At this year’s D23, we learned more about how awe-inspiring world of Zootopia that would be incorporated into the parks…in Shanghai. While this Florida-based writer admits to holding some bias for Walt Disney World, the Orlando site actually does have the perfect spot for guests to visit Nick Wild and Judy Hopps’s home. That location is Rafiki’s Planet Watch in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Here are three reasons why this would be ideal for Zootopia.
Location, Location, Location
Where else should we put a world of animals but Disney’s Animal Kingdom? It’s as obvious as the nose on Little Red’s face (little Kilimanjaro Safari callback for those who remember), but it would also be the most seamless addition to any Disney Park. Plus, it would actually take full advantage of an area of the park which is currently rather underwhelming.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch is in a completely isolated area, and even the train station out to it can be difficult to spot. Rejuvenation of that area for something even as big as Zootopia would cause hardly any interruptions to the core areas of the park. Other means of access will be possible.
Because of its isolation, secrecy would be so much easier. When Pandora was under construction, every guest could see every construction stage of the floating mountains. Every aspect of the Zootopia construction would be a mystery save those leaked by Imagineers, trespassers, or any brave photographer. Lack of mystery and overexposure could be a reason why Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened ahead of its second attraction being ready. And the trek to see Zootopia–first by foot and then by train–would make the reveal and experience that much more exciting.
The Train into Zootopia
Moving onto my next point. WE COULD TAKE JUDY’S TRAIN RIDE INTO ZOOTOPIA. The track is already in place, and the train is the only way to get to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. All we would need is to replace the train itself. Just imagine hopping aboard that sleek, airconditioned yellow bullet train, jamming out to “Try Everything,” as you leave the real Animal Kingdom behind and travel to a different world. If we can be transported back in time in Dinosaur, and explore a new planet in Pandora, then I think we could be transported to the animal world of Zootopia.
Immersion and Character Integration
Probably the most significant point behind this idea is that it would maintain the level of immersion Disney’s Animal Kingdom is famous for, and it would create a whole new standard of character/park integration.
Right now, scores of fans complain of how Disney characters are invading parks like Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Epcot. Meet and greets and movie-based rides are argued to take away the realism and originality of the parks. Putting Zootopia at Rafiki’s Planet Watch would be a perfect compromise. Guests will be able to get their character interactions and immerse themselves in the world of the movie while also going through a process that will literally take them away from the “real” Animal Kingdom into this different, separated area.
That distinction via an epic train ride will also help add to the level of immersion. Zootopia would be its own mini-park in a way. Off on its own, guests will be completely immersed in that world before taking the train ride back.
It could still be educational. Zootopia residents could interact and share facts about their species with human visitors. We could have an epic simulator ride like one that follows Judy and Nick on a high-speed pursuit through the city. But, the best part would be having it all in a little section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom that’s a short exciting train ride away.