The History of Primeval Whirl, The First Removed Disney Roller Coaster

Disney Parks History

Primeval Whirl Roller Coaster Standing But Not Opperating Disney's Animal Kingdom

Since the opening of the Matterhorn Bobsleds in Disneyland, roller coasters have become an essential part of the Disney Parks experience. At the moment every Disney Park in the world except Epcot has at least one roller coaster, and Epcot has one currently under construction. But when Disney's Animal Kingdom opened it was without a roller coaster, and it would not get one until the opening of Primeval Whirl.

There were multiple roller coasters planned for opening day of Disney's Animal Kingdom, one being the elaborate Dragon themed roller coaster that would have been a part of the canceled Beastly Kingdom land, and the other being the Excavator coaster, a wooden roller coaster planned as part of Dinoland USA that would have been themed as a dig site, which would be canceled due to budget issues with the construction of the park, leaving the park without a roller coaster on opening day.

One of the primary critiques of Disney's Animal Kingdom early on was a lack of ride through attractions, and this was something Disney had to try to fix. But they were facing a multitude of problems that limited their ability to do so. The parks did not have a massive budget following the financial failure of Disneyland Paris, and Disney's Animal Kingdom had already been an incredibly expensive park.

Chester and Hester's Dinorama Logo Dinoland USA Disney's Animal Kingdom

This led Disney to make an expansion plan for Disney's Animal Kingdom to add new attractions as cheaply as possible with an expansion to Dinoland USA. The main ride of this expansion was to be Primeval Whirl, the park's first roller coaster.

Primeval Whirl opened in 2002 as part of the Chester and Hester's Dinorama expansion of Dinoland USA, having replaced the temporary Dinosaur Jubilee exhibit. It was themed as a parody of the neighboring Dinosaur/ Countdown to Extinction ride, existing as a fictional tourist trap that showed up alongside the Dinosaur Institute.

The actual roller coaster was something relatively unique for a Disney Park in that it was not uniquely designed for Disney, although its theming was unique. It was a series of two Reverchon spinning coasters that were rides designed to be cloned to numerous other amusement parks, meaning you could ride the same track layout at many other parks. This allowed Disney to save money designing the ride by using a ride design that already existed.

Dinoland USA Entrance Sign Disney's Animal Kingdom Walt Disney World

The ride was a moderate success alongside the Dinoland USA expansion, begining to allay issues related to the lack of rides in the park. Constant criticism would follow the ride though for its light theming, with many feeling it did not fit in its park or at Walt Disney World in general. The land would develop its fans however who loved the deep lore developed for the land.

Two notable incidents would affect the ride, resulting in one death each of Disney cast members related to the ride, with the first being in 2007 and the second being in 2011. The first of these would lead to new safety protocols being developed for this ride.

The ride would end up being essentially entirely unchanged throughout its existence, gradually declining in popularity as other expansions opened in Disney's Animal Kingdom. As highly themed expansions began to open, critiques of the Chester and Hester section of Dinoland and Primeval Whirl began to increase.

Starting in summer of 2019, Primeval Whirl would become a seasonal attraction, which for Disney is almost always an indicator that a ride is set to close in the near future.

Primeval Whirl Roller Coaster Entrance Dinoland USA Disney's Animal Kingdom Walt Disney World

The ride would close along with the rest of Walt Disney World in March 2020 due to the spread of COVID19 across the United States, but when the park reopened this ride did not. It was confirmed permanently closed in July 2020 along multiple other Disney attractions as a result of the impact of the pandemic on Walt Disney World. It would have its ride vehicles removed and then sit standing but not operating until September 2021 when demolition began.

The future of this spot is still unknown. No attraction has been announced to replace Primeval Whirl, and it appears that for the immediate future the area will merely be left empty.