10 Disney Animal Kingdom Attractions That Never Happened
The history of the Disney theme parks is filled with attractions that were proposed and developed, but never made.
Even though it’s the newest Walt Disney World park, Animal Kingdom has its share of abandoned attractions mostly due to budget cuts mandated when the park was being planned. Here are ten of the best, most ambitious, or just plain weirdest Animal Kingdom attractions that never were.
The Animal Carousel
One proposed Animal Kingdom attraction was a three story carousel that would showcase the animals of the air, land and sea.
The lowest tier would’ve been a circling boat ride with boats shaped like aquatic creatures. The middle level was going to be a standard carousel with a wide variety of land animals. The very top tier would’ve taken guests up into the air on the backs of birds and other flying creatures using the same mechanisms as the Dumbo ride.
Proposed as the central attraction of Animal Kingdom and a symbol for the entire park, the Animal Carousel was passed over in favor of the Tree of Life.
Other Tree of Life Attractions
Even when Disney’s “Imagineers” decided on a 145-foot tall man-made tree carved with images of over 300 animals as the new park’s iconic attraction, there were varying opinions about what kind of entertainment should be housed in the Tree of Life.
Suggestions included a ‘Lion King’-themed attraction, a show where Mother Nature guides guests through the diversity of the natural world and even a restaurant. The ‘Bug’s Life’ 3D show ‘It’s Tough to be a Bug!’ eventually won out.
Noah’s Ark Entrance
There were also a variety of ideas for Animal Kingdom’s entrance. One of the most impressive was an enormous Noah’s Ark that guests would’ve walked through into the Genesis Gardens, an unspoiled natural paradise.
It’s not clear why this idea was dropped, though the heavy religious overtones may not have sat well with everyone at Disney. Also, the Tree of Life made another monument to the diversity of animal life seem redundant.
Tiger River Rapids
The Asia portion of Animal Kingdom was slated to have its own safari, a kind of Jungle Cruise with real animals.
Guests would’ve gone rafting past a variety of Asian animals, a forest fire caused by local loggers (echoing Kilimanjaro Safari’s poachers in the preserve storyline), and through treacherous rapids. Parts of the attraction, minus the live animals, were reused in the Kali River Rapids ride.
Yet another safari ride, this one would’ve taken guests to visit animatronic dinosaurs. Unlike the current attraction Dinosaur, this safari would’ve been an outdoor excursion rather than a dark ride.
Another proposed attraction for DinoLand U.S.A. that didn’t make the cut was the Excavator. The Excavator was a roller coaster, possibly resembling carts used for transporting debris and fossils, set in a fossil excavation site.
The Excavator was replaced with two attractions: a dino carnival themed coaster called the Primeval Whirl and an excavation site play area called The Boneyard. Expedition Everest would later become Animal Kingdom’s premier coaster and thrill ride.
Quest for the Unicorn
Animal Kingdom doesn’t just have rides that never happened — it has an entire park section that was never built.
The Beastly Kingdom (or “Beastlie Kingdomme”) was a showcase for fantasy creatures. Among the planned attractions for this mythical land was a hedge maze and labyrinth concealing a beautiful unicorn at the center.
Though the Beastly Kingdom was never built, some of the logos and signage for Animal Kingdom contain references to this proposed portion of the park.
Another Beastly Kingdom ride, the Fantasia Gardens would’ve taken guests on a boat ride through scenes from Disney’s ‘Fantasia,’ particularly the Pastoral Symphony and Dance of the Hours sequences.
While the ride was scrapped along with the rest of the Beastly Kingdom, the name “Fantasia Gardens” was reused for a mini golf course at the resort.
The major thrill ride proposed for the Beastly Kingdom was the Dragon Tower. This suspended roller coaster would’ve taken guests through a ruined castle tower accompanied by a troupe of friendly bats with a plan to steal the dragon’s treasure.
A dragon-themed suspended coaster was built in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, likely by former Imagineers who didn’t want to let all their work on Dragon Tower go to waste. It was recently retimed for the Harry Potter section of the park.
Loch Ness Landing
Even the restaurants in the Beastly Kingdom would have been fun. Loch Ness Landing had a proposed Scottish theme, and provided diners with periodic visits from the Loch’s resident monster.
It’s not clear whether the food would’ve merely featured Scottish themed names or if Disney would’ve tried to persuade kids to give haggis a shot.
For even more Animal Kingdom ideas that never came to be, visit the Animal Kingdom section of The Neverland Files.