New permit suggests major expansion at Disney's Animal Kingdom is a go

Mar 18, 2024 in "Disney's Animal Kingdom"

Tropical Americas Encanto land concept art at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Posted: Monday March 18, 2024 6:15pm ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

A new permit filed by Walt Disney Imagineering suggests that the previously announced "Blue Sky" Indiana Jones and Encanto expansion project at Disney's Animal Kingdom is now green-lit and ready to begin.

The permit outlines plans to install a Walt Disney Imagineering project trailer compound behind Kali River Rapids and a parking lot for more than 300 vehicles. The area has a backstage roadway and walkway leading to DinoLand U.S.A. These types of facilities are common for large construction projects that we have seen in the past, including the Fantasyland redevelopment at Magic Kingdom and Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

While the permit does not detail any specifics on what project the trailers are for, this is likely the first stage of beginning the previously announced "Blue Sky" Indiana Jones and Encanto redevelopment of DinoLand U.S.A.

Disney has two big dates in the coming months that could be used to announce the Animal Kingdom expansion: the Annual Shareholders meeting on April 3 and the 2024 D23 Fan Event in August.

Disney announced in September 2023 that new experiences inspired by "Encanto" – the Academy Award winning Walt Disney Animation Studios film – and the fan-favorite adventurer Indiana Jones were being considered for the reimagined DinoLand U.S.A. at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

The new land themed to the tropical Americas would replace the entire Dino-Land U.S.A. area, with Indiana Jones replacing the existing Dinosaur ride, and Encanto replacing Dino-Rama.


Imagineering Boss Bruce Vaughn said, "Imagine a land filled with authentic experiences from this part of the world. With all of the placemaking and storytelling you'd expect. Look, it's a beautiful region to explore and has been the inspiration for so many magical stories over the years. We're looking forward to bringing all of that to life"

Vaughn contninued, "Imagineering has been talking about stories from this part of the world; Encanto with Indiana Jones just rose to the top. They give us so much to play with. We have a long way to go now and a lot more to discover. But our team here in Florida is all over it."

In addition to Encanto and Indiana Jones, Disney has also previously confirmed that a new show based on "Zootopia" is being created for the Tree of Life theater at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

The current concept for the new "Zootopia" experience has guests visiting the different biomes you only glimpse in the film, traveling with Judy Hopps, Nick Wilde, and other characters.

Disney says that Imagineers are currently finalizing the concept, and more details will be coming in the future.

The new show will replace "It's Tough to Be a Bug," although no closures dates have yet been announced.

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Nickm20223 hours ago

Hopefully he stays far away from Tree of Life and the Zootopia show is dead. Hoping we see him near where that rumored Lion King ride may go plus near the theater where the drone show may go. I also hope he asks the simple question "where's the animals going" for Tropical Americas.

ToTBellHop6 hours ago

I hope he saw the broken floor lighting.

ToTBellHop6 hours ago

Betcha HE Is as able to get a freakin corn dog…

Gringrinngghost6 hours ago

The board was reportedly at MK earlier, as well and Bob was at MK and Epcot yesterday.

MagicHappens19716 hours ago

Josh is here (at WDW). He was spotted on the Boardwalk last night

Gringrinngghost7 hours ago

If you are in the park, keep an eye out in the next few hours for some people ;)

RSoxNo11 day ago

Story beats for an Indiana Jones ride that ties with Animal Kingdom's themes aren't a very tall task. As others have said, all you need is a maguffin of sorts that could be protecting real, extinct or mythical animals. Think Shiriki Utundu but instead of artifacts, it's nature. Also, they need to do the boulder scene. The emphasis here is that they're not going to make the same mistake as Galaxy's Edge and that this would be Raiders of the Lost Ark Indy... there are some components that you shouldn't overthink. It's the most iconic scene and it absolutely should be a part of this ride, even if the rest of the story is different.

RSoxNo11 day ago

DCA's Tower had an awesome goosebump line, "Wave goodbye to the real world". But aside from that, Florida's was superior in every way.

DisneyHead1231 day ago

Good point, I didn’t think of it that way.

bwr8271 day ago

Both interpretations can apply. I see the energy in the umbrella suddenly pouring out rain, or the objects magically moving in the store front. But it makes sense at the same time that people can encounter those at their own pace (other than waiting in the informal lines that pop up to try spells).

etc981 day ago

Very interesting perspective. I don’t necessarily think kinetic energy and calm are inherently opposed either. A babbling brook or the waves of the ocean are kinetic energy, but definitely also have a calming effect.

DisneyHead1231 day ago

Also think the idea of pointing with a wand feels a lot more natural than waving your wrist towards an object. If they’re going to have an interactivity tool, kinda wish they’d make a different one, like a small scepter or something. Somewhat different take - I don’t know if interactive features add kinetic energy to an environment so much as they add calm. Maybe it depends on the viewer. For my son, who has sensory processing stuff going on, I think they actually add calm. Being strapped into a vehicle that moves in a novel way through dark rooms where colorful surprises pop out of the darkness is really a strangely intense experience, when I view it through his eyes. Moving through an environment where he has autonomy to explore in the way he chooses is much more calming. It’s why we hand him and his cousins a bunch of fidget toys when we want them to chill and be quiet (again, though, his processing style is not the typical one, so that may not be true for everyone.)

bwr8271 day ago

Interaction is a nice add-on, with the best example probably being wands and spells at Wizarding World. Adds kinetic energy and immersion, even if you’re not personally doing the spell. Helps that the wand is a top souvenir choice for fans of the IP. Whatever Disney brings, I hope it results in immersive kinetic energy vs some hidden buzzing on my magic band.

DisneyHead1231 day ago

I think it could work if a more subtle, less tech-heavy version of “interaction” is used. So if you think about our psychology (reading Rhode’s Instagram has me in a philosophical headspace!), interaction with the environment is totally natural for humans. For most of history we lived in nature where if you stepped on leaves they crunched, if you climbed a rock and fell it hurt, if you ran towards birds and they flew away you heard a flutter of wings, and so on. That experience feels like it has been dialed back more and more as civilization has progressed, to the point that children now need designated, specialized play places just to get that kind of feedback and ability to explore the environment and how it works. The rest of the time, in public spaces and in school, they are encouraged to sit still and not touch anything, which is probably a strangely unnatural environment in a way. Technology, to some extent, bridges that gap, but I don’t think it’s the only thing that could bridge it. (Granted, I don’t know that what I’m describing could happen in a moving ride, it would have to be a walkthrough, and the problem with walkthroughs is that us Americans tend to break sh*t. But I don’t think that’s an insurmountable barrier.)