Do you remember the rumors floating around a couple of years ago about Disney’s Night Kingdom? This was allegedly a proposed 5th park at Walt Disney World that would be open in the evenings. Plans called for this niche park to officially throw open its doors in October of 2011, just in time for the start of Walt Disney World's 40th anniversary celebration.
"Why did you call 'Disney's Night Kingdom' a niche park?" you ask. Well, because -- just like Sea World’s Discovery Cove (which only allows in a thousand visitors each day) -- DNK was to restrict the number of guests that can enter this park every afternoon. Only 2000 people would be allowed into WDW's 5th theme park at any one time. And yes, I said "afternoon." Disney's Night Kingdom's operating hours were to be 4 P.M. to midnight. Guests would arrive through a relocated version of the Adventurers’ Club (oh, how I wanted that to return!) and experience everything from riding a zip line over a pool of crocodiles to strapping on a pair of night vision goggles and wandering out into a pitch-black African savanna, where they’d be able to observe up-close lions and hyenas as they go through their nocturnal hunting routines.
So what happened? Well, the economy tanked. These rumors were floating around in February 2008. Then they disappeared completely. You see, Disney was planning to charge $250 - $300 per person for an evening in the park. Yikes!
So why do I bring this up now? Because at Disney, a good idea never dies; it just gets recycled. Just this week, Disney announced a new program they are starting soon at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Per Disney, this “new adventure at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park will have guests trekking into the savannah. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park will be offering a new, immersive experience that’ll take a small group of Guests on personalized, guided treks along some unexplored areas of the Harambe Reserve. During the excursions, you’ll be able to spend more time observing the wildlife on the savannah and have a chance to learn about the animals and their behaviors from one of our Disney guides. Adventurers will also trek through an undeveloped forest area of the Harambe Reserve and then board a unique vehicle specially designed for the rest of the quest.”
Does this sound familiar to anyone?
No pricing has been announced yet for these excursions, but Disney is definitely intimating that the cost will not be included with regular park admission. And it should be significantly less than the $250 - $300 Disney’s Night Kingdom was supposed to cost.
Now if only we could find a way for them to bring back the Adventurers’ Club, as well…