Beth Stevens, who served as vice president of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and oversaw all of Disney World’s animal-science programs, has been promoted to senior vice president for environmental affairs for Disney Worldwide Services. That makes her responsible for all environmental and conservation programs throughout the Walt Disney Company. This is great news for Dr. Beth and I think and indication of the Disney Company’s desire to improve it’s social and environmental responsibility.
Steven’s replacement will be Val Bunting, a Walt Disney World veteran of 31 years. Bunting helped open Animal Kingdom and most recently was general manager of the Magic Kingdom. I’m really liking this trend of promoting long term theme park employees. Reminds me of the best years of Disneyland.
What about Joe Rhode? He’s effectively the Imagineer in charge of Animal Kingdom. The last E-Ticket he worked on "Expedition Everest" has nearly single handedly boosted the attendance of the park past Disney-MGM Studios. I hear he has "big" things planned for the next project.
The Yak & Yeti sit-down restaurant, operated by Landry’s, is scheduled to open next month. Work on the night time parade "Rivers of Light" has been delayed. I’ve heard that they’re looking at the "Disney’s World of Color" water show concept from California Adventure instead. It doesn’t use pyrotechnics, which works with the Animal Kingdom limitations, but that would require some aggressive work around the lake area to allow for viewing areas for 7000-10000 guests. I don’t see a night time parade working unless there are improvements to the walk-ways and the parade route either.
I’ve gotten two non-denials when I asked my sources about a possible
new land for the park connecting Asia and Rafiki’s Planet Watch. The
theme? Australia. That ties in nicely with Finding Nemo’s aquatic
location, but that’s been explored in Epcot. So who knows?
DAK needs a few more projects, some capacity eating attractions, and a couple night time draws (Disneyland did this by delaying the first few shows of their stage shows until the late afternoon and starting the last show just after the fireworks). Changes coming at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will shortly put DAK back in 4th place for attendance at WDW. But there is no reason it has to stay that way. They have the theme, the story, and the talent to do it right.