Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Biggest Announcement in Disney's Animal Kingdom History!

I believe that sometime last night I experienced my first bonafide twitter explosion, as my phone’s lock-screen was literally filled with an unending display of tweets all about the same thing...Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

In what was easily the biggest and most important official announcement in the history of DAK, late last night Tom Staggs, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, took to the Disney Parks Blog to give us the post we have been waiting so patiently for.  Staggs finally released some serious concept art and details regarding the upcoming Avatar project.  But he also announced much, much more.  Disney’s Animal Kingdom is on the verge of becoming a nighttime must-see.

First let’s look at the Avatar stuff.  The above photo is the one that really grabbed my attention.  In the film, Pandora at night was the truly beautiful and imaginative piece of set design so it only makes sense to use that idea as the centerpiece for a dark-ride attraction.  And this looks to have serious potential.  I would expect to see not only gorgeous landscapes and lighting but this also appears to be just the place to add some giant blue audio-animatronics.

This next one pictured above is a bit harder to figure out, but we have some clues to go on.  In the post, Tom Staggs says “guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee.”  Now add that quote, this photo, and the previous rumors regarding new Soarin-based simulator technology and we might be close to what we can expect to experience here.  The intriguing thing is that each Banshee appears to have only one rider, rather than two or three like one would expect on a ride vehicle.  But again, we may be looking to far into the specifics of this picture.

We also have two images giving us an insight into the general layout of the Avatar “land”.  The first is this rendering above which is really just your off-the-shelf Imagineering concept art.  Not much to pull from this other than general aesthetics.

But this one above, with Tom Staggs flanked by James Cameron to his right and Joe Rohde to his left offers quite a bit more.  For one thing it give us sense of the scale, and it is simply enormous!  We are not just getting a couple of attractions here, we are getting a brand new Disney Mountain!!  And this may just be the most architecturally ambitious one yet.  I assume it will house one of the two attractions as they are both indoors.  We also see water to our left.  For those who don’t remember the initial rumors, this may be an outdoor section of the boat ride we discussed earlier.

But Staggs did not stop at just Avatar.  What we also now know is a few of our friends, namely the Disney Hipsters, were right all along.  Disney is setting its sights on making the Animal Kingdom a true nighttime destination and they are going beyond Pandora to achieve this.  Here us what Staggs said...

As part of the largest expansion in the history of the park, we’ll be adding all-new entertainment experiences, including a new nighttime spectacular where live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery all combine to bring a show to Discovery River that will delight our guests and truly cap off their day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The park will introduce more nighttime entertainment as well, including live performers on Discovery Island (pictured above) and a new nighttime version of the Kilimanjaro Safaris

Let’s take these one at a time.  The photo above is a general concept of DAK at night, and it is staggering.  Take a look at the Tree of Life!  How GREAT is that going to look with some serious lighting treatment??  (On a side note, that certainly appears to be the Viva Gai Band in that image.)

And once again our hats off to the Disney Hipsters, as it appears they got the “Rivers of Light” rumor spot on.  The sentence about a “nighttime spectacular” on Discovery River isn’t much to go on, but it coincides perfectly with what the Hipsters told us weeks and week ago.

And finally, something yours truly has been suggesting for literally years and years only to be shot down by the idea of “animal need to sleep at night”, something I was sure was not entirely true.  We are at last getting the one thing all of us who love DAK have always pined awat for, a “new nighttime version of the Kilimanjaro Safaris.”  WOOOHOOOO!!!!!

So, what are you most excited about?  Well, rest assured you haven’t heard the end of this posting.  We had plans for the next episode of Radio Harambe, but they just got shelved.  We will dedicate all of episode 12 to this one posting.  Sit tight until midweek, we have to wait for Safari Mike to return from the Animal Kingdom...

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)


  1. Where you said Tom Staggs " took to the Disney Parks Blog to give us the post we have been waiting so patiently for" I thing you meant that he took to the Disney Parks Blog to give us the post we have been stamping our feet, gnashing our teeth, and bashing the idea, while we waited for it"....LOL!

  2. I love the look of The Tree at night! That and the "dark boat ride" attraction look really interesting!

  3. Great post. Hey, before Mike gets back, you might have a typo to fix, "to far." Can't wait to hear episode 12!

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