10. Rafiki’s Planet Watch
Location: Disney’s Animal Kingdom | Status: (4) Critically endangered
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to beautiful, photorealistic lands celebrating the inherent value of nature and its connection to the human story. From Harambe to Anandapur; Dinoland to Discovery Island; The Oasis to Pandora… Every inch of the park is immersive, lived-in, and lovingly crafted… except Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Accessed only via the Wildlife Express train from Africa (whose route intentionally reveals the real facilities behind Kilimanjaro Safaris), the remote visitor’s center is the only place where the park’s 90s origin is on display. It’s a children’s zoo exhibit of saturated colors, flat cutouts, outdated environmental messaging, windows into the park’s veterinary clinics, and a petting zoo.
Briefly shuttered in 2018, the center re-opened in 2019 offering an Animation Academy experience in its lobby, inviting guests to learn to draw Disney’s animal characters. But ultimately, Rafiki’s Planet Watch doesn’t have much reason to exist, and the curious choice of making it accessible only by train only leads to further disappointment given the low payoff.
WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN: Given that Disney Parks can’t seem to escape the influx of Disney and Pixar characters, some fans began rooting for Planet Watch to be replaced with a Cars Land-style recreation of Zootopia from the 2016 film. Guests’ first introduction to the animal-stylized city is even via a character arriving by train! Because Disney often likes to double dip on research and development costs by cloning attractions, the Blue Sky idea actually felt possible when Shanghai Disneyland announced a Zootopia land.
But the park’s creative lead, Joe Rohde, denies Zootopia as a possibility given that the film is merely using animals as proxies for distinctly-human problems. Even if it doesn’t become Zootopia, it’s hard for us to imagine Planet Watch lasting through the decade...
11. Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
Location: Universal’s Islands of Adventure | Status: (1) Near threatened
Yet another "endangered" attraction at Islands of Adventure resides across the park's Great Sea from Poseidon's Fury in Toon Lagoon. Based on the Rocky and Bullwinkle spin-off segment, this Splash Mountain-esque dark ride / flume ride combo follows the ever-inept Canadian Mountie on a rescue mission to save the perpetual damsel Nell from the sinister Snidely Whiplash. In the style of the musical melodrama, the ride is filled with sight gags, cyclorama backdrops, and puns.
Normally, we'd feel pretty secure in the future of Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls. After all, rides at Islands of Adventure are – by design – much more permanent than their Studio park peers. Rather than being in swappable soundstages, Toon Lagoon's rides are literally embedded in the park, making piecemeal swaps pretty difficult. And since Islands of Adventure is meant to highlight evergreen, timeless literary stories and not flavor-of-the-week films, that makes sense! But...
WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN: Surely you've heard that in the ongoing battle of IPs, Universal recently scored an unimaginable coup: the global rights to build attractions based on Nintendo. While we know Nintendo is coming to the Epic Universe park in a big way (namely, Mario and Donkey Kong), there's more to milk from this video game catalogue... As we mentioned, Zelda is often imagined as a replacement for the remains of the Lost Continent... but dare we say? Pokémon might be a compelling replacement for Toon Lagoon... While we love and value the park's sincere attempt at timeless, literary sources, we have to admit that a full city plucked from Pokémon (including a Pokémon Center! A gym! Battling!) would be a compelling fit for Islands of Adventure while retaining intergenerational timelessness...
To be fair, Pokémon is barely even rumored for inclusion here, and if anything, would probably be a better fit replacing the dated, Woody Woodpecker-themed Kidzone at the Studio park next door... but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention a gut feeling that tells us Toon Lagoon might not be sacred ground, and may be up for reimagining in the future... Let's just hope – for the park's sake – it's with something that fits Islands of Adventure's big idea.
12. Storybook Land Canal Boats
Location: Disneyland | Status: (2) Vulnerable
The Storybook Land Canal Boats officially debuted at Disneyland a year after the park’s opening, in 1956. The tranquil attraction tours guests along a placid waterway lined with miniatures of famous settings (many from Walt’s time) with beautifully maintained topiaries and miniature gardens. Over the years, films of the Disney Renaissance like The Little Mermaid and Aladdin have been added, up to and including Tangled and Frozen. As on-ride narrators briefly describe the settings, guests can relax and enjoy the calm cruise.
The Storybook Land Canal Boats occupy the same space as the Casey Jr. Circus Train, both weaving through the serene hillsides behind the park’s Fantasyland. The trouble for Storybook Land is that the iconic attraction takes up quite a bit of land in the infamously landlocked park… and paired with the underutilized outdoor performance space adjacent, the Fantasyland Theater, the two occupy enough real estate to probably be up for grabs…
WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN: For many years, Disneyland fans have assumed that Toontown - a ‘90s land built at the height of Roger Rabbit’s popularity - would soon give way to future expansion. The real estate it occupies, for example, might be perfect for a Frozen-themed “New Fantasyland” expansion like the one in the works for Hong Kong Disneyland… But then, Disney announced that Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway would take up residence in Toontown in 2022, definitively decreeing that Toontown was here to stay. Our expectation is that a New Fantasyland-style sub-land themed to Frozen or Beauty and the Beast is probably still a possibility, just occupying the space currently housing Storybook Land and the Fantasyland Theater. We’ll see...
Location: Disney’s Animal Kingdom | Status: (1) Near threatened
Though the T. rex, triceratops, and their fellow non-avian dinosaurs are extinct, we'd say that Animal Kingdom’s prehistoric giants are merely threatened... The very idea that the park's off-roading adventure through the final minutes of the Cretaceous might disappear could seem preposterous. After all, when Animal Kingdom opened less than 25 years ago, Dinoland, U.S.A. was seen as the park's pop culture connection (given the then-recent success of Jurassic Park and the evergreen merchandising around dinosaurs), and its headlining ride, the Lost Legend: Countdown to Extinction, was one of just two anchor rides in the park... and its only dark ride!
Shortly after it opened, the ride was "toned down" and renamed to more smoothly connect to the 2000 film Dinosaur, but there's no two ways about it: Dinoland's dark ride is scary and intense, positioning riders in a steaming prehistoric jungle at night dodging meteor strikes, rumbling through the dark, and managing harrowing escapes from the truly-horrific carnotaurus. Yet the most problematic thing about Dinosaur might be what it's not. Famously, the ride is a direct clone of Disneyland's Modern Marvel: Indiana Jones Adventure – often considered one of the best modern dark rides on Earth.
WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN: Years ago, we at Theme Park Tourist were the first to publicly postulate that, with an (extensive) atmsopheric redress, Dinoland could transform into a South America section of Animal Kingdom (a good fit alongside its Asia and Africa lands), with Dinosaur's showbuilding merely redecorated to become a lost South American temple! Of course, it was all armchair Imagineering... until Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012.
Though Disney hasn't activated on their ownership of Indiana Jones quite like Pixar, Marvel, or Star Wars, a rumored fifth film in the Indy series is reportedly in pre-production... and increasingly, insiders are suggesting that Imagineers might have the same idea we do. It's funny; we listed Indiana Jones Adventure among our 16 Disneyland Exclusives That Should Make Disney World Fans Jealous... but in reality, Disney World already has a clone of Indiana Jones Adventure... it's just dressed as Dinosaur! Chances are, Dinosaur will survive the 2020s... but there's always a chance your next tour of the Dino Institute will be your last...
Okay, so we may not have any 'insider information' to share. It's not like we're certain that any of these attractions are on the way out. But in the year 2010, would you have guessed that JAWS, The Great Movie Ride, Snow White's Scary Adventures or California's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror wouldn't survive the decade? The point is, you may not know what you've got till it's gone. So treasure these 13 attractions – and the rest, too – because you just never know if you've already had your last ride on them...