Disney Unveils Blue Sky Plan Outlining the Possible Future of DinoLand U.S.A. at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Last Sunday, Disney concluded the D23 Parks & Resorts panel with two unexpected announcements involving "Blue Sky" projects for the Magic Kingdom Park and Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park.

It's important to keep in mind that before Josh D'Amaro (Chairperson of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products) introduced these projects, he cautioned fans: "What we are going to talk about next is way early in the creative process. It's what our Imagineers call Blue Sky. It's important to me that you know these things we are going to talk about... they are very real, they are very serious discussions that I have been having with our teams about the future of our parks and experiences."

Even though we are likely years away from seeing these new attractions coming to either park, it's reassuring to hear that these vague announcements are at least based on plans that stem from "very serious discussions." That should provide at least a measure of comfort that the company is actually exploring these ideas, and not just releasing something that will never make it past the drawing board.

Now, let's take a closer look at the rendering showing one of the ideas currently being explored that would involve the replacement of DinoLand U.S.A. at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park:

The artwork appears to show DinoLand U.S.A. as seen from the Discovery River. A new Moana-themed flume ride seen on the top left seems to fill the area formerly occupied by Primeval Whirl. As you can see, it looks like the Fossil Fun Games area will become extinct (should this plan receive the greenlight).

When Josh D'Amaro, Chris Beatty (Creative Portfolio Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering), and Jennifer Lee (Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios) started talking about this area during the D23 panel, they talked about the backstory of the movie and how it would tie in with the overarching theme of Disney's Animal Kingdom. This is what Jennifer Lee stated: "[Moana]'s story is one of adventuring beyond the reef connecting with nature... in order to heal a broken world and save her people."

Take a closer look at this water attraction (which closely resembles Splash Mountain, despite having a seemingly tamer drop), and notice the details seen in the area surrounding the actual ride, including the themed viewing area and cave: 

TriceraTop Spin would stay, but it would receive an entirely new theme that seems to match that of the nearby flume ride. The same can be said for the current Restaurantosaurus and the nearby Chester & Hester's Dinosaur Treasures, which is shown as a cluster of smaller buildings near the main Moana ride.

Interestingly, the Boneyard (a dinosaur-themed play area with slides, props, and other features) is not shown at all in the artwork, which leads us to believe that the company may still be undecided about its future.

Then, in the very back of the land, we can spot a large Zootopia-inspired façade that would hide the showbuilding for a new ride that would replace DINOSAUR.

Speaking of this area, Jennifer Lee also stated: "What immediately came to mind when thinking about [Disney's] Animal Kingdom was Zootopia... I mean, how cool would it be to take our Guests into the various districts... immersed in Tundratown, Little Rodentia, Bunnyburrow, the Rainforest district, perhaps even points you haven't seen yet?"

According to some insiders (particularly on WDWMagic.com), there's a very high chance that the Moana-themed area will be greenlit fairly soon, with additional information potentially shared during the next Destination D event scheduled to take place in 2024 at the Walt Disney World Resort; however, Imagineers are still unsure about the Zootopia attraction, meaning that this is the part of the project that's most likely to change. That seems to be also confirmed by the fact that the Moana area includes more details and is shown at the forefront of the artwork, while the Zootopia ride is barely visible in the distance.

No matter how we may feel about the injection of more characters into Disney's Animal Kingdom, it's clear that the park needs additional attractions and additional capacity. Unfortunately, it appears that the net gain from this expansion will be minimal, as the Moana-themed flume ride is essentially replacing Primeval Whirl (albeit the wild mouse roller coaster may have had a lower hourly capacity) and the other two rides are essentially enhanced versions of existing attractions. In any case, that area of the park undoubtedly needs to be reimagined, and this could very well be the plan that will ultimately move forward.

Stay tuned to Orlando Theme Park News for future updates and announcements. We are sure we will hear more about this and other projects in the not-so-distant future.
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ARTWORK: © Walt Disney World Resort. All Rights Reserved.

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