AVATAR
Animal Kingdom

 

UPDATE 10/12/13: Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, has shared an update on the development of AVATAR at Disney's Animal Kingdom, along with new artists' renderings, in the Disney Parks Blog. Staggs wrote:

"From the moment AVATAR was released, people were captivated by the mythical world of Pandora. When we announced that we'd be working with James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment to bring this world to life in our parks, we felt certain that this partnership and combination of talent and imagination would produce an experience unlike any other ever created.

 

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Avatarland

 

"Our combined team has taken huge steps forward in “imagineering” Pandora as a real place for our guests to see, hear and touch. At the first-ever D23 Expo in Japan, we shared an early glimpse of the plans for AVATAR at Disney's Animal Kingdom park and I wanted to share some of these breathtaking images and a short preview of what's to come with all of you.

"As these concept renderings show in epic scale, in the world of AVATAR guests will encounter awe-inspiring floating mountains and wander through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants that are alive with light and sound. Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee.

 

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Avatarland

 

"And the new AVATAR-inspired land won't be the only change coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Avatarland"As part of the largest expansion in the history of the park, we'll be adding all-new entertainment experiences, including a new nighttime spectacular where live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery all combine to bring a show to Discovery River that will delight our guests and truly cap off their day at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The park will introduce more nighttime entertainment as well, including live performers on Discovery Island (pictured above) and a new nighttime version of the Kilimanjaro Safaris.

"As the world of AVATAR becomes real at Disney's Animal Kingdom, the energy and passion shared by our Imagineers and the Lightstorm team for this monumental task continues to be remarkable. I can't wait to see the reactions of our guests as they step into a world that until now has only existed on the screen.

"We look forward to sharing more details in the future here on the Disney Parks Blog."


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Initial Press Release 9/20/2011

Tom Staggs Post Announcement Q&A

Disney News Blog AVATAR Press Releases

 

Long-term agreement will bring AVATAR themed lands to Disney parks, with the first at Walt Disney World in Orlando


BURBANK (September 20, 2011) – Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide is joining forces with visionary filmmaker James Cameron and Fox Filmed Entertainment to bring the world of AVATAR to life at Disney parks. Through an exclusive agreement announced today by Disney, Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment and Fox, Disney will partner with Cameron and producing partner Jon Landau to create themed lands that will give theme park guests the opportunity to explore the mysterious universe of AVATAR first hand. Disney plans to build the first AVATAR themed land at Walt Disney World, within the Animal Kingdom park. With its emphasis on living in harmony with nature, Animal Kingdom is a natural fit for the AVATAR stories, which share the same philosophy. Construction is expected to begin by 2013.

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Left to Right: Tom Staggs, James Cameron, Bob Iger,Jon Landau, Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman

“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 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.”

The agreement announced today gives The Walt Disney Company exclusive global theme park rights to the AVATAR franchise and provides for additional AVATAR themed lands at other Disney parks. The other locations will be determined by Disney and its international theme park partners. James Cameron, Jon Landau and their Lightstorm Entertainment group will serve as creative consultants on the projects and will partner with Walt Disney Imagineering in the design and development of the AVATAR themed lands.

“This exciting new venture combines the world of AVATAR with the enormous reach of Disney and the incomparable talent of Jim Cameron,” commented Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman. “While Jim is bringing audiences further into Pandora with the next two chapters in the AVATAR motion picture saga, the theme park attraction will likewise bring a new dimension to the amazing universe he created.”

“AVATAR is a uniquely powerful franchise that has global appeal with audiences of all ages. Its spectacular settings, intriguing characters, imaginative creatures, and b 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.”

In addition to setting a global box office record, AVATAR has been hailed as one of the most innovative and visually stunning movies ever produced. With its advanced motion capture and 3-D digital projection technologies developed by James Cameron and his team, moviegoers were able to connect with the world of AVATAR in new and engaging ways.

This new venture complements Walt Disney Parks & Resorts' strategic efforts to continue to invest in its core theme park businesses around the world while simultaneously expanding into other parts of the family vacation business.


 

Tom Staggs Post Announcement Q&A


I'd like to thank all of the Disney Parks Blog followers who left comments or sent in questions regarding our AVATAR announcement today. We got a lot of great questions and while I won't be able to answer all of them, I'll do my best to get to as many as possible.

1) TIMING

We got quite a few questions about the timing of our first AVATAR experience at Disney's Animal Kingdom, including this one from Adam, “Any idea when the experience will be open to guests?”

We've just begun the design phase on our Animal Kingdom project and we expect to begin construction in 2013. From start to finish, a project of this size and scope takes about 5 years to design and build. We can't give you an exact date but we know that when it's complete, it's going to be a truly unforgettable experience.

2) IS THIS A PARK EXPANSION OR WILL “LAND” REPLACE SOMETHING?

Several of you asked a similar question, including Doug from Utah – “Will it replace any existing attractions in Animal Kingdom, or will it be built in a new parcel of land within the park's boundaries?”

Well, Doug, we're just beginning the Blue Sky process so I don't have much to share about how we are going to execute our vision for our first AVATAR land but we're focused on this being an important addition to Disney's Animal Kingdom. I look forward to sharing more details as our plans progress.

3) SPECIFIC ATTRACTIONS

Jenna from Winnetka, Ill., asks, “What types of attractions will be in AVATAR land?”

This was hands-down one of the most popular questions we got and understandably so. While we're still in the very early stages of design and planning, we expect this land to be anchored by multiple attractions, entertainment, merchandise locations, restaurants and other immersive elements. Our AVATAR lands will give guests the chance to see, hear and touch the world of Pandora and we can't wait to dive in with James Cameron and his team as we create new experiences that will delight and thrill our guests.


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4) FILM IS PG-13, HOW DOES THIS MATCH W/FAMILY-FRIENDLY PARK?

Some of you, including Logan in Carnesville, Ga., asked about whether AVATAR was a good fit for a family-friendly brand like Disney.

Thanks, Logan, I appreciate your candor in asking this question. At its core, AVATAR is a film that embraces b, positive themes of family, loyalty, living in harmony with nature and belief in oneself – all values that we share at The Walt Disney Company. You can be sure that these are the same themes that we will explore throughout our AVATAR lands. They will be places where friends and families can spend time together getting lost in a fantasy world, one of the true hallmarks of any Disney theme park experience. And with two sequels in the works, we feel this is a creative property whose potential is limitless.

5) AVATAR AT OTHER DISNEY PARKS?

We got several questions about whether there will be AVATAR experiences in parks/sites other than Disney's Animal Kingdom. Kyle from Ontario asks, “Are there plans to add Avatar attractions at any other Disney parks?”

Well, Kyle, the only land we are announcing today is at Walt Disney World Resort but AVATAR is a possibility at any of our other locations. The first film AVATAR is a franchise with massive global appeal and its success at the box office both inside and outside of the U.S. – I should also note that as we determine our future locations, we look forward to working with our international theme park partners as our plans evolve.


James Cameron and Bob Iger

6) ATTRACTION THEMING

Many of you, including Justin from Orlando, want to know, “How does AVATAR fit in with the Disney theme?” and more specifically, how does it fit in with the Animal Kingdom?

As I mentioned in a previous answer, AVATAR is a uniquely powerful franchise that has global appeal with audiences of all ages. With its spectacular settings, intriguing characters, imaginative creatures and b themes of family and loyalty, it's a great fit for the Disney brand and our parks.

Disney's Animal Kingdom is the perfect place for our first AVATAR land because at its core, the park gives guests the opportunity to experience the worlds of animals and nature – real and mythical – in whole new ways. With AVATAR, we've found the perfect opportunity to let our guests explore one of the most compelling mythical worlds ever conceived. Animal Kingdom also celebrates adventure, living in harmony with nature and environmental stewardship – themes that are deeply rooted in the story of AVATAR.

7) WHY BUY SOMEONE ELSE'S IDEA INSTEAD OF LETTING WDI COME UP WITH SOMETHING?

Some of you asked why we would choose to collaborate with an outside partner rather than use our own Disney characters and stories to expand the parks. We are as committed as ever to creating attractions and entertainment around favorite Disney characters and stories – with Cars Land at Disney California Adventure park and our expansion of Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park being two great examples. At the same time, we like to look beyond our own walls at non-Disney properties, like STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES, creating some of our most popular attractions. At the end of the day, we are focused on creating a great experience for our guests and I truly believe that this unique partnership with James Cameron and AVATAR gives us an entire world of imaginative creatures, fascinating locations and intriguing characters with which to do that.