Walt Disney World reveals big changes for Animal Kingdom

September 9, 2023, 10:23 AM · Disney today revealed that Walt Disney Imagineering is working on transforming Dinoland USA at Disney's Animal Kingdom into a new land featuring attractions based on Encanto and Indiana Jones.

At this morning's Destination D23 event at the Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D'Amaro and Walt Disney Imagineering Chief Creative Officer Bruce Vaughn outlined some of the "blue sky" ideas that WDI is working on for the next decade. Among those, big changes at the Disney Animal Kingdom theme park.

"Over the next decade, we're gonna have more projects underway than at any point in our history," D'Amaro said. "We are planning to invest billions of dollars in our destinations around the world."

WDI has been working on the plans to retheme Dinoland USA to what Vaughn called the "tropical Americas" - Central and northern South America. Since Dinoland's Dinosaur attraction runs on a layout identical to the original Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland, switching that ride to the Indiana Jones theme would seem an obvious step, though no one mentioned that connection during the presentation.

Dino Land changes
Concept art courtesy Disney

Dinoland had been tapped by fans to be the site of an American installation of the Zootopia land that's coming to Shanghai Disneyland. However, D'Amaro said that Zootopia instead will be coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom as the theme for a new show at the Tree of Life.

As for when Zootopia will open at Shanghai Disneyland, we did not get an opening date for that new land, nor did we get a more specific opening date for Tiana's Bayou Adventure, the Splash Mountain replacement themed to "The Princess and the Frog" that is coming to Disneyland and Magic Kingdom next year.

D'Amaro did reveal some Magic Kingdom enhancements, however, including a new Country Bear show, to be called "Country Bear Musical Jamboree," that will open next year. Just up the street on the park's west side, the Hatbox Ghost also will debut inside the Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion in late November, D'Amaro said. Finally, Imagineering is working on a design for a Pirates of the Caribbean-themed lounge in Adventureland, saying that it will provide a new home for the old Barker Bird that once appeared at the ride's entrance.

At EPCOT, Journey of Water Inspired by Moana will open officially on October 16, while the park's World Celebration area will be complete by December. Moana will begin greeting EPCOT guests next to the Journey of Water walk-through on October 16, and Figment will begin greeting guests inside the Imagination pavilion starting tomorrow.

We also learned that the new World Showcase Lagoon nighttime spectacular, "Luminous: The Symphony of Us" will debut December 5. And in perhaps the biggest news drop for EPCOT, WDI revealed that it again will reimagine the Test Track ride.

Reimagined Test Track
Concept art courtesy Disney

"We're reaching back into the history of the pavilion, taking inspiration from the original World of Motion and bringing that spirit of optimism to this next iteration of Test Track," WDI Executive Creative Director Scott Mallwitz said.

Over at Star Tours, that Star Wars-themed ride also is getting a refresh, with Ahsoka joining the experience next year at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris.

For Disney California Adventure, the presentation shared a look at concept art for the ride vehicle on the new Avengers Campus dark ride. There's still no timeline or name for that multiverse adventure, but we did see what looks like a motion base ride vehicle for that attraction.

Avengers ride vehicle
Concept art courtesy Disney

"The design combines elements of Tony Stark’s time-suits with Xandarian jump points and Wakandan technology to create a vehicle that combines portal technology and flight capabilities to maneuver through the skies, transporting heroes to remote worlds in a matter of moments," Disneyland said in a press release.

Elsewhere around the world, Disney Signature Experiences President Thomas Mazloum revealed that the Disney Cruise Line's new port of call in the Bahamas will be called Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point and that it will open with a June 6 preview cruise on the Disney Magic. And the former Global Dream ship that DCL obtained and is completing for cruises out of Singapore will be called the Disney Adventure. It will begin sailing in 2025.

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Replies (61)

September 10, 2023 at 8:57 AM

Best meme thus far show's a photo of a 'Game of Thrones' character with the caption "Something is coming. We don't know what, we don't know when ... Oh look there's Muppets".

September 9, 2023 at 10:19 AM

Retheming Dinosaur the Ride to a plussed version of Indiana Jones is the best possible replacement scenario for this IMO. I also think that an Encanto land would fit perfectly over there. Hoping that these ideas come to fruition. All of these “blue sky” presentations are a nice quick fix of adrenaline and excitement, but I’d love to hear about something more concrete. My guess would be that they will unveil the next big phase of development after the Tiana splash Mountain re-theme is completed. Either way, it’s encouraging that they are planning on investing as much as they say they are over the next decade.

September 9, 2023 at 10:25 AM

I would honestly welcome another slow moving dark ride in the vein of world of motion for test track, with a random blast off at the end lol

September 9, 2023 at 10:29 AM

This reminds me of that old Madtv skit with Steve Jobs introducing the Irack during Iraq war, except instead of the Irack its IP. "We must put in more IP!!!!"

September 9, 2023 at 10:44 AM

I was hoping they would keep some aspect of dinosaurs within the park to keep up with the theme of animals from the past, present and fantastical. That logo they have for the park is going to be even more obtuse, especially since they cheaped out on doing Beastly Kingdom and didn’t put in dragons like they originally were going to.

September 9, 2023 at 12:57 PM

And now we know why Joe Rohde gave up on Disney - they suck. Walt’s legacy was and still is being ruined by the company and now Joe’s legacy is also being ruined. Bravo.

September 9, 2023 at 11:10 AM

Some good stuff in there. Central America seems like a reasonable theme that works with those properties, and getting rid of Test Tracks computer simulation line drawing style would be very welcome.

However there’s nothing too exciting that would suggest any serious competition for Epic Universe.

September 9, 2023 at 11:55 AM

Make Chopper the astromech for Star Tours and I'm in

September 9, 2023 at 12:09 PM

Mixed feelings about some of these developments. I'm fine with Dino-Rama going away, but Dinosaur is a solid ride that I'd hate to lose. If it must be Indiana Jones, then I hope it is different from Temple of the Forbidden Eye because a re-theme to a ride from nearly 30 years ago is not the answer.

I will miss It's Tough to Be a Bug but at 25 years old, it is showing its age both in animation and effects. Zootopia's fine I suppose, but making the centerpiece of the park about bugs was perfect since they are the heart of the animal kingdom.

Excited about Test Track. The current Tron-like theming isn't really needed anymore now that we have an actual Tron ride.

September 9, 2023 at 12:39 PM

The new Avengers ride features a "motion base ride vehicle"? Does that mean Star Tours knock-off shaky movie theater?

Hard to imagine they're building an Avengers ride given how quickly the Marvel brand is sinking. Will it feature Robert Downey Jr?

September 10, 2023 at 8:51 AM

ATTENTION PLEASE: Overtime hours for Walt Disney Concept Artists has been approved.

As I see it:

- Any major expansion is going to cost north of a billion bucks. Disney may be waiting to see how the Hulu thing and the Spectrum thing plays out before pulling the trigger on a big construction project. Additionally, there should be little doubt that WDW will enjoy a windfall from any spike in Central Florida tourism that comes from the opening of UEU.

- One of the best ways to control construction costs is in the pre-construction phase using building information modelling (clash identification) and virtual design construction to avoid significant design changes during construction. Such exercises are time consuming (which can slow the commencement of construction) but offer great return on investment over the long run. That very well could be what Disney is currently managing.

- It also strikes me that Disney is banking on small ball success. We hit the CM preview of Moana at EPCOT yesterday. It's nice but not a gate-crasher by any means. However, as the part of a whole sum, I can see it giving greater depth to the new Future World expansion. If they follow through with the 'World of Motion' thing EPCOT becomes a force (again). So Disney completes existing projects (Future World and Tianna at MKP) and it puts enough wind in its sails through 2025. If that follows with a 'Zootopia' movie at DAK in late 2026 ... Well, they'll be fine. I would define "fine" as being: If attendance stalls at the WDW parks, that situation will not be much different from what USF, IOA or SWO experiences.

- Lastly, D23 2024 next August damn well needs to be a thermonuclear event. Projected opening dates (at least years) are a must! Also, for the love of God, get Josh D'Amaro off that stage. He is such a weak spokesman. For all the complaints about Bob Chapek at least there was reason to believe that he played a significant role in the decision making process. Stop being a celebrity and start demonstrating a commitment to working behind-the-scenes in park operations and development. Neil Patrick Harris has said (on camera) had he not been an actor he would've had wanted to be an Imagineer. He needs to be the host at D23 2024 in Anaheim.

September 9, 2023 at 1:21 PM

By the way, the most surprising/disappointing part of today's (non) event, was not a word about PLAY/'Wonders of Life'.

This is an actual building. Rumor is they fixed the roof. This is PRIME theme park real estate. They don't have to follow through on the PLAY! concept but ... I mean ... Come on, man!

September 9, 2023 at 1:29 PM

Motion base ride vehicle would be like Spider-Man or Transformers. Star Tours would be a motion base theater.

I just uploaded some higher resolution versions of the concept art, BTW. Looking at the Tropical Americas land, the temple at the upper right is the current Dinosaur attraction, which will become Indiana Jones. (Please maintain this to Tokyo DisneySea rather than Disneyland standards, Disney. I can dream, right?) The building to center right is the current Restaurantosaurus. Casa Madrigal at the upper left is on the site of the former Primeval Whirl roller coaster and, one presumes, will be the new Encanto ride.

Bottom center looks like a new carousel, presumably to replace the loss of kiddie rides and play areas in DinoLand.

September 9, 2023 at 2:24 PM

It is weird that this is the second year in a row where D'Amaro went on stage to give the "Here's what we COULD do" caveat that doesn't really commit to anything. These events should be the platform for major announcements, not test trials used to gauge reactions.

September 9, 2023 at 2:41 PM

The fact that they’re supposedly going to retheme Test Track again, yet are going to do nothing with an utterly putrid Journey Into Imagination ride that is over a decade past it’s expiration date, kind of tells you all you need to know about how serious they are about actually improving EPCOT.

September 9, 2023 at 2:51 PM

I'm super curious how all the Zootopia haters will wrangle Encanto and Indy as better fits for Animal Kingdom than Zootopia. Unless I'm forgetting something, the animal presence is pretty minor in both properties and not relevant to the core story of either one, plus there really isn't anything remotely related to nature conservation. In my mind, I'd consider this a definite shift from the original idea of the park toward something simply focusing on exotic locations.

Overall, more announced than I expected, but the stuff I was most hoping for was still omitted. Disney seems to be trying to ride hype for potential projects without committing to much, which runs the risk of backfiring if they wind up not delivering on what was teased. If they're going to promote "more projects underway than at any point in our history,", next year's D23 needs to be all in on that and confirm what and when those projects will be or fans might start to become skeptical of such claims.

September 9, 2023 at 3:05 PM

@TheOldCream - Absolutely disagree with you on Journey Into Imagination. There are other more pressing priorities that would deliver the same ROI at EPCOT. Why waste resources?

September 9, 2023 at 3:14 PM

With all the reskins for WDW you would expect that the atrocity that is Journey Into Imagination would get one but without a sponsor there will nothing happen there except a meet and greet character that looks proportionally wrong imho.
Anyway, this is going to be cheap and quite fast (for Disney).

September 9, 2023 at 4:03 PM

There was an interesting piece of concept art released today regarding an eventual MK expansion on the scale of Galaxy’s Edge and Avatar: WoP which seems to suggest a birds eye view of the blue sky concepts teased last year, namely the possible Villains’ Land. On the left of the image you see a peak of Big Thunder Mountain overlooking the land. It’s hard to tell if the expansion is westwardly or eastwardly, and thusly occupying the area behind Splash Mtn / Tianna Bayou adventure or the area we know and love as Tom Sawyer Island (apologies Robert) What is most interesting is if you focus on the image to the center and look to the top of the painting you see a clear silhouette of a castle tower, and a clearly defined Chernobog visage, massive arms outstretched …

September 9, 2023 at 5:05 PM

Yawn... Disney plans to counter an entire new park with a copy of a decades old ride from California, a tavern, and another redo of test track. I fail to see the "billions of dollars" that Disney keeps insisting that they are spending. Universal is getting ready to eat their lunch... USO and IOA have passed all but the Magic Kingdom, and I see nothing on the horizon that will stop the momentum of the Universal Parks.

Here is the Disney problem, they have a bunch of half day parks; and they are not investing to address this problem. Animal Kingdom, while beautiful and well themed doesn't hold the attention of tweens, and there isn't enough to do. EPCOT has had the same issue, and adding a Moana walk through really doesn't scream repeat utilization and capacity eater. It will be something kids will walk through once, yawn, and move on. For all of the money and effort spend on the Studios, it is still lacking (which is a statement for how big of a ripoff this park once was). My kids are 8 and 10, and were less entertained at the Disney Parks and continually asked when we were visiting Universal on our last trip in February. While the historic dark rides keep the attention of the longtime die hard fans, it isn't something that kids long for. Additionally, with Disney pricing out the average family, Disney faces the real possibility of being a one-time been there done that experience. They are losing the loyalty that was the Disney edge for decades.

September 9, 2023 at 7:28 PM

I'll wait for more as I can't count how many announced attractions over the decade that never came to be.

That said, about time WDW got a version of the Indy ride and the Encanto stuff looks fun too. I'd love a dark ride like Mystic Mansion for their home and sparks the park up more.

September 9, 2023 at 8:25 PM


Of course you disagree with me. You’ve made it crystal clear that that you will broke no criticism of Disney, especially in regards to EPCOT

JII is a ride that is utter garbage and one of the least popular pavilions in all of WDW. It doesn’t even have the nostalgia value of a ride like Spaceship Earth. It is in DIRE need of a replacement, but that is a project that would require a major investment of capital and resources and Disney isn’t about to commit to such a major project.

TT is one of the most popular rides in the park and doesn’t realistically need yet another refresh to maintain that status. But I’m guessing it’s fairly cheap to just slap another overlay on it and hope people are distracted by the shiny object. The fact that JII replaced a beloved classic that, by any measure, should be still be operating is just the cherry on top of this travesty.

If you can’t see how JII is ab absolute drag at EPCOT, then I really don’t know what to tell you.

September 9, 2023 at 8:51 PM

having animals in the movie doesn’t make the property a good fit for animal kingdom.

September 10, 2023 at 6:40 AM

@TOC: I agree that 'Journey Into Imagination' is an embarrassment. What I posted was that there are more pressing priorities.

September 10, 2023 at 8:57 AM

MLB: "USO and IOA have passed all but the Magic Kingdom, and I see nothing on the horizon that will stop the momentum of the Universal Parks."

Me: Commentators over on YT are finally acknowledging that construction of a new, entire theme park land represents an investment of more than a billion dollars. As I have asked here before, what top tier, E-ticket, gate-crasher attractions are planned/announced for IOA and USF? If Disney follows through on one of these expansions, it will likely be open before 2028.

September 10, 2023 at 10:23 AM

Disney announces a lot of ideas, some greenlit, and still never came to fruition. Any changes / expansions are better than nothing.

Announcing ideas and implementing actual announced changes are two completely different things. Even the credible Disney die-hards on YouTube are skeptical of any of this coming to fruition.

Epic Universe is coming soon, and Universal has so much momentum right now. I can see why Disney is in panic mode.

September 10, 2023 at 10:15 AM

Test Track has a sponsor hence why its being redone again while there may be more pressing issues.

September 10, 2023 at 10:24 AM

As far as the Avengers Campus dark ride, when will they begin construction on that? Also, when would it be finished?

September 10, 2023 at 10:29 AM

NB: "... Universal has so much momentum right now."

Me: With the exception of significant new additions to USF or IOA any time in the next few years.

September 10, 2023 at 10:53 AM

I think I was looking for a reason to want to be effectively "stuck" at Animal Kingdom (or any of the other DW parks individually), and I just don't see it.

As a vacationer who doesn't live near Florida (or California), I think the main reason why I have no plans to go back to Disney World is because having 4 non-contiguous parks is more of a disadvantage vs. having 2 contiguous parks (i.e., Disneyland/DCA; IOA/USF). With the park-hopping time restrictions and the burden of waiting for shuttles to each park, it honestly takes away from a lot of the "fun" and feels very burdensome and tiring (especially in the Florida humidity). I would love to ride Flight of Passage or Cosmic Rewind, but I don't want to feel stuck at their respective parks. Even Magic Kingdom lacks a "WOW" ride for anyone in my family, and I'm not convinced that Tron will be it. Honestly, after visiting Disneyland this summer, everyone in my family thought "Why would anyone choose Disney World over Disneyland/DCA?"

On the California side, I'm surprised Disney hasn't put DCA as top priority among the US parks. Opening Avengers Campus for years without an S-Tier ride is just shameful relative to expectations. Avengers Campus is such a lost opportunity. Webslingers is the worst shooter I've ever been on. It's the equivalent of "button mashing" in a video game rather than any skill/thought/strategy.
Aside from that, all they really need to do is fix the Incredicoaster, and the park would actually be satisfactory. The launch needs LSMs (as is, it's the worst launch I've experienced on a family coaster), the ride needs retracking, the trains need different restraints, and the loop may need to be slightly reprofiled so it doesn't feel like you're being jackhammered.
As is, I think if we ever went back to Southern California on vacation, we would consider skipping DCA entirely (and we don't feel that way about USH or Knott's).

September 10, 2023 at 10:58 AM

@Pocho - the reason people choose WDW over the Disneyland resort is the misperception that it has more to do because there are 4 parks. Disneyland is hands down the better value (and has way less angry tourists).

September 10, 2023 at 11:45 AM

@Jeffrey H - Disneyland does not have Muppet Vision, which is worth WDW admission alone. Checkmate.

September 10, 2023 at 11:57 AM

The Animal Kingdom changes are really weird to me. On the one hand, a South American land in theory is more interesting and congruent with the themes of Animal Kingdom than Moana (although I think I still would've preferred Zootopia), and the little town looks fun, but I'm struggling to see how this specific concept fits into Animal Kingdom, especially considering Encanto. From the concept art (which granted is most likely not its final iteration), I don't see a single animal trail, exhibit, or even fossil anywhere. Encanto has the one kid who has a connection to animals and the girl who can control plants, so maybe they'll focus on them, but that's still a contrived reason for its placement within this park. Indiana Jones I think could work a little better. Anaheim's Indy is fire themed, Tokyo's is water, maybe this one is earth/plants? Indy trying to return the heart of the jungle or something? I think that could work. Maybe even have some kind of time travel involved to still keep dinosaurs in Animal Kingdom, considering that was a major point in The Dial of Destiny. I dunno, I like this land, but from the concept art, it could've easily been placed in any other Walt Disney World park with no issues. Nothing about a town that was likely built on previously forested land with no nearby animals or nature screams Animal Kingdom to me.

September 10, 2023 at 12:35 PM

Wow new paint, ride name changes, a new video and some new landscaping - Disney is just killing it !

Meanwhile there still is no “insider” info for Epic universe !!??

September 10, 2023 at 1:39 PM

Tiptop22 - Wow new paint, ride name changes, a new video and some new landscaping - Disney is just killing it !

Meanwhile there still is no “insider” info for Epic universe !!??"

You need to understand some sites are Disney Approved Media and they have to keep it mostly Disney related. I have been saying it for years, some sites and channels are incredibly biased. There are countless YouTubers who used to be on Disney's "nice list" and are now blackballed.

September 10, 2023 at 1:42 PM

You can always count on TH to come out of the woodwork when there is any D23 announcement that may or may not ever happen.

September 10, 2023 at 1:48 PM

@ TH - what top tier, E-ticket, gate-crasher attractions are planned/announced for WDW? There's more blue sky dreams and literally a copy of a decades old ride from California, a tavern, and another redo of test track. The Animal Kingdom changes sound an awful lot like the Avengers Campus at California Adventure. Disney spending some money to put overlays on existing infrastructure utilizing "new" IPs. The other thing I will say is this, and please use actual (as in evidence not anecdote) examples, what in Disney's recent past makes you believe that they are capable to open anything that doesn't have a bloated budget and take years? Universal will open a theme park in less time than it took Disney to open a copied roller coaster. IF, and that is a big IF, Disney were ready to move ground tomorrow, it would take until your 2028 deadline to have Animal Kingdom ready. And the sum total of the changes are swapping IP on a decades old ride, swapping IPs on the Tree of Life, and what else exactly? In the interim, a park that is already barely a half a day, will have even LESS attractions to occupy people's time as Dinosaur and a Bug's Life go down.

September 10, 2023 at 2:26 PM

I would be surprised if half of these come to fruition.

We were promised Play, Mary Poppins, and Space Ship Earth reboot.

South America looks like Coronado Springs. Not inspiring at all.

Too many people want too many different things. People want "gate crashers." People want value. People want them to improve on what they have.

I can spend a year in Animal Kingdom and not get bored. There are shows, scavenger hunts, and animals. It has attractions that take up half the day, but it's not a half day park.

Just give me a slow moving 15 minute dark ride or the Star Wars night time show back. Bring back donald at the end of philharmagic.

September 10, 2023 at 2:43 PM

MLB asks: "What top tier, E-ticket, gate-crasher attractions are planned/announced for WDW?"

Me: None. If you read my posts on this thread you'll see that I remark that yesterday's program was a "non-event" and that the 2024 D23 Anaheim needs to feature specific targets on green lit projects.

MLB: "The other thing I will say is this, and please use actual (as in evidence not anecdote) examples, what in Disney's recent past makes you believe that they are capable to open anything that doesn't have a bloated budget and take years?

Me: Well that's original. I've always seen people claims that Disney cuts development budgets and was cheap. Which attraction are you claiming had a "bloated budget" -- "and please use actual (as in evidence not anecdote) examples".


MLB: "Universal will open a theme park in less time than it took Disney to open a copied roller coaster."

Me: Well done Universal! And maybe we will soon get an announcement of a major E-ticket attraction that will be built really quickly at USF and IOA. I only hope it's not 'Fast & Furious: Supercharged', an attraction featuring a grumpy talk show host or something with even more Minions.

MLB: "IF, and that is a big IF, Disney were ready to move ground tomorrow, it would take until your 2028 deadline to have Animal Kingdom ready.

Me: So what?

In the end, my pal MLB writes a lot of stuff but doesn't directly answer the question I posed (" ... what top tier, E-ticket, gate-crasher attractions are planned/announced for IOA and USF"?)

Ah well.

September 10, 2023 at 3:03 PM

The last time EPCOT added a ride that wasn’t either a 1 for 1 replacement of an existing ride or wasn’t merely copied from an already existing one in another park was………..Body Wars in 1989!

September 10, 2023 at 3:51 PM

TOC: "The last time EPCOT added a ride that wasn’t either a 1 for 1 replacement ..."

Me: You mean like when the new Minion ride replaced the Shrek movie. Or when Jimmy Fallon replaced Twister. Or when Mummy replaced Kong. Or when Fast & Furious replaced Beetlejuice and Disaster. Or when Diagon Alley replaced Jaws. Or when Fear Factor replaced the Western Stunt Show. Or when The Simpsons replaced Back to the Future. Or when Bourne replaced Terminator.

You know, a themed entertainment model, used by multiple, different park operators (Disney, Universal, etc.) where a new attraction replaces an attraction that's being closed.

September 10, 2023 at 5:05 PM

Just an underwhelming announcement by Disney. I don’t see any of these announcements driving a surge in attendance or revenue for Disney. Maybe there is something there for the new Marvel ride at DCA or if a new Encanto ride is amazing, but I don’t thing anyone could say until it really happens, and this being Disney, that could be a long time away (if it every happens).

It seems like Disney’s main priority in expansion is in the cruise line. That must be where a large part of the coming profits is coming from as of late.

September 10, 2023 at 6:57 PM

Some "gate-crashers" have nothing to do with attractions or park expansions. Theme park small ball works too.

From DIS NEWS (09/10/23): "The much-anticipated meet-and-greet for Figment opened to guests Sunday inside ImageWorks in the World Celebration neighborhood of EPCOT, and the wait time was long – up to three, sometimes four hours long from the early morning hours. Social media posts reported massive crowds extending to the outdoor queue with guests waiting in the hot Florida sun".

September 10, 2023 at 8:26 PM

@TH Your obsession with Universal is hilarious.

Never said they don’t replace rides. But I’m pretty sure they haven’t let a Florida park languish without adding an all new, non replacement ride, that wasn’t simply a copy from another park and actually increased park capacity, since 1989.

Of course you also glossed over the fact that they’re literally opening an entirely new park in less than a year.

I know you get paid by Disney, but, honestly, the extent to which you carry their water is absurd. I think the people in charge at Disney share your mindset where they that everything they do is absolute gold and if those mouthy guests don’t like it, then they clearly don’t know what they’re talking about.

Which pretty much explains why the company is in the tailspin that it’s in.

But, don’t worry, I’m sure that another reskin of an attraction that’s 25 year old and a bunch of underwhelming “well we might or might not be doing this” announcements is really going to turn things around.

September 10, 2023 at 9:30 PM

In defense of Imagination re-do, Figment is obviously a big merch-mover among Disney fans. Imagine how much more money they could make with the character among the general public if the ride he's featured in wasn't as lame as it is today.

September 11, 2023 at 6:57 AM

TOC: "Your obsession with Universal is hilarious."

Me: Love to keep 'em laughing.

TOC: "Never said they don’t replace rides."

Me: Never said you did.

You: "Of course you also glossed over the fact that they’re literally opening an entirely new park in less than a year."

Me: Actually it's slated for the summer of 2025. If that means June it would be a year and eight months. Then again, accuracy does not seem to be one of your strong suits. Also I never criticized Universal. In fact, on this thread when MLB noted that Epic Universe was on its way I responded "Well done Universal!"

You: "I know you get paid by Disney, but, honestly, the extent to which you carry their water is absurd."

Me: Really? Well Disney might want its money back. If they (or you) had given my TPI perspectives a thorough read you’d know that I have previously written that ‘Men In Black: Alien Attack’ is one of the best dark ride/themed attractions ever built – much better than Disney classics like ‘The Haunted Mansion’. The animated figure at the end of IOA’s skull island is nothing less than an extraordinary achievement. On multiple occasions, on this site I’ve posted Mike Thomas’ review of the Hulk coaster ("The beginning of The Incredible Hulk is the best six seconds in theme park history.") I still agree with that opinion. In June of this year I re-posted this from several years ago: "Seriously, there is no denying that the team at Universal Creative has consistently outpaced WDI since the opening of Islands of Adventure. Universal Creative is the GOLD STANDARD for innovation in theme park design. 'The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman', 'Men in Black: Alien Attack', 'Revenge of the Mummy, "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,. There is not a single WDW attraction that is anywhere near as innovative. Even Twister demonstrates how Universal Creative is more committed to take an extraordinary risk at creating the (apparently) impossible theme park experience." I have consistently written “One of the things I love most about Universal Creative is their unwavering willingness to swing for the fence”. Back in 2004, I actually wrote that Universal should pursue “an attraction (ANY attraction) based upon the Harry Potter franchise”.

TOC: "I think the people in charge at Disney share your mindset where they that everything they do is absolute gold and if those mouthy guests don’t like it, then they clearly don’t know what they’re talking about."

Me: Which I will dismiss as an example of someone who engages in hyperbole when it comes to attacking Disney. But, you know, whatever floats your boat.


September 11, 2023 at 9:14 AM

I've got quite a bit to say about these announcements.

I'll start with DAK...

Disney has known that Dinoland was a problem for well over a decade now. After completing PtWoA, WDI should have been brainstorming ways to fix Dinoland, but based on this announcement, that never happened. Sure, they had to fix Rivers of Light and revamp Finding Nemo, along with dealing with the pandemic, but the fact that WDI is just now brainstorming attractions to replace this black hole is downright negligent. It's great to throw out blue sky ideas for the retheme of a land like this, but I think Disney fans have learned that these are nothing but hollow promises. Disney can throw up fancy concept drawings and get uber fans all excited by throwing out wild ideas, but until shovels hit the dirt, presentations like this are absolutely worthless. As we all know, even if Disney were to break ground on a Dinoland replacement today, a project of this scope would not open until at least mid-2025, but more likely 2026.

For me, that's the biggest takeaway from this part of the presentation. Disney is just now taking a serious look at the Dinoland problem and putting together ideas to fix it. Anyone expecting a quick solution should understand that this presentation pretty much just kicks the can down the road and means any new attractions in the land will not be ready for another 3-5 years.

I do think what's interesting is the Zootopia reskin of the Tree of Life Theater. However, I don't think Zootopia offers any better guest recognition than Bugs Life. I've always like It's Tough to Be a Bug, and it's positioning in the park was perfect. I get the impression that reskinning this attraction with Zootopia is merely a stalling technique to help defray the pain that is coming to DAK when they do start construction on the Dinoland replacement. Dinosaur will have to be close for retheming, so by offering a new movie in the Tree of Life Theater, Disney will be able to keep guests coming to the park instead of delaying visits for the opening of the new land.

As TH has noted, if Disney is committed to renovating Dinoland, they need to have some serious concrete announcements at next year's D23 to include opening dates (not only for the new land, but also the Zootopia movie, which I would guess will be sometime in the first half of 2025) and precise details of what guests can expect from the new DAK.

September 11, 2023 at 8:47 AM

When it comes to EPCOT, I just can't agree with TH. I know that they've had first hand experience of walking through the new Moana area, but I still don't see how the completion of this play area and World Celebration as a whole makes any sort of an impact on the park aside removing the unsightly construction walls and detours that upended traffic patterns in the front of the park. This area is NOT a destination, and while some may be drawn to Moana for a brief stop, there's nothing in this area that will draw guests or make visits significantly better. I suppose with a second bite of the apple, Disney make stumble into a hit with Luminous, but I get the feeling that too many bridges were burned with HarmonioUS to recapture interest in an EPCOT nighttime show until they go back to their IllumiNations roots.

A few years ago, Disney revealed all of these blue sky ideas like Mary Poppins in the UK, the Play Pavilion, and completely renovated Spaceship Earth, yet during this presentation Disney talks about yet another TestTrack revamp??? What is going on with WDI that all of this existing development work is put on the back burner to do a 4th redo of an attraction that is already pretty popular with guests? Why Why Why???

I just get the feeling that as EPCOT budgets got Chapek-ed, and the original reimagining of the park for its 40th anniversary was flushed down the toilet, WDI has just thrown up their hands on this park. There's no cohesion left in what was FutureWorld, and all of the pain and frustration that guests had to deal with during the spine renovation was for naught. As with DAK, my hope would be that the TestTrack reskinning is being used as a delay tactic to give WDI time to develop and execute a more appropriate renovation for the park that at one point 15-20 years ago was the absolute BEST theme park in the world IMHO.

September 11, 2023 at 8:53 AM

Russell ... They put a guy in a purple dragon costume and guests lined up for three hours to see him.

When you (the guy who invented the term "Disney Drones") write: "... I still don't see how the completion of this play area and World Celebration as a whole makes any sort of an impact on the park ..." what do you mean by "impact"?

September 11, 2023 at 8:59 AM

As far as the Avengers CAMPUS announcement, that was a complete throw-away for me other than the notion that it sounds like they're not looking at using the FoP ride system for the attraction, which was the long-running rumor. If true, I think it's disappoint that WDI would install yet another motion base dark ride attraction in California at a resort FULL of such attractions. Perhaps the lack of specificity in this announcement is an indication that WDI is working on something truly unique here, but I would be really disappointed if this attraction ended up being a copy of RotR with Marvel theming.

The other disappointing part of this announcement is that there was no specificity, which indicates to me that it's at least 5 years off (if not longer). Disney teased a Quinjet attraction when Avengers CAMPUS was first announced back in 2017, and now we're sitting 6 years later, and WDI is seemingly not any closer to realizing the attraction than when they broke ground on the land in 2018. This attraction keeps getting kicked down the road, it makes you wonder if they'll ever stop teasing it.

September 11, 2023 at 8:59 AM

I would just like to know when the Avengers Campus dark ride will begin construction? As well as when it may open?

September 11, 2023 at 9:08 AM

By "impact", I'm referring to making any notable improvement in driving revenue - getting more people through the gates or spending more money while inside the park. Yes, the completion of the spine construction will be a massive improvement as construction walls come down and pathways open up to allow guests to more easily get around this area of the park. However, for all the annoyance and frustrating that plagued the former FutureWorld Spine, what has it gotten guests? It looks a bit nicer and more appropriate represents modern sensibilities towards the future of humanity on Earth. However, aside from the aesthetic improvements and removal of the future-Brutalist-style architecture, the years of renovation seem to offer no means of making a tangible improvement to the park (draw more guests or get them to spend more money).

Disney could have just as easily left this part of the park as it was, and saved themselves a few hundred million dollars and tens of thousands of frustrated guests. The way I see it, this renovation had a bold vision, and tons of potential, but ultimately as budgets got trimmed and work got delayed, the park has not seen any substantial improvement that will impact guests' perception of EPCOT.

September 11, 2023 at 9:08 AM

@timbo23 - Don't hold you breath. At this point, I'd be surprised if it opens before 2030 at this point.

September 11, 2023 at 10:19 AM

@Russell: Let's see how it looks when it's done. I for one was bored with the old plaza. And, be honest, had it not been for the pandemic this would be up and running already. And PLAY! would've been built.

Hell, I bet we would've heard about Journey into Imagination.

Regard the new area of the park as a whole. Not individual pieces.

September 11, 2023 at 11:42 AM

I just feel that when they started slashing budgets and downsizing plans, the Spine project had become just a reorganization of furniture. Yes, there's better flow, and it looks nicer and more appealing, but a lot of time and money was spent on something that doesn't really deliver anything of substance to the park.

Perhaps if they had kept the observations tower, which could generate revenue through special events and upcharges, and were able fully visualize World Celebration as initially planned, perhaps it might have been worth the cost. However, when they cut the project off at the knees, they ended up just flushing all that money down the toilet with little chance for a return.

I have no doubt that EPCOT will look better and more appealing, but was the improvement really worth the cost, and can Disney ever actually recoup the investment to the point where they would be willing or able to do a similar reimagining of other areas/parks in the future?

That's what worries me. For all intents and purposes, Disney got a massive return on its investment into doing park-wide improvements to DCA, and IMHO, the EPCOT renovation was of similar scope and scale. However, while DCA realized massive returns on it's reimagining, the resulting improvements to EPCOT do not appear to have the same level of impact.

September 11, 2023 at 11:35 AM

I'll take the aesthetics. I wasn't annoyed by the wait. Not in the least.

September 12, 2023 at 5:33 AM

“…aside from the aesthetic improvements and removal of the future-Brutalist-style architecture…” The architecture is modern with a mix of contemporary, not brutalist. If you don’t know, Russell, then don’t make the assumption.

September 11, 2023 at 12:47 PM

KS - arbiter of wokenss and now architecture, great.

September 11, 2023 at 1:40 PM

@Russell Meyer, I know, they don’t really talk about the Avengers ride much. I feel like it will be a great ride though. Hopefully they’ll begin some construction on it sooner rather than later. When does everything think Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens at Disneyland next year?

September 11, 2023 at 2:44 PM


I do thin the Avengers attraction will be great. That is the one attraction that contains multiple characters & is essentially their one (best) shot at maximizing the Marvel IP in DCA. I'm thinking after ROTR, they have to create something close to that sort of an experience. I can't see this being a standard dark ride (Like DCA's Little Mermaid)

It won't be another "Web Shooters", so I thinking more Galaxy's Edge style.

In terms of Tiana, my guess would be mid summer.

September 11, 2023 at 4:31 PM

The D23 announcements may not be what we hoped for, but with the ongoing problems in the movie and streaming segments of their business, they may be sitting on their money and focusing on righting the ship in those areas. And economically speaking, the world looks pretty shaky in the next two years. I'd be holding off on major investments if I were them too.

If one goes on attendance and profitability figures only, the parks are doing fine, and until the metrics show a trend that indicates that the parks need to expand and improve, it just isn't going to happen like we want it to.

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