Friday, September 21, 2018

Disney's Animal Kingdom Rafiki's Planet Watch to Close on October 21st be Replaced by What? A Zootopia Land? Black Panther Wakanda?

At Disney's Animal Kingdom Rafiki's Planet Watch will close on October 21st, though Disney didn't announced it yet officially. With it it's all the great exhibits, meet and greets and apparently too the Wildlife Express Train ride which will close and it's pretty strange that this happen now, at the moment when the question of animals conservation on the planet has never been so important. Of course all the veterinary facilities will stay to take care of all DAK animals, so no worries about that.

DAK cast-members are saying that some experiences from Planet Watch will be back elsewhere in the park in the future but i would take this with a grain of salt until announced officially. I will be really sad if the Wildlife Express train closes forever because i always loved its theming, i think that it is the best themed train in a Disney theme park with the Disneyland Paris Railroad, in a different way, of course.

That said, the question of course is: why are they closing Rafiki's Planet Watch? It could be a budgetary reason but you also have probably read rumors that either a Zootopia land or a Black Panther Wakanda land would come to Disney's Animal Kingdom. We won't know for sure until Disney announces it officially but, for Zootopia, i remember reading that Joe Rohde was against the idea of a Zootopia land at Animal Kingdom and personally i agree with him. It's not because Zootopia is an animated films with all kind of animals in it that it necessarily can find its place at DAK. Considering the cartoonish style of Zootopia i think that a mini land at Disney's Hollywood Studios would be better there, with 3D and painted backdrops for the skyline buildings of Zootopia. On the other hand, when Zootopia hero Judy Hopps arrive at Zootopia she does it by train - but a bullet train - and the railroad trip from DAK Harambe station could give this feeling to Animal Kingdom guests. Will that be enough to give it a go? Not sure, we'll see.

Do you really want to see something like this at Disney's Animal Kingdom? Mmmmh... probably not.

May be a more stylized version of Zootopia like this early artwork for the animated film, then?

And then there is the other rumor about a Black Panther Wakanda land. For now there is also lots of speculations that Epcot Wonders of Life pavilion could possibly be used as a Wakanda exhibit and, as it would be close to the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy coaster it will allows Disney to create a kind of Marvel area there. The other problem with creating a Wakanda land at DAK is about Black Panther and the inhabitants of Wakanda, which as we know is located in Africa. Okay, the Africa land is next door but Disney's Animal Kingdom is a park dedicated to animals and having a land about an African country with Africans people - even a mythical country - in an animal park will for sure raise protests instantly. I'm sure that WDI Imagineers are aware of that and even if i'm certain that they could find a way to introduce a Wakanda land in a sensitive way, i'm not sure it's a good idea.

And do you want a Wakanda at DAK? Mmmh, not sure it will be a good idea, too...

We'll see what will be announced officially but you might have to wait until the next 2019 D23 Expo to learn more... In the meantime and, as apparently there is plenty of you who've never been to Rafiki's Planet Watch and even done the train ride here is a great 4K video showing all of it, including the ride aboard the Wildlife Express Train from Harambe Station to Conservation Station!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you look at the area in Google Maps with satellite mode, you'll see there is a huge area that they used for constructions staging when they built Expedition Everest that sits right next to Rafiki's Planet Watch. The area is HUGE. If you look at the Safari next door, which is about 110 acres in size, this unused area looks like it might be 60-70 acres. Compare that Pandora (12 acres), or Galaxy's Edge (14 acres) or Toy Story Land (11 acres), and the possibilities are almost endless. To the article's point, having it fit the theme of Animal Kingdom is key, but people said the same thing about Pandora, at least until they visited it (I'll admit, I'm a convert as that is the best simulator ride ever).

My personal hope, which will never happen, is that they build a DisneySea land there, like they have in Tokyo. I'm a little over the whole Marvel thing and would prefer to sea something not tied to a movie, but then I woke up.