“Beastly Kingdom” – A Look at What Pandora Could Have Been!
Have you ever noticed something strikingly unique about Animal Kingdom’s logo at Walt Disney World? If you haven’t found it before, take a look at the image below and see what you find “hidden” in plain sight:
The concept, which was grand in scale, would feature an attraction known as Quest of the Unicorn, one called Fantasia Gardens, and a main “E-ticket” attraction called Dragon’s Tower. Each of these attractions were set to focus on an aspect of “nature” that was essentially imaginary and “impossible” in real life. Quest of the Unicorn was going to be an elaborate maze which focused on a mythological setting of twists and turns leading guests to a unicorn at the end of the attraction. Fantasia Gardens, a similar ride concept to what has become known as a the classic Disney dark ride design, was imagined up to lead guests through the world of Disney’s legendary Fantasia, complete with dancing hippos, pegasus, elephants, and much more to develop a musical tale for guests of all ages to enjoy.
The most anticipated attraction was what became known as the Dragon’s Tower. As the expected “E-ticket” (or essentially most popular in today’s terms) attraction of the area, it would be a daring rollercoaster type of experience where guests would come face to face with a larger that life fire breathing dragon, race through the castle domain, and enter a quest to protect the treasure within the castle ruins! Along the way, the guests train would reach speeds of near 50 miles per hour and encounter thrills across a series of twists and turns! For many, this was the attraction they wanted to see develop the most!
While the overall area was a “battle” between good and evil, the conceptual design was initially dropped due to rumored budget constraints in the Animal Kingdom development. However, for many years, it is believed that the project was simply put on hold. In the mean time, Camp Minnie Mickey was established and became home to experiences such as Festival of the Lion King (which has now relocated) and multiple character meet and greet locations. (photo: themparktourist)
Unfortunately, the project was ultimately accepted as abandoned after several years of Camp Minnie Mickey continued. In Spring 2011, Bob Iger (CEO of Disney) began talks of partnering with James Cameron to develop a land based on one of his films which later developed into Pandora – The World of Avatar (set to debut in the next few months). Sadly, even in as early as 2000 a key creator of Animal Kingdom, Imagineer Joe Rohde, remarked:
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