Construction Begins on Avatar-Land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom was originally envisioned as a full day park. Designers had included a large section of the park devoted to imaginary animals of the beastly kingdom. This land would have giant coasters, flying beasts, family friendly attractions, and really allow the Imagineers imaginations to go wild with the possibilities. Sadly, the budget for that area was cut and left to the dustbin of history.

But Disney has always known it would need to add to DAK eventually. If you look at the details for Avatarland, we are getting something close to the original idea for a land of fantasy creatures (just without the giant coaster, which ended up at Islands of Adventure when some Imagineers let go by Disney took their ideas to Universal). Just not the fantasy creatures you were expecting.

What’s clear is that DAK needs to expand its offerings into the night and that Pandora: The Worlds of Avatar (or whatever the name is these days) can be a big part of that. Just look at that concept art above. The potential of bio-luminescence is amazing. I don’t think Imagineers would release that art if they didn’t know they could pull it off. I urge fans who still have questions about Disney’s decision to partner with James Cameron and his Avatar movies to give Disney’s team a chance to add something amazing to DAK.

You really don’t have a choice anyway, as Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion makes it all as official as it gets in the world of Disney anyway.

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Using Na’vi-inspired shovels and assisted by Jake Sully in this photo illustration are (left to right) George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort; Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, United States and France; Tom Staggs, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts; a Na’vi; Jon Landau, AVATAR producer; Bruce Vaughn, chief creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering; and Joe Rohde, creative executive, Walt Disney Imagineering, at the ceremonial groundbreaking for the largest expansion in Disney’s Animal Kingdom history.

Here are a few of the above talking about the expansion.

It’s very early in the process, but word is this new expansion will open late 2016 or early 2017. I hope they’re able to pull it off faster than that. There’s also the first Avatar sequel, which will hit theaters in 2016, Disney will want to capitalize on the publicity and excitement for that film, so my guess is they’ll shoot for a 2016 opening.

Be honest, what are your feelings about Avatar coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom now that construction has begun?

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7 Responses to Construction Begins on Avatar-Land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  1. Geoff says:

    The money they spent buying the rights for Avatar could have been used toward Star Wars land at DHS.

    Still waiting to be sold on concept.

  2. jeffk says:

    No amount of Imagineering genius can go back in time and give that movie an engaging story or a single memorable character, but if the park experience is amazing, I’ll find a way to enjoy it. If not, maybe it’ll at least siphon off some guests and make World Showcase a little less crowded in the evening, I guess.

  3. Jaz says:

    As much as I love Disney, the snow white coaster is the only new thing waiting for this year. That is why at end of this year my annual pass will not be renewed. This 2016 to 2017 avatar land opening sealed the deal. Especially since there won’t be any big coasters this time around either. I’ll just get annual pass to Busch Gardens and Sea World and save some money while I’m at it. Maybe I’ll get annual pass for disney again in 2016. Or maybe universal will win me back since their upgrades and improvements don’t take 3 or more years. I hope Disney steps it up. I really do love their resorts and taking advantage of magic hours and transportation but I’ve been going to Disney regularly for past 5 years and I want more new stuff especially since every year they raise prices.

  4. Mike KC says:

    I don’t think the “avatar” brand will be as big going forward as they think it is. The probably would have done just as well going ahead with “Beastly Kingdom”. If the park is nice and the rides are quality it will draw but its not going to “potter” draw

  5. Monorail says:

    If this works, it won’t be because of Avatar branding–it will be in spite of it. Disney has had plenty of sucesses not tied to major motion picture success (wasn’t that the norm before? Matterhorn, Pirates, Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Space Mountain . . .). The observation that Avatar has no chance of continuing as a blockbuster franchise I believe is compelling–but if people can step into that world and find enjoyment in it, it won’t matter that no one besides the generation around when the first film (inexplicably) dominated the worldwide box office has any idea what the source material is. To a lesser extent, we see this with Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin and Gadget’s Go Coaster. An ever diminishing number of Guests have any idea where those came from, but they are still enjoyable. The key is in the execution–if the realization of Pandora in any way requires a visitor to know or have experienced and to have loved the film or franchise, it won’t work and will have proved to be a huge waste of time, money and space. No one can dispute that there is no lasting or compelling story to be retold at WDW. It will have to be complete enough, new enough, compelling enough and enjoyable enough in itself.

  6. Geoffrey S says:

    While its nice to see Disney adding new actual content, rather than removing rides for character visits and gift shops as they have done in the past with MK and other parks. I dont know this really belongs in Animal Kingdom. Maybe DHS. I like the idea of animal kingdom as a pure animal park with a few rides to add some interest. DHS really needs something more interesting than just Tower of Terror and Rockin Roller coaster, last time I was there only 8 attractions open due to Cheerleading tryouts in some of the attractions and some were shut down for maintenance. my bad experience at DHS will be the last time I step foot in that park barring anything new opening up in there. Even though AK is a small park there is lots to do, and you cant miss The Festival of the Lion King which a lot of people do because its tucked in a dead end corner, its the highlight of the park.

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