• Thursday, September 24, 2020

Vintage Disney: 7 Long-Lost Animal Kingdom Attractions

As the youngest Disney World location, there have been a lot fewer changes to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in comparison to the other parks (besides that MASSIVE Pandora addition, of course!). However, some park elements have come and gone over the last 21 years. Keep reading for a reminder of some of the most unique retired attractions from Animal Kingdom!

Journey Into the Jungle Book

The Journey Into the Jungle Book stage show was an opening day attraction that retold the story of the classic Disney film.

During the show, the story’s music and characters came to life on stage with the help of both human performers and innovative puppets. Some costumes were multi-functional and allowed performers to easily go from a tree to a dancing animal, while others were very large and contained two or more performers.

The 30-minute show followed Mowgli’s story with performances of familiar songs like “Bare Necessities”, “I Want to Be Like You”, “Trust in Me”, and “My Own Home” and recreations of the movie’s biggest moments:

  • Being raised by wolf cubs in the Indian jungle
  • Makes friends with Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther
  • Facing off with Kha the snake and Shere Kahn the Bengal tiger

Journey Into the Jungle Book was performed 10 times daily at Theater in the Wild, a 1500 seat amphitheater overlooking Discovery River. It closed in April 1999.

Tarzan Rocks!

Just a few months after Journey Into the Jungle Book ended, Tarzan Rocks! made its debut at Theater in the Wild. The live rock musical revue loosely followed the Disney movie’s story, mostly focusing on the relationship between Tarzan and Jane.

In addition to character appearances from Tarzan, Jane, and Turk, the high energy show features acrobatics, skating stunts, and dancing along to the beloved Phil Collins soundtrack.

The show opened with a performance of acrobatic choreography to the song “Two Worlds” and “You’ll Be in My Heart”. Then, rollerskating monkeys took the stage for “Son of Man”. The story of Tarzan and Jane’s relationship was told with romantic acrobats, vine swinging, and a performance of “Strangers Like Me”. Terk appeared with a group of tap dancers for a lively rendition of “Trashin’ the Camp” before the show’s grand finale, which was a reprise of the opening songs with more acrobats and roller skating monkeys.

The 30-minute “rock concert” ran from July 9, 1999 to January 21, 2006. It was replaced by Finding Nemo: The Musical in January 2007.

Lucky the Dinosaur & Val the Velociraptor

Lucky the Dinosaur was an 8-foot tall green Segnosaurus that wandered through Dinoland U.S.A. regularly from June – August 2005. It was the first-ever free-roaming animatronic character that had ever been created by Disney’s Imagineers. He pulled a flower cart behind him, which hid the computer that allowed Lucky to vocalize and interact with park guests. After making the official debut at Disney’s California Adventure, Lucky was brought to Disney’s Animal Kingdom before moving on to Hong Kong Disneyland.

In 2014, Val the Velociraptor was introduced to Dinoland U.S.A. in what seemed to be an attempt at replacing Lucky in the park. However, Val was actually a human in a costume (inspired by Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Show) and moved continuously through Dinoland U.S.A. without stopping to interact with people. The character appearance lasted for less than a month due to guests often complaining that it was a lame, low budget alternative to Lucky.

Pocahontas and her Forest Friends

Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends was a 12-minute stage show that took place in Camp Minnie-Mickey. The opening day attraction was held in a 350-seat outdoor theater and the first four rows were reserved for kids.

The show didn’t actually retell the story of the movie, focusing more on nature and animals. Pocahontas, Grandmother Willow, and a new young tree character named Sprig taught the audience about nature and peacefully coexisting with nature. A variety of live animals took the stage as well including turkey, rats, possum, porcupine, ducks, a snake, a raccoon, and pigeons. Pocahontas and Her Friends came to a close on September 27, 2008.

Discovery River Boats

Discovery River Boats was an opening day attraction that was similar to Magic Kingdom’s Jungle Cruise. The non-stop journey took riders all throughout the park, traveling from Safari Village to the Asia area. The fleet of boats included:

  • Darting Dragonfly
  • Otter Nonsense
  • Leaping Lizard
  • Crocodile Belle
  • Hasty Hippo

The original plan for the River Boats was to just be a fun transportation system to take guests around the park, but there were some attraction elements to the experience. There were a few scenes set up along the way including a fire-breathing dragon’s cave outside of Camp Minnie-Mickey, geysers in Africa, and a bathing iguanodon outside of Dinoland U.S.A. There were also small animals brought on board for riders to get a closer look at.

Many guests did not realize that it was meant to be more of a transportation method around the park than a ride. A lot of people were disappointed with the lack of unique content with the exception of the additional scenes that had been set up. Most of the animals that were brought on board could be seen elsewhere in the park as well.

It was renamed Discovery River Taxi in November 1998. The boats were all repainted, and animals were no longer brought on board. The taxi also started taking round trips instead of starting and stopping at different docks.

The attraction was renamed again in March 1999 when it became the Radio Disney River Cruise. Radio Disney DJs Just Plain Mark and Skippy added new commentary and guests were told that the songs were being heard from the top of the Tree of Life. Eventually, the riverboats closed altogether on August 21, 1999.

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade debuted on October 1, 2001, as part of Disney’s 100 Years of Magic Celebration. The daily parade was only the second parade to ever take place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The first was March of the ARTimals, which ended in 1999.

The Jammin’ Jungle Parade started and ended at the same spot, near the Discovery Island First Aid Center between Pizzafari and Africa. Parade floats had a safari-style design, pulled by jeeps and other utility vehicles rather than the standard self-driving floats. Each vehicle was a perfect representation of the character riding it.

Goofy’s float was a mess, with golf clubs falling off the back and a smoking grill and Donald rode a duckboat that was towing a sailboat full of water accessories. Minnie Mouse’s float was covered in polka dots, picnic baskets, and some of her furniture and Mickey’s float was a simple platform with him at the top waving to the crowd.

Other stars of the procession included stilt walkers, dancers, and jungle animals that entertained the crowd in between the floats. The animals looked like they were made from natural elements like vine and leaves.

In 2004, the parade started receiving a holiday overlay and was called “Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade” during the Christmas season each year. All of the floats and costumes were decorated for the holidays and the soundtrack had a sleigh bell percussion beat behind songs like “Deck the Halls”, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, and “Frosty the Snowman”.

During the park’s “Limited Time Magic” event in 2013, several new characters made special appearances in the parade. Before the Mickey float closed out the procession, guests got a rare view of the following pairs:

  • Thumper and Miss Bunny
  • Lilo and Stitch
  • Koda and Kenai
  • Meeko and Pocahontas
  • Russell and Dug
  • Flik and Atta

As plans were starting to be developed for Pandora – The World of Avatar, the parade was scrapped from the park. The final performance of Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade took place on May 31, 2014.

The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic

The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic was a temporary evening show that took place on the Discovery River from May 28, 2016 to September 5, 2016. The limited-time special was used as a placeholder until Rivers of Light was ready to open. Inspired by the live-action version of the movie, Alive with Magic featured dancers, drummers, fire twirlers, and other performers that traveled to seven different stages via floats. Each of the seven stages had a water curtain behind it that was illuminated with scenes from the film. Throughout the show, well-known songs like “The Bare Necessities”, “Trust in Me”, and “I Wanna Be Like You” were played with a Bollywood-inspired twist. When Rivers of Light was finally ready to debut, The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic’s short-run ended. Rivers of Light still takes place nightly at Animal Kingdom!

For more Vintage Disney, check out these long-lost Magic Kingdom attractions. You can experience everything that Animal Kingdom currently has to offer with discount Disney tickets from Tickets2You!

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