Expansion at Animal Kingdom: Could We See A Moana Land?

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Exciting news recently emerged from the D23 Expo, as Disney unveiled their plans for a potential expansion at Animal Kingdom. Moana, the beloved animated film, is being considered for its own immersive land within the park. Let’s delve into all the details, share concept art, and explore what we know about this exciting prospect while offering a touch of commentary along the way.

The Grand Announcement

During the captivating presentation titled “A Boundless Future: Disney Parks, Experiences and Products” at D23 Expo 2022, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman, Josh D’Amaro, provided attendees with a glimpse into the future of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Concept art was unveiled, teasing the potential expansion of the park and generating immense excitement among Disney enthusiasts.

Early Concepts and Possibilities

Imagineer Chris Beatty and Jennifer Lee of Walt Disney Animation Studios shared their early concept explorations for both the Moana and Zootopia expansions. These visions are still in the preliminary stages, but their inclusion in the presentation suggests they are among the potential expansion opportunities being considered. The new lands would use the space currently occupied by Dinoland USA at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Distinctive Artwork and Speculated Attractions

Compared to the announcement about Disney Villains, Encanto, and Coco coming to Magic Kingdom, the Animal Kingdom expansion was presented with more certainty. The concept art for the Moana area, in particular, stood out for its details and less impressionistic nature. Zooming in on the artwork, we can discern one attraction as a spinner ride adorned with magnificent sails.

Given the ambition level depicted in the concept art, it seems highly likely that this ride will be brought to life. Perhaps this will be the one revelation from the 2022 D23 Expo that ultimately materializes for Walt Disney World fans.

Another attraction showcased in the concept art appears to be a log flume ride. The image reveals boats descending a gentle drop, encircling Moana’s wa’a kaulua outrigger canoe, venturing beneath picturesque waterfalls, and entering a show building.

While it is wise not to set our hopes too high for a land that is still in its early development stages, the level of detail in the released concept art is intriguing. It is unusual for Walt Disney World to provide such intricate glimpses into a project that has yet to be fully realized. However, the deliberate choice to showcase the defined aspects of the area suggests that Disney is aware of the avid fanbase’s inclination to dissect every brushstroke in search of clues.

The Significance of the Artwork

Typically, when plans are not concrete, concept art tends to be more vague and impressionistic, as seen in the EPCOT overhaul of 2017 or the original New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. Even this year’s extensive expansion behind Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom contained far less detail. Therefore, the striking level of definition presented in the Moana concept art is noteworthy.

Personal Reflections and Expectations

Personally, I find it surprising that Walt Disney World is revisiting Moana so soon after the debut of Journey of Water. While Moana is undoubtedly a cherished film deserving of more than a mere walk-through experience in EPCOT, confining its presence to one park would have made more sense in my view. A complete land with a captivating flume ride at the Magic Kingdom would be the ideal tribute. Whether that be the rumored Te Ka attraction for Adventureland or the reimagining of Splash Mountain to a Moana attraction. However, once Journey of Water commenced construction, that opportunity seemed to have sailed away. Perhaps a comprehensive master plan encompassing all these ideas from the outset would have avoided this piecemeal approach to incorporating Moana into the parks.

The Uncertainty and Future

Considering the grand scope of Imagineering’s proposals for Walt Disney World’s two kingdoms, it is improbable that all of them will come to fruition. Yet, based on the attention to detail in the Moana concept art, it appears to be the most likely candidate for development. However, we must also consider the possibility that this art is coincidental and not indicative of immediate plans.

An Animal Kingdom Transformation

Nevertheless, an expansion to Animal Kingdom is a logical move. According to Jim Hill of Jim Hill Media, Animal Kingdom is next on the list for “major” updates. Among all the plans shared for Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, it is highly likely that something will eventually replace the Dino-Rama area. With the demolition of Primeval Whirl and its replacement with a pleasant picnic space, it is evident that change is already underway.

As Disney explores the vast potential for expansion at Animal Kingdom, the inclusion of Moana as a potential land is a tantalizing prospect. While it remains in the realm of early concept exploration, the level of detail in the concept art raises intriguing possibilities. As we eagerly await further developments, one thing is clear: the enchanting world of Moana may soon come alive at Animal Kingdom, offering guests a chance to embark on an unforgettable adventure in the spirit of the beloved film.

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