Ok...I still want you to know...I dislike the idea of Avatar at Disney...ok...dislike may be too strong of a word...let's use that I am apathetic to the idea of using Avatar at Disney. I personally, haven't seen the movie, didn't care to see the movie, don't think it will stand the test of time (I mean, I see pins on Pinterest all the time for various franchises out there...but Avatar...it's never one of them), the whole thing I think is relying on the fact that it is the number one movie of all time. Part of that is due to the fact that it was one of the first sucessful 3D movies out there...drawing in a LOT more revenue because of that.
There are just too many variables out there to really know how the rest of this franchise is going to stand up in the future. The picture is still to foggy to gamble on, to me. (Which reminds me...Disney will gamble on a LAND based off of a movie that has not stood the test of time, but it took over 20 years to get a Little Mermaid attraction, arguably one of their biggest movies ever? What?!)
Speaking of franchises...I also really do dislike that Disney has been relying on them as of late for their attractions. I miss original attractions where Disney Imagineers can really be creative to design innovative ideas that we've never seen before. They've proved how good they are at it with things like Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, Spaceship Earth, Soarin, and Pirates. Even Expedition Everest was a great idea, until the actual mechanics of the idea didn't quite do what they thought it would, causing the attraction to be in B mode now for longer than it was in A mode. But of course, Bob "Franchise" Iger will have none of that...because apparently franchises are what seems to be what draws in the most (and easiest) money. I know that it's only going to get worse as time continues with things like Marvel and Star Wars being Disney owned now.
With that being said, given the information that came out this weekend about some of what Disney is working on for this new land, the land itself, will be a great addition to the park. What makes me say this? Well, kind of take away the fact that it's based of the movie Avatar...
To me, the problem with Animal Kingdom is it's always sort of been in identity crisis mode. To many, the park is a half day park (heck, even Disney admits it by not having full hours into the evening.) So, what makes this park have such trouble connecting with the masses overall?
I think it's a two pronged problem...first off, while Disney doesn't want people to think it's a zoo...it's a fancy zoo. There's not getting around that. While they have some portions of this theme for the park down really well (with Kilimanjaro Safaris blowing most other parks in this realm out of the water and I'll admit it's pretty cool to get THAT close to a tiger on the Majarajah Jungle Trek), many of the zoological exhibits are a little lacking. I'll call them the B exhibits. Every zoo out there has them...things like prairie dogs or flamingos...etc. To me, Disney's Animal Kingdom has too many B exhibits with their animals. Then, at least on my last visit to the park, the more A type exhibits are extremely hard to get to because everyone wants to see the A animals. It left me frustrated on my last trip to this park. So, to me, it's not zoo-y enough. Add a few more unique animals and you're got a better zoological experience.
The second part is (and I think this is probably the major factor) it's really not theme park-y enough either. I'm not talking about your run of the meal theme park experience (it's certainly got that in Dinoland). I'm talking about the fact that, despite the amazing details that can be found in the park (and trust me...this park really is chock full of details. It's astonishing how many amazing details can be found here. If you love the Disney Details, this is the park to go to to find them), there are very few attractions that are really Disney quality attractions here.
Don't get me wrong, they've been doing better in that department since the park first opened, adding a few things here and there, but overall, this park has the fewest number of traditional style Disney attractions to keep guest's interested. (And people wonder why the Magic Kingdom is the most popular among average guests...well...it has the most stuff to do within it's walls, period. Of course, you're going to go to the park where you can get the most attraction experience for your money.)
So, how does this all tie back into me thinking that Avatar will be good for this park? I'm about to tell you.
The one thing that this new land will bring with it is the thing that I think has hurt Disney the most with this park and that is that it's missing attractions. Plain and simple. This new land is expected to deliver at least two, according to the newest announcement from Disney this weekend via Japan's D23 Expo.
One is a ride that seems to be similar to Soarin' where it will take you flying on a Banshee and make you feel like you are actually experiencing it. The other ride, is a boat ride that will take you through the land, seemingly allowing you to soak up the atmosphere. These two additions are the types of family friendly attractions that I think have been missing for years in Animal Kingdom. This park is SORELY missing these types of experiences, where almost the entire family can and wants to ride together. Depending on how these rides play out, hopefully they will just take us into the world and not rely too heavily on the blue people. (Navi?) If they do that, then I will certainly have less apprehension about this land.
However, the other thing that I cannot wait for is what this place will transform to at night. It's obvious that a BIG selling point to this land is the nighttime experience, which will allow Disney to keep this park open later than ever before, maybe finally giving it more of an all day feel. The World of Avatar seems like it will truly sparkle at night with a rainbow of colors. From the brief images I've seen, it will be the place to go for nighttime touring.
Once this land opens up, the fact of the matter is the rest of Animal Kingdom will need to be open at night for this to be a success, which is where I think this theme park will TRULY benefit the most. Not only did Disney already announce that Kilimanjaro Safaris will get a nighttime version of the attraction (and we have no word on what that will be), but we are also going to get more entertainment in the way of a new nighttime spectacular, something this park hasn't had in the 15 years it's been open.
This new spectacular will be shown on the Discovery River and takes it's page from the Rivers of Light concept that had been rumored about years ago. Live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery will all combine in what is sure to be a dazzling show.
It will be interesting to see what other nighttime entertainment gets included as we get closer and closer to Avatarland's official opening in 2017 (as of right now.)
So, you see, Avatarland, in the long run, will actually be good for Animal Kingdom because it will bring new attractions and experiences for a park that is thirsting for them, based off of things that more or less the whole family should be able to enjoy AND they are allowing for guests to experience the nighttime beauty that this park has to offer, something many of us have never seen.
I just really wish it was based off of a different and unique theme. My hope is though, that the new park offerings will be exactly what this park needs and that they benefit every one.
Now I ask for your thoughts? Are you like me...do you think the theme is one of question? Do you think that the additions announced are steps towards the right direction for the park? Or do you wish they'd put something else there in it's place, like the famed lost Beastly Kingdomme? Do you think Avatar IS the right choice? Let me know in the comments section or on the blog's Facebook page.
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