Disney is adding the world of Avatar to its theme parks

Update: this is no longer a rumor. A press conference with James Cameron, Bob Iger and Tom Staggs is was held earlier today at Imagineering. From the Disney Parks Blog:

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.

We believe Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a great fit for this project because it was created to give guests the opportunity to experience the worlds of animals and nature – real and mythical – in new ways. Disney’s Animal Kingdom also celebrates adventure, living in harmony with nature and environmental stewardship – themes that are deeply rooted in the story of AVATAR.

Ever since it lost the deal with JK Rowling to Universal, Disney has been looking for a new theme park franchise that it believes could match Harry Potter in draw and scope. A few months ago there was a rumor that they had settled on a large movie franchise. Only it wasn’t Star Wars or even an internal brand like Cars, instead the big rumor was revealed on the LA Times today that James Cameron’s Avatar will be Disney’s next acquisition for its theme parks.

I like this idea a lot. With a sequel to Avatar in pre-production, and a third film already planned, Disney will have a huge resource of creative ideas and talent to draw from to import this popular property to its parks. My initial guess is that Disney’s Imagineers will try and tie in the Total Immersion Technology they’ve developed to add an augmented reality layer to any real world theming. This would go well with the general themes and concept behind Cameron’s Avatar.

Now the big question is where will they place this new Avatar land in Animal Kingdom? Will it go in the area that had been rumored for Australia (is it time for me to eat crow on that rumor) or up in the front of the park where Beastly Kingdom was originally planned and is now Camp MinnieMickey?

What type of attractions would you like to see Disney and Cameron create set in the world of Avatar? Let your imagination go wild!

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34 Responses to Disney is adding the world of Avatar to its theme parks

  1. Karen says:

    Did I miss something and today is April 1st? This would be just miserably awful. It was a terrible movie and I hope that this falls through.

    • keith aldridge says:

      what!!! are you crazy!! this was one the besrt films from last year, it will make a fantastic addition to any park

  2. Matt says:

    What if they made a ride where you fly on an Ikran (Mountain Banshee) and its a similar ride layout/system as Spiderman and Harry Potter.

  3. Liz says:

    Really? This is the answer to Harry Potter? REALLY?

    I’d still rather see Beastly Kingdom, or whatever the fantasy themed land at Animal Kingdom was supposed to be called.

  4. NoChesterHester says:

    Perfect addition. I love that none of the rumor sites had anything on this, even last night.

    I want to ride that dragon thing off home tree. Great possibilities.

    I hope there is an awesome walk-through attraction like the Fortress at Tokyo Disney Sea.

  5. Adam says:

    Love. That’s all I have to say.

  6. jeremy says:

    dislike. dislike. dislike. dislike. and i’m not even a disney purist.

    • John Frost says:

      What about it are you disliking?

      • J says:

        Sorry.. I meant to reply. Please read my post below.

      • J says:

        Okay, didn’t realize my comment didn’t go through. Honestly, I just had no liking for Avatar. I found it a terribly unoriginal product, while visually striking, it lacked heart and soul. I still haven’t seen it and have no desire to see it. To go into Animal Kingdom (my favourite park) and be forced into a Avatar world just irks me. I know plenty will like it, and the whole point to this is to bring in a whole new crowd of people to spend. Much like Star Tours did. This is a franchise that will benefit Disney. But I feel like I’m losing something in return.

    • W.R. says:

      Ok, if you haven’t seen the movie, how can you claim to dislike it so much? Is that solely based off the reviews an opinions of other people who HAVE seen it?
      Also, it’s not like Disney is “forcing” it on you. It’s going to be an entirely separate land that, get this, you dont have to enter if you don’t want to! This solves your problem, unless of course you are one of those that thinks that absolutely every portion of a theme park must be beloved by every single patron.
      I myself have actually seen the movie, and while the Avatar world (and plot) isn’t one of my favorites, I am very excited to see how the imagineers work with cutting edge technology to bring the world to life.

      • J says:

        For me, Avatar had waay too much hype, lame trailers (in my opinion) and a story that completely ripped off Pocahontas. These things kept me from seeing it. It just wasn’t something I had any interest in seeing and although some have suggested I give it a try, I don’t plan to.

        Of course this is all my personal opinion, which some people agree with, and some disagree with. And, your right, it is intriguing to think about what Imagineering might come up with in design, concept and overall outcome. Simply though, it’s just not a property I have much liking for.

        My issues towards this project are also broader then just disliking Avatar. A whole land dedicated to one property is something that turns me off. I’d much rather it be a single attraction in a new land dedicated to mystical creatures of other worlds. Avatar could simply be a part of that. I don’t think I’d have a issue if it was done similarly to Star Tours or Indiana Jones.

        Maybe after it opens, or once concept art and more information is released I’ll change my opinion. But I don’t think I have to be an expert on Avatar and had to have seen it to have any kind of opinion on it and this project.

  7. jeremy says:

    I have no issues with this not being a Disney film or property. My issue here is with the lack of original ‘from the ground up’ attractions coming to the parks. All of the projects that are new and upcoming are based on franchises. Cars Land, Fantasyland Expansion is all movie themed, all the new rides at California Adventure are surrounded by existing properties. Mickey Mouse, Goofy, The Little Mermaid.. It’s as if Disney has lost all confidence in Imagineering. I think we’re all starved for something original. I know I am..

  8. amanda says:

    This movie is way overrated. If it wasn’t for the special effects no one would have even talked about it. The story was horrible. The fact that Disney wants to invest mony in a franchise that hasn’t proven staying power is a huge risk. What if the next movies flop? I would have been excited if they had said they were using the technology to create orignal material, that would have been awesome. I won’t be running to this land I might have to be dragged to it.

  9. Jay says:

    The movie’s story was mediocre and completely lacked drama, but…this is huge.

    The visual/auditory possibilities are AMAZING. This could be the the first in truly immersive sci-fi theme park experience… like stepping into alien world. I know it’s spin for a park with lower attendance numbers, but the environmental themes are a good fit for AK.

  10. Cathy says:

    I have an idea….let the imagineers come up with something…they’re awesome and creative and could blow this thing out of the water if you asked them to use their talent. This idea of Avatar…dumb. No one is going to like it…..imo.

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  12. Molly Mouse says:

    Hi John! I just recently completed my college program as a CM working at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. I am very familiar with the backstage areas of DAK, primarily because I had to walk the train tracks every morning to get to work. :/ I would assume that the AVATAR themed land would be built between Asia and RPW, which would finally provide a pathway between these two lands! (So many guest complaints about taking the Wildlife Express.) The reason I think it would be built there is because it would be a tight fit on the other side of RPW, because of the conservation area Walt set aside at the very beginning of the Florida project. There’s no way that they can build on that. Tom Staggs will hopefully be answering guest questions about this expansion tonight, I’m excited to hear more details! I’ve never seen the movies, so I don’t know what to expect.

  13. Berni says:

    This is actually pretty disturbing, maybe a top selling movie, but Disney folks are worried about what they are going to do with the “super heros” of Marvel In the Parks, (I think Super Hero’s are waaaay more of a “moral value” than Avatar) and you’re working on this… Lets work on Marvel before jumping the gun on someone as selfish as Cameron!!! Just Sayin…..

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  15. Corryn Anderson says:

    I’m a little skeptical on this… I get that the messages of AVATAR fit in with the themes of AK, but I wish there was more original concept going into an expansion. I’m still mourning the absence of Beastly Kingdom :P.
    One thing I thought of after a lengthy discussion with my mother on this (She thinks the expansion is great news): a big draw to Pandora is the luminescent plantlife after dark. I mean, that was the most remarkable thing about the landscape IMO! But AK closes around sundown/dusk. This seems like a huge loss from an Imagineering standpoint. It would be really interesting if the expansion was located somewhere that the rest of the park could begin shutting down, but Pandora areas would stay open after dark to take advantage of the glow! A bit of a long shot, I know, but I can see that being something that would make me actually want to go see the land.

  16. Pingback: “Avatar Land” gets early mixed reviews | The Disney Blog

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  20. Melissa says:

    Brilliant idea!
    Competing with Harry Potter is tough, but this may be the answer!
    This attraction will have the colors and imaginative feel that Disney World prides itself in.
    This is just what Animal Kingdom needs; a modern twist.
    Can’t wait to see how it turns out!!!

  21. Ali says:

    This to me sounds like a horrible horrible idea. Reminds me of the American Idol and Who wants to be a Millionaire attractions at MGM.. No longevity. You cannot compare Avatar to Harry Potter. Avatar was one very well made, entertaining, inspiring movie but The sequels will probably not even live up to the first movie. Harry Potter was one very Long story where this generation and the following generations will grow up reading the books in school & watching the movies at home. The fan base for Avatar cannot even compete with that of Harry Potter. Personally, I loved Avatar but even now I feel like its in the past. Its no longer relevant.

    Disney needs to look back at their work over the past 40 years and take note on what worked. Disney’s “Magic” is slowly withering away… its pretty sad if you ask me.

  22. Nana says:

    Iger needs to slow down. He is buying up franchise after franchise. Here’s an idea! How ’bout they actually use all that creative talent they hired to actually make something ORIGINAL! At least the Fantasyland expansion fits with the theme. Avatar has no Disney magic whatsoever… but hey, Disney loves over-hyped crap, so Avatar will fit right in!

  23. Charles says:

    If there’s one reason I’m unsure about this idea, it would be that Avatar is loaded with profanity. You know, things you’d NEVER hear in a family-friendly film. I wonder why no one ever caught that. If James Cameron and the people responsible for the flim decide to tone down the entire series, I might consider it.

  24. Pingback: James Cameron walks the future site of Avatar-land with Joe Rhode and Tom Staggs | The Disney Blog

  25. Frank W says:

    Its sad that Disney feels it must go out and buy new ideas and characters. Development from within has always been Disney’s hallmark. Come on Bob I. let Disney do what Disney has done so well in the past

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