How to Fix Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney's Animal Kingdom is one of the best Disney Parks in the world. A stunning tribute to the animals of the world and efforts to conserve them done at a massive scale, it transports you both around our world and to another planet, while staying true to an overarching theme.

But no Disney Park is ever perfect, and can always be improved.

This is the first of a new series of articles that will armchair Imagineer ways to improve Disney Parks around the world from their current state. We are not going to evaluate temporary changes due to COVID19, but permanent changes to the park.

We are going to start at Disney's Animal Kingdom, with examining what is missing from the park.

This park has one of the best entertainment lineups of any Disney Park around the world, so they do not need any additional shows.

What the park is missing though, is dark rides.

Dark rides are park of what differentiates a Disney Park from any other amusement park in the world. Experiences like the Haunted Mansion and Peter Pan's Flight can only happen at Disney.

Yet Disney's Animal Kingdom only has two of these, the thrilling Dinosaur, which honestly is a bit too scary for small children despite being one of the best rides in the park, and Navi River Journey, which despite its beautiful sets, is somewhat of an underwhelming experience.

The park could desperately use a few additional dark rides. Personally, I would recommend a Lion King dark ride in Africa, potentially in the area between that land and Pandora, which has more than enough room for an additional attraction. It is ridiculous The Lion King hasn't gotten a ride, and while the Festival of the Lion King should not go anywhere, a ride would certainly be welcome and fit perfectly on the edge of the town of Harambe.

The park could also add a Jungle Book themed dark ride to the Asia section, as there is a massive unused expansion pad adjacent to this land. This could even be based on the live-action film, which ties in well with the themes of Disney's Animal Kingdom, and would keep the park more grounded in realistic characters.

The other major thing the park is missing is roller coasters. While Expedition Everest is one of if not the best coasters at Walt Disney World, having only one coaster is something that should be corrected.

Previously the park also had Primeval Whirl, a lightly themed coaster in Dinoland USA, but it was reportedly decided that it will never reopen following the coronavirus. Honestly, this area could make a perfect home to a reimagined concept from the early days of the park.

Originally the area that currently holds Chester and Hester's Dinorama was set to hold the first-ever wooden Disney coaster, themed as a dig site. This concept could still work today, and I would even further it to say maybe Disney could explore an RMC style coaster here, to allow for some additional thrills. If Disney could do this and work in the wood into a design of scaffolding around some massive half unearthed fossils, it could be an amazing experience.

Another thing missing from Disney's Animal Kingdom is flat rides, or lightly themed spinner type rides. At the moment the park has only one, Triceratop Spin, and with its companion ride Primeval Whirl having closed, it feels a bit out of place.

TriceraTop Spin Disney's Animal Kingdom Decorated for Christmas

A few of these rides could help round out the park, and potentially take some of the strain off the major rides of the park which see some of the highest waits in Walt Disney World. These parks would be especially beloved by families with young children, and would really just help make the park fell more full.

A few highly themed but relatively cheap rides, similar to the rides of the former A Bug's Land from Disney California Adventure scattered throughout the park would be more than welcome. I don't mean just plop a carousel down in the park, but maybe add a few small attractions on the path to and from Rafiki's Planet Watch.

The last addition I think would be helpful in the park, is using its massive amphitheater not just during the night for Rivers of Light like shows, but also during the day. This theater is just sitting empty for the majority of the day, and opening it up for some type of daytime performance would give it some additional use.

Rivers of Light Amphitheater Disney's Animal Kingdom

There is plenty they could do for this. They could make the cavalcade we have seen recently more elaborate and do some kind of water parade, or do a less elaborate fountain style of show, or something else entirely. It is just sad to see the theater sitting empty the entire day.