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9/21/2011 4:19 AM

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As Dan posted on the blog the big news is Disney will be creating an Avatar land in Animal Kingdom as announced on the Disney Parks Blog!

From the post:

James and his producing partner Jon Landau and their team at Lightstorm Entertainment will serve as creative consultants on the project and will work side-by-side with our Walt Disney Imagineers as we dream up experiences that will take our guests deep into worlds of AVATAR like never before. There are also two sequels to the record setting first film in the works, which will offer more fascinating stories, characters and locations to explore in the AVATAR universe. Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort is planned as the site of the first AVATAR-themed land with construction expected to begin by 2013.

After the announcement Tom Staggs answered a few questions about the new land and their plans... basically they are the beginning of the design and planning phase so nothing is for sure yet and they dont plan to start construction until 2013 with the land opening 2-3 years later (5 years start to finish was the total time frame given). As far as what would be included he did say the following:

While we’re still in the very early stages of design and planning, we expect this land to be anchored by multiple attractions, entertainment, merchandise locations, restaurants and other immersive elements. Our AVATAR lands will give guests the chance to see, hear and touch the world of Pandora and we can’t wait to dive in with James Cameron and his team as we create new experiences that will delight and thrill our guests.

So I see the "multiple attractions" as a good sign that this will be at least a "Cars Land" level addition to AK. It also sounds like they are planning to have "Avatar Lands" to other Disney resorts around the world:

Well, Kyle, the only land we are announcing today is at Walt Disney World Resort but AVATAR is a possibility at any of our other locations. The first film AVATAR is a franchise with massive global appeal and its success at the box office both inside and outside of the U.S. – I should also note that as we determine our future locations, we look forward to working with our international theme park partners as our plans evolve.

My feeling on all this are a bit mixed... overall I am very excited about this as I think they could do some *really* kewl things with the world of Pandora and I am really glad that they are expanding Animal Kingdom in a big way. I am also *very* excited about the "multiple attractions" and I can imagine some very kewl unique new attractions. On the other hand, I'm not convinced this is a perfect fit with AK's existing theme... while it is true that a big theme at AK is conservation and taking care the environment (which are big underlying themes in Avatar) as our friend Loren said, Animal Kingdom is about our environment... I know they originally were planning Beastly Kingdom which involved mythical creatures it still would have been mythical creatures in "real" places. Also, currently Animal Kingdom is probably the most unique Disney park in the world (even Tokyo Disneysea, while very uniquely themed, has mostly cloned attractions) and if they really do clone this Land it will lose some of its uniqueness. That doesn't mean I wouldn't be very excited if they announced "Avatar Land" coming to Walt Disney Studios in Paris as I think that park could use something like this even more than Animal Kingdom but would be a little sad to have Animal Kingdom be a little less unique than it is now. Kind of building on that... I don't really like the idea of a whole land based on one franchise... I feel the same way about Cars Land... I think the attractions and the land are going to be very kewl; however, I think it is a little too much for just one franchise. Finally, especially for Animal Kingdom, there are other new lands/themes I would have preferred... either something like Australia or something based on existing Disney franchises; however, for casual Disney park fans (the ones that go to WDW only every few years) I could see this being a much bigger short term draw and more of a reason to visit after this opens (I can see a lot more "Mom... can we *please* go to Avatarland" then "Mom... can we *please* go to see the new Australia in AK")... for me that isn't really a valid reason to do this over something else as this will be around for many years after it opens but I can see it as a reason to use Avatar instead of something else for a Disney executive.

So in the end I guess I would say I am "cautiously excited" about this expansion and can't wait to see concept art and hear more about the plans once they get farther down the road. I also hope they will have characters from Avatar to meet (although how exactly they would do this remains to be seen)... and I can imagine a ton of very kewl things if they can manage to bring them to life... image walking down the pathways of Pandora and having an "Ikran" flying overhead! (Inside the Magic has some pictures from a Disney patent that shows this is something they might be thinking about).
edited by PeterPanFan on 9/21/2011

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