation

 

Nearly no expense was too great, what mattered was quality.

 
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For now we are left with photos of the apparent construction with little word of whether changes may be imminent.  We’ve seen evidence of both structures that still have netting and others where netting appears to have been removed but it’s way too early to tell whether this is just to replace, or completely remove altogether.  We are hopeful as ever because Disney’s Animal Kingdom is headed in the right direction over the next several years as far as monetary investment, but by the end of September, we should begin to learn just how invested emotionally Disney is to their park, their fans and their creator’s legacy.