Asia’s Boat Dock
There were two boat docks as part of the Discovery Riverboats attraction, Safari Village and Upcountry Landing. Upcountry Landing was located in Asia, just past the bridge from Safari Village. Asia itself had minimal attractions at park opening in 1998 as the bulk of the land was still under construction. In fact, Flights of Wonder and Discovery Riverboats were the only attractions for Asia at that time.
Unlike the Safari Village dock queue, which was at the end of a very long and windy path , the Upcountry Landing queue was directly off of the main path. It was (and still is) directly across the path from Caravan Stage, home to Flights of Wonder.
The entrance sign to the queue had, at one time, specified that it was a “one way” trip. This was during the period when a guest would board at Upcountry and disembark at Safari Village and vice versa.
“Welcome to Discovery Riverboats – a 15 minute educational round-trip tour.”
At one point, hoping to fully inform guests as to what they were waiting for, an A-frame sign was placed out front to tell the guests a bit more about this attraction.
While in “round-trip” mode, each boat would be assigned to one of the two docks. If you boarded at Upcountry Landing, your boat would simply pass by Safari Village dock on it’s journey, bringing you back to where you came from.
Strollers would often be stacked up just outside the entrance. The large, plastic, tan strollers were far too big and bulky to bring board the boat. During the times when the boat was a “one-way” trip, it was expected that a guest would just pick up a different Disney stroller at the other dock while taking all of their belongings with them. However, sometimes one dock would run out and a cast member would have to push a stack of strollers from one dock to another.
There was a “photocell” sensor at the main entrance to the queue just under the “Passenger Boarding” sign that would count people as they passed through. The amount of light hitting the sensor would be blocked by each guest passing. There was also a button that could be used by a cast member to count guests (such as wheel chairs) that didn’t pass through the photocell.
The queue was a standard set of switchbacks, separated by wooden rails and posts, featuring intricate snake carvings overhead. Traditional Asian music was played in this queue, although, as a cast member, the many high pitched notes did become grating after some time. This queue had a great view of the Tree of Life, which made for a much more entertaining way to pass the time by identifying various animals animal carvings.
The overhead speakers in the queue could be used for making announcements from the podium operated by a cast member down on the dock below.
The Dock Itself
Life on the dock was hot. Very hot. While 3 green umbrellas were placed on the dock to give some shade, most of it was in full Florida sunlight. The wooden dock had strips of a rough material to provide traction, which also quickly wore out shoes. Often, there was a sports style cooler full of water with cone shaped paper cups available to the cast members to keep hydrated while working their shift.
In the middle of the dock, was a “Dock Box” or podium in which there was a house phone attached to the side, a PA system microphone for making announcements to the guests and some small storage at the bottom.
Unlike the Safari Village dock which only had one opening from the queue to the dock, Upcountry Landing had two. This made a significant different in moving people through as one opening was dedicated to guests entering the dock to board the ship while the other was for guests existing. The Safari Village dock generally required all guests to exit before allowing a stream of guests to enter because it was a single, shared opening.
In addition to a cast member staffed at the queue entry, there were various cast positions around the dock. This included somebody to open and close the line for guests to come out, somebody to tie up the boat to the cleat on the dock as well as unchain the entry at the front of the boat and another cast member to unchain the rear exit of the boat. Often, the cast member working the rear would also be responsible for placing a ramp for wheelchairs to bridge the gap between the dock at the boat. Wheel chairs (and other electronic vehicles) were able to park at the aft of the boat.
Ultimately, after a number of changes (including the “Radio Disney River Cruise” to be discussed in another post), the Discovery Riverboats were closed in 1999.
Upcountry Landing Bar
While the boats may have stopped visiting the dock, that wasn’t necessarily the end for Upcountry Landing. In August 2000, it was converted into a bar area with tables, chairs and a good view of the Tree of Life across the river.
Eventually, the actual dock was removed from Upcountry Landing (as well as the Safari Village Dock). While the pavilion remained, the entire floating portion of the dock structure was hauled away.
Meet and Greets and More
Ultimately, like Safari Village Dock, Upcountry Landing was turned into a Character Meet and Greet. As of April 14, 2018, it was branded to
Upcountry Landing Featuring Baloo and Louie’s Place where Friends, Bears, Apes and “Kool Cats” – that means YOU are WELCOME!
Just a few weeks after the previous picture, on April 22, 2018 (the 20th Anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom) Upcountry had changed again to:
“Party for the Planet Wilderness Explorers Nature Spot”
December 2021 Update
As of December 2021, there were no Character Meet and Greets. The pavilion was open to guests to relax with tables and chairs. Just past the pavilion we noticed that the pathway had been expanded (blue umbrella in the pictures) and a stone garden of sorts with a sign reading “Protected Monument Entry Prohibited”. I’m not exactly sure when the garden was added, but it was most certainly the first time I had noticed it. Based on my previous pictures, you can see a shot of when the additional paved area was under construction in October 2018.
Below pictures are from December 2021, including the Stone Garden