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.
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?