Old News About Animal Kingdom, but New to Me

Discussion in 'Discussion' started by Sebax, Feb 3, 2015.

  1. Sebax Contributor

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    Doing a little research about the Disney World parks, lately, I stumbled across a couple of things that have changed since I last visited any Disney Park. Back story here: When I was a kid, growing up in mid-Florida for the better part of the Y2K decade, I visited the Disney Campus and Parks quite often, since we had friends who gave my mom and me free tickets pretty frequently (Back story to the back story: My mom was a single parent for about a decade of my life; she tried very hard to feed my imagination and keep me happy). The new Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom looks spectacular just from the site of it in pictures and on the map (It recently replaced Mickey's Toon Town Fair). I could live with that; the parks are always changing, and usually for the better.

    Then, there was Camp Minnie-Mickey in Animal Kingdom; closed, just last year. I always thought it was odd, even as a kid, that the Festival of the Lion King was in a section of the park dedicated to the Deciduous and Coniferous forests of North America (Particularly of the Adirondack Mountains in Northern New York), and they moved that show to the Africa section of the park when they closed the camp down. So I looked into what they were replacing the section with; Avatar? Seriously? I mean, I'd heard of this while I was living in New York, but had earnestly forgotten all about it, and, at the time, wondered where they were going to put it. In fact, I generally forgot most things about Avatar a few years after seeing it; it's a visual work of art, but is just... forgettable. And that's the problem here. Not the value of the Avatar series (Two sequels are planned), but why Disney is forging it and where they could have gone.

    The why is because Universal built a Harry Potter section. Okay. Pit Harry Potter against Avatar, and you have a very weak race involving the magic of J. K. Rowling and the brilliancy of the film series versus big blue kitty-people with a plot ripped from "Dances with Wolves" with Sci-Fi thrown in.

    Where it would have been so much better to go: Did you know that Animal Kingdom was supposed to feature a section for Mythical Beasts? Dragons, Basilisks, Minotaur, etc... and they just couldn't do it, so they put Camp Minnie-Mickey there instead for sixteen years. I suppose they're going that route with Avatar now, but with the creatures limited to that franchise. You know, that bird/reptile thing, the Steroid Panther, the kinda Rhinos, etc... Why ditch the creatures that are timeless and go with creatures that are time...ful? They are the opposite of timeless. They are imaginative and somebody probably worked really hard at making them (After being influenced by animals already featured heavily in other parts of the park), but is a fleeting pop culture reference really great investment? Even Robin Williams's performance as the Genie is starting to go right over a modern audience's collective head, because it's full of celebrity impressions from over twenty years ago.

    It's also a great shame. The original inclusion of North American woodlands was great, as it varied the view of nature (Granted, within a theme park that once held groves of orange trees) that exists in Animal Kingdom. There's the Sahara of Africa, the Rainforests of several continents, the mountainous, snowy regions of Nepal and Asia, and the ancient world of Dinosaurs. Next there will be another spot with probably a giant tree or two, some alien fauna, which they can't make that big, because it might compete with the park's pre-existing moniker, the Tree of Life. It used to have the woodlands of North America. I'm not digging the comparisons here.

    I suppose it's still relevant because the park section doesn't open until 2017. By then, we may see a resurgence in the popularity of Avatar, or we may see the biggest 180 on Disney's part to try and distance itself from films that could be toxic to their brand; note, they don't even own Avatar, as 20th Century Fox does. Maybe they might even commit to the world of Beasts they'd originally intended or reinvent Camp Minnie-Mickey. Regardless, Avatarland is going to need a miracle to last as long as the Camp did, at any rate, because it'd take a force of nature to keep Avatar relevant.

    Typically, I'm not the sort to rant about changes to Disney Parks. I grew up constantly seeing little changes and big changes throughout the park. This exists because there's logic that exists that simply makes me wonder "Why?" So many "Why?"s.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2015
  2. Misty gimme kiss

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    I just recently went to Disney World and visited Animal Kingdom for the first time since I was young. I skipped it over when I went in 2012 because there frankly wasn't anything there that interested me, besides it being the only park where you can meet Pocahontas. I had a good time in Animal Kingdom but the park definitely needs some updates and additions to bring it up to par with the other parks... so in that vein, I understand why they would want to add something big, but I'm equally puzzled by the decision to make that Avatar of all things. I do believe that there are several Avatar sequels planned, but it was not exactly a hit with kids nor is it a movie people are still talking about. Obviously adults and teens visit Disney Parks too, but Animal Kingdom doesn't have the nightlife of other parks to support an older crowd visiting, unless they're animal lovers or huge Avatar fans.

    I know Disney is bummed over their decision to not take the Harry Potter parks, as they were offered it and it's now a solid part of Universal's draw (I wouldn't have visited Universal if not for HP, the HP sections were done really well but the park is otherwise a dump), but again, it's just so weird to pick Avatar. The mythological beasts idea you brought up sounds really cool and that would honestly warrant an Animal Kingdom re-visit for me. I'd also love if they expanded the presence of Pocahontas there, not just because it's my favorite Disney film but they would have a great opportunity to teach about nature and conservation (I think they already do a small Pocahontas show about it) and Native American culture (which they got pretty wrong in the movie apparently but they could correct some wrongs here).
     
  3. ~Master Xehanort~ KH3 was amazing. Fight me.

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    I'll admit, the decision to include Avatar in the Animal Kingdom has certainly baffled me when it was first announced a few years ago. I personally felt Disney's Hollywood Studios would've felt like a better place to include Avatar. Still, looking at it from Disney's perspective, I can kinda understand why Animal Kingdom was chosen, as the park closes earlier than the other three due to the animals' strict schedule, so the Avatar area could be used as an excuse to extend the operating hours. Now for Avatar itself, while I didn't dislike the movie, I still can't see what made it so special in comparison to other movies. Still, say what you will about Avatar, but the fact that it made more than twice as much money as the highest-grossing Harry Potter movie shows that there is definitely an audience. When the announcement about Avatar's inclusion in Disney was made, several classmates in one of my engineering classes said how it was gonna be great and that they were looking forward to it. Also, many kids who watched the movie when it came out and unabashedly loved it will be teenagers by the time Avatar is included in Animal Kingdom, so expect many nostalgic teens wanting to go there. Hell, even my own cousin and his son are huge fans of Avatar. Why is there so much love for this one movie, I still don't understand... but I accept that there are lots of people who love it, which is why I think including Avatar in Animal Kingdom will benefit Disney.
     
  4. Misty gimme kiss

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    I understand the logic behind this but I think they're banking on expanding the presence of Star Wars in Hollywood Studios now (which I'm of course psyched about).
    That's the thing, though -- the inclusion of Avatar is reminding me a lot of the problems with Universal: all their properties are ridiculously outdated. Forget that a lot of people just went to see Avatar to see what the hype was about and experience the 3D, even if it has a following now, that won't necessarily be the truth 10 or 20 years from now. It's not a classic like Disney films are pretty much bound to become. I'm not sure if Harry Potter will see the longevity that I hope, but I'm biased because I grew up with it -- though considering that the series is very much alive, with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in the pipeline, it's certainly possible that it will have somewhat of a legacy beyond being that thing that makes me, a 60-year-old grandma, cry. Still.

    Back to Universal, though, a lot of their properties were also high-grossing and popular films. E.T., The Mummy series, Men in Black... these were all successful movies and/or series. But the sections of the park dedicated to them are now really outdated and have pretty much zero appeal for the current generation. Obviously nothing can be timeless, but Disney at least is pretty good about creating rides and attractions that appeal to all age groups and won't be irrelevant in ten years' time.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015