Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Avatar Coming to Animal Kingdom

Look at your calendar. It's not April 1. This is not a joke.

The characters and mythology of the James Cameron blockbuster Avatar will be coming to life at Disney's Animal Kingdom in 2016, according to The Disney Parks Blog.

First and foremost we should take a few things from this news.
  1. Disney is taking another shot at Universal by building an immersive land to compete with Wizarding World of Harry Potter and is now setting the pace for the Orlando theme park industry. With New Fantasyland opening in 2012 and Avatarland in 2016, Disney is saying to it's competition that recession or not, they need to keep spending money to build new stuff if they want to have any chance of competing.
  2. Disney is addressing concerns that Animal Kingdom is an unfinished 1/2 day park. This will be hard to do without making the park actually stay open for longer than a half day but that's besides the point. A whole new land means more rides, shows, restaurants, and land to traverse. It means more people in DAK but also more places to put them.
  3. It is also the death of one or two concepts: Beastly Kingdom and maybe Camp Minnie Mickey. I don't believe Beastly Kingdom was ever going to be built anyway but there's no way they're building two lands based on fake creatures. The semi-permanent Camp Minnie Mickey land that was built in it's place is the logical spot to put the new land. However, there is also a huge backstage area nearby that could be used to build a new land. The only other possible spot is a huge swath of razed land back by Rifiki's Planet Watch. But that's kind of far from everywhere else in the park and might be too big of an area for even Disney to develop in one fell swoop.
All this having been said, this is as disappointed as I have ever been by any news the Walt Disney Company has released about it's theme parks. There are so many great franchises in the Disney canon left to explore. So much more that could be done at the parks besides picking a feature franchise of only mediocre quality and devoting an entire LAND to it. Who is going to care about Avatar in 20 years? And what do you do when it's irrelevant? This is an entire land being built in the only spot in the only park capable of handling such a thing. Consider this: in the next 30 years, perhaps the regular theme park visiting lifetime of people reading this, the last new land you will ever see built at Walt Disney World will be devoted to that 3D movie about the weird blue cat people. So much wasted potential. So much disappointment. But sadly today, such it is.

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