Disney World opening 'Avatar'-themed land. James Cameron, should we be concerned?

It’s been almost two years since James Cameron taught us all a valuable lesson about the effects of pollution on adorable blue monsters in Avatar, which became the highest-grossing film ever made thanks to its horrifically influential use of 3-D technology. But we all knew that virtual 3-D was never going to be good enough for Cameron, and now we have proof: A joint press release from Walt Disney Parks & Resorts and Fox Filmed Entertainment has just announced plans to open an Avatar-themed land in Florida’s Walt Disney World, inside of the conservation-themed Animal Kingdom park. Cameron even teased that the park would involve settings from the upcoming Avatar sequels: “With two new Avatar films currently in development, we’ll have even more locations, characters and stories to explore,” said the filmmaker.

It’s certainly an interesting next step for the franchise. (The deal also allows for future Avatar-themed lands at other Disney parks around the world.) On one hand, it almost seems endearingly low-tech: Considering that Pandora was mostly created via greenscreen for the movie, it’s actually pretty nifty to imagine seeing it rendered lovingly in real-life by Disney’s gang of puppeteers, botanists, and chemical engineers. The sheer scale of the thing is pretty crazy, too: By comparison, Star Tours seems pretty measly, right?

Still, as a film fan, I’m starting to get a little concerned. James Cameron already spent the better part of the last decade working on the first Avatar, and with two more films and now this massive undertaking, is it worth asking when — if ever? — he’s going to move on from Pandora? Cameron clearly seems to believe that the entire Avatar universe will be his masterwork, which is fine, but also seems like evidence of George Lucas-esque obsession.

Or maybe I’m wrong? Is Avatar this generation’s Star Wars, a franchise that will inspire a generation or two? What do you think? And which corner of Pandora would you be most excited to visit? Is it too much to ask for an Adults Only corner, where everyone receives a personal tendril with the ability to gently undulate?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

Read more:
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Comments (26 total) Add your comment
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  • nodnarb

    Pollution? Do you mean deforestation?

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  • Ed Southwick

    Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the Avatar franchise is made. Avatar-the T-shirt, Avatar-the Colouring Book, Avatar-the Lunch box, Avatar-the Breakfast Cereal, Avatar-the Flame Thrower. And last but not least, Avatar the dolls.

    • Drew P

      Spaceballs reference–classic.

  • Samantha

    I’m not really sure why Disney felt this was necessary. Why are we getting this instead of Beastly Kingdom? They just want a movie based competition to Wizarding World. Animal Kingdom has always been about the Earth and animals on the Earth, why would they populate it with an alien world? Why take something that isn’t broken and try and fix it? What is the big deal about Avatar? Does DIsney not remember they made a movie with THE SAME STORY LINE? You may remember it… Pocahontas? Ring any bells? Yeah I thought it might. Wise up Disney, this is crap.

    • Tricia

      I totally agree. Disney you are going to ruin Animal Kingdom with Avatar. I know alot of people don’t like AK, but on my trip there in Nov, It was my favorite park. I loved the way it was decorated without being over the top & the kids loved the safari ride. If Disney feels they must do Avatar, it should go in the Hollywood Studios park.

      • MWeyer

        It’s a space issue, there’s just more space to put this at AK than at the Studios. The Beastly Kingdom section has been DOA for years as when Disney cut Imagineers in the mid-’90’s, many went to Universal and several ideas for that section ended up part of the Lost Continent area of Islands of Adventure. Let’s face it, the Harry Potter section of Islands raised the bar, Disney wants to match it and AK provides the area to build a new section like this more than the other parks.

  • Rebecca

    Good thing it is at animal kingdom so then I won’t have to see it. I love Disney but why are they doing this!? Oh well I won’t be going to animal kingdom again because it is boring

  • Ali T.

    This Avatar-themed park, like the movie, will be incredibly overrated.

    • Rebecca

      Haha!!! 100% agree!!!!

  • Brock

    Why, Disney, why? Like someone else said, they should have just gone ahead and built Beastly Kingdom instead of this Avatar turkey.

  • Emily

    Wish this was about the cartoon Avatar…that is to say, the BETTER Avatar.

    • Anne


  • shaque

    Let’s wait and see how it’s gon’ turn out.

    • Damon

      If you’re a Disney fan especially the parks, internet rules state you have panic and immediately poo poo the idea.

  • Damon

    Also don’t forget that this isn’t only something to counter Potter at Islands of Adventure, but IOA also has the Marvel characters and Disney can’t use them.

  • dee

    Just PLEASE PLEASE dont touch the Tree of Life or Festival of the Lion King!!!

  • Samantha

    @MWeyer I’m well aware of the history of the parks and beastly kingdom.

  • Andrew

    I guess Disney was okay with Cameron using the script of “Pocahontas” for “Avatar” since this is happening. Cameron must have payed Dinsey a but load of money, but he won’t admit it. For the sequels for “Avatar” he will probably use the scripts of “Mulan” and “Tarzan.”

  • sam

    Animal Kingdom has always been the most boring of the parks, so this may perk it up.

  • aps

    this is awful. i actually enjoy the animal kingdom for what it is, but this will make me just….ugh. no. ugh.

  • Rage

    Influential? Hardly. Who walked out of this floating tird of a movie and said I want to make a movie just like that? No one. Everyone said “wow, look at all the pretty colors” and went on with their day. The movie sucked, the effects were okay, and we need to be seriously done with this hellish movie. Disney, please come to your senses! Please!

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