AVATAR to Become Themed Land

Disney announces James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ themed land and rides for Animal Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World

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 Film 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.

This morning Disney has announced plans to bring James Cameron’s film franchise “Avatar” to Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney world. In a “long-term creative partnership” and exclusive deal, Cameron and his team will act as creative consultants with Walt Disney Imagineering with construction on the new land beginning by 2013 with a projected opening by 2016.

Specifics of the new Animal Kingdom themed land are not yet revealed, though a press conference is being held at Walt Disney Imagineering headquarters in Glendale, Calif. today.

Press conference photo of James Cameron and others at Walt Disney Imagineering

Plans are expected to feature more than one ride in a whole new park area. The Avatar themed area for Animal Kingdom will also include rides, shopping, and entertainment. Many are already calling it Disney’s answer to Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

“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 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.”

“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.”

Mythical creatures were intended to be part of Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park since its opening, but this is the first time that it is actually happening.

The project is said to cost around the same as the Cars Land expansion of Disney California Adventure, around $200 million. “Avatar” is the highest grossing film world wide ever, at $2.7 billion.

So just what attractions could be on the way for this new “Avatar”-themed area? Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Tom Staggs will be answering questions if you email him at [email protected]

A Walt Disney Imagineering patent filed in March 2010 shows the possibility for manned flying creatures, puppeteered by trained performers as they fly through the sky. And the creatures shown in the patent’s artwork sure do look a lot like those seen in “Avatar”…

As the details emerge, we’ll continue to update as the project progresses toward its scheduled 2016 opening. I was surprised as a lot of us were that they waited until now to release this monumental news. Why didn't they release the news at D23 no one knows.


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