DAK expansion


Saw this on disneyblog.com

G’Day Mate! Australia coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom | The Disney Blog

I first reported on the development of a new land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom based on the continent of Australia back in October of 2007. It was shortly after that when the housing bubble popped for good and the house of cards banks had built on home mortgages came tumbling down threatening to take the world’s economy with it. At that point Disney turtled and postponed a number of projects until a time when the economy returned to better.

That time appears to be now. Despite Iger’s protestations on quarterly results conference calls, all new spending on the theme parks is not exactly over. There’s a lot scheduled, just at Walt Disney World. Work will begin in earnest on the Art of Animation resort and a new DVC property is scheduled for the old River Country location. We also know about the expansion of Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland. Phase I is well underway, and Phases II and III are undergoing retooling with discussion boards going crazy with rumors of what is in and what is out. Downtown Disney will soon have Hyperion Wharf. Star Tours 2.0 is coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and there are two big plans for DHS expansion fighting over which will get the green light first. Imagination pavilion at EPCOT has long been rumored for another makeover. I hear they’ll start work as soon as they can find a replacement sponsor for Kodak. Even ESPN Wide World of Sports complex has a bowling alley waiting for a new sponsor to set the bulldozers to work. That leaves just one park, the park most in need of additional capacity, waiting to see what cards will be played.

That park is Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This week I heard a couple bits of news that has me ready to say “G’day Mate!” Yep, work on the rumored Australia section of the park has reportedly been approved. Although I have not yet seen it myself, my minions tell me that there has been some clearing work on the future site already. I also heard that approval has been given in the new budget to hire some additional resources that will be tasked to the project. Take those two facts, along with a couple other sources I spoke to, and I think we can safely say the land of Oz is coming to Orlando.

They way I see it, Australia is the first step in realizing the final vision of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The park currently lacks any aquatic/sea-life exhibits. So picture a Great Barrier Reef exhibit and a Killer Whale and/or Dolphin show. DAK does have a few Kangaroo, but a larger Marsupial exhibit would be a great addition. The location of Australia will allow guests to walk to and from the Conservation Station and allows removal of the Wildlife Express railroad. That frees up important land in Africa which will finally allow The Festival of the Lion King to move to its rightful place in the park. Once that happens, Camp Minnie Mickey is open to be re-themed (although don’t get your hopes up for Beastly Kingdom, that ship has sailed).

I’ve highlighted a few areas here in this overhead shot:

The red area is where Australia will be built. This is where the construction vehicles parked when they were building Everest. But the entrance is actually closer to the Asia walking trail. The purple area is where the Wildlife Express railroad currently runs to Rafiki’s Planet Watch (aka Conservation Station) highlighted in green. It’s a snug fit, but the whole Festival of The Lion King (in blue) can fit in the lower turnaround area for Wildlife Express. Once FoTLK moves, you can see the huge expansion pad below it in Camp Minnie Mickey just waiting for development.

This leaves one problem — transportation. Disney needs to realize that DAK is the largest of its theme parks and will be getting even bigger with Australia. The modified hub and spoke model will be dashed with the addition of Australia. What’s really needed is some sort of system that will bring guests from the front of the park to the back. While I’d love to see some sort of peoplemover, it goes against the theme of nature to have the transportation of tomorrow in the park. They could repurpose the Wildlife Express and run it from Conservation Station/Australia down to the back side of Dinoland. That would help tired feet get back to the front of the park at the end of the day. However, I think the perfect solution for this problem is a skyway. New technology I just saw at IAAPA gets rid of some of the problems Disney experienced with the old skyway and the park really is built to be experienced from above as well as on the ground.

My usual philosophy with Disney projects is to not believe anything is for real until the day after it opens to the public. But I feel the needs of the park and the clues from my sources are aligning to the point where I am relatively confident that Australia is on the way. Disney has to come up with an answer to Harry Potter, guests are leaving DAK after half a day or just skipping it entirely. Making DAK a full-day park needs to be a high priority for the resort if it wants to hold guests on property for four full days. Australia is the first step down that path. I report back as soon as I have more.


there is a picture in the article that lays out the plans…


:simba::AK: WOW it sounds fantastic with the expansion and lion king moving, also the possibility of sea life.
I still think it needs some great rides to rival Busch gardens and sea world.

but like the report Say’s believe it when it opens:laugh:


I hope it’s true, I would love an Australia section!


I love the idea of a sky-way in AK! It is the perfect park for it.


I agree with the people who feel like AK is currently a 1/2 day park, and that is only because I am an AP holder. If I didn’t have an AP and a 3 day ticket I would probably skip AK completely. Aust. may be just the addition that AK needs – as long as it has some type of crowd drawing attraction.


How about a hopping kangaroo ride? You could ride in Kanga’s pouch? Or Roo and Tigger. Sort of like a parachute ride but it goes up and down in a random way like tower of terror except your in the open, sort of. Not sure if it makes as much sense on paper as the picture that is in my head. :frowning:


I would lve to see something new in AK. But unlike most others here on MB, DW and I love to spend the whole day @ AK.
We take our AK day as one to relax from the crazy pace of the other parks. There is so much to take in at AK if you REALLY take some time and look at everything around you. AK is an imagineers playground. You don’t know what you are missing if you just do a hit-and-run visit. And night EMH at AK is the absolute best of all the parks.


I was thinking the same thing as you. Last time I was there with my Mom and Sister, we didn’t even realize it was closing time, and still didn’t see everything before we had to leave. It’s so relaxing, and there are so many things to see at a slow pace. It’s just one piece of the pie when you go to Disney. Some days are crazy busy, and others are relaxed, for when you go to AK.


I say bring on the expansion it sounds great! can’t wait another reason to justify another trip to WDW.


this would be nnice


?? If they do go through with the expansion, how long does it take them before the new exhibit/attraction will open? Months? years? Ive never followed this aspect of Disney.



I was just thinking the other day that an Australia section of AK would allow for lots of new and different animal (and aquatic) species to be introduced! Not sure how I feel about taking out the Wildlife Express Train… I kind of like it… but I do agree that moving FOTLK to Africa would make more sense. And as for a Camp Minnie-Mickey overhaul, I’m PRAYING for Beastly Kingdom to finally come to life!! It would finally bring in the mythical animals element that was intended for AK but never realized.

Photo from The Neverland Files: Beastly Kingdom, along with a great article about Beastly Kingdom.


Do you think that the addition of Australia would take away from The Living Seas in Epcot? They just revamped that with Nemo. I’d hate to see it lose popularity, again.

Surely they wouldn’t build an aquarium, but have a more natural way to view.

I’d also hate to see AK become like SeaWorld. I’m just not much for the training animals to do tricks sort of thing. The beauty of AK is that it exhibits animals in their [replicated :laugh:] natural environment. Surely Australia would serve that purpose, as well… I’d like to see something like Kilamanjaro Safaris with Australia and sealife. Submarine!!! :laugh: That might not be a good idea with giant killer whales swimming around… something like that might work for the Great Barrier Reef, though. Or maybe something like Atlantis in Nassau has with walk-through exhibits. Hmmm… I hope Disney pursues Australia within Animal Kingdom because I am very curious to see what they come up with.


[QUOTE=christina101902;1057863]?? If they do go through with the expansion, how long does it take them before the new exhibit/attraction will open? Months? years? Ive never followed this aspect of Disney.


Well they were working on Expedition Everest back in late 2003 and it opened in 2006, so that was 2/3 years for a large-scale attraction.


I would think that the focus of Australia would be more of the Outback rather than the Great Barrier Reef judging by the existing land mass involved.
Another good Aussie addition would be in Epcot if they were to add a country.


i am hoping for dingo races…lol


I love Animal Kingdom anyway, but an Oz section would be so good!! :smiley: Yeah, I’m surprised Australia never made it into World Showcase, especially considering how many European countries have.


Surely they wouldn’t build an aquarium, but have a more natural way to view.

I’d also hate to see AK become like Sea World. I’m just not much for the training animals to do tricks sort of thing.

I tend to agree with you about training animals to do tricks. however, the aquarium at sea world for the Manta ride is fantastic. For Disney to do this would be a great way of adding an aquarium and a ride opportunity. or what about doing something with Ayers rock.

I would love to see some concept art for this project.


Just so long as there’s a new major coaster involved.