DinoLand USA Tropical Americas Reimagining Project Tracker (Concept Art, Info, Latest Construction & News)

    The end is near. DinoLand USA will soon be extinct as Disney World moves forward with plans for a reimagining of the 12+ acre plot of land in the southeast corner of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Currently, the leading contender retheme idea is that of a Tropical Americas land, implementing Encanto, (possibly) Coco, and the adventures of Indiana Jones. In our DinoLand USA reimagining project tracker, we’ll try to create a unified article where you can track the latest construction progress and info for the Tropical Americas land. (Updated March 23, 2024)

    Early Concept (Moana & Zootopia)

    While Tropical Americas appears to be the theme that Walt Disney Imagineering and Burbank execs will settle on, the first concept for the retheme of DinoLand USA was quite different.

    As you can see in the concept art below, the original idea presented by Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro was for a Moana-themed land to take over DinoLand USA. In the upper right of the concept art, we can see a Zootopia-themed retheme of the DINOSAUR attraction.

    The Moana attraction would’ve featured a Splash Mountain-esque flume ride with what appears to be a significant drop. This ride would’ve also had indoor portions, but little more about the attraction was known. The Moana ride would’ve been where the former Primeval Whirl attraction stood, with light rethemes of the TriceraTop Spin ride nearby.

    Nothing was known about the Zootopia ride outside of the probability that it would’ve kept the DINOSAUR ride system and rethemed scenes, similar to what is expected for the current Indiana Jones concept.

    The concept art above was presented in September 2022 at the D23 Expo, and while Josh D’Amaro insisted that the concepts presented at that event were not “daydreams”, there would be a significant shakeup just months later as Bob Chapek departed and Bob Iger returned. Furthermore, there was a shakeup at the top of Walt Disney Imagineering too, which could’ve impacted the concept for the DinoLand USA retheme (in addition to other changes).

    Here’s How Moana & Zootopia Could Take Over DinoLand USA at Animal Kingdom
    We take a look at how the Moana and Zootopia attractions could fit into the existing DinoLand USA area at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

    Current Concept (Tropical Americas, Encanto, Indiana Jones)

    Fast forward to September 2023, a year after debuting the Moana concept, and the Destination D23 event where Disney presented a brand new concept with all-new experiences for the DinoLand USA reimagining.

    We’ll start with Disney’s official announcement of the new concept, followed by a deeper dive into the presentation and concept art.

    Disney’s Official Announcement

    At Destination D23 2023, it was announced that Walt Disney Imagineering is planning to reimagine Dinoland U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park into a new land inspired by a region sometimes referred to as “tropical Americas.” As part of their research, Imagineers are looking at some of the most biodiverse areas on the planet in the regions just north and south of the equator in the Western Hemisphere – the northern part of South America, stretching up into Central America. New experiences inspired by “Encanto” – the Academy Award-winning Walt Disney Animation Studios film – and the fan-favorite adventurer Indiana Jones are being considered for the reimagined land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

    During the 2023 Destination D23 event, Imagineering chief Bruce Vaughn said that the Moana concept art shared above was an “initial concept for Animal Kingdom that was one of many we were exploring at the time”. After some extra brainstorming that relocated Zootopia to the Tree of Life as a replacement for “It’s Tough To Be A Bug”, that allowed Imagineers to create a new concept for DinoLand USA.

    Vaughn said that the new concept allows Imagineers to focus on a region of the world “sometimes referred to as the Tropical Americas”. Vaughn explained that the Tropical Americas is an area around the equator in the Western Hemisphere “basically the northern part of South America stretching up into Central America”.

    The idea here is that by focusing on a region of the world, it would continue the tradition of regional theming seen in other parts of Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the Asia and Africa sections of the park. Vaughn said that they still have a long way to go, but that the Imagineering teams in Florida are up to the challenge!

    As seen below, the new concept presented a DinoLand USA retheme that explores the Tropical Americas. This includes the Encanto intellectual property, as well as a retheme of the DINOSAUR attraction into an Indiana Jones-themed ride. Here’s a look at the high-level concept art before we zoom into the individual experiences.

    Encanto-themed Experience

    In the upper-left of the concept art, we can see the Casita from Disney’s Encanto animated film. This appears to take over the entire Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama area. While D’Amaro and Vaughn were careful not to specifically say that “Encanto is coming to Animal Kingdom”, the band played a segment of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” and the visuals are undeniable.

    As far as how this Encanto-themed experience would be implemented, details remain scarce. We’d LOVE to see a ride similar to Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland. In fact, Disney could do a very easy redressing of the Mystic Manor attraction to include an Encanto theme. If you’ve never been to Hong Kong Disneyland, Mystic Manor is a ride where a mystical music box plays a wonderful Danny Elfman score while the house and its contents come to life around you. A house that magically comes to life set to a wonderful score, where have we seen that idea before?

    That said, we expect to hear more about the Tropical Americas land and the Encanto concept at this year’s D23 Expo, perhaps at the August 10th Disney Experiences keynote presentation.

    Indiana Jones Retheme of DINOSAUR

    The Indiana Jones retheme of DINOSAUR is a little bit easier to “see” thanks to the utilization of existing infrastructure.

    As seen in the concept art below, the existing DINOSAUR rounded covered queue remains, with the addition of a temple to the facade and the removal of the reflecting pool that currently has the Iguanadon in front of the ride.

    In terms of the interior of the ride, it would make sense for Disney to keep the existing ride system. While DINOSAUR has had its fair share of issues over the years, it’s usually due to issues with the audio-animatronics and not ride reliability. Of course, some ride reliability improvements could possibly be made during any retheme work.

    When thinking about the storyline for the planned Indiana Jones ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, many Disney fans immediately think of the Indiana Jones Adventure attraction at Disneyland. While the Indiana Jones Adventure attraction is a wonderful ride, there would likely be challenges with the interior of the attraction building at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, making a close clone impossible.

    Instead, there are rumblings that an Indiana Jones ride at Animal Kingdom would have a substantially different storyline and set dressing when compared to its Disneyland counterpart.

    Unannounced Experiences

    Other experiences seen in the concept art include what appears to be a spinner-type ride, and a retheming of the existing Restaurantosaurus dining location.

    Taking a closer look at the concept art below, we can see some minor adjustments made to the exterior of Restaurantosaurus, but the bones will remain, even if the fossils are removed. Perhaps a more significant adjustment will be the removal of the Boneyard playground and Dig Site areas, replaced with a relocated and rethemed TriceraTop Spin and expanded outdoor dining seating, respectively.

    We’ll close out this section of concept art speculation by noting that its possible that we see even more adjustments to the Tropical Americas concept art at this years D23 Expo. We hope that the theme of the land is nailed down, but that D’Amaro & Co. are able to provide more specifics on what guests can expect. What we’d really love to hear is that shovels are already in the ground, but we’ll save the rest for our inevitable D23 Expo wishlist article.

    Tropical Americas Land Opening Date

    As of Spring 2024, it’s still far, far too early to say when this new land will open to the public. Instead, we’re more concerned with when construction might begin.

    The biggest development so far for the project is the filing of a permit that would suggest a significant Walt Disney Imagineering presence at Disney’s Animal Kingdom for years to come. As seen below, the permit outlines a trailer village for four Walt Disney Imagineering trailers and a trailer for a yet-to-be-named third-party contractor. The perimeter road seen in the composite image below leads directly to DinoLand USA (to the south).

    As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!

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