Now that Disney CEO Bob Iger has dropped the news that an Avatar-themed experience is coming to the Disneyland Resort, what will it be? And where would it go?
It's hard to envision where a Walt Disney World-style World of Pandora land would fit within the current footprints of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, without major demolition of existing attractions. Perhaps a Pandora land could go elsewhere on property, but that would require the City of Anaheim to green-light the DisneylandForward proposal before that project could begin. I doubt that Disney would do something that Anaheim critics might interpret as disrespect by announcing such a project before the DisneylandForward process is complete.
But let's also recognize that Iger used the word "experience" when describing Disneyland's Avatar project. He did not say "land" or "attraction." Words matter to storytellers, so I interpret Iger's word choice as suggesting that Disneyland's Avatar project might lie closer to the Avatar: Explore Pandora experience at Shanghai Disneyland than Pandora - The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Still, the Shanghai project was developed by Disney Location-Based Experiences with Lightstorm Entertainment. And Iger said that he had been talking with Walt Disney Imagineering about the Disneyland project, so that suggests that whatever Disneyland is getting will not be another installation of what Disney offered in Shanghai. It might be similar in size and scope, but it will be different.
There's nothing keeping Disneyland from installing elements from Florida's Pandora rather than the whole land, either. If we're synching with an Avatar in Flight of Passage, for example, there's no thematic reason why we can't do that from Disneyland's Tomorrowland rather than on Pandora itself. But where would it go? Putting in on the site of the Star Wars Launch Bay building would be a tight fit, and demo'ing that structure would be expensive. But it's the least utilized large space in the parks right now.
That leaves some sort of experience within the Launch Bay building, which seems the best option for a company that is cutting 7,000 jobs and trying to save $5.5 billion. So that's my bet, at this point.
What are you hoping to see?
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