“Who Wants This?”: Fans Criticize Plans for ‘Moana’ Land at Disney World

in Walt Disney World

Moana poses infront of Te Fiti and an animated Moana and Maui poses along with a pig in a coast.

Credit: Inside the Magic

Now that the dust has settled on Disney’s announcement of a live-action Moana (2016) remake, fans have turned their attention to something else: a Moana land.

In the seven years since Moana was released, the film has established itself as one of Disney’s most beloved animations. The Disney Princess has made guest appearances at Disney Parks worldwide, is about to start a full-time residency at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and even has her own attraction – Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana – on the way to EPCOT later in 2023.

Te Fiti at EPCOT's Journey of Water Inspired by 'Moana'
Credit: Walt Disney Imagineering

At its 2023 Annual Shareholder Meeting, Disney announced its biggest Moana project yet: a full-blown, live-action retelling produced by a team including Auliʻi Cravalho (Moana) and Dwayne Johnson (Maui).

What was obviously supposed to bring joy to Moana fans instead brought outrage. Weary of live-action remakes, many dubbed the move pointless and proof of the Walt Disney Company’s creative drought. There are also those poking fun at recent rumors that Dwayne Johnson always insists on playing the hero and “last man standing,” joking that Maui may be promoted to main character status and outshine Moana herself.

Dwayne Johnson as Maui in 'Moana'
Credit: Disney

There are also those looking on the bright side of the project and what it may mean for future Disney projects – particularly those in the Parks. In 2022, Disney Parks chairman Josh D’Amaro shared concept art for a Moana-themed land in Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.

At the time, this was just a Blue Sky Project – AKA theoretical projects from Disney Imagineers that are just in the preliminary stages of design but not yet green-lit by the Walt Disney Company itself. With another big-screen Moana flick on the way, however, more and more fans agree that the project seems increasingly likely.

Theme Park journalist Scott Gustin reshared the concept art on Twitter shortly after the announcement. Taking the place of Animal Kingdom’s existing Dinoland U.S.A., the Blue Sky plans include both a spinner ride and a log flume ride themed to voyager boats from Moana’s island of Motunui.

But just like the live-action remake, fans don’t seem keen on introducing more Disney IP to Animal Kingdom. Why spend hundreds of millions on another Moana attraction?” wrote Twitter user @DarthImpervious, referring to the upcoming water-themed attraction at EPCOT. “Just seems redundant and wasteful.”

For a lot of Disney fans, most of this outrage stems from the fact that they don’t want Dinoland U.S.A. to be replaced, period. Twitter user @_TylerDean wrote: “Dinosaurs are an integral part of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. To advocate for their removal is to disregard not only their importance to the park… but to the history of our planet. #MakeDinoLandBetter #PutMoanaSomewhereElse.”

Boats of Motanui and a spinner ride in concept for Moana-themed land in Animal Kingdom
Credit: Disney

User @BolletieriS agreed, commenting, “That’s not a good thing because Dinoland had a reason for being in AK. It was a reminder that dinosaurs were real animals, and so is extinction.”

Others had suggestions of alternative ways to make Moana work at the Disney Park. User @Somewareatdiz suggested that Disney combine Moana with Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) for an “ocean conservation-themed section of the park.”

There’s no denying that the reception towards a Moana land is icy, to say the least. Walt Disney World is about to receive $17 billion of investment over the next 10 years – we’ll just have to wait and see whether making this Blue Sky idea a reality is part of the budget.

in Walt Disney World

View Comment (1)