Itzazu: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Examined

by 40 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Itzazu. Itz-a-zu. Get it? It’s my “clever” marketing campaign to convince people that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a glorified zoo in an attempt to persuade the powers that be make Disney’s Animal Kingdom live up to its potential. I won’t be utilizing this campaign because I believe that the substance of the park speaks for itself (and because I blew my marketing budget for the year earlier this week trying to convince Pixar to add a Manatee character to Finding Nemo 2). As evidenced by Disney’s “Nahtazu” campaign, and its attempt to convince a reluctant public that the park was “not a zoo,” Disney doesn’t believe that the substance of the park speaks for itself.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is an incredibly divisive park. Based upon my opening paragraph, it might seem clear where I stand in the great debate. Although Animal Kingdom is not my favorite park, despite my comments above, I believe that Disney’s Animal Kingdom has the potential to be the best theme park at Walt Disney World. The groundwork has been laid, it’s just a matter of fleshing it out into a complete theme park concept. Despite its issues, it has an incredible number of strengths.

Animal Kingdom’s biggest problem, as I see it, is that it is too contrived. It’s as if its creators focused on style to the detriment of substance when building the park. The prime example here is DinoLand U.S.A. Many words have been spoken on all of the hidden details and backstory in DinoLand, but this backstory is nothing more than lipstick on a pig. This backstory is great, but it is not substitute for quality substance. Here, backstory is more an afterthought, added as artifice to explain away why Dinorama is such an eyesore. I couldn’t care less that it’s an “authentic” eyesore, it’s an eyesore with cheap carnival attractions, nonetheless. Quite bluntly, that carnival is an embarrassment to the rest of the theme park. It’s no different than the hideous Route 66 area of Disney California Adventure on Paradise Pier–and that was largely razed.

This issue of “style over substance” exists throughout Animal Kingdom. From the meticulously crafted posters (what was the fake poster budget for this park, like $200 million?!) and carefully weathered facades in Africa to the seating area in Flame Tree BBQ, there is a lot of style in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I could gush with superlatives over the details in that park. These details are easily the park’s biggest strength. It has details in spades that far exceed the details found in any other Disney theme park in the United States. We as Disney fans often fixate on the “Disney Details” that set Disney theme parks apart from other parks. When it comes to these details, Disney’s Animal Kingdom reigns supreme, and should be lauded by fans for its detail and theming. The problem is, these details and theming seem to exist in place of substance, which is not acceptable.

At Animal Kingdom, so much thought, time, and effort went in to making the “Disney Details” truly remarkable, but at what cost? The number of quality-themed Disney attractions is seriously lacking, to the point that for most guests, the park does not offer sufficient entertainment options to justify staying there a full day. Fans of the park typically counter with the numerous trails and animal exhibits that, in aggregate, amount to a day of entertainment for them. Animal Kingdom super-fans aside, most people are not spending a full day in the park–this is my barometer, not what super-fans do.

This leads into the next biggest issue I have with Animal Kingdom after the “style over substance” qualm, which is that the park lacks balance in its attractions. Despite its best efforts with the “Nahtazu” campaign, many of its attractions are not all that dissimilar to a well-done zoo. If a large percentage of the attractions really weren’t zoo-like, Disney wouldn’t have had to utilize the Nahtazu campaign at all. The slate of attractions could speak for itself, and there would be a clear divide between it and a zoo in the minds of guests. Running that marketing campaign is an implicit concession that a problem exists, and needs marketing to “fix” a supposedly mistaken perception among the public. The best way to fix any perception is by fixing the substance, rather than deeming the perception “mistaken” and using marketing to make your case.

Granted, attractions like Flights of Wonder and Kilimanjaro Safaris are well done “edutainment,” as they package the natural world into well-themed attractions to give guests the best of both worlds, but I believe the rest flounders from the perspective of themed entertainment because most attractions are simple ‘walk around looking at animal exhibits.’ These walking exhibits would be fine in a park with a fleshed out number of “real” attractions, but not at Animal Kingdom as it presently exits. Many of these exhibits are indistinguishable from what you’d find in a plain ole zoo (hence the “Nahtazu” campaign). Contrast these exhibits with The Living Seas pavilion when it opened. The Living Seas pavilion took guests to a fictional seabase and really sold a story around which the animals were presented. It framed the whole experience incredibly well, and made it stand out as themed, yet educational, entertainment much more than the “walk around and see stuff” methodology of Animal Kingdom.

This is not to say that the zoological attractions at Animal Kingdom are poorly done or don’t belong in the park. While I would prefer more theming to the exhibits, I would give them a pass as-is if the park had better balance. The issue is the over-abundance of these exhibits, especially in comparison to attractions traditionally found in theme parks. Animal Kingdom lacks any Omnimover attractions (or dark rides using more advanced ride systems), which I find bordering on absurd. Personally, I think Disney should have spent about half as much as it did on Everest and used the rest of the budget to add a couple more D ticket attractions to the park. Even if the Yeti worked, budgets are finite at Disney in this era (this isn’t Disney Theme Park Tycoon) and the Yeti is an AA that is only visible for a couple of seconds yet reportedly cost $25 million. Given the circumstances, that was a colossal waste of money. Introducing more traditional attractions in Animal Kingdom is admittedly a bit tricky–what interest would guests have in Audio Animatronics animals when the real thing is in the same park? The answer to this lies with the mythical and extinct creatures, I think…

I am loath to discuss it at all here since it’s an even more divisive issue than Animal Kingdom’s current quality, but I have to address the elephant in the room: Avatar Land. In the fan community, I am somewhat of a rarity–a serious Disney fan who thinks Avatar Land is the right move for Disney’s Animal Kingdom (assuming the land happens). Animal Kingdom needs a large tentpole expansion comparable to Cars Land in scope and scale. James Cameron is a perfectionist who seems unlikely to settle for a small scale home to his creations. Because of that, I think this project has the potential to go over-budget instead of under-budget because Cameron has at least some creative control and can exert force over Disney with regard to quality and detail. While I would have much rather seen an original concept for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I think this was a case of a recognizable franchise or nothing, not a case of Avatar Land versus Mysterious Island or Beastly Kingdom. Disney, sadly, is relatively risk-averse with its domestic parks, and a Cars Land-scale Mysterious Island or Beastly Kingdom is too big of a return on investment risk to build.

Beyond that, I think the subject matter is largely irrelevant to the success of the land. Don’t like the film Avatar? So what. How many of you had seen Song of the South before experiencing Splash Mountain? A good land is dependent upon highly immersive environments and compelling attractions, not upon the story of the source film. The worlds in Avatar are undeniably gorgeous, and if Imagineering successfully brings those environments to life, I think there’s a good chance Florida will have a land that wows guests like Cars Land does. If the attractions in Avatar Land are compelling, the land will be a hit. Avatar may be a loose fit for Animal Kingdom thematically, but so long as Avatar Land presents a highly themed, gorgeous land of mythical creatures with great attractions, it will fit the Animal Kingdom theme. The story contained in the source material doesn’t really matter that much. The story of Cars is certainly not the impetus of Cars Land.

To me, Avatar Land works in Animal Kingdom for these reasons, and because it introduces the mythical land of creatures that is needed for compelling, traditional theme park attractions to balance out the more zoological elements of the park. If Disney does Avatar Land well and reimagines DinoLand, razing Dinorama to add some more quality themed attractions (and substantially enhances Dinosaur, which I feel is underrated, but is still very, very sad in comparison to Indiana Jones Adventure), Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be a much more balanced and compelling theme park, and a contender for the best park at Walt Disney World. The details and theming are already there, all that’s needed is some substance.

I realize others are likely to disagree with my overall sentiments and specifically my sentiments on Avatar Land. In the past I’ve been told that I’m missing the point of Animal Kingdom as a non-park theme park experience, but the thing is, it is a theme park. No matter how people might try to re-categorize it to shift expectations, it presents itself as one of the four Disney theme parks in Florida, but it doesn’t deliver as a theme park should. It’s understandably different in nature than the other parks, and its theme and zoological elements are accomplished exceptionally well, but it lacks the balance of experiences necessary to pass muster as a great theme park.

What do you think of Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Itzazu? Nahtazu? Share your thoughts in the comments!

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print
Posted on July 20, 2012

40 Responses to “Itzazu: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Examined”

  • Animal Kingdom is usually the park I avoid or skip when I visit DisneyWorld. It has some fun elements but ti si so spread out you waste so much time just walking in between the lands and rides. First, the walk from the entrance to the Tree of Life is HUGE and then to go to one of the Lands first is even longer. I feel like, as you said, it is a giant zoo at times with a lot of walking to see animals. Zoos are great but not the reason I am at DisneyWorld. The Dinosaur and Mt. Everest rides are really good and the safari always gives you different looks at the animals despite the repetitive “Simba 1″ story but everything else is just walking around. On a hot summer day when we most likely visit, AK seems like a tiring day instead of fun. I also do not like when you take that train to the separate animal station and have a really long walk from the train to the building and then you are kind of stuck there. I love the idea of AK and have been a few times but it does not have the same fun element as the other parks. I am always hesitant to take my son because of the spread out walking and long lapses with nothing to see or do. I think there is plenty of space to add things but I can understnad the desire to keep it as a wonderful zoo and animal education center. But I do not want to pay the same price as MK or Epcot to walk around a zoo for the most part. With a few rides, the lines get so long since most people are on the few rides.

  • I love Animal Kingdom for all the reasons you state yet I agree with all of the shortcomings you pointed out. I am conflicted…

    I also think you are spot on with the Yeti comments and Avatarland…oh rats, I’m agreeing with you too much…uh…you smell of turkey legs!

  • My family and I love Animal Kingdom, it is a fabulous day during which we are encouraged to slow the pace down and take in the incredible surroundings. We all get caught up in running between attractions to avoid the queues but in that quest we miss the smaller details and also the interaction the kids can have at the education stations. If AK is a zoo then it’s one of the best in the world, animals have space to roam whilst not behind the conventional cages. If it’s not a zoo then it’s a place where the whole family can be explorers for a day across different continents and ages. Where else do we get a chance to do that? I hope Disney and Cameron do team up for Avatar Land, can only imagine this to add to the beauty of Animal Kingdom as well as the educational experience in terms of conservation and renewable energy sources. AK is absolutely a theme park but without the volume high octane thrill rides other Orlando parks have and I can’t wait to visit again!

    • If it’s a zoo, it’s also the most expensive one in the country (to my knowledge) at nearly $100/day.

      For what it’s worth, I’m not saying it’s a zoo–I’m saying that many of the experiences skew towards “zoo” rather than “theme park.”

      As for thrill rides, I’m not advocating the addition of any. For those who aren’t aware, Omnimover attractions (what is advocated in the article) are slow moving ride systems. Think Haunted Mansion or Spaceship Earth.

    • You must be touring AK sometime other than July. The heat in summer makes the animals hide and humans should do likewise! I am from southern Oklahoma. I can do heat, but I know when not to. That said, I love the detail and hope to do the take a cool, easy tour of AK someday! I agree about Omnimover attractions. There needs to be more rides for non thrill patrons. Cool and dark rides sound great, as does Avatar, but I hope they have more than a Forbiden Journey type ride for non thrill riders.

  • I will actually be at Magic Kingdom in 2 weeks for 5 days but will be skipping Animal Kingdom. As much as I love Disney AK is #4 out of the 4 parks! :(

  • I think you nailed the whole Dinoland debacle. “lipstick on a pig” was a great analogy for describing why the land stinks, regardless of the neato and swell details it conceals.

  • The Animal Kingdom debate is always interesting. I think the Dinoland short-comings are almost unanimously agreed upon. It would be interesting to hear kids’ opinions on Animal Kingdom vs. other parks, similar to Brian’s recent post on favorite Disney World rides of a 3-year old girl. For my kids anyway, Animal Kingdom is a favorite and is probably ranked neck-and-neck to Magic Kingdom if not above it. They were 7, almost 5 and 2 and a half when we went, so their age has a lot to do with it. Younger kids have a special connection/fascination with animals to begin with as well. We spent the full day there and they had a great time (much more so than at a typical zoo). The park has an “adventurous” feel for kids unlike any of the other parks and they enjoyed discovering animals as we explored the park. You throw in a few great attractions like the Kali River Rapids, Kilimanjaro Safari, and Everest and it is a great experience. The boneyard is still talked about today by our kids as one of their favorite things in Disney World. Don’t underestimate how much kids love the freedom of running around an area and doing what they want to do! As stated previously there wasn’t the rush of going from attraction to attraction to avoid lines and squeeze in as many rides as possible. I think it is a nice counterbalance to the other parks (and designed that way on purpose) and I wouldn’t want to see too many more big draw attractions squeezed in.

  • by Just some guy on July 20, 2012, at 11:58 am EST

    I feel no need to disagree with someone’s opinions, especially if that person’s choice has no effect whatsoever on my ability to enjoy Animal Kingdom as Joe Rohde and his Imagineers intended. For me it’s always been an all-day, immersive experience and worth at least a day and a half of any week-long vacation. Of course it could stand improvement; just as MK, E & DHS could stand tweaking or entire new lands. I value the opportunity to slow down, to comtemplate, to enjoy observing animals in habitats much better than any zoo. And I even enjoy the Disney-flavored midway for the hipster/ironic approach taken. I have been known to drop a few dollars at the games while waiting for a FastPass time to kick in. And in AvatarLand happens, I look forward to experiencing it, too.

    • No one can “enjoy Animal Kingdom as Joe Rohde and his Imagineers intended” because the park wasn’t built as he intended.

      Several aspects of the park (namely, Beastly Kingdom) were cut due to budget issues. I can only speculate as to how Rohde really feels about areas like Camp Minnie Mickey & Dinorama, but I do know that the park we have today is not what was “intended.”

      To be fair, though, few parks have ever been built as intended. The real world gets in the way of the creative, in an often times necessary and pragmatic way.

      None of this should foreclose critiquing the park, which is how your first sentence comes across as me (I apologize if that wasn’t the intent). Joe Rohde and Co. are amazing theme park designers, but their hands in the product shouldn’t make it immune from critique.

      • by Just some guy on July 20, 2012, at 3:34 pm EST

        Tom, I said nothing against your original blog post and you decided to both take it personally and speak for the Imagineers…and then contradict yourself by stating none of the parks match their Blue Sky interpretations. I’ve read many times where Mr. Rohde talks about AK as a place to ‘slow down and explore,’ and that’s what our family does there. I haven’t stopped you from critiquing anything; you’ve told me my opinions are wrong. One of us is over-reacting.

  • I imagine everyone knows my thoughts on this…

    • 1. Can’t believe I spelled “nahtahzu” incorrectly. Dang it!

      2. I’m always open to reasoned disagreement and debate, and in case others haven’t heard of your website (I hadn’t until I clicked your name), I recommend visiting your site: http://www.nahtahzu.com I’m still digging through it myself, but some of your points are interesting. If you have any specific pages on there that you recommend reading as a “counter” (of sorts) to this, please post them!

      • First, I can’t claim that “nahtahzu” is the correct spelling – in all honesty, “nahtazu.com” was taken two years ago when I started the website, but since I could not find a copy of the “official” Disney marketing material, I went with two h’s and rolled on from there. If anyone has a scan of the park map from circa 2003 and can tell me if I have it right or wrong, I’ll be grateful.

        Second, I sent you an e-mail from your home blog. I’d be grateful for a response.

  • Interesting post. I agree with quite a lot of it. My family tends to spend the whole day at AK, however, I do think that the cost is quite expensive compared to the other parks. I’m not crazy about the idea of Avatar Land but I’m sure open to being surprised.

    As far as Dino Land, if we are not with our kids, we ride Dinosaur and that is it. I actually think it’s a fun look and I understand how difficult it must have been to come up with a way to showcase dinosaurs. However, the attractions just don’t appeal to us as adults.

  • I completely agree, though I actually tend to think of HS as the weakest of the parks. In both HS and AK, there are things I really enjoy (I LOVE “The Lion King” show – the talent is amazing), but if I get there when the park opens, I’ve easily done everything I wanted to do by 2:00 or 3:00. I’m excited about Avatar land. I’m not a fan of the movie, but like you said, that has little to do with whether the land will be enjoyable. I’ll continue to visit all four parks every time I go to WDW, but HS and AK having nothing on Epcot or MK, in my opinion.

  • by @chasoneering on July 20, 2012, at 3:24 pm EST

    Sweeping past more controversial aspects of this discussion…

    1) I am wholly against Avatarland. I cannot help but see it as nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to Universal and Harry Potter. Henceforth, I shall refer to it as Bob and Jimmy’s Pandora-rama.

    2) The DAK vs DHS debate is moot to me. Both have strengths. DAK needs attractions and expansions. DHS needs work.

    With that out of the way…

    My love for DAK is very similar to Tom’s: amazing level of Disney detail, and quality (if sparse) offerings. There is a ton of innate potential in the park and what deficiencies do exist, in my humble opinion, don’t need to be fixed with DCA-level changes (though evicting Dinorama is a dream of mine). Add some dark rides. Include some more countries. Itzazu but, with a some additions, nahtfuhlong.

    • Bob and Jimmy’s Pandora-rama–I like it! Although I certainly hope it’s not comparable to Dinorama!

      Nahtfuhlong–I like it, too! Here’s hoping you’re right!

  • Awesome article, and you inspired me to get off my duff to write a short version of an article that I have meant to get in blog for a little while now. Enjoy!
    http://akfansite.blogspot.com/2012/07/why-animal-kingdom-stumbled-and-if-i.html

  • If I had my way, we’d never spend more than a morning at Animal Kingdom and wouldn’t visit at all some trips. There just aren’t enough headliner attractions – the I-can’t-wait types like Toy Story Mania – and I don’t like spending precious (and expensive) Disney World vacation time seeing animals that we have a lot closer to home at local/regional zoos. But hubby thinks AK has the best parade in all of WDW, so we’re pinned down to staying at least until the parade is over. I’m very much looking forward to Avatar Land – hubby and I both loved the movie, and I hope it will have enough to keep us busy while we wait for the parade.

    • Wow. The best parade in all of WDW?
      The Jingle Jungle (or is it Jungle Jingle?) parade was the only parade we saw on our last visit and I thought it was just about the stupidest thing I ever saw. Is the regular version different?

  • There is a great debate in my family on the country’s best zoo…I know this seems weird, especially since we’ve probably visited less than 15 zoos collectively, but since there are some Ohio-ans who rally hard for Toledo and some citizens of the capital who are all about the National Zoo, we have discussed it at length. One evening when we looked to Google for the “expert” opinions we noticed that DAK was listed on more than one website among the nation’s top “zoos.” The result? A whole new debate on the true essence and definition of DAK…at least we’ll never run out of things to talk about. Great post!

    • Would you ever pay $90 a day to visit a zoo? Obviously Animal Kingdom is more than a zoo, but it needs to be more than even a well-themed “zoo with some rides.”

      • Agreed!

      • by JosephSchmoe on July 30, 2012, at 11:39 am EST

        Nearly 10 million visitors a year are doing just that–paying Disney’s admission fee–and having a wonderful time at what you choose to label “a well-themed zoo with some rides.” But that fact certainly doesn’t negate your right to your opinion. It simply places it in context.

        • You sound like you are putting down our opinion though just because the park gets a lot of visitors. I imagine everyone has to go to AK for the first time at least and certainly many families like it AFTER they have also been to MK and Epcot for something of a slower pace. Our opinion does not need to be placed in any context which seems like an attempt to minimize it. AK is a nice park but I prefer not to spend that kind of money to have walk most of the day in between lands to see animals and wait on long lines for Mt. Everest, the Safari and Kilimanjaro. AK is not in the same category of parks as MK, Epcot and Hollywood Studios even if it is liked by many. I like AK but I certainly do not mind skipping it when I have only 3 days or so in Orlando because 50% of it or so is a zoo at MK prices.

  • you nailed it in the 4th paragraph: Animal Kingdom is style over substance. it’s visually stunning. And boring.

  • I think Animal Kingdom is the most beautiful, best themed theme park in all of Disney World. I also believe it ranks up with Tokyo DisneySea and Disneyland Paris in regards to its execution and detailing. However, even though it has all of that great theme, I believe there is a desperate need for more rides. I would have loved to have seen the original plans for DinoLand where there was the Excavator and everything tied in together. There was supposed to be the DinoInstitute where scientists studied dinosaurs, Restaurantasourus where the scientists lived, the Boneyard where they collected findings, and the Excavator would have been an extension of The Boneyard where they excavate the land looking for fossils. However, I question if Excavator were to be built, would we have Expedition Everest?

    Regarding Avatar, I am on the fence about it. I would much rather see Beastly Kingdom where it would be original and would not feel dated after 10 years but if it is going to add rides and capacity it cannot be bad.

    I am betting that when they originally cut Beastly Kingdom they were between either cutting DinoLand or Beastly Kingdom because these two lands had the most amount of rides in the park. I believe it was Eisner’s final choice to keep DinoLand because he wanted to tie it in with the new film Dinosaur.

    Animal Kingdom is a great park and could be America’s DisneySea but there needs to be more rides.

    Right now it is a better looking Busch Gardens with a 1/4 of rides and attractions.

  • We visited DW for the first time last fall and we started off with AK because I had been advised not to start off with MK or my kids might feel “let down” by the other parks. We enjoyed AK for what it was. Our kids really, really enjoyed the boneyard and I really enjoyed Everest. We want to go back to DW this year and we will probably visit all four parks because we will go for a whole week if we go, but if we were going for a shorter trip, it would probably be the first park I would cut. The idea of Avatar land doesn’t thrill me, but mainly because I thought the movie was awful. I would rather see them rip out the carnival games and Primeval Whirl and put in another dinosaur themed ride. Or maybe something to do with the Ice Age or something.

  • I remember going to AK last year for the first time and thinking for at least part of the park how much of an obvious rip-off it was of Busch Gardens Tampa. Unfortunately AK has less animals and less rides. I was actually finding myself getting angry! Dinoland is a rip off of Timbuktu…. I love Disney but they could have come up with something better and unique!

  • My family is only able to make it out for 4 nights, five days when we head to Disney. Because of flights, we only get 3 full days, and 2 half days. We have small children, so this time around we’ll spend two full days at MK, 1 1/2 days at Epcot, and our first half day at AK. I think AK Lion King show is the best show Disney puts on, and my kids love Nemo, too. And they have several rides that my little ones can enjoy, (triceratops spin, bugs life, safari, train ride) plus a petting zoo! which is why we picked it over HS. To me, Hollywood studios is the one that needs to have more added to it. There are very few rides to do there for children 5 and under, how about an astro orbiter-ish ride, a peter pan-ish, a train ride, SOMETHING other that ALL 3 of my small kids can enjoy other than just the toy story ride??? It’s a shame, we love the toy story ride, but that ride alone is not worth a waste of ticket/day for us… Now, when my kids are older, this will be a whole different story…

  • Animal Kingdom is my 2nd favorite park, after Epcot. I could spend several days there just looking at all the details. I guess I like there is a park where I don’t have to rush around from one ride to the next, and I can just relax and enjoy.

    While I would love to see Animal Kingdom expanded, I am completely against Avatar land. Theme parks last for decades and decades. In 30 years, no one is going to remember the movie Avatar. One attraction is fine, but an entire land? I would much prefer them to build a South America land, and rip out the carnival area of Dino land and replace with exhibits/attractions on other extinct creatures.

  • It doesn’t matter if anyone remembers the movie Avatar if the land is done right (this was pointed out in the article).

  • I like Animal Kingdom due to the serene setting. I love nature so AK is right up my alley. That being said it is my least favorite park at WDW. I always look forward to going to AK but once I get there it never quite delivers.

  • by bluesabriel on July 23, 2012, at 6:31 pm EST

    I’m in the minority. I adore Animal Kingdom. Now, I do think it has room for improvement- I skip Dino Land entirely most days (Dinosaur is a terrible ride) and the only reason I go to Camp Minnie Mickey is to see Festival of the Lion King- but I adore the details and the beauty of the park so much that I’ll still choose to go there over Studios every time.

  • Tom, I think my biggest “problem” with AK is that we always seem to end up doing a *lot* of walking & a lot less “experiencing”. While I acknowledge that AK is a completely different type of park, when one considers how many attractions one can experience in the MK (especially Fantasyland) in a small area with little walking, compared to AK which pretty much requires a very long walk to get to almost anything… sigh…

    And the timing/scheduling/placement of the shows, along with how TP works pretty much has always precluded up from experiencing both the Lion King & Nemo shows on the same day, no matter how well we plan.

    While there obviously need to be space for the animals, there still seems to be an unseemly unnecessary amt of walking/bang-for-the-buck because of the park layout. Getting from one side of the park to the other is always a nightmare, with the tree-of-life to get around.

    I say:
    Raze the tree-of-life & put a major bridge there, so people can get from one place to another. :-)