Beastly Kingdom was just one of many concepts designed for Disney’s Animal Kingdom that never made it off the drawing board, but its memory lives on in the hearts of fans.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom was promoted as a place to see all types of animals: real, extinct, and imagined. While the park opened with real animals, and a “DinoLand” filled with extinct ones, it was the land for imagined animals that was missing.
Despite imagery of dragons being used in marketing leading up to the park’s grand opening on Earth Day of 1998, and unicorn and dragon icons being used in decorations around the entrance—and even in the park’s logo—to this day, the land featuring these mythical beasts was never built.
In the early days of designing what would become Walt Disney World’s fourth theme park, Imagineers set out to design a land based on mythical creatures, originally named Mythia, but later renamed to “Beastly Kingdom.”
Concept art for the land was included in books like “The Making of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park” by Melody Malmberg, where it was listed in the “Future Additions” section of the book.
The land was set to feature a suspended roller coaster with a finale through a castle’s treasure room guarded by a large fire-breathing dragon animatronic, as well as a hedge maze that ended in a grotto, home to an animatronic unicorn. There were also plans for a Fantasia-themed swan boat ride and restaurants.
Even though very little was ever known about these possible experiences, other than these small details, the memory of this never-built theme park land still remains firmly in the fandom’s minds, more than two decades later.
Maybe it’s the magic of the human imagination to think about what could’ve been and romanticize the notion of what-if? Maybe the idea of seeing mythical creatures in the flesh stirs up feelings from the innocence of our youth. Whatever it is, for some reason it has been difficult for theme park fans to let this unrealized concept go.
Of course, Beastly Kingdom would never come to be. In an effort to add some extra capacity to the park at the last minute, Camp Minnie-Mickey was built in its place. This small theme park land was meant to be added as a placeholder until they got the greenlight to build the permanent location for dragons and unicorns at Animal Kingdom.
When that never happened, the spot was eventually swallowed up by Pandora—The World of Avatar. While you won’t find unicorns and dragons here, there are viperwolves and flying banshees. So, while not exactly what the Imagineers were dreaming up in the 1990s, the space did eventually provide the park with its imagined creatures after all.
Beastly Kingdom is just one of many early concepts that were designed but destined to never make it off the drawing board. See the video below for a full rundown of ALL the attractions that were cancelled before Animal Kingdom’s opening day in 1998.