Once upon a time, Disney's Animal Kingdom was the place to go on the Walt Disney World property if you were looking for adventures of the wild variety.
Sure, there were the sedate encounters and beautiful landscapes, but it didn't take long for guests to find the thrills in the park. The Imagineering team led by Joe Rohde designed it to be just like that!
The real animal encounters found on Kilimanjaro Safaris, the now historic lost animals of Countdown to Extinction, and the mythical (A-mode) Yeti waiting to be discovered on Expedition: Everest gave visitors goosebumps of a different sort compared to what could be found elsewhere. It was a unique and successful twist on the Disney theme park. Yet, it's been watered down as the years go by.
Just take a good, hard look at the park's three premier thrill attractions, and its easy to see the decline in show quality and presentation. Less drama, less detail, less functionality = less guest satisfaction. Pretty simple math, huh?
Will the pending Avatar project wake up a sleeping giant? (Will it really be announced at D23? And if it does, will guests love it?) Or will it take something more memorable- like the dragons found (above) on the abandoned plans for Beastly Kingdom (Kingdomme) - reused in some new ways- to bring a once vibrant park back to life?
(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)