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Beastly Kingdom Concept

Concept art for Beastly Kingdom.

Beastly Kingdom was a section that was to be built in Disney's Animal Kingdom. The section was never built and the land that was to be used for this area was turned into Camp Minnie-Mickey and later Pandora: The World of Avatar.

Design

The Animal Kingdom park focuses on three types of animals: today's existing animals, extinct animals, and animals that don't exist. The latter has not been featured in the park (with the exception of Expedition Everest), but plans for a section of their own were made during the creation of the park. The area was to feature such animals as dragons, unicorns, and sea monsters. The section never came to fruition mostly due to budget cuts. It was soon replaced by Camp Minnie-Mickey, a section mostly filled with character meet-and-greet areas.

Planned Attractions

The section was to feature realms surrounding "good" and "evil" creatures. The good realm would have been home to an attraction called Quest of the Unicorn, which would have been a mythological maze leading to the grotto where the unicorn lived. The good realm would also have featured Fantasia Gardens, an attraction based on the movie Fantasia, that would have been a musical boat ride that takes you the animal scenes of the movie. The idea, similar to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, would have featured hippos and crocodiles from "Dance of the Hours" along with pegasi, fauns, and centaurs from "Pastoral".

On the evil side would be feature an attraction called Dragon's Tower ruled by a greedy fire-breathing dragon that housed a treasure in the tower's chamber. The attraction would also involve a group of bats threatening to take the dragon's throne and riches. The bats would enlist the guests help and take them on a wild roller coaster to do so. The climax, similar to other rides, would involve an encounter with the dragon himself, resulting in a near-charred train of guests.

Gallery

Remnants

Remnants of the never-made land can still be found in the park. Though, as with Hidden Mickeys, you have to look close. For example, there is a section in the parking lot labeled "Unicorn". The Animal Kingdom logo also features a silhouette of a dragon. Inside the park, a dragon-shaped stone fountain can be found in Camp Minnie-Mickey. A detailed dragon head statue is found atop one of the ticket booths at the park's entrance. One of the largest remnants were features built for the now-closed Discovery River Boats attraction, intended as a teaser for Beastly Kingdom. After passing a dragon shaped rock formation with water pouring through its teeth (a feature that has remained in place), the boats passed a cave littered with the remains of fallen knights. The fiery breath of a dragon would emerge from the cave to menace passing guests. 

Future

Despite several attempts at repitching the concept at later dates, the idea of a traditional mythological creatures land was scrapped. The idea of featuring mythological creatures in the park would eventually come in the form of Expedition Everest in Asia, which prominently featured the Yeti.

In Spring 2011, James Cameron of Titanic and Avatar fame was approached by Bob Iger to talk about the possibilities of attractions or, possibly, a land dedicated to Avatar. The discussions were made public in September, where a long-term exclusive deal was signed between and James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment and Fox Filmed Entertainment began creation of Pandora: The World of Avatar on the site Beastly Kingdom was to have occupied. In the face of criticism of featuring a non-Disney film so prominently in the park, it was rationalized that the imaginary alien ecosystem of Pandora still worked comfortably in fitting Beastly Kingdom's intended role as a home for imaginary animals and that Avatar's ecological themes worked well with the park's own ideals.


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