Tuesday, September 20, 2011

UPDATED: 'Avatar' Will Come To Life At Walt Disney World

Disney revealed today that James Cameron's Avatar will be coming to Walt Disney's Animal Kingdom park in Orlando.  The Disney Parks are partnering with James Cameron, 20th Century Fox and Lightstorm Entertainment in order to bring the project to their park.  Don't start lining up yet.  Construction won't begin until 2013.  Here is what the Disney team had to say about it.

We have great news to share today. At a press conference happening right now at Walt Disney Imagineering, Bob Iger and Tom Staggs just announced a long-term creative partnership with James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and Fox Filmed Entertainment to bring the fantasy world of AVATAR to life at Disney Parks. And it’ll all begin at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort.

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.
The design phase on the Disney’s Animal Kingdom project has just begun so stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for more details.

By bringing in Avatar it does make it appear that Disney is feeling the effects of Universal Orlando opening The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  From their official release, you can tell that this just happened and they have not done any type of design planning on this project.  This is evident by the comment, "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."  This means that they have no attractions designed to the point of concept yet.  Maybe we'll get to shoot down large trees.  

Since the news broke it has been met with a very mixed response from fans of the movie and theme parks.  One of the complaints we've heard is that this seems like news that should have been revealed at Disney's D23 Expo a few weeks ago.

Avatar should have been an IP that they locked down early enough to announce at their own Expo.  Or perhaps it was the negative response from D23 that made them realize they needed the highest grossing movie of all time.  After all, there's are only so many attractions they can squeeze out of Pixar or Star Wars.

We have gotten the official press release along with pictures from this mornings announcement.

© DISNEY/Credit: PR NEWSWIRE                     © DISNEY/Credit: PR NEWSWIRE

"James Cameron is a groundbreaking filmmaker and gifted storyteller who shares our passion for creativity, technological innovation and delivering the best experience possible," said Robert A. Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. "With this agreement, we have the extraordinary opportunity to combine James' talent and vision with the imagination and expertise of Disney."

"AVATAR created a world which audiences can discover again and again and now, through this incredible partnership with Disney, we'll be able to bring Pandora to life like never before. With two new AVATAR films currently in development, we'll have even more locations, characters and stories to explore," said James Cameron. "I'm chomping at the bit to start work with Disney's legendary Imagineers to bring our AVATAR universe to life. Our goal is to go beyond current boundaries of technical innovation and experiential storytelling, and give park goers the chance to see, hear, and touch the world of AVATAR with an unprecedented sense of reality."

The agreement announced today gives The Walt Disney Company exclusive global theme park rights to the AVATAR franchise and provides for additional AVATAR themed lands at other Disney parks. The other locations will be determined by Disney and its international theme park partners. James Cameron, Jon Landau and their Lightstorm Entertainment group will serve as creative consultants on the projects and will partner with Walt Disney Imagineering in the design and development of the AVATAR themed lands.

"This exciting new venture combines the world of AVATAR with the enormous reach of Disney and the incomparable talent of Jim Cameron," commented Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman. "While Jim is bringing audiences further into Pandora with the next two chapters in the AVATAR motion picture saga, the theme park attraction will likewise bring a new dimension to the amazing universe he created."

"AVATAR is a uniquely powerful franchise that has global appeal with audiences of all ages. Its spectacular settings, intriguing characters, imaginative creatures, and strong themes of family and loyalty make it a perfect fit for Disney," said Thomas O. Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "We can't wait to give our guests the ability to journey to Pandora and explore the incredible immersive world of AVATAR in person."

I think James Cameron is an amazing film visionary, and he's had success with his prior theme park attraction. (T2:3D at Universal Studios Hollywood and Orlando)  However, Disney is confusing biggest movie ever with devoted fandom.  Harry Potter fans will be rabid to experience that world over and over because of their devotion to the characters and stories.  Even with Avatar sequels coming, I don't see how it will create the type of madness that Harry Potter has and will continue to do.

What say you?

POPped in cryo
Jungle Jesse

Source: Disney Parks Blog

1 comment:

  1. I'm not crazy about this announcement. I think if Disney should worry more about what to do with Marvel than bringing another outside franchise in. Especially one that does not have the Disney feel to it in my opinion. The Lucasfilm properties really seemed to mesh well with their surroundings and were complimentary to the land around them. I don't get the feeling there will be a smooth transition from the african savannah to Pandora.

    If they wanted to truly combat Potter, they should of taken the back of Disney Hollywood Studios and made that into a Star Wars land.