Do you know, that Disney’s Animal Kingdom was supposed to include a section for mythical animals? You know those that are in our imagination. Beastly Kingdom as it was supposed to be called, was supposed to be filled with animals like unicorns, dragons and sea monsters. The plan was to have good and evil creatures, and each was supposed to be represented. Unlike the animals of Kilimanjaro Safari, Walt Disney World was planning on creating attractions based on mythological creatures, both good and evil. Too bad it didn’t happen, it does sound like it would have been a lot of fun!
Disney’s Animal Kingdom focuses on three broad classifications of animals: those that exist in today’s reality; those that did exist, but are now extinct (i.e., dinosaurs); and those that only exist in the realm of fantasy. The original design for Animal Kingdom included a section called the Beastly Kingdom (possibly spelled as “Beastly Kingdomme”), devoted to creatures of legend and mythology. Due to budget constraints, Beastly Kingdom never came to fruition and Camp Minnie-Mickey was built as a temporary tenant to that land.
The evil side would be dominated by Dragon Tower, a ruined castle home to a greedy fire-breathing dragon who horded a fabulous treasure in the tower chamber. The castle would also be inhabited by bats who planned to rob the dragon of his riches. They would enlist the guests’ help in their scheme and whisk them off on a thrilling roller coaster ride through the castle ruins. The climax of the ride would be an encounter with the evil dragon himself, resulting in a nearly-barbecued train of guests. The good side would be home to Quest of the Unicorn, an adventure which sent guests through a maze of medieval mythological creatures to seek the hidden grotto where the unicorn lived. Finally, the Fantasia Gardens attraction would be a musical boat ride through animal scenes from Disney’s animated classic, Fantasia. The ride would feature both the crocodiles and hippos from “Dance of the Hours” and the Pegasus, fauns, and centaurs from Beethoven’s “Pastoral.”
Remnants of Beastly Kingdom were visible when the park opened or are still visible today:
- The parking lot contains a section named “Unicorn.”
- The silhouette of a dragon appears in the park’s logo.
- There is a dragon-shaped stone fountain near Camp Minnie-Mickey.
- A detailed dragonhead statue sits atop one of the ticket booths at the park’s entrance. (The other two booths are topped by an elephant head and a triceratops head.)
- Blasts of fire would be spewed from a cave at the edge of the water, in Camp Minnie-Mickey. Burnt suits of armor were just outside the cave entrance, and when boats passed this scene in the now-closed Discovery River Boats attraction, guests were told by the boat’s captain that the fire was created by a fire-breathing dragon inside the cave. This scene was visible from Discovery River Boats attraction and the Camp Minnie-Mickey bridge for several years.