First details leak about Disney World's Avatar 3D movie ride

October 25, 2012, 1:28 PM · Over the past few days, I've been hearing more and more buzz from industry insiders about Disney's Avatar theme park project. And last night, people started sharing some of the same news on Twitter, so it looks like Disney's made some decisions about the project.


Here's what shaping up: It appears that Disney's looking at something that might be described as a cross between Soarin' and the Carousel of Progress. The core Avatar attraction would comprise multiple 3D projection theaters, with visitors in some ride vehicle that would give the impression of flight (like Soarin's "hang gliders" do). What I'm not certain of, given all I've heard, is whether visitors will ride from one theater to the other, as on Carousel of Progress, or if the additional theaters are there just to provide extra ride capacity, as on Soarin' or Universal's The Simpsons Ride.

The Carousel of Progress option excites me more, but it raises the question of why Disney would need multiple theaters if the attraction's based on a 3D movie. After all, a screen's a screen. If you're spending the money to move people into different theaters, one would presume it would be because you had different, essential physical elements in each theater, such as props or animatronics.

Of course, ride vehicles moving from 3D screen to 3D screen is Universal Creative's big thing. (Think Spider-Man, Harry Potter, and Transformers.) So I'd be very interested to see Disney's take on that concept.

Lemme throw in one more twist. Last week, Al Lutz sparked a rumor that Disneyland would build an Iron Man ride in the Innoventions building in Tomorowland (bottom of the linked article). That's the old Carousel of Progress building, so people are putting two and two together and wondering if Disneyland's Iron Man might be a smaller-scale version of the Avatar ride at Walt Disney World. (The Innoventions building accommodates two stories, while Avatar is said to be a taller, three-level theater, a la Soarin'.)

Mouse Unlimited seems to have heard the same rumors I have, but they throw in an additional element: a "C-Ticket boat ride (or at least what appears to be a boat ride)" that will be part of the Avatar development, too.

Clearly, progress is happening. The buzz is loud enough that I'm convinced construction on the building for these attractions will begin soon. But let's not forget that attractions can change substantially in development. In our interview last year, Universal Creative's Mark Woodbury revealed that Universal was making substantial changes to its design of Islands of Adventure's Harry Potter ride until pretty late in the development process. So much can change. Still, Avatar's moving forward.

Replies (22)

October 25, 2012 at 1:42 PM · Cool!
October 25, 2012 at 1:45 PM · So it could be a Soarin' meets Spiderman meets COP ride? Let's make this happen!
October 25, 2012 at 1:50 PM · Basing any attraction on Avatar is a recipe for disaster.

Disney seems hell-bent on making sure I never again visit Animal Kingdom.

October 25, 2012 at 1:52 PM · I think that the Iron Man ride will not replace Innoventions in Disney Land but will be put in the Carousel of progress ride, baking cookies.

Logically the Avatar ride will be a 3D movie based ride bacause the movie itself is 3D and Disney will need to go beond what they have done with the e-ticket Cars ride to represent the world of Pandora. There are 2 ways of traveling trough the air in the movie, by gunship or by flying dragon. This beeing Disney it won't be the gunship so we have the even more movable dragen beast. It's also more fitting to Animal Kingdom. How they pull it of is beond me. Boarding a ride vehicle looking like a dragon would be awefull. The motion sim would place you trough the scenes and 3D movie screens and you will have something that is done excelent by Universal... Still looking forward if this is getting build at all.

October 25, 2012 at 2:22 PM · Very good news, Robert. I am excited to hear Pandora/Avatar is proceeding. And with the rumor that they are combining two of my favorite WDW rides with the imagination of James Cameron and the unparalleled 3D of Avatar.... I'm stoked!

The cherry on top is the speculation about an Iron Man attraction at Disneyland.... the hits just keep on coming!

It is good to be a theme park fan these days!

October 25, 2012 at 2:53 PM · Terrible news. I though the project had finally died when it was made pretty clear that Orlando would be getting a Cars Land. Not excited about this in the slightest.
October 25, 2012 at 3:10 PM · I'm stoked on the Iron Man ride but could go either way on Avatar. Its about time Disney added an immersive 3D hybrid ride of their own.

Although they've had one under construction for quite some time at Euro Disney. (Ratatouille)

October 25, 2012 at 4:21 PM · Couldnt be happier now all we need is for disney to do it right
October 25, 2012 at 4:59 PM · Sounds good. Maybe it will be like Forbidden Journey but with larger screens. Will they play 'I'm blue da da di da' around Avatar Land?
October 25, 2012 at 7:37 PM · That's good news!! Finally some movement on Avatar. Al thought at this point and knowing how much time Disney takes to do things, I'll be interested in seeing if it comes before James Cameron brings us Avatar 3. 2017-18? Maybe?

But on the positive side, that's really good news I mean "many" of us know that AK needs the help... Badly!!

The Iron Man thing, now, that would be "GREAT" if they would ever build such a thing!! Finally a post about Disney for the people not interested in attractions for (girls only) or 8-15 years old segment mentally...

Really good news!! But I do have to say, I'm really interested in this, I hope they do something a la Harry Potter-FJ, or Spiderman, Transformers, because I know people love Soarin, I don't...


October 25, 2012 at 7:41 PM · Daniel, totally!! They'll should build a dancing animatronic too, it could dance on the walkway!! (Nice reference by the way.)


October 25, 2012 at 7:42 PM · From the looks of the plans, it looks to be like a glorified Soarin' but in 3D. If DL really does reuse this technology for Iron Man, I'll be very disappointed. I was hoping along the lines of a ride that would involve more physical sets.
October 25, 2012 at 9:23 PM · I find the timing here interesting.

Universal waits until after Halloween Horror Nights for its (presumed) Transformers announcement on Nov. 1. Which just so happens to step on the media blitz for Disney's Fantasyland Expansion. So just after Universal announces its announcement, Avatar leaks begin to appear.

It really makes it look like Disney and Universal are trying to one-up each other. Which is great for theme park fans. When Disney and Universal compete, we get more and better theme park attractions, and the Orlando theme park market grows. Win for everyone.

October 26, 2012 at 1:14 AM · I think it's funny that the possible Avatar blueprints showed up the same day that possible details about the Hogwarts Express and Gringotts were revealed.

To quote Yoda: "Begun, the theme park wars have"

October 26, 2012 at 1:37 AM · This is better than carsland coming to Orlando. Because avatar will be unique to disneyworld and that'll leave carsland unique to DCA. That's way better than having a cars copy in Orlando, even if avatar is a strange franchise to pick. As carsland proves, a great land/attraction can be successfull regardless of the franchise it's based on if it's done right. Come on disney, hit another home run like you did in DCA!

My biggest question is how will they disguise such a massive show building?

Also I cant believe people are complaining about iron man. We're getting a great transformer fighting e ticket instead of Innoventions. Innoventions! Ya that building that hasnt really been used for years except to show off honda and microsoft products! Give me the e ticket please!

October 26, 2012 at 1:43 AM · I was a true unbeliever, totally convinced this would never happen.
Now, I am 65/35 (swayed towards, well I guess it is happening).
I don't feel excited about this at all, and thats coming from someone who cried because she couldn't go to WDW the year that Animal Kingdom opened.
I hope beyond hope that Disney Imagineers are allowed to go nuts and we get something amazing and groundbreaking.

I guess I will have to watch Avatar at some stage then....

October 26, 2012 at 5:26 AM · Great news can't wait
October 26, 2012 at 1:54 PM · I've seen the 'leaked' plans that everyone is talking about, and it's clear that this is not anything like Carousel of Progress, let alone Universal's Spiderman or Transformers. There will not be that level of 'travelling' and movement. This will be more like Soaring crossed with the Simpsons ride. It will have improved screen projection technology and 3D undoubtedly, but this is hardly 'exciting'. I'm much more intrigued by the desriptions of the two new E-Ticket rides that will be a part of Phase 2 of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
October 26, 2012 at 4:59 PM · I wish Avatar land was anything other than Avatar. But since for whatever reason Disney has decided that it is better to spend big money to pay James Cameron. So Disney can build a land based on a series that in my opinion has no chance to match its previous success or even get close. IT still seems like any of their original ideas that WDI themselves developed (we have all heard several rumored ideas)would be a much more cost effective, and a better overall fit to AK which desperately does need something. Having said that I know they will do something that will improve the park, and I will be excited about seeing. However knowing Disney's previous history with Soarin. I expect to go to AK walk through an immersive world based on Pandora. Walk up to the new "E" ticket ride and board my gondola, to then be lifted up in the air and watch that same exact, cut-scene filled, Soarin over California ride film, that is in the other two soarin rides. For my ride to then be concluded as we soar over Disneyland fireworks. And I then get off the ride exit the building and walk back out to a well themed Pandora. Seriously wasn't that one of the great things about the technology, that Disney could easily adapt, update and change the ride film. I wonder how the Jurassic Park helicopter ride or whatever Universal had planned would have been like.
October 26, 2012 at 6:08 PM · Check out Vekoma's site and look for Pandora Box. This looks like what this ride will be about.
October 27, 2012 at 2:45 AM · I think Universal must be delighted they have managed to smoke Disney out of the long grass with the Transformers announcement. This kinda leaves Disney with very little to announce(leak) to try and steal Harry Potter phase 2's thunder. Leaking Ironman and Avatar in order to try to grab some attention from Universal who have succesfully stolen the spotlight off of FantasyLand shows a small bit of panic in the Disney camp and is a mistake Disney management of old would not have made. More importantly it shows that Disney are now responding to Universal !!!
October 27, 2012 at 6:13 AM · Flavio, I think you could be onto something! That Pandora's Box ride system looks fantastic. Combine it with WDI, Cameron, and the kind of budget only Disney can manage, and theme park fans will be rejoicing!

Good catch.

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