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The Dragon-Filled Land We Never Got To See At Disney's Animal Kingdom

Of Disney's many breathtaking parks, among their most innovative and varied offerings is Disney's Animal Kingdom. This section is dedicated to animal conservation and environmental awareness, combining thrilling rides with attractions that blow any local zoo out of the water. Although, much like the rest of Disney's parks, it isn't without branded regions either, with one of its most notable being "Pandora – The World of Avatar," which opened to the public in 2017. The area draws in tons of visitors every year, undoubtedly playing a huge hand in making Animal Kingdom the third most-visited theme park in 2019.

Still, for as popular as it is, the Avatar expansion isn't solely to thank for Disney's Animal Kingdom becoming a huge hit. People have flocked there in droves since 1998, long before James Cameron's epic became one of the highest-grossing films of all time, and warranted roller coasters and extensive merchandising. In fact, the plot where it currently sits nearly took on a completely different theme many years ago, one that's even teased in the Animal Kingdom logo. Evidently, it never came to fruition, but what's known of the proposed park leaves many Disney fans reminiscing about what could've been.

This is the story of Beastly Kingdom, the dragon-occupied land that never was.

Beastly Kingdom would've completed Animal Kingdom's initial plan

Back in the 1990s, when Disney's Animal Kingdom was still in its concept stages, the plan initially was to include three very distinct sections for three distinct categories of animals. Animals that exist, and extinct animals, made the cut, and are currently an integral piece of the land's presentation. But the third area, animals that don't exist, never came to pass. That is where the Beastly Kingdom would come in and highlighted mythical creatures like dragons, sea monsters, and even unicorns. 

All in all, the project sounded interesting, to say the least. Instead of leaning into the real-world theme of Animal Kingdom, this section would've made for a nice change of pace by pivoting into fiction. Sadly, the land was just a bit too ambitious, projecting around $200-300 million to produce, prompting Disney Imagineers to abandon the Beastly Kingdom in the planning stage. Only a few obscure remnants remain scattered across Animal Kingdom, such as street signs and statues, left to those curious enough to search for them, much like the Hidden Mickeys.

Beastly Kingdom's attractions would've given visitors two areas in one

Despite it not being put together, the folks tasked with putting the Beastly Kingdom together got pretty far along, even coming up with a rough idea for its setup. "Good versus evil" was the idea the Imagineers had in mind, which would've split the land into two separate areas with unique attractions. The "good" side boasted a labyrinth called Quest of the Unicorn that led to the home of the legendary creature, as well as a musical boat ride that took riders through scenes from the movie Fantasia.

Alternatively, if you're not into the whole goody-two-shoes thing, the other half of Beastly Kingdom dedicated itself to all things evil. Its main ride would've been called Dragon's Tower — a roller coaster that sent thrill-seekers on a perilous journey through the winged beast's domain in an attempt to steal its riches. The grand finale even put you face-to-face with the dragon, as it attempted to burn you to a crisp with its flames. You'd make it out unscathed, of course.

This is only a taste of what the land had to offer, and had it seen construction, other rides, restaurants, and attractions would've surely filled in the gaps. The Beastly Kingdom had a ton of potential, but unfortunately, much like the dragons it hoped to include, it never came to exist.