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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Was a Mistake

Marion

New Member
I recently posted an article on my blog explaining why I think Disney's 4th park was a mistake:

"Disney opened its fourth theme park in Florida in 1998 to mixed reviews and confusion regarding what the heck Animal Kingdom was supposed to be. Marketing for the newest addition to Walt Disney World insisted that whatever it was, the park was “nahtazu”. What’s that? It’s an attempt to make the phrase “not a zoo” seem like an African word. (Yeah, it hasn’t aged well.) But here’s the thing. When it opened, Animal Kingdom was totally a zoo. It was a beautifully themed zoo with two Disney-caliber rides, but the primary draw was the animal exhibits making Animal Kingdom “azu”, I mean, a zoo.

Few would argue that mistakes were made with the opening of Animal Kingdom. For at least a decade, it was stuck with the dreaded label of a “half day park”. Since the park opened, Disney has slowly addressed those concerns. As it exists today, Animal Kingdom is arguably a full day experience and worthy of being included in Walt Disney World Resort. Even so, I think it was a mistake."



At a high level, I argue the following points

1. WDW didn't really need a 4th park
2. If you were going to build a 4th park, a zoo wasn't the way to go

I also discuss some of the more common "mistakes" like opening the park with only two rides and miscalculating the expense and difficulty of dealing with live animals.

I can't imagine anyone here will feel otherwise. ;)
I recently posted an article on my blog explaining why I think Disney's 4th park was a mistake:

"Disney opened its fourth theme park in Florida in 1998 to mixed reviews and confusion regarding what the heck Animal Kingdom was supposed to be. Marketing for the newest addition to Walt Disney World insisted that whatever it was, the park was “nahtazu”. What’s that? It’s an attempt to make the phrase “not a zoo” seem like an African word. (Yeah, it hasn’t aged well.) But here’s the thing. When it opened, Animal Kingdom was totally a zoo. It was a beautifully themed zoo with two Disney-caliber rides, but the primary draw was the animal exhibits making Animal Kingdom “azu”, I mean, a zoo.

Few would argue that mistakes were made with the opening of Animal Kingdom. For at least a decade, it was stuck with the dreaded label of a “half day park”. Since the park opened, Disney has slowly addressed those concerns. As it exists today, Animal Kingdom is arguably a full day experience and worthy of being included in Walt Disney World Resort. Even so, I think it was a mistake."



At a high level, I argue the following points

1. WDW didn't really need a 4th park
2. If you were going to build a 4th park, a zoo wasn't the way to go

I also discuss some of the more common "mistakes" like opening the park with only two rides and miscalculating the expense and difficulty of dealing with live animals.

I can't imagine anyone here will feel otherwise. ;)
I have to agree. It is my least favorite. The main thing is the layout. I cannot figure it out. I do love the authenticity of each country, the lion King Show, Yak and Yeti. I miss the Jingle Jungle parade at Christmas. We would make ressie at Yak and Yeti and get a table where we could watch. Epcot is my favorite.
 

Marion

New Member
While I like the Animal Kingdom, it’s not my favorite park. But I do think it’s pretty and for the Most part fun. What I do think is that Disney should stop creating “lands” with just two attractions that take half a decade to build. Some of the older technology dark rides are amazing and fun too and would take a fraction of the time and money to build (Pirates, Haunted Mansion). Pandora is a miss in that most everyone forgot about Avatar a decade before Pandora was built. Strange theme to me for Animal Kingdom. I also think a 5th park based solely on Star Wars would have been a world wide hit. Instead they crammed Star Wars into a little corner in Hollywood. Pixar could have been expanded into that section and Star Wars would exist all by itself in its own park with lots of attractions and dark rides telling the various stories. The possibilities are endless with Star Wars.
I appreciate your opinion but StarWars is not for everyone. Mostly a man thing though I know women who are fans. I dated a Star Wars fan years ago and I was bored to death with his obsession. I hope he found a Star Wars bride.
 

Pepper's Ghost

Well-Known Member
I appreciate your opinion but StarWars is not for everyone. Mostly a man thing though I know women who are fans.
I disagree. Star Wars would be a great business idea for a park as I've mentioned in other threads, and not because I'm a huge fan. It'd attract a whole new clientele and would broaden the appeal of the resort to more people. If you go to WDW for the Star Wars Galaxy Park (whatever it'd be called), you're likely to research and visit the other parks for the heck of it.

There's also so much material to fill an entire park. All the different worlds and characters that exist in the Star Wars galaxy is just insane. Water worlds, frozen worlds, lava worlds, forest worlds, desert worlds (which is what Galaxy's Edge is obviously based), etc., etc. Wonder what the park icon would be??? Maybe the Death Star? That'd be tough though because not only is it a symbol of evil in the SW galaxy, it also would look too similar to Epcot's icon.
 

spock8113

Well-Known Member
AK was in trouble from the start when the McDonald's link was shutdown near the beginning. Then consider there were supposed to be dragons and medieval attractions and various other proposals that financially simply dried up. Before Expedition Everest, the Animal Kingdom Wazazu (reference to the Nahtazu ads - ) In reality it is still a zoo but also much more and only recently did I actually walk the "zoo" portion. I still have reservations about (not for) the Avatar section. Avatar struck me as such a short-lived franchise. And the proof is i the above discussion being side-lined to Star Wars instead. Sorry to see parts of DinoLand go, it was a great place for affordable family fun.
 

Ken R

New Member
I disagree. Star Wars would be a great business idea for a park as I've mentioned in other threads, and not because I'm a huge fan. It'd attract a whole new clientele and would broaden the appeal of the resort to more people. If you go to WDW for the Star Wars Galaxy Park (whatever it'd be called), you're likely to research and visit the other parks for the heck of it.

There's also so much material to fill an entire park. All the different worlds and characters that exist in the Star Wars galaxy is just insane. Water worlds, frozen worlds, lava worlds, forest worlds, desert worlds (which is what Galaxy's Edge is obviously based), etc., etc. Wonder what the park icon would be??? Maybe the Death Star? That'd be tough though because not only is it a symbol of evil in the SW galaxy, it also would look too similar to Epcot's icon.
Just throwing out an idea but how about the Cloud City as the central Icon? Could be a place to shop and eat.
 
I think Animal Kingdom is awesome.

They only opened with 2 rides, but so did MGM Studios. That's just how Disney World does things in modern times. Nowadays every time a land or park opens it seems to have 1 or 2 new rides.

It could further be argued that Animal Kingdom is the best themed of all the Disney World parks, with the best shows. I wouldn't want to live in a world without Animal Kingdom.
 

Pepper's Ghost

Well-Known Member
And the proof is i the above discussion being side-lined to Star Wars instead.
Come on now. That's not proof of anything. Brief side discussions happen literally in every thread. It doesn't prove anything about AK.

Back on topic, as one of the participants of the side discussion, I've loved AK since my first visit. Why do people have a problem with AK, honestly? If you don't like it, don't go. It'll draw crowds away from the three other parks making room for you to enjoy those with shorter lines. If nothing else, appreciate it for that.

I just don't understand why if someone doesn't like it, it just shouldn't exist. I don't like soccer, but never thought in my life that it shouldn't exist. Other people love it to the point of literally insanity, but it shouldn't not exist because I don't appreciate it.
 

Pepper's Ghost

Well-Known Member
Just throwing out an idea but how about the Cloud City as the central Icon? Could be a place to shop and eat.
Not to side-track this conversation too much, but this is a fascinating idea. The only question is would Cloud City be an iconic enough setting to represent the entire park?

I really think the Death Star would have to be the pick simply because it's iconic in the SW galaxy. Not to mention, Disney has really embraced the Darth Vader part of the franchise and rightfully so...

Vader Rogue One.gif
 

cmwade77

Well-Known Member
I recently posted an article on my blog explaining why I think Disney's 4th park was a mistake:

"Disney opened its fourth theme park in Florida in 1998 to mixed reviews and confusion regarding what the heck Animal Kingdom was supposed to be. Marketing for the newest addition to Walt Disney World insisted that whatever it was, the park was “nahtazu”. What’s that? It’s an attempt to make the phrase “not a zoo” seem like an African word. (Yeah, it hasn’t aged well.) But here’s the thing. When it opened, Animal Kingdom was totally a zoo. It was a beautifully themed zoo with two Disney-caliber rides, but the primary draw was the animal exhibits making Animal Kingdom “azu”, I mean, a zoo.

Few would argue that mistakes were made with the opening of Animal Kingdom. For at least a decade, it was stuck with the dreaded label of a “half day park”. Since the park opened, Disney has slowly addressed those concerns. As it exists today, Animal Kingdom is arguably a full day experience and worthy of being included in Walt Disney World Resort. Even so, I think it was a mistake."



At a high level, I argue the following points

1. WDW didn't really need a 4th park
2. If you were going to build a 4th park, a zoo wasn't the way to go

I also discuss some of the more common "mistakes" like opening the park with only two rides and miscalculating the expense and difficulty of dealing with live animals.

I can't imagine anyone here will feel otherwise. ;)
If it was a mistake, it's the best mistake they ever made. Seriously, I love Animal Kingdom, the theming is incredible and love the zoo elements.

I just they would have went the zoo route instead of Avatar.
 

LittleMerman

Active Member
I LOVE Animal Kingdom. It's my second favorite WDW park after MK. The safari is amazing and very unique where the park takes you to the animals vs. a zoo where you walk around to see them. But minus the safari, it's really not about real animals to me. It's about the fantasy and adventure of the park. It's so beautiful and lush. Pandora is a masterpiece and both attractions are so fun. I love the food and some of the other rides. I'd love to see them open a new land sometime with a few new rides to really complete it (could even replace Rafiki's Planet Watch or whatever it is, I don't care about it).

The real WDW park mistake is what they've done with Hollywood Studios. It definitely became "the park with Star Wars and Toy Story" vs. a real theme park. But oh well, people are enjoying it. AK was far from a mistake in my opinion.
 

Kaelsma

New Member
We would enjoy AK a lot more if the terrain was more flat. All of those hills are very difficult for older adults and people with joint issues. Also - you pretty much have to go all the way around to get from one side to the other. If there was a cut through the middle, it would make it much easier to spend the whole day there. I DREAD the end of the day, because I just about DIE getting back to the tram.
 

LittleMerman

Active Member
While I like the Animal Kingdom, it’s not my favorite park. But I do think it’s pretty and for the Most part fun. What I do think is that Disney should stop creating “lands” with just two attractions that take half a decade to build. Some of the older technology dark rides are amazing and fun too and would take a fraction of the time and money to build (Pirates, Haunted Mansion). Pandora is a miss in that most everyone forgot about Avatar a decade before Pandora was built. Strange theme to me for Animal Kingdom. I also think a 5th park based solely on Star Wars would have been a world wide hit. Instead they crammed Star Wars into a little corner in Hollywood. Pixar could have been expanded into that section and Star Wars would exist all by itself in its own park with lots of attractions and dark rides telling the various stories. The possibilities are endless with Star Wars.
Speaking from personal experience, WDW guests don't have to have seen or even like Avatar to enjoy Pandora and deem it a success. I was on the side that didn't understand the fit and had never even wanted to see the movie but then I visited Pandora and loved it so much I went home and watched the film with my family. Now we love it, definitely in part because of WDW tie and because we had "experienced" it. So I would argue that if anything it's probably creating more fans of the movie.

About a Star Wars park - I think it would be successful in it's own right because it's a huge franchise and Galaxy's Edge has been a proven success. And there would definitely be more room and opportunity for additional offerings. But it doesn't seem like a good idea to make an entire park out of a single IP, no matter how beloved. Universal could have easily made an entire park out of Harry Potter but they probably never will. It just seems isolating. There's enough of a variety in each of the four WDW parks to attract almost everyone. If there was a park built on just Star Wars not everyone would want to go and for a lot of people it would get old very fast. The nice part about HS or Universal is that you can walk 5 minutes and be in a different enviroment and change things up throughout the day and experience different "places." Galaxy's Edge is big enough for additional attractions, entertainment, and dining options for the future and there's no doubt they will add within time.
 

Skibum1970

Well-Known Member
While I like the Animal Kingdom, it’s not my favorite park. But I do think it’s pretty and for the Most part fun. What I do think is that Disney should stop creating “lands” with just two attractions that take half a decade to build. Some of the older technology dark rides are amazing and fun too and would take a fraction of the time and money to build (Pirates, Haunted Mansion). Pandora is a miss in that most everyone forgot about Avatar a decade before Pandora was built. Strange theme to me for Animal Kingdom. I also think a 5th park based solely on Star Wars would have been a world wide hit. Instead they crammed Star Wars into a little corner in Hollywood. Pixar could have been expanded into that section and Star Wars would exist all by itself in its own park with lots of attractions and dark rides telling the various stories. The possibilities are endless with Star Wars.

I completely agree about "lands with just two attactions". I would also throw in that they need to focus on budgets as half a billion or a billion to create just two rides is beyond wasteful.

For us, AK is a half-day park. We enjoy walking the paths and enjoy a few of the rides (Safari, Exp Everest, Dinosaur, FoP, and River Journey (if the line isn't too long). I think that my primary hesitation is that going to AK is going to be $100 per ticket, roughly. I have two world class zoos close (one is 20 minutes and the other is just over an hour away) that are better zoo experiences than AK. I would argue that AK has a bi-polar approach (theme park or zoo) that doesn't quite carry the load.

Lastly, we just aren't fans of the theme. While we get that Imagineering was shooting for authenticity, we just feel like it looks junky. We even look askew at the restrooms but remind ourselves that Disney cleans their restrooms really well. It's just dirty looking. So, we don't enjoy the park as much and thus only allocate a half-day to it.

I will also state that I can see where people truly enjoy it the park. Does this make it a mistake? I don't know. I could also argue that Studios was a mistake and still needs more help. Epcot was wonderful but they have made mistakes with it. So, I would not go so far as to say it was a mistake. Just that it needs some help.
 

aliceismad

Well-Known Member
Avatar struck me as such a short-lived franchise.
I don't care for Avatar the movie, although I think the application of it in AK is quite good. However, WDW is aiming at a global audience, and Avatar is the highest grossing movie in history. Two sequels have already been filmed, and I believe there are (tentative) plans for 1 or 2 more films after that.

I know some people don't like it when their media gets "too preachy" but I really think AK is a place where the dual missions of entertaining and education toward conservationist ideals are successfully entwined. And because the focus is on the environment/nature/animals, it isn't highly technology based so it doesn't age as poorly as some elements of an Epcot or Tomorrowland might.
 

Pepper's Ghost

Well-Known Member
If places like Disneyland and Studios couldn't even fill their SW lands with guests when using one-fith of a park how in the world could a park solely dedicated to BB8's and Yoda's be a "world wide hit" ?
Although I haven't visited yet, my understanding is that it's heavy on stores and stuff to buy, and light on attractions. Is that correct? If so, with very few attractions, why would it fill? So, I guess I'd say the reason is poor execution.
 

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