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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Was a Mistake

UNCgolf

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" ?

Well, it's an original land (i.e. not an iconic location) with only two attractions set entirely in a time period that was not remotely close to being universally loved. Not that Galaxy's Edge is bad -- it's just not the home run a Star Wars land should have been. A full Star Wars park that had areas based around famous locations and could more easily use characters from all Star Wars eras in attractions etc. would probably be a much larger hit.

I'm not arguing that they should build a Star Wars only park, mind you -- I don't think that's a good idea. But they could easily build something that was more successful than Galaxy's Edge.
 

DoleWhipDrea

Well-Known Member
Building an entire land devoted to a single franchise is a mistake, much less a single IP to a whole theme park.

Building a theme park with a lack of rides is a mistake, and Disney made that mistake several times with Eisner. The result was a surplus of parks with little to do in each of them, and all needing massive makeovers (some which have been more successful than others.)

But DAK on its own wasn’t a mistake IMHO. It’s an excellent concept for a theme park, and of every person that I have introduced to WDW, everyone comes back to me saying that DAK is their favorite of all the parks. There’s a level of devotion to detail, immersion and passion that you don’t see at the others.

As for the animal care issue, while Disney didn’t truly know what they were getting into with everything, they still made sure to consult with the best of the best to make sure that the animals would receive the absolute best care and habitats, so much so that Jane Goodall actually gave her stamp of approval when the park opened.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend the Disney+ Animal Kingdom show (showing animals at DAK and EPCOT.) Honestly the animal caretakers are extremely devoted and they work hard to give these magnificent creatures the absolute best care.
 

N2dru

Well-Known Member
I always thought “half day park” was totally inaccurate. But I guess it’s relative to how fast you trot through AK.
Ive said before, Wdw almost sets up your vacation to happen at light speed moving from FP to FP. Lunch to dinner, to fireworks.
The slower you go, the more you see, hear, be amazed by.
I was guilty on my first trip of rushing to get to scheduled things and I missed so much.
I might be the minority here, but MK is more of a “half day park” for me.
But to each their own, that’s why there’s 4 parks
I so agree about the MK being more of a half day park for me as well. It does have more attractions than the other 3 but it could have more. Compared to DL which has more on less acreage. Also DL has rides that are no longer at the MK with some that are exclusive in the US, like Alice, Casey Jr, Pinocchio, Indiana Jones etc. There is a reason why JC & Pirates at MK have 60+ min waits on less busy days whereas in California those same attractions rarely have waits over 30 mins on the busiest of days. Not entirely because the audience is mostly local APs, but because DL has more attractions to evenly distribute crowds. Smaller attractions add to the experience and capacity...an Alice dark ride near the Mad Tea Party would be great or a Sleeping Beauty dark ride in the old SWSA space instead of a M&G (which could've been built elsewhere). Can you imagine the Maleficent battle scene in a dark ride?! Just a few of my thoughts.
 
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TokyoMiki

New Member
Building an entire land devoted to a single franchise is a mistake

some single franchise lands worked marvelously: carsland, diagon alley, hogsmeade, pandora, little mermaid

some did not: toys, chester, bugsland

and still others fell somewhere between marvelous and terrible: roger rabbit.

i'm not sure where i'd place galaxy edge
 
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DoleWhipDrea

Well-Known Member
some single franchise lands worked marvelously: carsland, diagon alley, hogsmeade, pandora, little mermaid

some did not: toys, chester, bugsland

and still others fell somewhere between marvelous and terrible: roger rabbit.

i'm not sure where i'd place galaxy edge

Eventually all IPs become outdated. Some IPs are strong, but making that level of commitment to a specific world boxes in any future improvements or expansions. Even Harry Potter isn’t as evergreen as once believed to be.

Having a land like “Adventureland,” for example, is broad enough of an idea that a great many things can be incorporated there, and is exciting enough of a concept that will always appeal to the public.

Universal is happy to go all-in on IP and completely replace an attraction and area after so many years, but for a company like Disney that drags their feet when it comes to spending money on expansions and updates, they’re just continuing to build themselves into corners.

It would behoove to see these companies, for once, try to think about longevity and legacy, not just quarterly reports.
 

TokyoMiki

New Member
it's (star wars land) 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

diagon Alley has one ride. people go ape

hogsmeade *HAD* 1 bona-fide ride(there was I carryover which closed and another carryover which was c level at best) when it opened and people went ape.

carsland had one bona-fide ride and 2 lesser offerings one of which failed and people went ape.

star wars guests want to saturate in the experience. the number of attractions is not terribly important. The type and quality of the the offerings are important.

creating a park, a full park, dedicated to star wars based on an extrapolation of galaxy edge type effort would be disastrous.
I'm afraid current mgmt speaks only one language to communicate star wars in their parks: galaxy edge . that "language" is all it knows and it's not good enough to justify filling a full park.
 

TokyoMiki

New Member
A full Star Wars park that had areas based around famous locations and could more easily use characters from all Star Wars eras in attractions etc. would probably be a much larger hit.

very true. familiar locations and characters would benefit the cause greatly.


And to make a part 2 to my overall point that a dedicated ip like star wars for an entire park would be disastrous is the numerical pool of star war fan and follower.

numerically there is not enough guest to justify $5.5 to 6 billion to open a new park. the franchise even as big as it is is not a big enough draw to pull in 20,000+ guests per day, 360 days per year.
 
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Fox&Hound

Well-Known Member
I wish they would add one big air-conditioned E-ticket in the expansion pad up by Everest and some smaller C/D ticket smaller rides throughout the park. And maybe more character meet and greets. I like AK and find the theming to be amazing but a few extra rides/experiences could help!
 

crawale

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. ;)
When shows were not closed and there were more eating options you could easily spend the day there. However now with so many attractions closed and no night shows or special events it is disappointing. Disney really needs to bring back the shows including fireworks and special events like the Dessert Parties.
 

crawale

Well-Known Member
We had one of the best experiences at Disney ever when we did the Caring for Giants tour at AK in 2019. I know these tours aren’t running currently. It was AMAZING. We learned so much about the elephants at the park (you get so much closer to them vs the safari), plus we had a fabulous CM from Tanzania who talked to us about his country’s efforts to conserve elephants. I would definitely recommend it to anyone once it starts again. That tour is one of the things that truly reflects the spirit of this park.
We did a 'behind the scenes' tour including the animal hospital and the animals' night quarters. It was great. Also we've attended the special events which were certainly worth the money. These offering really need to come back at all the parks.
 

LittleMerman

Active Member
When shows were not closed and there were more eating options you could easily spend the day there. However now with so many attractions closed and no night shows or special events it is disappointing. Disney really needs to bring back the shows including fireworks and special events like the Dessert Parties.
I agree, when Rivers of Light was there I would spend all day there. I would still love to see an additional land with new rides (and an additional ride in Pandora and an overhaul of Dinoland) and a new nighttime show if ROL is not coming back. I do think it needs more attractions.
 

crawale

Well-Known Member
I agree. AK is my wife's favorite park because of the Safari and Animal trails along with Pandora. It is my second favorite park behind the Studios. I am a Star Wars fan and love it. Epcot is our third favorite park as we love the Festivals and World Showcase. Believe it or not, that puts MK last on the list but above the water parks.
Agree about MK - too small, too crowded and too hot. We don't go there now unless we have the grandkids. I wish the restaurants in Epcot were all open with better menus.
 

jackpast

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 agree with some of what you said here. I remember when it first opened (or just before) and animals were dying and bad news was coming out of WDW. Once they improved I feel this park has grown up to a really nice 4th park option.
 
Here are my two cents. after Epcot, every park Disney has opened in America lacked many things from the inception and many had flawed concepts driven by marketing decisions instead of being rooted in better ideas. For example, the California Adventure was created to increase visits by Californians. It was the company's acknowledgement that most visitors to Disneyland already came from the state. The concept was to create a place that paid homage to all things California. The main problem with that was the fact that most Californians would rather travel through their state and see the real things so the park ended up looking like some sort of boardwalk attraction park lacking uniqueness and any Disney Personality. The company was banking on the success of Epcot which in a big way it wasn't really a "Disney" park in feel but rather a "World's Fair" feel with Disney components to it. They seems to have missed the fact that the visitors for both parks are not similar. Disneyland is visited by many locals while Disneyworld is visited largely by out of state and an international crowd. Regardless, when it came to make the Animal Kingdom they ended up spending so much money in the looks of the place, (without a doubt the place looks great), that it didn't leave too many rides. The rest as they say, was a glorified zoo. Other than the looks there wasn't enough to do there and half-day seemed like a lot as it were. Up until the Star Wars Galaxy's edge I pretty much felt the same way about the Hollywood Studios park.

As of late Disney has been trying to attached more Disney into those parks that aren't the Magic Kingdom theme. Whereas for the good or not, the new crowds expect different stuff. For one, no one wants to learn anything, they just want to be entertain in the easiest of ways so having a zoo or an aquarium (The Living Seas in Epcot), became borish to them. If you go to Epcot you can see how they are plainly getting rid of anything that had any educational feel to it. The Living Seas is now some Nemo theme pavilion with a ride to match. The old Universe of Energy formerly sponsored by Exxon told the history of fuels all the way through the dinosaur age and literally placed you in there. It was later changed to include Helen DeGeneres to make it more entertaining and now it will be a roller coaster about comic book superheroes. The California adventure changed their entrance and a great portion of the park to resemble the Hollywood of yesteryears, mainly because the formula was already working in Florida. Then they pumped the theming with additions like Cars Land (a brilliant addition and perhaps the best representation of a Pixar land, specially at night, tower of terror became Guardians of the Universe, etc.

The Animal Kingdom park in my opinion was pretty cool as it were but it didn't have enough Disney flare and it suffered from attendance. So they added the Avatar world (another incredibly well done addition) and the Expedition Everest (thrill ride with a twist) and it literally changed the park's fortunes. I can easily imagine the company continuing this trend and eventually doing away with the animals altogether and even changing the name of the park. They've done it before. When the Hollywood studios opened it was to answer Universal Studios making residence in Orlando. To add credo to the concept they stroke a deal with MGM and the park opened as Disney-MGM Studios. After a few years it was known mostly as Disney Studios and eventually changed names to Disney's Hollywood Studios. Ironically anything that was "Hollywood" or "Studios" like was eliminated or phased out to the point of calling it anything "Studio" doesn't make much sense anymore.

Disney parks are always in constant flux to try to capitalize on today's crowds. Unfortunately, we are living in times were most people do not read a book to save their lives. A world were video games provide the largest amount of entertainment and a world where the cost of building anything is spiraling upwards. I can sort of sense this becoming more prevalent. The World's Fair (many here don't even know what that was to being with), feel of Epcot is fading fast and the international flare of it as well. When you go to the Norway pavilion you are now greeted by Frozen, in France it will be Ratatouille, soon there will be a Mary Poppins ride in the England pavilion and you can see where the whole thing is headed.

Lastly, If I were Disney I would have opened a new park and divided into two big lands, one would be the Star Wars land which would be much greater in size than the existing Galaxy's Edge and the other land would be around the Marvel properties. Both universes have enough material to make and endless amount of rides. It would support their biggest on-screen money makers. Every sci-fi club book group bookings. I would have placed the park in Texas to disperse some of the overly packed crowds that form around the parks on both coasts. A new set of revenue, not your typical Mickey Mouse fare but tied closely to Disney properties unlike how the California Adventure was when it first opened and how the Animal Kingdom was when it first opened. I would also put in the park a visitor center that would continuously showcase the other Disney Resorts across the world to entice people to visit them all.

Who knows what the future will bring to the Animal Kingdom park but I can see a future with no animals at all as crowds show less and less interest on things that aren't an adrenaline rush.
 

aliceismad

Well-Known Member
Lastly, If I were Disney I would have opened a new park and divided into two big lands, one would be the Star Wars land which would be much greater in size than the existing Galaxy's Edge and the other land would be around the Marvel properties.
Except that they can use Marvel only to a very limited extent in Florida due to the previous agreement with Universal for Avengers. I'm one of the people who doesn't mind turning DHS into a park with IP lands, but limiting any park to two IPs would also limit the audience for that park. I know people hate lands with only 2 or 3 attractions, but I don't see that changing anytime soon.

I agree with the posters who mentioned that SW:GE doesn't directly tie into the nostalgia and love for the original trilogy. I think Disney has done better things with Star Wars than Lucas would've done on his own, but for a lot of people there's not the same excitement about Rey, Finn, Rose, Poe, and Kylo Ren. Also I think SW:GE was so overhyped that some people decided to stay home fearing big crowds and some people had such high hopes that two rides (not even opened at the same time) plus a small cantina (that needs reservations) and expensive merch (that also needs reservations) is a bit of a let down to a more casual fan.

(Also I think they need to deal with the Star Tours being separated from SW:GE in both DHS and DLR at some point.)

I think we all know that the debacle of Euro Disney/Paris Disneyland causes ripple effects and purse string tightening that may never be undone. If that hadn't gone down the way it did, it's amazing to think what AK might have been.
 
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dewardevi

New Member
AK is easily our second-favorite park after Epcot. Having been to East Africa, I have to say the theming in that part of AK is on target, pretty much. The Maharaja Jungle Trek is one of the best built, best themed areas in any of the four parks — the vegetation is mature, dense, beautiful and well cared for; the temple buildings are very fine, and the faded murals are quite authentic and tell a story, if you’re interested. The aviary is the best anywhere. (I must add we’re kinda strange — we just spent 4 days at WDW, didn’t go on a single ride, and didn’t set foot in MK. But we love the place.)
 

Djsfantasi

Active Member
Every one has there own reason to visit WDW (I’ve only rarely visited DL). Many go for the ride experienced. Many go with their children. I don’t visit for either reason.

I visit for the theming and overall experience. I go in the attractions for the theming. I don’t rush from ride to ride. Each visit, twice a year, I visit most parks twice (except MK) and only go on 2-3 rides each day.

So, this is how I rank the four parks.
1. DAK
2. EPCOT
3. DHS
4. MK
 

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