Are you a Disney Park critic? I know, it’s hard to be critical of anything Disney (at least I think so), but even I have to admit that I’ve experienced a few things that some parks don’t do as well as others. Of course, there’s also a number of things that each park does very well! Today, I’m breaking down Disney Park Strengths and Weaknesses beginning with a park that’s somewhat in transition right now: Animal Kingdom.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is still a new park when compared with the other Disney World Parks and perhaps the most difficult to explain. What you should know right off is that Disney did not intend for this park to be a zoo, but rather a new type of theme park where the entertainment and is living and breathing. Animal Kingdom opened for guests appropriately on Earth Day in 1998 and is currently home to more than 2,000 animals and currently in a transition as construction continues for new nighttime entertainment and the addition of Pandora – The World of AVATAR.
So let’s start with Animal Kingdom’s strengths, shall we…
Avatarland has been under construction for some time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but today at the D23 Expo, we got a few more details about what we can expect with this new land.
First of all, I guess we’ll need to stop calling it Avatarland. Its official name will be Pandora-The World of Avatar. According to Imagineer Joe Rhode, when visiting Pandora, you are not visiting moments from the film, the adventure is one that is yours. The goal is to create a place that you believe to be real.
This will be apparent when you ride the banshee attraction, which will be called The Flight of Passage. Guests will ride on the backs of the banshees giving guests a birds-eye view of the beauty and grandeur of the world of Pandora on an aerial rite of passage.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Theme Park Questions For the Magic 8 Ball. Theme park fans have a lot of questions. In fact, the mailbag at the Saturday Six offices is stuffed with letters from fans asking about their favorite Orlando parks. Unfortunately, thanks to TV being our babysitter growing up, our reading comprehension isn’t that great. We hired some interns to handle the mail, but they are even worse because of YouTube, Vine and Twitter (enjoy life now because we’re all doomed when this generation takes control of things.) So we did the only thing that we could do given the circumstances….we made up our own questions.
# 6 – What will Avatarland do in the area of merchandise?
A Na’vi makes the bond with 15.99% APR. (photo by Matt Cleary)
Disney has slowly been giving us information on the upcoming Avatar expansion at Animal Kingdom, including the groundbreaking ceremony in early 2014 in which Imagineers used 10 foot shovels. Several attractions have been vaguely teased, and the point is always stressed that this land is attempting to be one of the most amazing experiences in theme park history. It’s James Cameron and Walt Disney Imagineering, two of the best in the world at what they do.
However, one thing that hasn’t been mentioned at all is what kind of retail opportunities there will be in this land, if any. Avatar is the most successful movie in the history of cinema, but it does not lead itself to the traditional methods of merchandising that Universal has used for its Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The third act of Avatar is hinged on the fact that the humans have nothing to offer the Na’vi, because the natives of Pandora have no use for materialistic things. What are those materialistic things? Shirts, action figures, magnets, and pretty much anything else you would find in a theme park gift shop.
Welcome back to this brand new edition of Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes! (Crowd cheers…ok…maybe not…but a girl can dream.) This week has been very fruitful with little tidbits to share with you all; I’ve got lots of refurbishment news, details on Be Our Guest Restaurant, new information on Avatarland, and more!
Wow! There are a lot of refurbishments that have been scheduled for Walt Disney World. Let’s start at the Magic Kingdom. First, for those traveling in the summer, you will unfortunately not get to experience Pirates of the Caribbean. The attraction, which has been riddled with problems lately, will be seeing a 4+ month refurbishment, from May 11 through September 25, reopening September 26. No word on what the refurbishment will entail, but it is certainly necessary. There will also be a two day refurbishment of Stitch’s Great Escape in early March, March 1 and 2. The attraction will reopen on March 3. For those visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom for barbeque, you’ll have to wait a little longer, because Flame Tree Barbeque’s refurbishment has been pushed back to last until April 22, reopening April 23. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it would appear that Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show will be closed for a refurbishment from April 20-24, reopening on April 25. Also, Voyage of the Little Mermaid will be closed September 7-10, reopening on September 11. You can always keep up with the latest refurbishments on our refurb page.
So I don’t usually share the videos that Disney posts, but I will if I find them particularly newsworthy…like today, where they posted one hyping up Avatar for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It’s nice to finally see some more information about the project. The new concept art shown in the video is quite gorgeous, but what really impressed me was when they finally showed some of the bioluminescent aspects. It almost reminds me of being under the sea, seeing a unique type of illuminated coral. These additions will certainly make Animal Kingdom a destination once the sun sets. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the video:
In a move that surprises no one who’s been following along, Camp Minnie-Mickey, a land found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, will be closed starting on January 6. (The last day of operations will be January 5.)
With this closure, the characters that were available for meet and greets will move to different locations around the park.
Pocahontas will be found along the Discovery Island Trail.
King Louie & Baloo from The Jungle Book will greet guests along Bradley Falls between Asia and Africa.
Donald Duck will move to the Cretaceous Trail in DinoLand U.S.A., where guests can join him for a photo with Cory the Dinosaur.
As a reminder, Festival of the Lion King will also have its last performance at the current location in Camp Minnie-Mickey on January 5. The show will then be dark for about 6 months and, when it reopens, will be found in a new theater located in the Africa section of the park.
Camp Minnie-Mickey was always supposed to be a temporary land. The area will reopen in 2017 as The World of Pandora, otherwise known as Avatarland.