Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Disney Announces...Avatar...for Disney's Animal Kingdom

 That's right....today, Disney announced that Disney's Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort would be getting an Avatar themed world. 

This new land will be themed after Avatar and the next two sequels that are set to potentially be released in 2014 and 2015 with aspects of all 3 movies incorporated within.  The new land is set to break ground in 2013 with a completion date of 2016.  Disney and James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment are still in the design phase for this trip to Pandora, so the details on what exactly is coming hasn't yet been decided.  It's also unknown as of right now where in the park this new land will be located.  There are a few expansion pads that are available, however, there's also the land of Camp Minnie-Mickey which has also been rumored to be going away in the near future. 

Now, I could have fired off an initial Blog Post right when it was announced, because I had a very strong opinion when I heard the news, but I decided that I was going to let this news settle....marinate, if you will...and really let me take everything in.  All the reaction, all the info...everything. 

So after a little perspective, I do think that this is an interesting development.  Personally, this is a movie that I haven't seen, so it's for me hard to judge 100%, but I also know that I had absolutely no desire to see the movie.  So there is that.    

My initial gut reaction was this doesn't really fit into Animal Kingdom all that well.  AK is all about animals, real and mythical...so I could be on board with the whole mythical thing...but the creatures of Avatar aren't even really mythical...they are aliens from what I gather...thanks to IMDB.  (If this is wrong, please do correct me.)  Aliens, to me, are not mythical creatures...not even close.  And while I gather that this movie had underlying themes of protecting the environment and keeping things that are native, native...I have to wonder if blue aliens are the right choice to relay that message for a park like Disney's Animal Kingdom.

I also have a feeling that this is Disney's response to Harry Potter.  Here's my problem with that...Harry Potter has, so far stood the test of time for 10+ years...with it's books and movie sequels already proving themselves.  Avatar, while it is set to have sequels, only has 1 movie right now, which came out only 2 years ago.  Yes, it's raked in a ton of money and won tons of awards and it's obviously still early in it's franchise history, but I wonder if they are maybe jumping the gun with this.  I mean, there's no way to know when a movie's sequels are going to be hits or not and just because the original film had tremendous success, doesn't mean the others will. 

That's why I'm weary about this becoming a whole land themed around the film.  I think I would have less of a meh feeling about it if it were just one attraction.  When you start talking about a whole land...that's when things start to get sticky.  

My other kind of issue about this is one that I've had for a while.  Once again, Disney is building something that's based off a franchise.  We haven't seen anything from Disney not based off a franchise since 2006 when Everest opened.  Keep in mind that by the time this will be built, it will have been 10 years since anything based off an original concept had been built.  At this point, I highly doubt Disney will announce anything based off original ideas, unless they decide to do something new for Epcot.  But at this rate, I don't think anything for Epcot will be announced for at least a year.  So, that would mean at the earliest, if Epcot actually were to see a brand new type attraction not based off an already established franchise, it wouldn't be completed until the year 2014, maybe.  That could even be pushing it.   

Now with all the above being said, I do realize though that not everything Disney does is going to appeal to everyone.  The best example I have of that, and is something that I'm directly not in love with, Star Wars.  This is another franchise that Disney has under their belt that I have absolutely no interest in.  It's well known that I've never seen a single Star Wars movie and like Avatar have no real desire to see.  Yet, I still will go on Star Tours at least once during my trip.  (Although I will readily admit that with this new version of Star Tours with the different sequences, I am lost a lot more than I was previously.)  So, while this new Avatar land is something that will not appeal to everyone and Disney doesn't have the luxury to do something that will appeal to everyone (a company like Disney could never appeal to every single demographic with a new ride announcement, that's just plain and honest fact) it will be something that some will most definitely enjoy and will like being able to be immersed in. 

So, even though this doesn't necessarily appeal to my personal tastes, I am excited about Disney's Animal Kingdom getting some well needed love, especially in the form of a land that is so desperately needs.  The park is severely lacking in attractions and this should definitely rectify that.  Also, we have to keep in mind that we don't know what they do plan on doing with the land, so while my knee jerk reaction is to be skeptical and dislike it even, I do think that I am going to try to keep an open mind for the most part and see what's announced in the future with it.  I mean it is a long way away before we even see ground broken on Pandora.

What's your take?  Do you think Pandora will fit in DAK or did this announcement underwhelm you?  Make sure to let me know in the comments section.  Let's strike up a good conversation!

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Stelle and Chelle said...

Rikki - a great response to today's news. This was actually part of our dinner conversation today, and I thought the same thing. Harry Potter is something that will be around forever. They started as books, they will always be read, and they appeal to many. My main question is... will our kids know what Avatar is in a few years? (I don't have children but for fun, let's say I wait five years and then wait another five before I bring them to Disney World...) That's what bothers me the most. I would have much preferred a franchise with a history? I saw Avatar and I was not blown away. My husband really liked it, but we would much rather Disney do something original then to rely on a product that's already made shitloads of money. And hey, it has to be about the money right?

My husband also brought up a great point. People come from ALL over to see HP World... does Avatar really have that same pull?

That being said, I'm sure Disney will do a beautiful job with this project. There has been a ton I've been skeptical about and I always end up being impressed...even if it's not my thing (like Star Tours). I'm curious about it, even if I was hoping for some more for AK. I really do love that park. I think it has so much to offer, and while I would have liked a real Beastly Kingdom (minus the franchise) or Australia land or something... I guess we have to take what we can get, right?

Again, great great post.

- Stelle

Vanessa said...

Couldn't have said it better myself, Rikki!

Duy said...

Agree with you completely.
And, Avatar has a very similar plot to Pocahontas.
This to me, is like a slap in the face to Pocahontas.