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Armchair Imgaineer: Beastly Kingdom

animal kingdom - disneyHave you ever wondered why there is a huge dragon head outside of the main entrance to Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

The original dream for Animal Kingdom was to be a place where we could celebrate animals from our past (like dinosaurs), present, and fantasy. On the original logo for the park there was a parade of animals including a lion, a triceratops and a dragon. Imagineers even built a cave entrance that you could see from Camp Minnie-Mickey where the dragon lived. How do you know that dragon lived there? Because it would occasionally shoot fire out of the cave.

There were some great attraction ideas for the land too, including a maze that led to a unicorn’s grotto, and a dark ride based on the various animal segments of Fantasia like The Pastoral Symphony and Dance of the Hours. But, due to budget constraints, the idea was ultimately scrapped.

pandora - disneyWhat has become of Beastly Kingdom? Well, we got Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain in Asia featuring the mythical Yeti (both the creature and the animatronic are mythical at this point), and we will be getting Pandora, the world of Avatar where the Beastly Kingdom was suppose to dwell. I love Expedition Everest and am mostly neutral about Pandora right now, but I can’t help and imagine what Beastly Kingdom could have been. What other mythical creatures could we have seen? What about sea creatures like the Kraken? What if they had brought back the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride here with updated special effects. That would have been great. We’ve seen recently that Disney can make a dragon fly – what else could they have done with that? Of course there are different dragon myths all over the world to explore. The Chinese dragon is different than the European dragon for example.

(Images ©Disney)

What would you have done with the Beastly Kingdom?


Chris grew up during the Disney renaissance of animation and took his first trip to Disney World when he was ten. Even though he has loved Disney his whole life, his obsession didn’t start until he began planning a trip for his honeymoon. Right now, his primary job (at least the one that doesn’t pay the bills) is to indoctrinate his daughter with his love of Disney while at the same time convincing his wife to move to Orlando so he can become a tour guide in the parks.