Today Disney executives Tom Staggs and Bob Iger announced a deal that will let the company develop theme park attractions based on the movie “Avatar.” The new deal was reported in the Disney Parks Blog. Reportedly, the first beneficiary of this partnership with James Cameron will be the Animal Kingdom theme park. That park is now slated to get a new land, themed around Avatar, with construction to start in 2013.
Although an Avatar-themed section is a far cry from the Beastly Kingdom originally rumored for the park. it still fits in with the overall theme. The Beastly Kingdom was saild to be focused on mythical creatures like unicorns and dragons. Avatar will, of course, be closely linked to the movie, but it has the advantage of an easily recognizable environment and storyline, at least for fans. The movie’s ecological theme ties into neatly with Animal Kingdom’s conservation message. While the first Avatar movie will be years in the past by the time Disney breaks ground, two sequels are already on their way.
Although the Avatar series doesn’t have the huge following of the Harry Potter books and movies, sprucing up the animal-themed park and using a known quantity to do so may help Disney achieve some of the success that Universal is realizing with Potter at its Islands of Adventure park. Even though only one of the three rides in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is actually new, the land brought a huge attendance boom to Islands.
Disney’s move to create an Avatar-based section, rather than simply putting in a ride, follows the recent trend of large-scale projects in the wildly competitive Central Florida market. Disney itself is in the midst of a major Fantasyland revamp, and Universal’s Harry Potter project was carved out of its Lost Continent section, complete with a new ride, two remodels of old ones, and heavily themed shops to go along with the iconic Hogwarts Castle.
Even Busch Gardens in Tampa didn’t stop at simply putting in a new roller coaster. Its Cheetah Hunt launch coaster is just one part of its brand-new cheetah habitat that showcases the live animals in much the same way that Manta at its sister park. SeaWorld, works an aquarium into the ride complex.
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