July 11, 2011

The Rise and Fall of Disney's Animal Kingdom

How can a Disney theme park with so much promise fall into such a miserable state less than 15 years after opening? Such is the case of Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

Although it opened on Opening on Earth Day 1988, the park began capturing the interest and curiosity of the public years ago when the project was first announced. "Why would Disney want to create a zoo?" was a common question- one that Disney's own accountants had to be asking themselves as well. It was one the Company itself had to be asking after guest numbers fell year after year. And it is one die hard Disney theme park fans- and perhaps even Imagineer Joe Rohde- are now asking themselves while the Walt Disney Company lets this beautiful, rich kingdom die a slow death, watching it devolve into just another zoo.

With broken effects in most of the major attractions, shortened hours, overpriced restaurants, and rehashed parades, although Disney's Animal Kingdom once had the ability to match Tokyo Disney Sea in elan and beauty, the company tossed its potential aside due to neglect in both upkeep and lack of further enhancements. The pricey Wild Africa Trek does not make up for a lack of expansion, but it does explain away the reason for a broken yeti at Expedition Everest, closing shows without replacements, and offering nothing new in years. Clearly, corporate greed trumps customer satisfaction and high value for the dollars spent. Please prove me wrong, Mr. Iger, please do.

My intent here is not to rehash a detailed history of the park. (For those that are interested, I do so in a six part series that begins here.) Today, I just want to ask the question, "What happened?"

(Photo copyright Mark Taft.)


SamLand said...

Face it, The Walt Disney Company does not really care about WDW anymore. Too expensive to run, too many cast members, too many buses, and too much work. They figure we are stupid enough to keep coming back so why try very hard.

Mark Taft said...

I fear you may correct, Sam. Trying to go in 2013 timeframe- and I'd love to be surprised...