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Topic: Coming to Animal Kingdom+Disney Parks "Avatar"< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
CarolKoster Offline
Carol Koster




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Posted: Sep. 20, 2011, 2:47 pm Quote

You read the headline right.

That James Cameron CGI-intensive top box office movie in the US, the world and of all time....  "Avatar".

Coming first to WDW's Animal Kingdom.  Then, eventually, to "other" ( ? ) Disney parks.  In the US?  Tokyo?  Shanghai, China?  Paris?  Disney Vacation Club Aulani?  Where?????  But definitely first: WDW's Animal Kingdom.

Do Google News and eventually just Google about this, breaking news as of Tuesday, September 20, 2011.  The press and probably lots of Disney fan websites will definitely have this news.  It's not a rumor.  If it were a rumor, news of it would be hard to find using search engines.  This is legit....  Here is Disney Theme Parks Blog issuing the news themselves, coming straight from The Big Cheese Mouse HQ itself....

http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog....y-parks

Quoting:

AVATAR Coming to Disney Parks
Posted September 20, 2011 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks



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 Filmed 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.

James and his producing partner Jon Landau and their team at Lightstorm Entertainment will serve as creative consultants on the project and will work side-by-side with our Walt Disney Imagineers as we dream up experiences that will take our guests deep into worlds of AVATAR like never before. There are also two sequels to the record setting first film in the works, which will offer more fascinating stories, characters and locations to explore in the AVATAR universe. Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort is planned as the site of the first AVATAR-themed land with construction expected to begin by 2013.

We believe Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a great fit for this project because it was created to give guests the opportunity to experience the worlds of animals and nature – real and mythical – in new ways. Disney’s Animal Kingdom also celebrates adventure, living in harmony with nature and environmental stewardship – themes that are deeply rooted in the story of AVATAR.
The design phase on the Disney’s Animal Kingdom project has just begun so stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for more details.

Got questions about the announcement? If so, Tom Staggs will be answering them in a special Q&A blog post later today. Just submit your name, city where you’re from and your question to questionsfortom@disney.com and then check the Disney Parks Blog later to see some of the answers.

End of quoted article directly from Disney.
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CarolKoster Offline
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Posted: Sep. 20, 2011, 4:07 pm Quote

Notice that the Disney Parks Blog that Disney itself owns and moderates has Comments after the announcement, and the Comments are mostly glowing.  That's because Disney owns and operates that blog, as well as moderates it..... Remember the song "Home, Home on the Range.....where nary is heard, a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day...."  Ahem.  "Moderated blog...."

My husband, Disney Echo Site Administrator Rich Koster, ventured out into the world of Twitter, where maybe the words of reaction from other Disney fans in cyberspace and the Twitter-sphere are more discouraged, down, shocked, acronym WTF going on and so forth, and clouds cover their otherwise Pixie Dusted outlooks for the House of Mouse.

Rich told me the news, and at first I didn't believe him.  When I did come to belief, my first reaction "I just lost a lot of respect for Disney..."

Even as a non-minutiae detailed oriented Disney fan lately, I can think of a few dilutions of Disney culture as Walt left it after he died in 1966.  When Michael Eisner took over as CEO in 1984 the parks were languishing.  To goose up enthusiasm and attendance, Eisner called upon then-Hollywood buddies Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas, and behold "Star Tours" and two "Indiana Jones"-themed attractions (one at Orlando, the other at Disneyland) came about.  Eventually add another Disney-Spielberg outcome to a successful movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and "Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin" opened in a "new land" at Disneyland, Toon Town.  

Years later Disney was distributing Pixar movies in the days before Disney bought Pixar, and there was a lot of "Toy Story" and other movie tie-ins at the parks that literally, at the time, weren't truly "Disney".  Of course Disney bought Pixar and they sure are Disney now.  But it's overt what I call "Pixarification" of Disney parks..... Lots of Pixar characters, even attractions and shows.  Out at Disney's California Adventure, now undergoing refurbishment, there is indeed a "Cars Land" under construction.

Years later Disney bought Marvel Entertainment, the comic books, the movies, the film library, and now even comic book superheroes are every bit as "Disney" as Snow White, Cinderella and The Little Mermaid and Lion King.

Now....  We have a harkening back to the post-1984 near corporate take over of Disney which brought in Michael Eisner at the time.  Bringing in non-Disney movie studio and non-Disney-originated characters to have an interactive place in a Disney theme park, James Cameron's "Avatar".

When Rich surveys reaction among Disney fans the level of embracing this news is far lower, and more negative, than that shown on Disney Parks Blog, owned by Disney itself.  Fans are shocked, sad, mad, puzzled......  Not really happy.

I think although we've slowly embraced the incursion of non-Disney culture into Disney parks, such as "Star Tours" based on Star Wars, the annual Star Wars Weekends at WDW, Indiana Jones stunt or adventure attractions as the case may be at WDW and Disneyland, and while we all love most of Pixar's movies, stories and characters, and maybe can "buy into" that Marvel he-man super hero comic book characters and movies makes boys happy who'd normally squirm in the presence of Disney Princesses....  That now bringing of all things "Avatar" into Disney parks, when Disney itself didn't create "Avatar".....  Hmmmmm.....

The energy generator turbine that is Walt Disney and his many revered, deceased Imagineers, rotating in their graves, that is kept spinning all the time, and certainly in my mind spinning now.

Walt in his creative vigorous and healthy heyday employed people and kept them hired and creatively challenged to generate unique ideas for him.  He didn't have to ask a competing studio or producer or director to please consider letting Disney do a theme park version of one of their hit movies.  Walt endeavored to have all that creative talent, movie-making, and expanding on the movies' successes in his theme parks himself.  Not out of greed.  But out of his own imagination plus a sense of "this idea would work in my park this way..." and capitalizing on his own success.  He made some of the greatest animated and live action movies of all time, and movies that appealed to families and kids, and movies that could be translated into theme park attractions that recalled those movies.  

Today, I guess the well of creating ideas from scratch is running dry.

I know a lot of people went to see "Avatar" worldwide, in 3-D and IMAX and they just loved it.  Being in a world of creatures and habitats like that captures their imagination.  I get that.

I also get it that introducing the idea of an "Avatarland" at Animal Kingdom might be doing two things Disney needs:  

1.  While "Harry Potter" is doing boffo business at Universal Studios, it might still be drawing a lot of people away from Disney World, especially since the final of the "Harry Potter" movies came out this summer.  Magic Kingdom at WDW is still refurbishing and installing new elements to their park as a major update, in part to compete in theme park wars with Universal.  With news this past week that short term Disney theme park on-site room bookings are sagging in the pending downturn of the economy, announcing this major collaboration with James Cameron to create a "land" about "Avatar" is sure to get people to thinking about Disney World and Disney parks again while construction at Magic Kingdom and Disney's California Adventure (major rehabs going on at both US coast's parks) is still going on.  Or public relations-wise, news of an "Avatarland" is shouting to the public "Look at me!  Look at Disney!" in general.

2.  An attempt specifically to jazz up Animal Kingdom aside from the draw of what Harry Potter may be doing at Universal Studios Florida.  Remember the ad campaign for Animal Kingdom several years ago "nahtazu" (not a zoo ) ?  Maybe still people shrug off AK as a glorified zoo, why bother, we'd rather go to Epcot or Magic Kingdom....would an "Avatarland" get people like those to buy an admission ticket to visit and check it out?

I found it very challenging to swallow Disney buying Marvel Entertainment, while I could see the points of Disney buying Pixar and The Muppets as much better fits.  Now I'm practically choking on Disney having an "Avatarland" plus other "Avatar" tie-ins at other Disney parks.

What think you?  Good fit for Disney to work with James Cameron and creating an "Avatarland" based on a competing movie studio's blockbuster movie?  Or a bad fit?  Should Disney hire creative people internally to come up with original and unique Disney stuff for it's parks, shows, and attractions?  Or is the Duffy teddy bear as good as it gets, and Disney needs to contract out for other studio's hit movies 'cause Disney can't come up with hit movies of it's own to base theme park attractions out of any more?

And are John Lasseter (chief of Pixar and named head of Disney Feature Animation and head of Imagineering), and legendary Imagineer Tony Baxter glad or sad about this news?  In terms of loving and having a reverence for Walt Disney and Disney parks, Lasseter and Baxter are the two most "What Would Walt Have Done?" Disney fans in power at Disney....  or maybe up 'til now.  Probably a lot of Disney fans objecting to this news are "What Would Walt Have Done?"-type fans.  Make me wonder if Disney or CEO Robert Iger will "hire out" or "contract out" the imaginative theming elements for this "Avatarland" or if Baxter or Lasseter will be given other, distracting, things to do away from it.

Feel free to discuss.  Any new articles with new details?  Post them here, too.  Thanks.

Wow......   :tear:  :WaltDisney3:
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CarolKoster Offline
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Posted: Sep. 20, 2011, 4:13 pm Quote

Quoting online Wall Street Journal:

http://online.wsj.com/article....32.html

MEDIA & MARKETING
SEPTEMBER 20, 2011, 4:04 P.M. ET
Disney to Create 'Avatar' Attractions

By ETHAN SMITH

Walt Disney Co. plans to create theme-park rides and attractions based on the 2009 hit movie "Avatar," company executives said, with the first to be built at Walt Disney World and likely opening around 2017.

Disney said it would be building the attractions under long-term, exclusive agreements with Twentieth Century Fox, which distributed "Avatar," and director James Cameron's production company, Lightstorm Entertainment. Fox is owned by News Corp., also the parent of The Wall Street Journal.

Construction on the area within Disney World's Animal Kingdom, which executives called a "land"—Disney's term for a thematically grouped collection of rides, restaurants and other attractions—is to begin in early 2013. The project is likely to cost an estimated $400 million, according to a person familiar with the matter. Disney World is in Orlando, Fla.

Plans haven't been fully fleshed out, the executives said. Speaking at a Tuesday press conference, Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Thomas Staggs said: "We're just beginning the development phase on this project."

The attractions are to be created by Walt Disney's ride designers, known as Imagineers, in collaboration with Mr. Cameron.

Mr. Cameron said the attractions were likely to include recreations of environments from "Avatar" and possibly from two sequels that are planned for release in 2014 and 2015.

Terms of the deal among Disney, Fox and Mr. Cameron's Lightstorm weren't disclosed. But Mr. Staggs indicated that Mr. Cameron's compensation would include a set fee, not a percentage of ticket sales. On top of that, Mr. Staggs said, Mr. Cameron is to collect royalties on sales of merchandise, food and beverages. "That's the variable portion," he said, referring to the royalty.

Set on the fictional world of Pandora, "Avatar" is populated with exotic creatures, plants and scenery. Many of those elements, including a bioluminescent forest and dragon-like flying animals, are likely to be part of the Disney World installation.

In screenings of "Avatar," Mr. Cameron said, "The scenes people liked best weren't the obvious ones, like the big battles." Instead, he said, the favorites were "The creatures, learning to fly, being in the forest at night. The impression we got was that people just liked being in that world."

Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger said new attractions would let park visitors "enter the 'Avatar' universe and explore it first hand."

He said the company is likely to add "Avatar" attractions at its other theme parks around the world, though he said no plans had been made.

Disney's parks currently include attractions based on some movies from other studios, including "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones."

For such attractions to draw customers, they generally need to be based on films with sequels and ancillary businesses like toys and children's clothes. "Avatar" is a single movie—albeit the biggest-grossing of all time, with a world-wide box-office take of nearly $2.8 billion. But Mr. Iger said that it fit the bill, nonetheless. "The property is only going to continue to grow and expand with new stories, new characters and new environments," he said.

End of quoted news article from online Wall Street Journal.
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CarolKoster Offline
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Posted: Sep. 20, 2011, 4:24 pm Quote

Deadline.com offers very professional business-insider news about the entertainment industry.  Always worth a read.  Their Deadline New York website covers Disney theme parks now doing business with James Cameron for an "Avatarland" :

http://www.deadline.com/2011....t-needs


The Orlando Sentinel's article:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/the-dai....9.story

And Comments:

http://discussions.orlandosentinel.com/20....10

And Orange County Register with comments following article:

http://ocresort.ocregister.com/2011....92

And Los Angeles Times:

http://www.latimes.com/enterta....3.story

Use Google News and Google if you want more references.

Your replies, thoughts, opinions, comments?  Fee free to Reply!
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utilidor27 Offline
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Posted: Sep. 20, 2011, 4:53 pm Quote

Avatar and Disney could work, but not in the Animal Kingdom. Avatar is Science Fiction, The Animal Kingdom should be devoted to reality. You are asking a park's theme to stray away from it's mission (Not that there's not precedence - EPCOT's Future World is a great example) to educate as well as entertain about Earth's ecosystems. Avatar belongs over at Disney's Hollywood Studios plain and simple. That park is dedicated to Hollywood, and that's what this is. The problem is DHS is short on room, the result of some very poor planning. The other option would be to build a new park utilizing it along with the Marvel characters as anchors. Either one makes much more sense, and is workable to me.

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CarolKoster Offline
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Posted: Sep. 20, 2011, 6:37 pm Quote

Quote (utilidor27 @ Sep. 20, 2011, 3:53 pm)
Avatar and Disney could work, but not in the Animal Kingdom. Avatar is Science Fiction, The Animal Kingdom should be devoted to reality. You are asking a park's theme to stray away from it's mission [....]

Except..... I have a longer memory of the original concept of Animal Kingdom when it first was announced and opened.  The Imagineers left creative thematic room for "fantasy" animals or "lands" to be built there in their original concepts for what AK would be or could contain.  So yeah, at Animal Kingdom, if you dredge up the original creative concepts for "lands" at AK, "Avatarland" would literally fit.  Too bad it's not a Disney movie, though, in my mind it would fit even better.  But maybe that's just me....

1.  AK in more recent years may have decided to be "reality based" with most of AK, or that is what most people think of.

2.  Interesting no "fantasy-based animals or habitat" ideas have come up in the years since AK opened except putting "A Bug's Life" in there.  'Til suddenly it's announced to put "Avatarland" there based on another studio's work.

3.  Or if Disney is this hard up, why not create a fifth major theme park gate (MK, Epcot, DHS and AK are the first four major gates) and call it "Theme Park to Contain Non-Disney and Non-Direct-Disney-Culture Ideas, Concepts, or What We Bought by Acquisition or Could Make Lucrative Deals For With Competing Studios and Directors And Producers and Writers for Attractions, Shows, Rides, Restaurants and Shops and Interactive Stuff 'Cause Disney Owns So Much Land in Central FL and We Have The Room to Offer to Do This, As Long as Disney Makes Money Off Of It, Too Theme Park".  That's the title of it, yeah.  And move to it:  Star Tours, any Indiana Jones ride or show from both Florida and California Disney parks, all Marvel characters and shows, and now "Avatarland", and similar non-Disney stuff.

4.  I keep coming back to "nahtazu" (not a zoo) ad and TV commercial AK and Disney used to run  People may WANT a fantasy-sci fi zoo and interactive, as "something different" than what they're used to.  Zoos are everywhere.  Heck, local to us we have a very successful animal display called Global Wildlife Center where you ride troop transports and come up close and personal with hippos, wildebeests, giraffes and water buffalo and can feed them with your hand.... in our metro area of New Orleans north of the city in the rural parts of north of the city.  Probably other similar troop transport-animal attractions in other metro areas, too.... when they are plentiful or easy to get to why go all the way to Orlando to do the same thing... A fantasy-sci-fi based place like that, though, is one of a kind.  And not everyone is "into" animals but would be attracted to a fantasy-sci-fi-type new zoo-type of interactive park.

Do you think "Avatarland" plus the renovations being done at Magic Kingdom are both being done to do World War Three towards Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando?

Does this "dilute" Disney?

Is it a superb idea and you're OK with the fact new rides might come to WDW and it doesn't matter who had the original concept, even if it's not Disney itself, as long as it's "new" and based on a huge hit movie (from a couple of years ago, even if sequels are planned) who cares if it's within traditional Disney culture or not?
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CarolKoster Offline
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Posted: Sep. 21, 2011, 12:25 am Quote

I've posted to MiceAge in their "News" Forum and MousePlanet to their WDW Forum about the "Avatarland" news as CarolKoster, if anyone wants to take a look.  The MiceAge Topic is at least 13-pages of Comments already and you'll see postings of mine on ages 6 and 13 !  Very lively!
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utilidor27 Offline
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Posted: Sep. 22, 2011, 2:14 am Quote

My biggest objection is that Avatar is Sci Fi plain and simple. Fantasy realm, dragons, unicorns, etc. is ok because it's based on terra firma. It's a far stretch from real places on earth to some planet x years away. This idea belongs over at the studios plain and simple.

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Posted: Sep. 24, 2011, 7:21 am Quote

I thought the movie was kinda ok.... but didn't deserve all the hubbub.... I won't support Disney doing anything with it... will completely avoid wherever they put it.... Cameron doesn't fit Disney in anyway shape or form.... Heck, Tron barely does...

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Posted: Sep. 24, 2011, 10:49 am Quote

That I'm posting what's below shouldn't mean to the reader I'm in favor of "Avatarland" even being on any Disney-owned property, anywhere.

So to MKBaughan and utilidor27, about "Avatarland" being a better fit at Disney Hollywood Studios vs. Animal Kingdom....

Stuff put on shelves or in closets, gathering dust, can always be retrieved and dusted off and re-used…..  Thanks to the Wikipedia listing about Animal Kingdom, and seeing other posts on other Disney fan sites' discussion of this "Avatarland" news, read the following…. from 1995 !  Note the boldface portions.  In other words, everything old is new again, or that which got put in the attic got taken out of the attic and is being revived.  Or sure looks that way to me….  

Internally, Disney must be desperate for increased attendance to Animal Kingdom…. It's the least attended of their four major theme parks in Orlando.  So even though "Avatar" is a "movie" and some people think "Avatarland" is a better fit at Disney Hollywood Studios, if you read about "Beastly Kingdom" below in fact "Avatarland" is a better fit at Animal Kingdom.

And it would seem like Disney in now reviving the heyday of Michael Eisner as a modern day Walt Disney to go back to some of his ideas in order to make the park Eisner, not Walt, created work.  Even though in 2004 shareholders voted "no" to keeping Eisner on as CEO and that's when Eisner groomed his then-#2 man, Robert Iger, to be the new CEO, taking over on October 1, 2005.  And it was Eisner in 1984 and later who got non-Disney Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas to OK to do attractions based on their non-Disney hit movies of that era, Star Wars and Indiana Jones.  Hmmm.... see connections, and connections becoming evolved historical internal company precedent and "tradition"....?  ;)

Read on, and again folks this is not a new news article, it's reproducing something from 16 years ago !





http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4182/is_19950621/ai_n10084978/

Business / Journal Record, The (Oklahoma City) / Jun 21, 1995
Disney Plans Wild Animal Kingdom in Florida

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) _ Move over, Mickey Mouse _ some real animals will soon be moving into town.


The Walt Disney Co. announced plans Tuesday to build Disney's Wild Animal Kingdom, featuring beasts from real life as well as mythology.

Walt Disney Chairman Michael Eisner called the new park "a celebration of animals that ever or never existed."

"Disney's Wild Animal Kingdom will be magical, fanciful and fun in the tradition of all of our theme parks, yet it will incorporate a new dimension of reality
with live animals in their natural habitats," Eisner said.

Construction of the park in central Florida is expected with begin in September and should take about 2 years to complete, with early 1998 as the target opening date.

Disney refused to say how much it will cost to build the 500-acre park. The Orlando Sentinal reported Tuesday it will cost about $760 million, or about twice that of Epcot Center.

In addition to the wildlife park, Disney also announced Tuesday some new and expanded attractions at Walt Disney World, including new resorts, educational and sports centers, and the construction of two Disney cruise ships.

The centerpiece of the wildlife park will be a 14-story tall Tree of Life, which will be larger than Spaceship Earth at Epcot Center. More than 50-feet wide at its trunk, the tree will feature an intricate hand-carved swirling tapestry of animal forms.

The park would ultimately include themed "lands" connected by a central hub: Africa, which takes visitors on a safari with live, wild animals; the Beastly Kingdom, focusing on mythological creatures, like unicorns and dragons; and Dinoland, with dinosaurs and extinct species brought to life through robotics.

Disney's Wild Animal Kingdom also will feature a Conservation Station, which will be the headquarters for conservation and species survival activities for the park.

Disney has assembled a panel of wildlife, animal protection and conservation experts to advise in planning the park.

"With Disney's resources and genius in storytelling, they have the ability to do something that has never been done before," said one of the advisers, Roger Caras, national president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "As for the fantasy and showbiz glitz among the strong conservation theme, my feeling is that there is no need to apologize for it."

Most of the animals for the park will come from other zoos or from wildlife officials who have rescued orphaned animals. Others will be taken from endangered habitats.

The park is expected to attract several million people in its first year, and it should add a substantial number of employees to Walt Disney World's workforce of 35,000.

Copyright 1995


End of quoted article from 16 years ago.
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