I originally wrote this for my web site as an editorial but, thought I might get better feedback here:
Animal Kingdom is rapidly gaining steam. This wonderful park gained a whole new thrill ride about 6 months ago, and as I speak performances of the brand new, broadway, quality, Finding Nemo production are going on. AK is constantly expanding. With Beastly Kingdom gaining ground again, AK is starting to look like one of, if not, the best theme park(s) in FL. Even with it's small list of "attractions", it has already become a better theme park than say, the Disney Studios, in my opinion. Animal Kingdom, due in part to its theme, is able to remain fresh and new, in real time and interactivity. WDI put it's heart into everything seen here. Their efforts don't go in vain, by having this much detail there's always something new to appreciate; even at the "same old" location. For every detail you see there's 99 your missing. Even such simple things as smoke areas are heavily themed.The whole park is lush in greenery. Other than certain areas in Dinoland, there isn't a single place in the park where a tree is more than 10 ft. away. This is a park that is very in tune with the earth. All benches in the park are made of recycled milk plastic containers. The food quality here is also top-notch, with what might possibly be the best theme park fast-food location anywhere (Flame Tree BBQ). And to top all this off, the whole park is/was the first Disney park to be entirely handicap accessable. At this park, Disney makes a valient effort to make their customers get the most out of their dollar, unlike some of their other parks (WDSP, DCA, DSF).
Of course for all the plusses there have to be some minuses. The most notable one being Dino-Rama, a large area in Dinoland U.S.A. Dino-Rama was built over what was a tent-like structure called the Dinosaur Jubilee & unbuilt land. Few people know or remember the dinosaur jubilee(s), if you don't check out: http://www.wdwmagic.com/animal_archive1.htm
*. The whole theme of this area is a very confusing one that will only be recieved by fellow disney fanatics or people who have really researched their trip. The theme in question? Chester & Hester a middle-aged couple have decieded to build a roadside attraction similar to those found at city & county fairs. This area contains two attractions, Triceratops Spin and Primeval Whirl. Both could be fun experiences but, they're cheapend by tacky decorations and minimal-storytelling. There has to be a way that the geniuses at WDI can retheme these off-the-shelf rides to AK standards. We're not talking Expedition: Everest or Dinosaur-quality just simple retheming that makes it believable and enjoyable. Is it not possible to retheme Primeval Whirl as an indoor semi-in-the-dark coaster ala Space Mountain? It could be simply the same ride layout, enclosed, with video screens and other simple effects to make it a well-themed, yet fairly inexpensive coaster. Triceratops Spin requires even less thinking. Along with all this, the midway games should be removed. The problem with this is very blatant. It's the simple "if you build it, they will come" problem, people constantly are lining up to pay for these hokey games. All of this is built over a faux abandond parking lot. The imagineers made this so that the pavement is cracked; old parking spaces are visible, and other things are found on the ground. Many people mistake this strange theming for Disney being cheap(er) and actually building these structure over an old parking lot. Big mistake. There are many other things that could be improved upon (Rafiki's Planet Watch) but, I'll end my complaining here.
This park is great. WDW needs to keep expanding it while at the same time removing little to none. This could become WDI's crowning jewel if time and effort are continually put into it. Enough of what I think. What do you have to say? I'd love to hear your comment on AK and this article!
* = Look at the entries on: 11 June 2000 & 30 June 2000, for pics. I've tried to find other places for the pics but, have found none.