Join our zoo community

Disney's Animal Kingdom® Park Article with Different Perspective

Discussion in 'United States' started by Coelacanth18, 23 Apr 2016.

  1. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Feb 2015
    Posts:
    904
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Hey ZooChatters,

    In the past there has been a lot of discussion, debate, and arguments regarding DAK and its status as a zoo and theme park. While people on this site often focus largely on the zoo-like aspects (as is expected, of course), I came across an interesting article written by an avid Disney Park-goer, who talks about the park's benefits and drawbacks from the perspective of a theme park fan, rather than a zoo fan. In fact, he states his desire a couple of times that it is/would be beneficial for DAK to "distance" itself from a typical zoo. Just thought it would be interesting to see what ideas a theme park fan might have on this enormously popular attraction.

    I Was Wrong About Disney's Animal Kingdom. - Disney Tourist Blog
     
  2. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    5 Jul 2008
    Posts:
    2,467
    Location:
    Aberdeen, Scotland (UK)
    Thanks for sharing. Clearly he wants it to be more of a theme park. A few of his suggestions (like the focus on mythical or extinct animals) have already been considered - some partly dismissed and some cut down or brought in later (like Expedition Everest; and we already have DinoLand USA).

    I think Disney have always tried to distance DAK from typical zoos. One of their earlier 'African phrases' in park literature was something like 'Nahtazu' (not a zoo).
     
  3. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    11 Jan 2015
    Posts:
    1,036
    Location:
    Changzhou, China
    Fascinating insight into a different world of enthusiasts.

    I found this sentence rather baffling though:

    "Dinosaurs are our greatest national treasure, and it’s time Disney started treating them like it."
     
  4. jibster

    jibster Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    28 Apr 2015
    Posts:
    247
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio, USA
    As someone who is an enthusiast of both zoos and theme parks, I have long followed DisneyTouristBlog, and anyone who follows it would not be baffled by that sentence, as blogger Tom often refers to his avid love of all things dinosaur (and uses hyperbole and light-hearted snark and sarcasm to remind us all). Tom is a lover of all things Disney, and I found this post from years ago encapsulated all I love about Animal Kingdom as a theme park, which is, to my mind, its intent. Many criticisms zoo fans have about the animal displays (such as the one I've heard most frequently, that Kilimanjaro Safaris does not allow one to get extended looks at the many species held within) are valid criticisms of a zoo, but don't really hold up as criticisms of a theme park attraction. Besides, one can get one fill of many of the Safari's species (and several species currently absent from the Safari) by visiting (at no charge) the Animal Kingdom lodge, whose savannas make up (at least in part) from their lack of elephant, rhinos, hippos, and predators by showing a much wider range of hoof stock (some species present at the Lodge but missing from the Safari attraction include roan antelope, nyala, red river hog, and Somali wild ass).

    For anyone interested in the theme park experience, DAK is just about to undergo a huge "coming-out" (to use the term adopted by Tom Bricker at DisneyTouristBlog) as a theme park, with new attractions designed to extend it to a full-day destination (extending hours to eleven at night starting this summer) and the forthcoming Avatar land (finally fully incorporating the imaginary animals that were originally part of the park's concept but missing other than the yeti in Expedition Everest). For fans of strictly the zoological aspects of DAK, there is little of interest besides the debut of Kilimanjaro Safaris After Dark, an evening version of the Safaris attraction with special lighting effects. No new species (other than the previously added wild dogs and hyenas), but a new take on the experience. Anyone interested in seeing some video that gives a taste of this new "version" of the Safaris can find it here:


    http://http://www.wdwmagic.com/attractions/kilimanjaro-safaris/news/20apr2016-video---kilimanjaro-safaris-after-dark.htm
     
  5. Shellheart

    Shellheart Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19 Mar 2013
    Posts:
    282
    Location:
    San Diego,CA
    As another enthusiast from both sides of the track,I think Disney's Animal Kingdom appeals far more to the zoo enthusiast than the amusement park enthusiast. While this is not necessarily a bad thing,for the prices they charge they need to have a better blend of both worlds,which should hopefully be remedied with Avatar. On the amusement park side of the tracks I can see why people consider this to be a half-day park,as it very much is. Animal Kingdom has the distinction of being the only park in Walt Disney World (or dare I say it any Disney Park) with only one E-ticket attraction (attractions that draw huge crowds and are thrilling for all ages),which is a huge disadvantage,and rather generic rides except for Dinosaur and Expedition Everest,keeping it only just above Disney's Hollywood Studios,Disney World's least popular park. However,with immersive exhibits and upcoming thrills,it looks like Animal Kingdom will hopefully be able to fill both niches rather successfully.
     
  6. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    29 Jan 2008
    Posts:
    655
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Disney's Animal Kingdom is clearly a zoo. However all zoos have always been a mix of theme park and museum, the balance varying between institution and within institutions over time. DAK is no exception. Interesting though to read the views of those who do not consider it "theme park enough".
     
  7. jibster

    jibster Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    28 Apr 2015
    Posts:
    247
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio, USA
    While I would agree there is a shortage of traditional theme park "rides" at Animal Kingdom, I still think it has a good blend of attractions. And while it may not be a thrill ride, it's hard to view Kilimanjaro Safaris as anything other than an E-ticket attraction (it definitely rivals Everest in terms of wait times though I'm not sure how the two compare as far as capacity). While it clearly does have zoological exhibits, I don't think it's fair to call any attraction merely a zoo which had (and soon again will have) two of its five lands with no real animal attractions (save a few small exhibits and the long-shuttered Pocahontas show). And if number of rides is a criterion in considering whether to call something an amusement park, what does one do with Hollywood Studios at present (which has only five attractions that are in any way rides - two or three that could be considered thrill rides, two family rides)? At least Animal Kingdom has seven rides (though, admittedly, some less popular ones). Even with the additions of a Star Wars and Toy Story lands, the DHS will end up tied with DAK at nine rides each (with each park adding only one true E-ticket).

    Looking at the additions to the park over the years since it opened, besides the opening of Asia after the remainder of DAK, there have been no substantial animal exhibits added to the park. There have been improvements, new species, the flex habitat for wild dogs and hyenas, and soon the "new experience" of Kilimanjaro after dark, but nothing else. It's hard to argue it's simply a zoo, though I could see how people who are solely fans of theme parks and uninterested in zoos often write it off as one.
     
  8. Oddernod

    Oddernod Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Jun 2014
    Posts:
    45
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Another casualty of late-era Eisner cost-cutting, if the park would've opened as Joe Rohde and his team designed it — we would still be talking about it as the crown jewel of theme park design.

    Take everything that stands there now, along with a fully themed & permanent Festival of the Lion King theater, the Disney equivalent of what became the Dueling Dragons coaster at nearby Islands of Adventure and a land that supported it, and build it out for both day and knight (spelling intentional for anyone who remembers the long dormant boat ride that was shuttered early on in DAK's history).

    It's still my favorite Disney Park minus all of that daydreaming.