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Animal Kingdom History Lesson Part 1: Discovery River Boats

Well hello there! Welcome to your first Animal Kingdom History Lesson! For those who don’t know, Animal Kingdom will be celebrating its 15th Anniversary on April 22nd, so I thought I could educate some of you into the parks short, but wonderful, past. I did this with DCA’s grand reopening last year and had a ball, so let us do it again, shall we!

The Discovery River Boats opened along with the park on April 22nd, 1998. Originally, they were thought to be a means of transportation throughout the expansive park. Unfortunately, the idea never came to fruition, as the boats failed VERY quickly. They started to give guests a short tour around the expansive waterways, but the lines started to grow. And grow. AND GROW! People were waiting an hour for a 10 minute boat ride, which made some guests VERY unhappy. avatarkingdom_boats1998ww

Their other down fall? There was nothing to look at. The biggest draw was a small dragon rock/waterfall that was near the area where Beastly Kingdom was going to be located (the Mythical land originally slated for the park). They tried to put small animals (and their wranglers) on the boats with guests, but that didn’t work. They then made the boats themed after Radio Disney, making the station’s DJs the voices of the cruise, but that idea failed as well.

The ride officially closed in 1999. A few years ago, when I was there at park opening, I saw a boat going around the Asia water area with the Fab Five in their Animal Kingdom gear waving at guests, but I believed that has even stopped. Now one of the docks functions as a Winnie the Pooh and friends meet and greet.

Personally, I would love to see something done with these boats. I’m not entirely sure what…but I want something! I heard rumors of a possibility of a dining cruise, where guests could buy a box lunch and eat on the rivers, which is such a cool idea that I want to happen!

Did you ever experience the river boats? Would you like to see them return? Do you want a dining cruise as much as I want a dining cruise?! Let me know in the comments below! Come back next time for a look into the first failed show at DAK, Journey into the Jungle Book! Until next time…It’s Nahtazu!

(Photo courtesy of

1 thought on “Animal Kingdom History Lesson Part 1: Discovery River Boats”

  1. Hi – just read your post regrading the discovery riverboats. There were many highs and lows (probably more lows) during it’s short stint — I was a skipper for the ride during the opening and first summer at the animal kingdom in 1998. The ride changed multiple times, even during pre-opening previews. I’ve seen one of the boats out in the seven seas lagoon from time to time, and occasionally they use one at animal kingdom to play music from as it tours the lake. I would love to see a revamped version of it return, but it seems to be gone forever similar to the swan boats of magic kingdom.

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