Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rejected Amusements: Discovery River Boats at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Editor's Note: I'm pleased to welcome a new series to NewsPlusNotes, Rejected Amusements.  In welcoming the series, I'd also like to extend a warm welcome to its author and a new memeber of the NPN team, Ryan.  Rejected Amusements will be taking a look at our favorite industries' unbuilt, altered, and short-lived amusement parks and attractions.  Rejection never felt so good! ~Mike

Opening with the park in 1998, Disney's Animal Kingdom's Discovery River Boats (also known as "Discovery River Taxi") provided up-close looks at animals and took guests on a leisurely trip around the park's Safari Village (later named Discovery Island). Along the way, riders were shown some smaller animals held by a trainer, who also gave a live speil about Discovery Island.

Primarily, the purpose of the boats was mainly transportation (from the Safari dock to the Asia dock, outlined in white on the map below), but the voyage also showcased some upcoming (now lost) Beastly Kingdom attractions. Near Camp Minnie-Mickey, a waterfall with dragon-shaped rockwork could be seen (yellow), while a fire-breathing dragon in a cave existed further down (green). Geysers were up ahead in Africa, but they wouldn't soak guests.

Coming from the Asia dock, riders could see a preview of the Asia-themed land (which would be debuting the following year), a static dinosaur statue (red) in the river, and some fountains (since removed). The boat storage and dry docks for the boats was placed behind the Theater in the Wild (blue).

In early 1999, with the park in need of more capacity, the attraction was given a Radio Disney River Cruise overlay. Instead of station-to-station travel, the boats now completed a round trip of the river. Animals no longer were a part of the cruise, and new speakers played pop music and pre-selected sound clips. Perhaps the most jarring change was a complete disregard to the realistic scenery surrounding the route (for example, the fire-breathing "rock dragon" was re-christened as a volcano in the tour audio).

By the end of 1999, the attraction was closed altogether. Long lines, as well as guest confusion over the nature of the attraction, led to the Discovery River Boat's early demise. Both docks are used as meet-and-greets in the park.


BunnyHugger said...

I like the idea for this new series. Keep them coming!