Disney Reveals Update About HUGE Animal Kingdom Expansion

Tree of Life
Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World Resort is moving forward with its plans to completely overhaul a massive section of Animal Kingdom Park, as permits have officially been declared. This leads to some new information about this theme park expansion.

Concept art for the all-new area coming to Animal Kingdom inspired by Encanto and Indiana Jones

Credit: Disney

Disney World Confirms Complete Overhaul of Animal Kingdom With New Permit Filings

Walt Disney World has been given the green light from state authorities to develop a trailer complex, sparking speculation that it will serve as a project headquarters for transforming DinoLand U.S.A. into a Tropical Americas-themed area at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The permit for this complex was recently granted, prompting Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) to swiftly move forward with additional permit filings for the construction of the approved trailer complex. Situated north of Expedition Everest/Kali River Rapids and east of Conservation Station, the trailer complex will occupy a back-of-house laydown yard, previously utilized for aspects of the Pandora – The World of Avatar set fabrication.

Preparations for the trailer complex involve hardscaping and land preparation to accommodate four WDI trailers and a contractor trailer. The South Florida Water Management District has sanctioned the construction of the trailer complex for five years, with the permit set to expire on May 22, 2029. Any future construction endeavors by Disney World will necessitate either an update to the existing license or the acquisition of a new one.

Notably, any construction activity at the DinoLand U.S.A. site will likely require such a permit, owing to a nearby backstage pond. Walt Disney Imagineering has unveiled ambitious plans to revamp DinoLand U.S.A. entirely, replacing it with a Tropical Americas-themed zone. This transformation would introduce an Encanto-themed attraction and a reimagining of DINOSAUR as an Indiana Jones-themed ride.

An architectural site plan showing the transformation of a proposed construction area at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The plan features outlined sections of buildings, roadways, and infrastructure, with labels indicating different structural components. The surrounding area includes roads and vegetation.

Credit: Disney World Animal Kingdom’s new expansion permit

The end draws near for DinoLand U.S.A. as Walt Disney World presses forward with plans for a grand transformation of the 12+ acre plot in the southeast corner of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This sprawling area, currently home to DinoLand U.S.A., is poised to undergo a radical metamorphosis into a new themed land, with the leading contender being a Tropical Americas theme. This ambitious endeavor is set to integrate beloved Disney properties such as Encanto, possibly Coco, and Indiana Jones’s adventurous exploits.

Initially, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro unveiled a concept envisioning a Moana-themed land to supplant DinoLand U.S.A. In the concept art revealed at the D23 Expo in September 2022, a Zootopia-themed retheme of the DINOSAUR attraction also appeared. The proposed Moana attraction hinted at a Splash Mountain-esque flume ride featuring a thrilling drop and indoor segments. Positioned where the former Primeval Whirl attraction once stood, this Moana ride was slated to offer a refreshing aquatic adventure. Additionally, light rethemes of nearby attractions like TriceraTop Spin were proposed to complement the Moana experience.

However, subsequent developments, including leadership changes at Disney and Walt Disney Imagineering, culminated in a shift in direction. By September 2023, at the Destination D23 event, Disney unveiled a fresh concept for the DinoLand U.S.A. reimagining. The official announcement confirmed Walt Disney Imagineering’s plans to transform DinoLand U.S.A. into a vibrant new land inspired by the biodiverse region, the Tropical Americas.

A detailed site plan with various marked areas, pathways, and parking spaces. The image includes property lines, labels for future development areas, and existing structures. Dotted lines indicate boundaries, and multiple annotations provide specific designations for the transformation of Animal Kingdom at Disney.

Credit: Inside The Magic

This new vision draws inspiration from the lush landscapes and cultural richness of the northern parts of South America and Central America. Embracing elements from the Academy Award-winning film Encanto and the thrilling adventures of Indiana Jones, this reimagined land promises an immersive experience that continues the tradition of regional theming seen throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

During the event, Imagineering chief Bruce Vaughn illuminated the evolution of concepts, indicating that while the Moana concept initially garnered attention, further brainstorming led to the exploration of new possibilities. By refocusing on the Tropical Americas, Imagineers aims to create a cohesive, immersive environment that resonates with the park’s thematic narrative. As the project progresses, Imagineers in Florida remain steadfast in their commitment to delivering an enchanting experience that captivates guests and honors the spirit of adventure. The transformation of DinoLand U.S.A. into a Tropical Americas-themed land heralds a new era of excitement and immersion for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

By embracing diverse cultural influences and iconic Disney properties like Encanto and Indiana Jones, the park is poised to offer guests an unparalleled journey through lush landscapes and thrilling adventures. This reimagined land enhances the park’s thematic storytelling and underscores Disney’s commitment to innovation and immersive guest experiences. As the project progresses, Animal Kingdom is set to become an even more dynamic and enchanting destination, inviting visitors to explore the wonders of the natural world and embark on unforgettable adventures rooted in imagination and discovery.

This post originally appeared on Inside the Magic

About Emmanuel Detres

Since first stepping inside the Magic Kingdom at nine years old, I knew I was destined to be a theme Park enthusiast. Although I consider myself a theme Park junkie, I still have much to learn and discover about Disney. Universal Orlando Resort has my heart; being an Annual Passholder means visiting my favorite places on Earth when possible! When I’m not writing about Disney, Universal, or entertainment news, you’ll find me cruising on my motorcycle, hiking throughout my local metro parks, or spending quality time with my girlfriend, family, or friends.

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