AVATAR, WDW

September 22, 2011 9:23pm
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So Disney made a pretty big announcement the other day about building a new AVATAR-themed area at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and although admittedly my initial reaction was not-so-good, I’m really trying to stay positive so I guess you could say that I’ve moved up from not-so-good to an even neutral.


On one hand, depending on exactly how it gets executed, this could end up being a very cool experience – without a doubt, some of the imagery from this movie was just absolutely beautiful, so for asthetics alone, I can see a lot of possibilities here … I’m thinking especially with luminescence, and even though the gigantic tree sounds similar to The Tree of Life that’s already in the park, we’re already seeing smaller castles being introduced in the Fantasyland expansion at the Magic Kingdom, so I would trust that if they can build those without taking away from the grandeur that is Cinderella Castle, then they should be able to do the same thing over in Animal Kingdom.

As for attractions, I could see a walkthrough or even dark ride to experience that same beauty of the forest, along with maybe a rollercoaster or something themed after the dragons that are ridden by the natives in the movie. I kind of would hope that they would steer clear of the combat side of things, even though that sort of ties into one of the main environmental connections, there were also a hell of a lot of guns and explosives in those battles, which aren’t very Disney-friendly, to say the least!

That said, I can’t deny that I do still have some of the same worries that other people have already expressed – even with two more movies scheduled for 2014 & 2015, is this area going to be immediately dated by themeing it after a movie instead of a concept like we see elsewhere in the parks? My personal fear would be seeing this look like another land out of Universal’s Islands of Adventure, complete with a big promotional billboard overhead that says, “Now entering AVATAR Land!” – whereas so many of the Disney areas transition so smoothly, Universals parks always feel to me like you’re just jumping from one set to another … which might be what they’re after, but I look at Disney parks a little differently.

Of course, there are also concerns that these movies were just too adult for Disney, and that the park would get a better land long-term with a completely original theme rather than through licensing … honestly, I think it’s the blue people that throws this angle off for me because I’d be completely content with their original launch concept of The Beastly Kingdom, featuring mythical creatures from storybooks out of Roman and medieval times. Maybe because those were all still written for this Earth, whereas it’s very clear that AVATAR exists on another planet … one that mankind is actually mining for resources, actually! It’s like that piece of the puzzle is just slightly too differently shaped to fit with my current expectations for the Animal Kingdom…

I think it will be interesting to see what does, and doesn’t, happen with this in the years to come. We’ve already seen Disney Imagineering do some bewildering double-takes around WDW, both in the Fantasyland expansion as well with their new “vision” for Pleasure Island at Downtown Disney, so I don’t necessarily think that this is a total crapshoot like I might have when I first read the announcement. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me to see several different plans for this new expansion released before the final construction as they make changes, respond to guest feedback, battle budgets, and so forth.

Just as long as they don’t stick us with another version of DinoLand USA!

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