Disney Rumors for December 2023
Josh D’Amaro just reiterated that change is coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
At this point, we have to believe him, even though there are plenty of reasons to doubt.
In the latest batch of Disney Rumors, we’ll discuss what the future could hold at Animal Kingdom.
Say Goodbye to DinoLand U.S.A.
As a reminder, much of what we discuss here is entirely theoretical, but it’s different from our typical Disney Rumors.
That’s because Disney itself has indicated that these are the plans Imagineers are working to bring into reality.
Nobody at Disney has committed to anything yet, which irritates fans a comical amount.
Memes involving D’Amaro and Disney CEO Bob Iger harp on their unwillingness to commit firmly to park expansion.
Historically, Disney used its D23 Parks Panels to announce massive projects. Lately, park officials have used it as a giant audience survey instead.
Still, Disney has cheekily teased what’s coming next, even as executives stubbornly refuse to confirm anything.
Notably, Universal Orlando Resort has done the same thing several times recently.
People could see the VelociCoaster nearing completion, but Universal officials wouldn’t admit it existed. It was the world’s first instance of roller coaster gaslighting.
For whatever reason, when the challenger brand does something like that, it’s funny. When Disney does it, people get angry.
That’s why D’Amaro has to speak in a publication like Entertainment Weekly and swear profusely that Animal Kingdom will add an Indiana Jones ride.
Fans remain skeptical because we’ve heard it all before. Right now, Disney is in a transitional phase, and park expenditures don’t fit on the balance sheet.
But D’Amaro is being totally sincere when he states that changes are coming to DinoLand U.S.A.
Walt Disney World’s least popular themed land needs to change. Its unpopularity creates a traffic flow imbalance.
When guests enter Animal Kingdom, few of them head toward DinoLand, which offers DINOSAUR, TriceraTop Spin, and some character greetings.
That’s just not good enough for Disney, and everyone knows it.
Park officials admitted as much when they tore down Primeval Whirl. Everything else should go soon.
Meet the Tropical Americas
Here’s a dirty secret of Imagineering. Most ideas never make it out of committee. Instead, they’re proposals that fail to advance.
We call this part of the creative process the blue-sky phase when anything is possible.
Historically, Disney didn’t even acknowledge most blue-sky proposals for this reason.
During recent D23 events, Disney has changed its tone. Now, they’re opening discussion projects they know may never come to fruition.
For this reason, the line has blurred between rumor and firm plan. We’re seeing Imagineering ideas that aren’t certain to become attractions.
Still, we must take D’Amaro at his word when the Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products swears that the Tropical Americas is happening.
The current plan calls for Disney to re-theme the current DinoLand U.S.A. into a place that reflects modern rather than ancient civilization.
In making this change, park officials must balance the reality of Animal Kingdom with the storytelling opportunities of Disney characters.
Currently, Animal Kingdom hosts themed areas based on the marvelous, beautiful cultures of the continents of Africa and Asia.
The Tropical Americas would do something similar with the region of land that connects South America to North America.
During D23, Disney referred to the locale as “the northernmost region of South America,” which will give you a headache if you think about it too long.
Still, D’Amaro and the Imagineers confirmed three vital facts about the Tropical Americas.
Most importantly, Zootopia will NOT go here, but that’s okay! D’Amaro indicated it’ll have a presence elsewhere at Animal Kingdom.
What will go here are attractions based on Indiana Jones and Encanto.
About the Attractions at the Tropical Americas
We have a strong idea about what one of the attractions in the re-themed land will be. It’s Indiana Jones Adventure.
Diehard Disney fans know that three Disney attractions around the world employ the same unique ride cart.
Those rides are Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye, Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull, and…DINOSAUR.
One of these things is not like the other two. It probably will be soon, though.
For this reason, if you love DINOSAUR – and I happen to be a fan – you should ride it as much as you can over the next year or so. Its days seem numbered.
As for Encanto, rumors persist of an Imagineering creation that’s epic in scope: it’s a real-life version of Casa Madrigal!
Now, Disney has hinted that such a magical house would go in the region that lies beyond Big Thunder Mountain, but anything is possible here.
Imagineers could just as easily build the casita at the Tropical Americas, and children would flock to it! That’s reason enough to do it.
Also, thematically, Casa Madrigal probably makes more sense here than at Magic Kingdom.
So, we have a strong idea about what’s coming to the Tropical Americas. Fans are therefore more interested in the other thing.
Welcome to Zootopia!
On December 20th, Hong Kong Disneyland will introduce the world to Zootopia.
This new themed land recreates the world of Zootopia, and the early images look breathtaking.
MickeyBlog has already covered this story some, and we will publish more toward the end of 2023.
Still, we know that the anchor attraction at Zootopia is Zootopia: Hot Pursuit.
In a bit of kismet, Scott Gustin just tweeted a video of this ride, which remains a few weeks from opening:
Here's new on-ride footage of Zootopia: Hot Pursuit, the flagship attraction in the upcoming Zootopia land at the Shanghai Disney Resort. The land officially opens on Dec. 20. 📽️: @shanghaidaily pic.twitter.com/bVnp4R0v7Z
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) November 29, 2023
And here’s an on-ride video you can watch as well:
I’d strongly encourage Disney fans to watch these clips to admire the genius of Zootopia.
You’ll notice unmistakable elements of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
They’re present because all three attractions use trackless ride carts to take guests anywhere the story needs.
Similarly, there are watching elements akin to what you’d see on Soarin’ or even WEBSLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure.
Finally, the ride ends with Gazelle singing Try Anything, which will forcibly remind you of Splash Mountain and Frozen Ever After.
In short, Disney has taken stylistic and structural elements from many of its best attractions and implemented them on a single ride.
This attraction strikes me as an instant classic, and I say that despite never having set foot in China.
American Disney fans are gonna want this attraction sooner than later, and there’s every indication that Imagineers plan to slot it in Animal Kingdom.
I’d give the ride and Zootopia themed land a target date of 2029, give or take a couple of years. So, that’s what’s next at the parks.
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Feature Photo: Disney