Earth Day 1998. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Opens. Over the course of a quarter century, new attractions and experiences have been added (and yes, some removed), but today marks the addition of a new character meet and greet experience featuring Moana.
Guests will be able to meet the new chief of Motonui in a themed setting reminiscent of one of the huts that populate their island villages. The new meet and greet area takes over one of the former Discovery Island Riverboat Landings, specifically the one closest to Dinoland U.S.A.
The addition of the Moana Meet and Greet experience comes after a cryptic “announcement” regarding Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the Walt Disney Animation Studios film, Moana.
During the Disney Parks panel of the D23 Expo, Disney Parks chairman Josh D’Amaro mentioned that he was going to venture into a forward thinking place and while many people thought he might have been referring to Tomorrowland at Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom, he decided to reflect on his career experiences at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Suggesting an idea that was “sure to make some fans nervous,” his eyes were set solely on Dinoland USA. Joined by Chris Beatty from Walt Disney Imagineering and Jennifer Lee from Walt Disney Animation Studios, they discussed thinly veiled plans as “suggestions” for what can be done with the corner of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Mentioning that the area could be home to some characters from Walt Disney Animation Studios (and forgetting that DINOSAUR is a film from their own studio).
From there, art was shown featuring the land being taken over by both Zootopia and Moana experiences and attractions.
While nothing of the scale that was teased has been revealed or formally announced, the new Moana meet and greet certainly is a step in the direction that was teased at the panel, further exploring the idea of Moana experiences at the park to see how the crowds respond.