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Disney reveals Avatar land details at D23 Expo in Japan

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Published: October 11, 2013 at 11:15 PM

Disney theme park officials didn't have much to reveal at the recent D23 Expo in Anaheim. But they haven't been so stingy at the first-ever D23 Expo in Japan.

At the Tokyo Disney Resort today, Disney Parks chairman Tom Staggs offered a preview of the Avatar land under development at Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Staggs presented several images of concept art for the new land, which will replace Camp Mickey-Minnie at the theme park. And there's now an opening date: 2017.

Here's an overview of the new land:

Avatar Land

A look at what's expected to be the new boat ride:

Avatar Boat Ride

And an image from the expected "Soarin'"-like 3D show.

Avatar 3D Movie Ride

Finally, Disney announced that Animal Kingdom will be getting a new nighttime show, centered around the Tree of Life and the Discovery River.

Night show at DAK

In addition, the park will be getting a nighttime version of the Kilimanjaro Safaris, which, with the new nighttime show, pretty much confirms that the park will also be getting extended hours when Avatar opens.

It's happening, people. So, now that you've seen some official concept art, what do you think?

Update: Here's the promo video from D23 Japan:

Readers' Opinions

From Paul Moreau on October 11, 2013 at 11:28 PM
If the park looks anything remotely close to the concept art, I'm completely sold!
From Annette Forrest on October 12, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Robert asked what we think and I can report for my family. First of all, I thought the Avatar movie was dumb. My son says it is Pocahantos in space with giant cats. When I first heard they were bringing Avatar to a Disney park I just thought it was Disney buying Avatar so Universal could not have it. It felt like the executives who were too stupid to buy Harry Potter were trying to keep their jobs by not letting Universal buy another property.

I am someone who has always resented that DAK never really got any of the mythical animals that were promised. That's what I thought was cool about DAK's concept: real animals like in zoos, extinct animals recreated using robots, and mythical animals created somehow. Really, all we got was a really nice zoo...with that junky ugly "Dinoland". I just hate Chester and Hester's and I think Everest looks cheap and small instead of majestic and that the broken Yeti inside is sad.

I have always wanted a Hercules-type ride featuring the Greek myth creatures and an area with other creature of legend but it looks like we're never going to get that at DAK. I hope there is a computer game some day where we can build one, like a Jurassic Park with myths. But I doubt that will happen either.

The more I thought about it, the more I warmed up to the idea of Avatar because it would be life on other planets. Even though the movie was dumb, it was certainly pretty and interesting. I can see myself and my boys being enchanted and them asking questions about life on other planets. There's never been anything like that to visit before.

Whenever I see Disney concept art, I kind of cringe because I worry about value engineering later in the process. I hate Disney executives because i feel like they are so incredibly stupid and nickel and dime everything. But the fools don't understand that when they actually spend money and do something right (like Carsland) that they get a bigger return on their investment instead of value engineering. I wish someone would fire 80% of Disney executives and replace them with actual Disney fans.

I have heard repeatedly that James Cameron is a real stickler for details and is obsessive and OCD. I also heard that Universal wanted to go cheap with Harry Potter but that JK Rowling forced them to do the Harry Potter attractions right and spare no expense. So I have high hopes that Cameron will force Disney to do something spectacular with Avatar.

Now, I want to be clear that Disney did lose a vacation day to Universal with Harry Potter in terms of my family. When we go down, we do six days in Orlando...and those used to all be at Disney. Now, we do one day in the middle of our trip to see Harry Potter. Disney lost a water park day for us to go to Harry potter instead...but I think the rest of the Universal parks are junky so we don't even spend the whole day there. When the new Harry Potter area opens with Diagon Alley, we'll be spending the whole day doing a park hopper at Universal but it will still just be one day. Aside from a little time in Jurassic Park, we'll be spending all our time in Harry Potter. I can see us eating lunch in the Three Broomsticks and then dinner in the Leaky Cauldron or another restaurant in the Diagon Alley side. Before Harry Potter, it would have been unthinkable for us to spend a day at Universal. It's just not my family's taste.

When we do DAK, we usually would leave around 4 or 5 at the latest because my kids see it as a zoo and get bored learning about animals after a while. We then spend the rest of the evening at the hotel pools. Avatar looks like it will get us to spend the whole day at DAK and stay into the night. That will be fun. I especially like that boat ride. Reminds me of Pirates of the Caribbean, but with animals. I hope there is a restaurant inside that like the Blue Bayou.

I really wish that DAK would get rid of Rainforest Cafe. Everything in there is covered in dust. I wish they would build a version of the Adventurers Club there instead. DAK always felt like it could have the Adventurers Club headquartered there.

I am really excited about the concept art for Avatar, but it also makes me angry in a weird way. I am angry about Chester and Hesters. I hate that place! Why can't they make that area like you stepped through a time portal and were encountering real dinosaurs in a prehistoric environment? I love that we will be able to walk on an alien planet with Avatar...but I wish we could maybe go to a prehistoric forest in a nicer dinosaur area than that ugly Dinoland.

From 70.226.129.231 on October 12, 2013 at 1:15 AM
I am glad to hear that Avatar Land will be coming to the Animal Kingdom since there where some doubts at one time about the land still happening. Camp Minnie Micky was always just a time/gap filler because beastly land was cut due to budgets.

I guess the animals in the Avatar land could be a projection of the original beastly land since they are definately mystical in nature.

I really hope that they do Avatar land right and have at least two really good rides for the whole family -- i.e. the old E ticket calibar rides. Plus now it sounds like Animal kingom will be open extended hours. Closing at 5pm during the winter was quite early.

I have been looking/antipating for Disney to produce a new "Disney Classic" ride and I have hopes that may be in the new Avatar Land. By "Disney Classic" ride I mean a ride that lasts more than 5-10 minutes, and has lots of audio-animotronic characters and is rideable by all ages -- think or rides like Pirates of the Carribean, Splash Mountain, It's a small world, The Great Movie Ride, etc. Most of Disney's newest big rides are not in this mold -- Expedition Everest, Tower of Terror, etc.

From 76.111.160.221 on October 12, 2013 at 1:33 AM
so where were all the gift shops in Pandora? Because I can't see them in the concept art...
From Gabriel Schroll on October 12, 2013 at 4:24 AM
It looks great!

I have some real questions about if they are pulling an Antarctica on us, but I'm happy with what they're showing, which is better than not liking the concept art.

From Doug Jenkins on October 12, 2013 at 4:29 AM
Annette, After that review, I'm not sure why you even bother going to any theme park. Sounds like a chore for you. In my mind, theme parks are for escape and both Universal and /Disney do that VERY well. I am excited, along with millions of other people whom enjoyed the movie Avatar, to see this area come to life. Although Disney construction is very slow compared to Universal, the 3 Avatar sequels will be coming out starting in 2016, so should sync up pretty good. Disney has become stale so we very much enjoy AP's at the junky (???) park, Universal 5 - 6 times a year. With Avatar, myself and many others will have a reason to go again. CAN'T WAIT!
From Melanie Howe on October 12, 2013 at 4:43 AM
I don't want to Disney-bash, really... but a couple observations:

1. So far it looks like Avatar Land will have a boat ride (admittedly, a lovely looking boat ride, but still a boat ride) and a re-boot of the most over-rated ride I've ever been on.

2. Yes, the concept art makes it look amazing, but, as someone else mentioned, remember the lesson of Antarctica.

I'm not saying it won't ultimately wind up being something very impressive, but after waiting this long for concepts, I was expecting something a bit more ground-breaking.

It is cool to see that Animal Kingdom will eventually have night time hours.


From 71.230.32.71 on October 12, 2013 at 5:19 AM
I wonder when the actual construction will start. I want to run the Everest, and I hope it is not affected in 2014!
From David Brown on October 12, 2013 at 5:23 AM
I'm less worried about the concept art not matching the delivery. Generally speaking the concept art I've seen, (Cars Land, New Fantasy Land, for example), end up looking very similar to the finished article.
Plus I think Disney finally 'get' Universal and Harry Potter after the success of Cars Land. Do it right, spend the right amount of money, and you will reap the rewards.

So... I'm looking forward to Avatar Land. And actually I don't mind that the two attractions won't be at the edge of human endurance. I suspect the boat ride will be visually and immersively stunning, and kudos to Disney for making the E-attraction accessible to all, and I'm willing to give the Banshee Ride a chance. It wasn't the concept of Soarin' that I find so poor but the execution - the 'cut and paste' tour of nice bits of California. With the right film and decent movement synching it could be exciting and deeply involving, especially if they found a way to do it in 3D....

And taking the opportunity to turn the Animal Kingdom into a proper full-hours park with a visual show to rival any of their others... nice one :)

So... Wow. Well done Disney. Now, just make sure you deliver what you've promised....

From Rod Whitenack on October 12, 2013 at 5:53 AM
How do you guys think the imagineers are going to pull off the floating mountains? Call me curious!
From 192.195.66.3 on October 12, 2013 at 5:57 AM
This looks AMAZING. I had high hopes for Avatar Land as soon as they announced it. Even though the movie may not be the greatest story-wise, it is the most innovative movie visually to this date in my opinion. I knew the visuals of the movie would translate to the most visually stunning land ever created for a theme park, and from the look of the concept art, I was right. A lot of people bring up Antarctica to point out that concept art doesn't always translate to the real thing, but that was Sea World. Sea World doesn't have much of a track record with immersive dark rides and themed attractions. Disney does. And Cars Land and New Fantasyland definitely lived up to their concept art. If you look at the picture of Joe Rhode and Jim Cameron with the model of the land, you can see how they intend to translate the concept art into the real land. Models tend to show how it will really look more than concept art. And the model still looks pretty darn amazing. The rides should be spectacular as well from the look and sound of things.

And I'm very happy they took the opportunity of Avatar Land to make DAK into a nighttime destination. Avatar Land will be even more gorgeous at night, and I'm extremely excited about the prospects of a World of Color type show on the river around the Tree of Life.

I can't wait until 2017!!!

From TH Creative on October 12, 2013 at 6:07 AM
WOW!

What I love about this artwork is that it ramps up the "park as a platform" approach to themed entertainment. This looks magnificent!

From Ryan Pickhardt on October 12, 2013 at 7:37 AM
The more I look at the pictures and look back on he movie, the more excited I get for the land. I hope that the movies to come will be good for that will also be a factor. Everyone loved the sequels to Harry Potter because they had books to follow and it should be the same for the Hunger Games, but Avatar does not have books and the only amazing thing about the movie was its graphics. The land looks great and I love the floating islands and water falls. The boat ride looks to be whimsical and the Soarin' like ride sounds breathtaking. I just hope that Disney is going to get a good turnout.
From James Rao on October 12, 2013 at 7:45 AM
There are 2.8 billion reasons why Avatar will continue to be an amazing success story. Because of those reasons, I simply cannot wait to experience the full force of WDI teamed up with a creative genius like James Cameron. The question becomes: do I make my reservation for May or September of 2017??!!

(@Ryan, totally off topic, but I disliked almost all of the HP movies because I DID read the books first and the movies paled in comparison - but I am just being snarky since you said "everyone" loved them).

From Apple Butter on October 12, 2013 at 7:45 AM
With magic fairy dust! All seriousness they are probably going to have some heavy supports hidden behind foliage or/and waterfalls to make it appear like they are floating.

I'm not concerned with the anartica mishap with Sea World, because Sea World is no Disney or Universal in theming and making it unique. I'm concerned that Disney World in general is staying stagnet in their innovation and "magic" if the boat ride is going to have animatronic navie waving at you at the end of the ride mispronouncing your name I'm going to be upset because although probably beautiful it's been done in various boat rides.....small world, little mermaid, Potc, ET, and etc and etc. it's been done. So too the soring duplicate. I spent 15 dollars going to see Avatar in a 3D IMAX (only movie I thought was worth it) and now I'm going to spend a lot more money to go experience something that has been done before.

Most visitors travel a long way to these parks and yes they want to ride tried and true rides that are classics but also want to ride rides that feel new to them and these rides don't to me because they are new but duplicates of other rides that almost everyone's ridden before. I'm disappointed by these pictures.

I hope that they are not going to do a soring thing with a Tie Fighter, or a boat ride through an ewoke village and the next scence be in Naboo and have an animatronic Jar Jar Binks waving to you mispronouncing your name as you exit the ride......

From 24.228.62.99 on October 12, 2013 at 8:09 AM
I am praying that the simulator ride will not be another soaring. Universal took the idea of simulator rides to the next level. I think disney could find a unique way to make a state of the art ride that could be accessible by all. Star tours 2 was boring after potter, sorry it was. Please no more boring old sim rides. (Note: soaring still is great)
From Annette Forrest on October 12, 2013 at 8:18 AM
@Apple Butter -- your gripe about everything being done before is interesting to me, because everything in life has been done before. Are you saying to Universal, "Ugh! ANOTHER roller coaster with that Gringotts coaster they are building" or also saying to Universal, "ANOTHER Harry Potter area you are building? We already have the Wizarding World, so why do we need Diagon Alley?".

I just want to make sure that your griping is equal-opportunity and applied to all theme parks, not just Disney.

From N B on October 12, 2013 at 8:28 AM
Annette doesn't sound like a happy person to me. Anyone who puts that much effort into finding problems with theme parks.... wow....

Anyways, I don't think there will be floating mountains at DAK, but it should be spectacular when they complete this in 2036..

AppleButter.... that was funny....

Oh, and for the record.... I think a boat ride is a boat ride, no matter how well themed... if you close your eyes, you are on a boat ride..... C-Ticket at best.

From Eric G on October 12, 2013 at 8:36 AM
Annette - hahahahahahaha replace the management with Disney fans. Seriously? That would be a mess. Many of your gripes are ridiculous and rooted in irrational thinking. You're so proud that Disney lost a waterpark day to Universal, but who cares.

As for Avatar Land, Disney is taking too long to complete this project. Four years until opening?

Universal is making you look bad!

From N B on October 12, 2013 at 8:43 AM
Eric,

We support equal opportunity park bashing on TPI, you have to divide your negativity between Disney and Universal, even if you have never been to Universal.... Annette says so....

So remember people, if you have something bad to say about Avatar Land, please find a problem with Potter and post that too. Thank you.

From David Brown on October 12, 2013 at 8:47 AM
Looking at the photo of the model of the land I think I can see how they can make the floating mountains....

If you look closely the mountains have 'trailing' vines and indeed trunks of trees falling off the sides down to the earth. If these conceal the appropriate strength of supports and the 'mountains' themselves are suitably light in weight Disney can produce a real 'wow' effect of a huge mountain that appears at first glance to be floating. And most people won't really notice the branches and supports...

Clever and practical and bound to impress....

From robert morris on October 12, 2013 at 8:56 AM
I'm actually more interested in the night safaris and night show that will be open during my lifetime

Bill & Ted's at HHN this year does take a jab at Disney with James Cameron announcing that Avatar is coming to a theme park in 2065


As for Avatar I do enjoy a well done boat ride...

And not going to complain about a Soarin 2.0 as I do enjoy Transformers and Spiderman and many would just call Transformers to be Spiderman 2.0

I've heard Disney is going to start charging for parking at their resorts to help finance this project...

From James Rao on October 12, 2013 at 9:25 AM
Before you get too "bored" with Soarin' 2.0, you might want to look at the basis for the rumored ride system that will be used... the Pandora version won't be your mama's Soarin', boys and girls!
From Annette Forrest on October 12, 2013 at 9:30 AM
Robert Morris mentioned the Bill & Ted show taking a jab at Disney on Avatar. I notice Universal does a lot of this throughout its parks, taking jabs at Disney. Never once have I seen Disney take a "jab" at Universal.

It always makes me feel like Universal and its superfans have a complex. Disney just does its thing...but Universal feels a need to "take jabs" at Disney as part of its identity. I think that's what makes Disney the Oreo and Universal the Hydrox...or Disney the Coke and Universal the RC Cola.

I think if Universal really thought what they were offering was world-class that they wouldn't be so obsessed with taking jabs at what's going-on on the other side of town.

From Amanda Jenkins on October 12, 2013 at 10:16 AM
I think out everything shown so far, I'm more excited about the show at night. Animal Kingdom is such a beautiful park, and to see the Tree of Life lit up (as in the rendering), would be absolutely beautiful. I've always wanted to spend an evening in Animal Kingdom.
From Melanie Howe on October 12, 2013 at 10:24 AM
If that is indeed the ride system they'll use then, yes, James, that WOULD be something to see! Consider me intrigued :-)
From Anon Mouse on October 12, 2013 at 10:27 AM
The concept art of Avatar DOES look terrific. I just hope they are saving the details for later because I have too many questions. Nonetheless, this does fix many weaknesses of the existing park like no night show, not enough attractions, no mythical portion of the park's creed, and more family friendly rides. It seems like all the Walt Disney World parks need much more attractions. This is taking much too long, but perhaps this is the best they can do.
From James Rao on October 12, 2013 at 10:31 AM
Let's just hope that once Pandora: The World of Avatar opens that Disney will take some time to finally fix Everest's Disco Yeti. No, Disney, we haven't forgotten about this problem.
From O T on October 12, 2013 at 11:17 AM
It's funny that almost non of the above reacted on the night-time show and rightly so because it looks and sounds mediocre at best with it's projection on the tree and stilt walkers with lanterns. Using Discovery River as a place for fountains is kind of baffling me because it's huge and will spread thin. I'd rather see Disney update it's Fantasmic show at Disney Studios so it's worth a visit then putting in another night time show.

First of all I love Animal Kingdom. I love it as a garden. I like the zoo aspect of it and I don't care for the rides because the are all lame and short.
Disney now adding Avatar is a perfect fit for Disney. The movie stole it's ideas from many intelligent movies resulting in a pretentious movie lacking story, characters and hart. It all presented it in a nice package that in the end wasn't enough to support it but was it's only selling point.
What we see Immaginering doing here is what they did with new Fantasy land, creating a nice picture without substance, without original rides and anything to blow you away ending up to be lifeless and soulless. As I said it's a perfect fit for Disney.
What really bothers me is we don't see anything resembling Avatar. Non of the animals, non of the blue penis hair aliens, no village in a huge tree and just a hint of the arches we've seen in the movie but where never explained.
Even the market doesn't resemble the alien planet. Again as the movie it's a pretty picture lacking story, soul and hart. I'm also wondering how all these fake plants are going to hold up with the real plants in AK. The tree of life looks really fake between the real greenery but makes up for it's beautifully sculpted base but what if we walk from the real thing into a Rainforest cafe version of Avatar?
The rides look predictable. I hope the boat ride at least has a few drops to add at least some fun and it's longer then the 2 minutes most rides last in AK and the sourin ride is better then the immersion stopping scene changes of it's original brings.

I still have hope for immaginering. They build an amazing mansion and Cars land offers place making and combines it with an exiting e ticket ride that doesn't rehash the movie but adds to the universe. So I won't write it of but more rockwork and face plants just won't do it.

From Bryce McGibeny on October 12, 2013 at 11:27 AM
Oh, Annette... Always shoehorning in you're hatred for everything in theme parks on both Micechat and TPI. This article had nothing to do with Universal, but you (tried) turning the discussion into "everything you should hate about Universal, because it's so junky." I can't wait to read the same thing on Micechat next week.

Anyways, I think the concept art looks very promising. People always claim that Avatar doesn't fit into DAK, but I think it does. It has that strong conservation element to it. It seems like it will be a beautiful addition to the park, and I am excited.

From 76.14.30.186 on October 12, 2013 at 12:48 PM
I was not excited for Avatar, but now I really am!
From Daniel Etcheberry on October 12, 2013 at 1:09 PM
Cool! Now show us the Star Wars Land details :^)
From Jonah Sirota on October 12, 2013 at 1:16 PM
I think this looks great. This concept art supports the idea that Disney is still the master of building environments, both inside and outside of rides, in real physical space. Universal has done a good job of that with Harry Potter, but if you look at some of their other recent attractions (esp. Despicable Me and Transformers), you can see an approach at work where the film footage for the ride IS the ride (similar to Star Tours and Soarin' too). It is much easier to build rides of this type on an expedited schedule (not that I don't like them--I do!). There is much complaining about the Dwarfs Mine Train ride, but it has so much more physical detail than most of what Universal has built, I think the timeline comparison is unfair.

Disney will do a very good job with this. They did fall behind Universal, mostly because Universal has done recent planning under the radar and ahead of schedule. (They were likely planning the 2nd Harry Potter expansion before the first was even finished). Like Apple with the original iPhone, Universal changed the industry with HP, and it will take time for Disney to catch up. But they will, I don't doubt. They have the capital and the artistic talent, and a single visionary (James Cameron) to serve as the JK Rowling for the Avatar project. He will be the one to sign off on the correct flavor for blue butterbeer...

From AJ Hummel on October 12, 2013 at 1:20 PM
Honestly, while Avatar Land looks like it will be visually impressive, I'm kind of disappointed it will only have two attractions, one of which is just a movie. I was never a huge fan of Avatar, and nothing that I've seen so far has make me more interested in visiting the area. While I'll definitely check it out when I finally get to visit Florida, if the opportunity to visit presented itself before 2017 I wouldn't delay my trip just to include Avatar Land.
From Andy Milito on October 12, 2013 at 1:46 PM
*shrugs*

All style, no substance. Visually beautiful, but I don't think a boat ride and a Soarin' clone is going to cut it for me. The nighttime event looks good though. We'll see in 2017, I guess.

From 209.44.133.160 on October 12, 2013 at 3:04 PM
I wasn't a fan of the Avatar movie, but the special effects were awesome. It will be interesting to see how Disney recreates them in real life. Soarin' is my favorite ride. Can't wait to see if they can "plus it".
From 209.44.133.160 on October 12, 2013 at 3:14 PM
For comparison, The Haunted Mansion took 15 years to develop. The original concept was created before the park opened in 1955. Walt started telling the public about it in the late 1950's. In 1961, pamphlets were handed out at the entrance hyping Haunted Mansion for a 1963 opening. The exterior was completed in 1963, but the actual attraction didn't open until 1969. The ride could have opened before 1969, but would it have been as good? Four years for development of Avatar Land isn't too long to wait if it's a game changer.
From 209.44.133.160 on October 12, 2013 at 3:23 PM
Even if you prefer Disney, you have to admit that Universal theme parks have been a blessing for all concerned. Competition is good for Disney, good for Universal, and good for the theme park enthusiast. Vacationers now have a wider range of options. Disney can no longer rest on their laurels while Universal is looking over their shoulders.
From James Rao on October 12, 2013 at 4:05 PM
In addition to Vekoma's Pandora Box ride that I mentioned earlier, another possibility for the Soarin' 2.0 ride system was posted on Screamscape a while back... it looks pretty cool as well.

Regardless of what WDI and Cameron produce, I am anxious to see the results. I cannot imagine it will be anything less than amazing.

And, O T, my apologies for not mentioning it specifically, but I am very excited about all the night time festivities planned for DAK. The night time show, additional live performers, the night version of Kilimanjaro Safaris, and the extended hours are all part of an exciting package that should catapult DAK to over 10M visitors a year. Very few parks reach such stellar numbers - in the US only MK, DL, Epcot, and (soon) DCA have such amazing attendance numbers. There is no doubt in my mind DAK will be joining that prestigious group of parks once all this work is complete a few years from now.

Personally, I have never had an issue with Avatar and Disney, and I definitely do not see a downside to this announcement today. It is a good decade to be a theme park fan, fo' sho'!

From Flavio de Souza on October 12, 2013 at 4:06 PM
Beautiful!!!!

It turns out that the real e-ticket will be the boat ride, not the "Soarin".

That is very wise since Universal and independent companies like Sally Corp can match Disney in 3D simulator, but no one can come close to Disney in detailed animatronics and decor.

This could be a RSR + Mistic Manor boat ride!!!

Since they will not (hopefully) tell any story, I think the Soarin ride will be just a Soarin ride. Disney will save Vekoma's Pandora to Marvel/Star Wars.

From James Rao on October 12, 2013 at 4:13 PM
From what I have read, the boat ride will be more edutainment, sort of like a Pandora version of Epcot's Living with the Land (an under-appreciated attraction, imho). I put that boat ride as a D-ticket. And... I like the idea. However, I am hopeful it will transcend the genre and break new ground as you state. We'll have to wait and see.

Regardless, I am pretty sure the 3-D (4-D?) simulator attraction will be the E-ticket in this expansion.

From Rob Pastor on October 12, 2013 at 4:31 PM
I like what I see. The photos look like the land will immerse you into the world of Avatar. I don't really expect new tech attractions from Disney, but for a Disney park, as long as the new attractions are fun & entertaining, they don't need to be thrilling too. Hopefully the land doesn't get too value engineered by TDO. And I'm very excited for the night time direction the park is taking. I always found it to be lacking since it closed so early and I usually skip it from my Disney schedule. But I'm positive I'll enjoy it more with Avatar & the night attractions, since it surely is a beautiful park. It's just always needed more good attractions and hours.
From 74.235.192.240 on October 12, 2013 at 4:32 PM
Seems like a lot of money for an area that no one asked for or really wants. I think this is a ploy to get James Cameron to start making movies with Disney. Plus just paying him to make the attractions is helping him fund the new Avatar movies. Star Wars, Marvel and James Cameron would corner the action movie market for Disney.
From 74.235.192.240 on October 12, 2013 at 4:47 PM
When did the Navi have Japanese geisha's in front of the tree of souls?

If you want to compete with Harry at least stay true to the source material. They should have giant military Mechs with machine guns. Not impressed

From 24.127.233.152 on October 12, 2013 at 5:50 PM
You people are judging rides and a nighttime show based off a picture? I highly doubt the E-ticket will be a Soarin clone. You cannot assume that from a single picture.
To the person who claims this is a ploy for James Cameron, Disney's parks make them a lot more money than their movies, so that is highly unlikely.
And by the way, that is the Tree of Life, not the Tree of Souls, so it has nothing to do with Avatar.
People need to stop judging this based off of the movie, and start looking at its potential as a themed land. It will look spectacular, and has a lot of potential for great rides.
From TH Creative on October 12, 2013 at 6:50 PM
Annette writes " I wish someone would fire 80% of Disney executives and replace them with actual Disney fans.

I Respond: If you really believe that, you're an idiot.

Annette writes: "I have heard repeatedly that James Cameron is a real stickler for details and is obsessive and OCD. I also heard that Universal wanted to go cheap with Harry Potter but that JK Rowling forced them to do the Harry Potter attractions right and spare no expense."

I Respond: And who exactly have you "heard" that from?

From TH Creative on October 12, 2013 at 6:48 PM
I love, love , love, love the idea of a boat ride. This could
very well become an ever changing environment. This could be a breathtaking production that does not rely on a story. There does not have to be a beginning and end. This is Pandora ... and every time you ride it may well be a different experience.
From Michael Owen on October 12, 2013 at 7:01 PM
Avatar is a multi-billion dollar franchise and judging by this concept art Disney have nailed it.

Disney have learned a lesson from Potter over at Universal and that is that spending on world-class attractions pays dividends, and I don't expect them to skimp on the cost for Avatar Land.

The big test, for me, is if these changes can make DAK a whole day park.

From Michael Owen on October 12, 2013 at 7:01 PM
Avatar is a multi-billion dollar franchise and judging by this concept art Disney have nailed it.

Disney have learned a lesson from Potter over at Universal and that is that spending on world-class attractions pays dividends, and I don't expect them to skimp on the cost for Avatar Land.

The big test, for me, is if these changes can make DAK a whole day park.

From James Rao on October 12, 2013 at 7:20 PM
@Anon Poster 74.235.192.240, I really want it. In fact I really really really REALLY want it. Bad.
From O T on October 12, 2013 at 8:52 PM
I don't get it why people are hyped for a boat ride. AK had a wonderful boat ride and it gave you a new perspective and appreciation of all the beautiful nature in the park but the Disney customers where bored and didn't like it.
Now a new ride with plastic plants and black lit animals are going to be the best....

@Annette Cameron isn't OCD or obsessive (like some certain Disney fans) but is a perfectionist. T2 3D is an amazing show/4Dmovie and I'm sure his eye on excellence is giving immaginering headaches.
JK Rowling didn't get along with Disney because Disney wanted character photo ops and huge stores that don't serve the reality of the world of Harry Potter. Universal went along and went all the way and it paid off. They sure didn't go cheap and if they went wrong Rowling would tell them. I remember the entrance after the class house. It was a nice arched one but after her visit they pulled it out and made it more grand.

Everyone who is excited about the great place making shown in the artwork and saying THAT'S what Disney is about, it is seemingly not what AK needs. Most of AK has got place making coming out of it's ass in a huge way and still Disney guests call it a half day park because 'there is nothing to do'. To pump $0.5 B into 2 rides that aren't spectacular just isn't going to lift the problem and is a bad investment.

From James Trexen on October 12, 2013 at 9:19 PM
That boat ride reminds me of a certain scene in Avatar. Y'all know which one I'm talking about. ; )

If that's a part of the ride, it automatically becomes an E-ticket.

From Thomas Caselli on October 12, 2013 at 10:31 PM
I don't get why people are so negative!!! Is your life that miserable?!
From James Rao on October 13, 2013 at 5:17 AM
I dunno, O T, Universal pumped $.25 B into ONE new Potter ride and IOA's attendance went up by 20%. Disney pumped $0.5B into Cars Land (one E-ticket and two kiddie rides) and DCA is predicted to be the 4th most popular park in the US behind MK, DL, and Epcot. If the world of Pandora is as fully realized in the park as it was in the film (which made $2.8B), then the $.5B being invested in DAK will be money WELL spent.
From Apple Butter on October 13, 2013 at 5:51 AM
Authenticity means though every human would have to wear a gas mask when they enter Pandora...... I'm not so sure on the education ride experience either because Pandora is a made up place with made up Navi and animals. Oh and the plants are poisonous too! Just saying..... Beautiful landscape and theming I'm just not sold on another boat ride and a 3D movie where you can smell poisonous plants.

I could see it now.... Team member at the entrance saying "Welcome to Pandora here's your gas mask and don't touch anything cause you can die. Have fun and hope to see you back if you survive. Oh and by the way although Mechs, battle aircraft, and fortifications can help there is no guarantee of you coming out alive. Have a good trip bye bye now."

From 74.235.192.240 on October 13, 2013 at 6:38 AM
Bob Igor is a great talent recruiter; John Lasseter, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Stan Lee all in the last few years. Disney is a movie studio first.

James Cameron has never loved Fox and will be looking for a new studio after he funds his Avatar films. I think Igor will do anything to get him because John Carter and Lone Ranger are not helping the bottom line. Films drive the whole Disney machine.

That is the only logical way that this 2011 project that is just getting blue sky concept art now makes any sense.

Otherwise they would be building something that would actually bring tons of passionate fans like LOTR or a Villains land. If I cannot even name one character from Avatar why would I buy merchandise or food?

If that is the tree of life that is worse then the tree of souls. Lets hope that Disney passed on the giant hat, pink birthday cake or tacky sign above the park icon this time.

Disney is out of touch. Not impressed

From TH Creative on October 13, 2013 at 7:25 AM
When talking about investments in construction, you have to understand that Disney has changed its approach to project management. All of the large Disney projects are being managed under integrated project delivery and pre-construction design assist. Universal will inevitably follow suit.
From 98.228.182.112 on October 13, 2013 at 7:42 AM
It looks great and fun this far. The boat ride scene they have depicted here kind of reminds me of a more wide open boat version of Journey to the center of the earth (ie I should say the use of color in this artwork reminds me of that ride). We have a longggg way to go and a lot of things can still change. I'm excited about it, but it's still way to far for me to get excited about it. I still say that DAK will not have enough attractions after this. I think if you add Mystic Point between now and 2017, then you will have one heck of a expansion to this park
From 107.219.189.242 on October 13, 2013 at 8:21 AM
My question is about the D23 Expo in Tokyo.

How do the presentations work? I can't imagine Tom Staggs, Disney execs, and Imagineers being fluent in Japanese, but probably the vast majority of attendees are Japanese speakers. In Japan, people are familiar with English words and phrases, but most people don't have a high comprehension level of spoken English.

Do they have interpreters for most of the presentations? Do they have Japanese subtitles projected onto the screens? It sounds like no big deal to have a D23 Expo in Japan, but there is a huge language barrier between presenters and audience members.

From TH Creative on October 13, 2013 at 8:45 AM
Robert "Igor"?

(Chuckle)

From TH Creative on October 13, 2013 at 8:49 AM
"Frau Blucher?"
From 74.235.192.240 on October 13, 2013 at 9:53 AM
Igor or Iger has to be a mad scientist to pull this off.

The theme of AK is ironic to me. An upside down oil rig made into a huge fake plastic concrete tree, an Everest concrete mountain and now a floating concrete mountain. Save the Earth by destroying it.

The CO2 emissions and green house gases have to be huge.

For a respect nature themed park they sure do not seem to care much. I thought James Cameron cared about the Earth. Avatar inspired me to plant a home tree.

Epcot at least uses solar power and green building techniques.

-The Lorax

From 68.104.157.46 on October 13, 2013 at 2:16 PM
WDI recycled the Omnimover ride system for the Mermaid ride, and I think another ride system should have been used for that ride, maybe something amazing like a modified spinning coaster.

Now, it appears that WDI is reutilizing the Soarin' ride system . . . didn't at one point Imagineering pride itself on developing unique rides? Also, the Avatarland boat system looks like Pirates, though perhaps it will have some upgrades.

I don't like Avatar, it was a very un-memorable movie that was hip at the time due to CGI and 3-D, WDI should have pushed for Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, before this as these franchises are much more timeless. Universal was/is full of franchises well past their prime, such as how long Jaws stayed in that park . . . I think Avatar will be dated rather quickly.

From Anon Mouse on October 13, 2013 at 2:30 PM
"I don't get it why people are hyped for a boat ride."

So the Pirates of the Caribbean ride means nothing to you? Same idea.

I can get excited about any ride in any vehicle if done right.

"It's funny that almost non of the above reacted on the night-time show"

You must have missed my comment. I am excited about the night time show, although I don't know what the heck it is about. The lighted tree seems like a good idea especially when you consider that it is falling apart. It is due to for an extensive rehab.

This news is different than the rumored "World of Color" coming to Animal Kingdom, which might seem logical considering that fireworks won't work with all the animal exhibits.

"Authenticity means though every human would have to wear a gas mask when they enter Pandora"

Not if you're an Avatar. Goodness. That's the lamest counterargument that I've heard.

From Andrew G on October 13, 2013 at 3:51 PM
Everyone talking about this being just like Soarin' needs to look at the ride mechanics. Vekoma's Pandora system is far closer to the Forbidden Journey than Soarin'.
From Kelly Muggleton on October 14, 2013 at 1:37 AM
I have 2 primary thoughts (being a person who said 'yeah right' to this ever actually happening)

2017? Considering how long Fantasyland has taken... really?? I hope to see my scepticism proved wrong.

And, could James Cameron be the thorn in Disney's side rather than the man to get this to happen right and happen fast?

From 76.29.145.95 on October 14, 2013 at 7:23 AM
I can tell you Cameron won't be the person who gets Imagineering to complete Avatar fast. Look how long it took Avatar to come out. He worked on that film for over a decade. And the sequel was supposed to come out in 2015, that was pushed back to 2018. Cameron will be the person to make sure Imagineering gets it done right, no matter how long it takes. And that is a very good thing. Most theme park fans would be okay waiting an extra few years for a land that is one of the best of any theme park, than have a crappy land debut next year. Just like in his films, Cameron will be meticulous, make sure its done right, true to the vision and the technology, and it should be just as immersive, entertaining, and innovative as the film was.
From Anon Mouse on October 14, 2013 at 8:25 AM
@Kelly: 2017 does seem ambitious when it took Disney nearly 4 years from breaking ground in April 2010 to finishing in 2014 (hoping). It officially opened in December 2012, 2.5 years later.

Perhaps they will open Avatar in 2017, with additional attractions to open in phases.

You said "James Cameron be the thorn in Disney's side". A thorn he might be, but not to prevent a ride from opening. In every film project, he might have delayed it, but the outcome is significantly better than expectations. In the Terminator 3D ride, it was the most advanced 3D ride at the time. Disney still haven't surpassed it.

It doesn't seem to be happening fast. 2017 is actually quite leisurely. 2017 is 4 years away. A lot of things can happen in 4 years like another two Avatar sequels and a third one to come.

From O T on October 14, 2013 at 10:11 AM
@James What I heard is that The forbidden journey costed somewhere between 85 and 90 million. The whole phase was to cost 240 M but ended up costing 265 M. Their attended rose 20%. Yes I call that a great investment. How many extra visitors came to MK with New Fantasyland?

I'm kind of shocked how much Florida palm trees look like plants on Pandora. I was afraid it would be another load of rockwork and waterfalls and although I like those a lot its exactly that. Seeing plastic plants and with fiber optic harts look cheesy and predictable.
Seeing Cameron telling how wonderful his relationship is with Disney is really funny. Why does he feel the need to say that? Also seeing Joe Rohde telling us they now we want to go to Pandora is just sad. When I check the forms they want a working Yeti, a fixed tree of life, the removal of the Dino mess and Beastly kingdom but he also knows Avatar fans...

The only conclusion I have is Disney Imaginering lost it. No trackless ride, no exciting new attractions with new ride systems but the most conventional and predictable rides imaginable.

From 166.147.120.176 on October 14, 2013 at 10:13 AM
Everyone is forgetting the slew of new patents that Disney has filed in the last year, including the new high tech boat system, the radically different flight simulator ( some thought was for Planes) and various other things. To assume that these are rehashed rides systems is stupid.
From James Rao on October 14, 2013 at 11:25 AM
@O T, I think you misunderstood. I was not bashing HP, just stating the expansion only added one new ride and was successful, in contrast to your point that Avatar is only adding two new rides. It is the quality of the expansion that matters when it comes to being a successful project.

As for New Fantasyland, I believe MK attendance rose 2% to 17.5 million last year. While modest, we have to remember that the purpose of the NF expansion is to better accommodate the staggering number of people already coming to MK in droves each year, therefore I would consider the expansion a success even if there was no increase in attendance (a drop in attendance would be a bit concerning, though!). Further, since the most anticipated piece of the expansion opens in 2014, the project looks to be a gift that keeps on giving.

And I would agree with the anonymous poster above about the ride technology being used. It is a mistake for us to presume WDI is just rehashing what is already in place when every rumor points to something new. We'll just have to wait and see.

And to your other point about what DAK fans would prefer, I love DAK, but I would much rather have an Avatar expansion than a fixed Yeti. I hope to have both at the end of the day, but if I had to choose, Avatar gets my vote.

From TH Creative on October 14, 2013 at 11:46 AM
Comment to Rao, Rao, Rao Your Boat: What's impressive about the 2% increase at WDWMK is that it happened without NF being open. The expansion was not up and running until December.

(Assuming you believe the TEA/AECOM report).

From Anon Mouse on October 14, 2013 at 1:26 PM
If you don't believe in the TEA/AECOM report, why are you reciting it?
From 76.21.9.238 on October 14, 2013 at 3:04 PM
I feel so bad for Joe Rohde's earlobe.
From TH Creative on October 14, 2013 at 3:41 PM
Because.
From James Rao on October 14, 2013 at 4:16 PM
Great point, TH... New Fantasyland held its Grand Opening on Dec 6, 2012. So, that fact means Magic Kingdom's attendance numbers actually grew during the construction process - which almost never happens! In comparison, IOA's attendance sank to rock bottom while Harry Potter was being built (in 2009 IOA welcomed 4.5 million guests, down from 5.5M in 2007). It will be interesting to get the 2013 numbers but honestly, how much more can MK's attendance grow? It is easy to make big percentage gains when the numbers are low to begin with, but when 17.5M people are already coming to your park, what more can you realistically expect? Honestly, Magic Kingdom is bursting at the seams most of the time already! A good problem to have, I guess.

As for the validity of the TEA, who knows? They are probably no more valid than the Golden Ticket awards, but what other basis for attendance numbers do we have?

Back to Avatar...I love it!!!! ;)

From 76.29.145.95 on October 14, 2013 at 4:56 PM
That promo video just stepped it up another level. A lot of really cool views of the model and more amazing concept art; plus a pretty good look at what the Soarin-type ride will be like: it looks awesome. I really don't think calling it Soarin 2.0 is accurate though. If it does use the Pandora's Box ride system, it will be an entirely new ride, blowing away Soarin'. Think Soarin' meets HPFJ. And how could a land called Pandora not use the Pandora's Box system ;)?
From Kelly Muggleton on October 15, 2013 at 1:59 AM
@Anon Mouse what you say makes perfect sense. I had no idea he was so very involved in T2 3D (an attraction I happen to love and am always impressed by).
Maybe 'thorn in their side' was the wrong turn of phrase, but I didnt really have a better one :-)

I guess there's nothing more we can really do but cross our fingers, and then plan to go and see it 2 years after it actually opens so as to not line up for 7 hours for each attraction :-)
While we're on it - how come Disney havent said we can pre-book fastpasses now...is that not what they want from us? (hahahahaha sorry - had to be cheeky)

I admit its not something that had made me sit up and be amazed, but I am totally open to it after seeing this artwork. With a touch of 'believe it when I see it' still, I like to be cynical to keep it real.

From Anon Mouse on October 15, 2013 at 9:48 AM
@TH. Because... you believe in the figures, or you are taking the opportunity to exploit favorable data and ignoring bad data... just like what Disney does on a regular basis.

@James. "New Fantasyland held its Grand Opening on Dec 6, 2012. So, that fact means Magic Kingdom's attendance numbers actually grew during the construction process - which almost never happens!"

What fact?!!! You may want to ask TH if he believes it as a fact.

"As for the validity of the TEA, who knows?"

Well, if you really think so... then we can safety ignore what your wrote previously.

I would argue that while the attendance numbers is in the ballpark (within expected ranges), the actual numbers are unknown. You're better off evaluating the numbers relative to the parks, or year to year using the same survey. However, since you didn't say this, your review was flawed.

From TH Creative on October 15, 2013 at 10:10 AM
I've always wanted to learn more about TEA/AECOM's methodology and I've been pretty consistent in qualifying my references to the reports (as I did in this thread. In fact, the context of my post is offered as a caveat.

Further, the context in which I posted on this thread places its dependency on Mr. Rao citing the 2% increase in attendance, not me. My response to the Rao-Bot assumes HE has expressed faith in the stats -- as he is the one who originally brought up the increase.

And for the record, while I have expressed concern about the accuracy of the stats based on TEA/AECOM's failure to detail their methodology, in both 2012 and 2013 I said flat out that I might be wrong to express such concerns.

Anon Mouse writes: "... you are taking the opportunity to exploit favorable data and ignoring bad data... just like what Disney does on a regular basis."

I Respond: You use the words "on a regular basis." Can you provide an example of when Disney has exploited favorable data and ignored bad data?

From Anon Mouse on October 15, 2013 at 10:39 AM
Here is a link of an example of where Disney exploited good information and ignored bad information. The older links where I remember it happening no longer exist. I would admit this happened a long time ago and during Michael Eisner's era. It hasn't happened recently, but I am sure when they need a good marketing message, it will occur again.

http://www.disboards.com/archive/index.php/t-304624.html

5 posts down, an article in the Orlando Sentinel.

Key quotes.

"That helped Disney World spokesman Bill Warren look on the bright side. "While we didn't provide these numbers, it's always nice to be recognized as having the top five theme parks in the U.S. by an established publication."

He would not comment directly on the reported declines. The theme parks historically don't release attendance figures, citing competitive reasons, and they don't confirm or deny the calculations by Amusement Business."

From TH Creative on October 15, 2013 at 11:36 AM
So Disney exploiting favorable data and ignored bad data more than a decade ago ... constitutes "a regular basis?"

Um ... okay.

(Chuckle)

From Anon Mouse on October 15, 2013 at 12:10 PM
Disney has done this regular basis at that time and Eisner left Disney on 2005. You denied Disney ever did this.

>>Regular (definition): 2.happening frequently: occurring or doing something frequently enough over a period of time to establish a pattern, though not necessarily a strict one<<

Regular does not necessarily mean recent.

If you knew the facts, you never would have doubted me. You're not the Disney authority that you claim to be.

I will keep monitoring Disney's communications. When this occurs again, I'll let you know. You can stew in your ignorance.

From James Rao on October 15, 2013 at 1:14 PM
UGH.. such a temperamental crowd. Fighting over nothing again.

Anon, the fact that I referred to was: "New Fantasyland held its Grand Opening on Dec 6, 2012." Not sure how that FACT can be refuted unless the Official Disney Blog is wrong.

As for the validity of the TEA, I do not have an opinion one way or the other. I merely typed the question sparked by TH's previous post. Furthermore, if we don't "accept" the TEA what is our other option? There isn't one. So, the TEA report is the BEST option available to us currently, ergo all of my points are valid. XOXOXOXO

BTW, I can't wait for Pandora: The World of Avatar to open in 2017!

From N B on October 15, 2013 at 5:24 PM
I have one question regarding the concept artwork....

How are people going to be able to walk on what appears to be a dirt path with millions of dollars of illuminated plants within reach and no barriers?

Where is Pandora going? The location towards the entry or in the space towards the back of the park?

They make it look wide open like you can walk anywhere you want, but I somehow don't think that will be the case. It will have to be all lookie / no touchie.....

I understand the boat ride could be easily controlled and the Soarin' type ride system (even if they are using the new Pandora's Box) wouldn't allow guests to roam around freely, but I don't think some of the pics are accurate as to what the end result will be.

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