Theme Park of the Day: Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

Disney Adding Avatar to Animal Kingdom: Your Reaction?

Walt Disney World: Are you shocked? Excited? Angry? Put it in this post!

From Andy Milito
Posted September 20, 2011 at 2:43 PM
Honestly, I can say I am very shocked. I expected Universal to get the rights instead of Disney.

I think the land will popular for a while, but won't be too big. A lot of people seem to dislike Avatar, so maybe a ton of people won't experience it. I for one will ride whatever they put there if I ever go to AK, but whatever.

What do you think of this big news?

From James Rao
Posted September 20, 2011 at 2:47 PM
I love it. Can't wait for 2015. Now I have something to live for...

From Thomas Crain
Posted September 20, 2011 at 2:54 PM



An attraction based on one of my most hated films in one of my favorite parks?


From James Rao
Posted September 20, 2011 at 3:54 PM
Nope. Still love it. Not gonna change my mind. The possibilities for imaginative attractions are endless. We're talking about a collaboration between some of the most imaginative people in the world....this move is brilliant. Seriously, I am already planning my 2015 excursion... and the best thing is my oldest son will be driving so I will get to sit in the back and and play my AVATAR II and AVATAR III video games on whatever portable device is popular four years from now.... HOORAH!!!

From Dan Babbitt
Posted September 20, 2011 at 4:09 PM
And James Cameron isnt scared to spend money!

From Albino Pygmy
Posted September 20, 2011 at 4:30 PM
I'm shocked, I really thought that Universal had the rights, and was going to replace T2:3D. However, I didn't see that becoming anything exciting as just another 3D show. Now Disney has the rights, and space, and money, I can only hope they'll spend the time and effort to create an immersive world of Pandora. I'd love to see them come up with some glowing plant life, or floating mountains.

From Zackiel Marsh
Posted September 20, 2011 at 5:48 PM
I hate this. SO SO SO So So So So SO much. I thought without the visuals Avatar was a bad movie and I did not enjoy it at all (except for the pretty pictures). Animal Kingdom was one of those parks that wasn't about the movies and more about the scenery and the animals. I really didn't think Animal Kingdom was a great park (I actually thought it was the worst of the Orlando parks) and it needed a new land. I was hoping for Australia or Beastly Kingdom not Avatar. A horrible movie for a park that needed something better. The only thing I can say is that unless it has a rollercoaster I do not want to go into this land. If it does maybe I can rethink my decision :)

From James Koehl
Posted September 20, 2011 at 5:56 PM
I seem to be the only person who hasn't even seen Avatar. I can't really get excited about it, but I'll give it a chance. I really can't see it being as big an event as WWOHP, because it just doesn't have the audience fan base that Harry Potter has. It seems to be a very strange choice for a new land, but the Disney name will attact people that normally wouldn't be interested. I would not be surprised to see a new Avatar movie released very close to the opening of the new land.

From Tim W
Posted September 20, 2011 at 6:44 PM
I never saw it either, James. Honestly, I thought this was a JOKE at first. It definately seems like a confusing move, because I would be more likely to associate Avatar with Universal. However, I'm looking it as an interesting move to combat WWHOP. It will also help to fill the void of the probably never gonna happen Beastly Kingdom. It really is a smart move and while it may not be the exact thing AK needs, it's better than nothing. I guess I'll take what we can get at WDW, even if it means a land on a franchise I have little interest in...

Part of me is anticipating this turning over a new leaf for Animal Kingdom, while part of me is agonizing over the eternal loss of Beastly Kingdom. I am wondering where this land will be going though. My vote is to demolish Camp Minnie Mickey once and for all.

From David L.
Posted September 20, 2011 at 7:05 PM
Tim and James, you guys need to see the movie. Then you will see why this will make an amazing theme park land. The setting is phenomenal and has perhaps the richest landscaping of any movie/book in the world.

From Tony Duda
Posted September 20, 2011 at 8:45 PM
I always considered Animal Kingdom as a REAL animal theme park with some Disney make-believe mixed in. Avatar will just turn AK into a big joke. The movie was visually amazing for the 3D but the plot was pure left-wing with evil humans out to strip mine the universe and kill all it's pretty peaceful creatures. Way too political but standard Hollywood ideology so I took it as it came. Maybe Disney thinks everyone will forget the movie plot by the time the land is built.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted September 20, 2011 at 9:11 PM
It's beastly Kingdom. Avatar has dragons. Works for me

From Thomas Crain
Posted September 20, 2011 at 9:21 PM
Come! Visit Disney's Animal Kingdom. See the astounding Tree of Life, tribute to Mother Nature in all her glory. Take a Kilamanjaro Safari through the wild in darkest Africa. Dare forbidden mountains and rolling rapids in mysterious Asia. Take a journey back in time to when dinosaurs ruled the Earth in Dino-land USA. Learn how to preserve the Earth at Conservation Station. All around the park, take in the beauty of the world's natural flora and fauna.


Honestly, I am LIVID at this. Completely beside myself in anger.

From T Dunc
Posted September 20, 2011 at 9:43 PM
I am sooooooo happy that James Cameron and Disney are teaming up. In the back of my mind I thought about a collaberation, but I was like nah that's not gonna happen. And ten when I saw this headline I was like whhhhaaaattt? This can't be happening. So I had to look it up to make it official. And when I saw it was true I was excited as could be. I hope that they think of both sides of pandora, the human and the na'avi. I can't wait for this to happen. And to the guys that said they didn't like the idea, I say this is the collaboration of the entire history of movie and theme park. So stuff that in your pipe and smoke it. In other words heck yaaaaaaaa.

From Anthony O'Neal
Posted September 20, 2011 at 9:55 PM
Once this is up and running, would that allow them enough of a reprieve to fix the Yeti?

From duncan henny
Posted September 21, 2011 at 1:56 AM
@ james rao. man your as eager as me, however you may want to hold off till 2016 as thats when it opens ; )

From Lauren Hayhurst
Posted September 21, 2011 at 3:09 AM
It's a good move in my book. Avatar has Disney written all over it. And what's this about only having real animals at AK - helloooo - Dinosaur, the Yeti? Disney will do this really well. Beautiful glowing forests, giant humanoid guides, animals that can sense our emotions... I only hope they can make me a pony-tail hair-piece that I can go round plugging into different animals and different parts of the world...!!!

If you haven't watched the film give it a go. It will blow your mind. The whole concept is a winner.

PS. Livid with anger? Get some perspective.

From TH Creative
Posted September 21, 2011 at 3:18 AM
2010 thru 2012 -- Fantasyland expansion

2012 - Four Seasons Resort

2013 - 2014 - Brazil added top EPCOT (Rumor)

2015 thru 2016 - Avatar

Beyond 2016 - Disney Hollywood Studios "gate-crasher?" (Maybe Marvel?)

2021 - 50th anniversary celebration at Walt Disney World

Great news for Disney fans and the Central Florida economy!

From Mike Gallagher
Posted September 21, 2011 at 7:56 AM
I'm joining the "I Haven't Seen Avatar" Club, if it's okay with the charter members. This attraction holds no appeal for me. If I go to AK in the future (I've never been) I may ride whatever RIDES are involved..but then again, I ride pretty much's what I do.

From Ashleigh Noad
Posted September 21, 2011 at 11:41 AM
@Thomas Crain, your post had me stitches! That's how I feel about it too, I don't see a connection. I thought Avatar was an over-hyped CGI (yes, the CGI and landscapes were amazing) fest with a lack of real heart and story. Lacking two of the aspects which Disney pride its success on.

@Anthony O'Neal - That's what I'm hoping. But even then, we'd have to wait for Avatar to be built before AK consider closing their biggest attraction for any lengthy period of time. So perhaps we're looking at Disco Yeti for at least another 5 years.

If Disney are doing this because they feel the franchise is able to compete with the huge fan base of Harry Potter, they are wrong. Avatar may have sequels in the works, but I really don't think the franchise will pass the test of time. Who knows, maybe I will be proven wrong and end up adoring this section of the park.

I'm in the "WTF" category of people. Don't get this at all. Seeing as Cameron is on board, why don't we make a Titanic ride? It would make about as much sense to me as an Avatar island. I'm totally bemused.

I think it's safe to say - Goodbye Beastly Kingdom. We hardly knew ye.

From Mike Gallagher
Posted September 21, 2011 at 12:11 PM
Titanic ride? Very cool idea, Ashleigh. The latter half of that movie is an incredible piece of film-making..Cameron's best. The first half only has a couple of good parts, and they both belong to Kate Winslet ;)

From James Rao
Posted September 21, 2011 at 12:40 PM
It is also safe to say that Pandora-land can easily be retro-fitted into Beastly Kingdom if all these doom and gloom forecasts prove accurate.

But then everyone said AVATAR was going to be a flop too... now there are 2.8 billion reasons why all those naysayers were dead wrong.

Maybe we should just allow for the possibility that one of the richest companies in the world and one of the richest filmmakers in the world might have a bit more of a clue about what does and does not sell than us jaded theme park snobs.

Lastly, does anyone really believe that Disney is reacting to anything Universal does? Really? I love Universal, but the gap between the two companies is vast, and while I am sure all the praise Harry Potter has earned might give the Disney brass a slight pause, it is hardly worth their full attention. Universal's stunning new achievement aside, Disney will make few (if any) strategic choices based upon anything Universal does or does not do. Five years from now when Avatar opens, Disney will still be raking in the families and making money hand over fist, while Universal (justifiably or not) will continue to be a secondary destination.

From Andrew Mooney
Posted September 21, 2011 at 12:45 PM
Here's a wonderful post from January on TPI:

Everyone comments that any possible Disney connection would be at DHS. How much of a shock that DAK would be the park to hold AVATAR. However, that is the best option to showcase the wonderful world of Pandora. Does anyone remember the gloom surrounding the film as people were depressed and even suicidal that they would never experience Pandora? Cameron obviously heard these thoughts pretty loudly. His world can now be fully realised not just as a standalone ride but as a whole land to explore. I wonder if Disney will be able to sell us our own Na'vi lookalike...

From Giovanny Cruz
Posted September 21, 2011 at 12:54 PM
I was shocked but lovet impressive can't wait.

From Amanda Jenkins
Posted September 21, 2011 at 1:59 PM
One thing I notice is that the majority are not pleased. I don't understand why. From many of the discussions on the discussion board in the past, I have seen that many people had ideas for this type of land/ride BUT, had it in mind for Universal Studios. Is this really the reason for so much hostility? Is it because it was not bought by the right theme park? Personally, I have never seen the movie. But, I do know that Disney will do the best they can with this. If they see that this new land is just a bomb, then I have no doubt that they will change it to a theme that will work.

Now having said that, I too would rather have seen them do something with what they had. I really hoped that they would create a ride/land with Marvel in mind. I know they have to wait with all the Universal rights, but for my sons' sakes, we wanted this.

Does that mean that on our yearly, sometimes twice a year, trips that we won't be excited to see something new even if it is Avatar? Nope. We will be more than willing to see what they have done. Who knows, Disney might even tell a better version of the story than James Cameron.

From Nick Markham
Posted September 21, 2011 at 3:37 PM
^The majority? Actually, if you look at this thread, it is pretty much split half way. And I see no reason why you would hate it.

First of all, to those who haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it. The BEST CGI ever made, a much better story than some of these people claim it to be, and an overall great movie. Well over a billion dollars made and Best Picture nomination doesn't lie.

Second, you all think every single Disney ride has a deep story line? Even the best stories (Tower of Terror, Everest, etc.) aren't full fledged plots. You don't need to have the most amazing storyline for a movie to be made into a theme park franchise. You just need the visual appeal and a big following, which Avatar does indeed have.

And lastly, shouldn't we be happy they are actually making an addition to the lacking Animal Kingdom (great park, but far to few attractions)

From Amanda Jenkins
Posted September 21, 2011 at 4:13 PM
You are right Nick. I was talking about the majority of comments after yesterday's announcement that Robert posted.

From James Rao
Posted September 21, 2011 at 4:50 PM
Correction, Nick, well over 2 Billion dollars made. $2,783,918,982 to be exact, but who is counting?

From Anthony O'Neal
Posted September 21, 2011 at 5:02 PM
Hey, they have nothing else on the horizon that would allow them to fix it. That'll probably be the earliest they get to it, so you're right, probably 5 more years.

From Mike Seary
Posted September 21, 2011 at 5:50 PM
My reaction?


Didn't enjoy the film, and I can't help but feel like it will come off as extremely out-of-place at AK. Plus this is Disney that we are talking about, so expect a river cruise with a bunch of plastic Navi (or however you spell it) on the banks going through repetitive, simplistic animatronic motions...

I got a feeling that Universal didn't try to secure the rights to Avatar for a reason. I can't help but feel like this is going to flop.

From James Rao
Posted September 21, 2011 at 7:25 PM
Yes, Mike, because Disney just flat out sucks at making attractions. Wow, brilliant.

From Tim W
Posted September 21, 2011 at 7:21 PM
I seriously think everyone just needs to be happy that Disney has decided to add more attractions to Animal Kingdom. It is in Disney's best interest to capitalize on this franchise, even if it some may not like it. Everybody can't possibly like everything that comes out. It is a smart move to better Animal Kingdom and finally make it complete.

From Colton McLaughlin
Posted September 21, 2011 at 9:49 PM
Hmm. I'm just glad Animal Kingdom is getting some attention! It will be interesting to see what they do, considering they now have to build a completely new world with dimensions on a level never seen previously.

It will also have to have floating mountains and ten foot tall blue people.

Honestly, besides for the whole effects part, I hated Avatar. It's lack of originality and well-written characters and overall motivation for actions makes me mad. But I hope they do a fantastic job, because I will definitely visit it and be I will be very disappointed if it isn't as well designed as the movie.

I was still kind of hoping for something better for Animal Kingdom though... I don't know... I just wanted something not based on an IP, something completely original. Oh, well. Beggars can't be choosers.

From TH Creative
Posted September 22, 2011 at 1:51 AM
Ashleigh writes: Seeing as Cameron is on board, why don't we make a Titanic ride?

I respond: A theme park attraction based upon an event where more than 1,517 people died? Not exactly a "feel-good" theme park experience, is it?

From Ashleigh Noad
Posted September 22, 2011 at 3:00 AM
@TH, it was a sarcastic comment, I sometimes forget that it doesn't come across well on the internet!

From Kelly Muggleton
Posted September 22, 2011 at 6:17 AM
I've never seen Avatar either - it didnt really interest me if I'm honest.
I have been thinking about this a lot... And I still can't decide if its a good idea or not.
Being a bit sentimental Walt Disney always wanted a live animal park and I think the AK does that very well. Will Avatar take away from that....

But, in my mind the Beastly Kingdom would have been this amazing fantastical adventure with dragons, minotaurs and unicorns and all sorts of things. Will Avatar give us that....

I do agree that I was extremely surprised that Disney teamed up with Cameron on this, always assumed it was a given it would go to Uni.

If the next films flop (probably unlikely) will this still continue - hmmmm

Will I still visit AK to see it anyway...probably :-))

From Mark Fairleigh
Posted September 22, 2011 at 7:12 AM
Hated the movie, but looking forward to seeing what Disney comes up with with the oh so measly budget of 500 million dollars. ;) With that budget, I have a feeling the Imagineers will come up with enough "amazing" to entice even us Avatar-haters.

From Mike Seary
Posted September 22, 2011 at 8:43 AM
@ James:

The only currently standing Disney attraction style that MIGHT work in my opinion is Star Tours... Lets be realistic - the vast majority of Disney rides are simple dark rides with animatronics.

From James Rao
Posted September 22, 2011 at 9:19 AM
@Mike yeah, yeah, yeah....and the vast majority of amusement park rides are carnival spinners and merry-go-rounds.

I couldn't disagree with you more.

From Mike Seary
Posted September 22, 2011 at 9:22 AM
Agree to disagree then I suppose - its cool though - aint mad atcha :-)

From James Rao
Posted September 22, 2011 at 9:52 AM
Yep... no anger allowed on TPI!! =)

From Thomas Crain
Posted September 22, 2011 at 9:56 AM
Well if anger isn't allowed, then I need to be banned because days later I am still in a RAGE.

I will not put on a happy face and be all 'Oh, at least AK is getting some attention.' Forget that.

Hey Disney, know what you can do with that 500 million? How about build that Australia area? Or now that it seems that the Lost Continent's on the way out at the Islands of Adventure, why not reevaluate the Beastly Kingdom concept? Know what the difference is between Dances With Blue Cat People and Dragons/Minotaurs/Unicorns is? MYTHICAL CREATURES ARE TIMELESS.

Gee, why not take a fraction of that money and fix the Yeti? Or restore Dinosaur to it's former glory? Or build a roller-coaster or next-gen ride or something in Africa?

I know I'm coming off as a foamer, but I'm really not. I fully support bringing Marvel stuff into the parks because, unlike Pretty Pictures: the Movie, those characters have been around for over half a century.

To the folks preaching the values of AYAYAYAYAYAIIIII (that's the Na'vi battle cry you hear roughly every 15 minutes or so in that awful AWFUL movie) here's the hard facts. The movie got as much money as it did because SURVEY SAYS... 3D tickets cost more. Obviously the gross will be higher. Taking into account the rise in ticket price since the advent of cinema, the highest grossing motion picture of all time is still 'Gone With the Wind.'

As to it's Oscar Nomination, that means little. You know what won the Best Picture Oscar in 1998? 'Shakespere in Love.' Know what it beat? 'Saving Private Ryan.'

From James Rao
Posted September 22, 2011 at 1:54 PM
Are you saying DAK should have a Saving Private Ryan land? Sounds interesting, but I don't think families would go for it. Maybe they could build it over at Universal?

Incidentally, Avatar is 14th on the list of inflation adjusted movies (domestic only). Here's the link: Box Office Mojo.

You know what is NOT even in the top 50? Harry Potter. Interesting. Not sure what it means, but it is interesting. I guess.

As for the 3D ticket prices, there are a lot of 3D films, but only one of them has grossed $2.8 billion worldwide. Nothing else even comes close.

From Thomas Crain
Posted September 22, 2011 at 1:48 PM
How on Earth did you get the idea I was talking about a Saving Private Ryan land? I was pointing out that the Oscars make mistakes a lot of the time when it comes to nominations and victors. Therefore, saying that Avablah is considered a legit good movie just because it was nominated is meaningless.

Funny you shoukd mention Harry Potter. That's another beast entirely. Let's see... 7 books (all best-sellers), several tie-in books, 8 blockbuster motion pictures, and a veritable merchandise empire. Potter's not going anywhere anytime soon, so it made sense for Universal to build the Wizarding World.

Abadah (Copyright Arnold) has a movie, a video game, and... what else? Oh, two potential sequels. Hardly a worthy investment. Especially since the film itself is a creative failure.

Enjoy your pretty pictures, though.

From Tim W
Posted September 22, 2011 at 2:03 PM
This debate is getting more heated than the Pirates vs. Hippos Debate.

From James Rao
Posted September 22, 2011 at 2:39 PM
Such venom. Are you sure James Cameron didn't physically assault you at some point in your life? And yes, Avatar is paper thin, as opposed to Star Wars and Harry Potter, the pinnacles of literature and film making artistry! Regardless, I like shiny objects, so bring on the pretty pictures. Maybe the new Pandora area will be as lightly traveled as you desire so I won't have to wait in any long lines.

From Dan S
Posted September 22, 2011 at 3:00 PM
I am against this idea...... If Disney is trying to bounce back to Harry Potter, this isn't going to work. With Harry Potter ( Or any land for example) there are many DIFFERENT things, for example, Harry Potter has the castle, all the different stores and shows, the replicas of the different restaurants........ what will Pandora have ? A forest? Maybe a conquer the dragon type thing ride ? There isn`t much to work with for Avatar. It would work as a dark ride possibly, but a whole land ?

From James Rao
Posted September 22, 2011 at 3:48 PM
I am pretty sure no one is saying that Avatar was a great movie. It was ground breaking, immersive, and yes, very, very pretty. Much like Star Wars (also long on pretty, short on originality). But even the best narrative attractions are based upon paper thin stories so grounded in our psyche that we already know what every character is going to do before they do it. Ride stories just don't have the time to be complex. Cliches are essential when time is of the essence.

Personally I am not a huge Avatar fan. I enjoyed the movie, but it is not in my top ten, for sure. However, my like or dislike of the film has nothing to do with whether or not the new land at DAK will be a good expansion. I have little doubt that WDI has the ability and the money to bring those pretty pictures to life.

And even if the doom being forecast comes to fruition (unlikely), Pandora can easily be retrofitted into Beastly Kingdom.

I guess I just don't see the huge downside that has some folks foaming at the mouth.

Lastly, no one has complained about the broken Yeti more than me, and I KNOW this expansion will pave the way for the rebirth of our favorite abominable snowman. For that reason alone, I LOVE this expansion announcement.

From Orrin Carstarphen
Posted September 22, 2011 at 3:44 PM
The movie was ok plot wise, however it was visually stunning. I think we will see a "Dinosaur" type ride system as the main attraction. For all the people that didn't see or likethe movie, that doesn't mean you can't appreciate whatever Disney comes up with in reference to the new land. I do not really care about Potter but I enjoy going to the WWoHP because of the attention to detail that was put into it.

From chris cona
Posted September 22, 2011 at 6:58 PM
I was completely shocked!!! Disney does not remind me anything of avatar but knowing disney they will wow us, they will excite us and they defently will have our jaws dropping!

From Eric Malone
Posted September 23, 2011 at 9:46 AM
Watching Thomas rage is absolutely hilarious. Don't ban this guy, I want to see more.

From Tony Duda
Posted September 23, 2011 at 4:22 PM
In addition to what I wrote earlier, I just want to say that adding a very imaginative themed land to Animal Kingdom would be a welcome addition to this theme park since it is sorely lacking in things to make it a full day visiting experience. I just want everyone to realize that this is Disney's acknowledgment that AK is a failure as an ANIMAL theme park.

If you want a real animal theme park experience that has great animal encounters, animal educational programs and animal themed rides and attractions, you just need to travel a little ways to Busch Gardens Tampa, a true animal theme park.

From Nick Markham
Posted September 23, 2011 at 4:47 PM
^ Whoa, old up a bit. Animal Kingdom TROMPS Busch Gardens Florida in terms of an Animal experience. AK is the most realistic safari you can ever take aside from going to the real thing. BGT is great, but the fact they have world-class coasters actually can take away from the theming of a safari when you can see a big heap of awesome steel coaster gleaming on the horizon.

Animal Kingdom is also one of the most intricately themed Disney parks, all it really lacks is enough attractions to cover a day full of experiences, and a Pandora land may fulfill that need.

From Will Chilcote
Posted September 23, 2011 at 7:17 PM
excited about Avatar at AK but, I wish someone would do Wizard of Oz or Lord of the Rings.

From Amanda Harper
Posted September 23, 2011 at 7:32 PM
I found Avatar to be a visually stunning film but that's it, that's all that sticks out about film. Like others have said why not do beastly kingdom or Australia section as they are actually areas that the park is lacking in the pure concept of the park. A park that represents the animals of the world that are from the past,the present and the mythical/legendary mindset. Disney has so many options on what to do with AK that it seems like they are trying to find an easy concept to jump off of instead of being truly original.
That being said I wouldn't have anything to say about avatar being in DHS or apart of a future park that is based off IoA's different island theme, i.e. things that have nothing to do with each other being next to each other.

From Tim W
Posted September 23, 2011 at 7:52 PM
So I ended up watching Avatar tonight. Everyone is right about it being visually stunning. The film is beautiful. I can definately see a whole land based off this alien planet. I'm still not convinced that Animal Kingdom is the absolute best place for it, but I think it will fit in and I will grow accustomed to the Pandora land over time.

As a side note, anyone read the blueskydisney blog? The site host has posted an interesting theory that Beastly Kingdom may still be built along with Pandora. Then AK would kick some A$$! Full day park, you bectha!

From Andrew Mooney
Posted September 24, 2011 at 12:51 AM
Yeah I read that blog on BlueSkyDisney. My only worry would be the size of land. I envisage Pandora taking up the south western point of DAK ie Camp Minnie Mickey. So would this mean that Pandora would only be a mini land to the BK concept? There are so many mysteries right now, but I hope Disney will create an amazing Pandora experience.

From James Koehl
Posted September 24, 2011 at 3:38 AM
Tim, I watched it Friday night for the first time also, and I agree with you. Visually stunning, but I suspect it lost a lot on the small screen. Very good movie, and I can see lots of things that can be "mined" from it for a theme park experience, but somehow it doesn't seem right for AK, more for DHS or USO/IOA. We take what we're given, I guess.

From Jorge Arnoldson
Posted September 24, 2011 at 2:20 PM
Bad move for Disney. Only Universal can pull this kind of stuff off. Also the park is called "Disney's ANIMAL Kingdom"!

From Nick Markham
Posted September 25, 2011 at 8:55 AM
^Two things:

1) Disney actually has a better track record with theming I hate to tell you. Universal has gotten better in recent years, but Disney's been doing this for the last 55 years.

2) Disney's Animal Kingdom was originally meant to have a mytholigical animal area of the park, hence the dragon in the original logo:

Also, they already have Expedition Everest, and I really hope nobody here believes the Yeti is real.

So for Disney to get their hands on Pandora is absolutly perfect. They have achieved success at their target audience, under the age of 12, and now I think they want to have that same level of success for everyone over the age of 12 (not that they already have many fans like us over 12, but they could make that audience even larger)

From Daniel Etcheberry
Posted September 25, 2011 at 1:46 PM
What I find interesting is that Disney will spend a lot of money during a bad economy when other corporations are afraid to invest. They really trust us (Disney fans).

From Tim W
Posted September 25, 2011 at 4:05 PM
I guess they are thinking the economy will pick up by the opening 2016 date. And I'm sure there are people that schedule trips to Disney around the opening of new attractions.

From Nick Markham
Posted September 25, 2011 at 7:06 PM
^Yeah, if you think about it, when they announce something to be coming in five years, a family who might want to go to WDW might save up the money so that when 2016 comes, they will be able to splurge and spend their money visiting Disney.

From Tim W
Posted September 25, 2011 at 7:10 PM
Not that it was planned at all or anything, but we encountered our first ever opening Disney attraction in our past trip in May. It was a zoo at DHS to say the least. It also happened to be a star wars weekend when we went. Now I'm not sure if this is the same insanity for every opening, but I can imagine the opening of Pandora filled with a ton of blue faced people ready to embrace the new land.

From James Koehl
Posted September 25, 2011 at 7:50 PM
But are there really as many Avatar/Pandora fans as there are Star Wars fans? Is there a fan base for Avatar large enough to generate the excitement that the Harry Potter fans generated for WWOHP? I finally watched Avatar, and enjoyed it, but I suspect it lost something on the small screen. I can't quite see as many fans dressing up as Na'vi as do the die-hard Harry Potter fans.

From Dan Babbitt
Posted September 25, 2011 at 10:09 PM
This discussion has been a great read. Many many different views on this subject but still have to say this will be idea.

@Mark: I beleive that sign with the dragon in it is still there I think next to the WDW Guest bus drop-off.

Also thoughout the park still there are clues or messages or what have you of dragons and mythical creatures in the lands of DAK!

From Andy Stevens
Posted September 26, 2011 at 3:47 AM
To go for something on this scale after one movie is a strange decision. How far were we into the Harry Potter series before Universal committed?
It's going to have to be good,....... Very Good to succeed.
On the upside, if it bombs they could easily convert to Smurf land.

From Andrew Mooney
Posted September 26, 2011 at 3:56 AM
One other reason Disney is and should be spending in the parks, is because of the cheap labour costs. Many companies would jump at the chance for construction work in this climate so will reduce costs to do it. It's what our government (UK) have done the last few years - improve infrastructure - when labour is cheap.

Disney knows that the climate will improve so adding new, amazing attractions at that point will certainly improve their situation. Since 9/11 the parks and resorts have been in a dwindling recession. Pandora will be the first step Disney takes to improve their fortunes.

From TH Creative
Posted September 27, 2011 at 12:23 AM
Any asessment of the addition of 'Avatar' should take into account the arrival of the Disney NextGen interactive technology -- slate to drop at the opening of the Fantasyland expansion.

From Michelle Pilling
Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:25 AM
Hi there, i think disney are coping Universal, Harry potter world has been a blast, Disney as feeling the pinch. I dont think it will make a differance, making another land, that is not so popular.

From Andy Milito
Posted September 27, 2011 at 1:33 PM
^I wouldn't say they are COPYING Universal, but I do think that it encouraged a little competition

From James Rao
Posted September 27, 2011 at 6:25 PM
I keep reading that the Avatar partnership is something Disney has done to combat Universal's success with Harry Potter. I just don't see it. Even in the best of times, attendance at Islands of Adventure is still 4 million short of Animal Kingdom, and 12 million short of Magic Kingdom. The highly touted Harry Potter expansion might make Disney stop for a second and consider their "competition", but it is no more significant to Disney than when one of us stops to consider an ant. The gap between the companies is just too wide.

Disney does what is best for Disney... it is Universal's job to try and knock out the champ. And so far, Universal hasn't made it out of the first few rounds.

I do appreciate that they keep trying, though, as it makes for some brilliant attractions!

From TH Creative
Posted September 28, 2011 at 3:46 AM
Rao is obviously correct. Any assertion that the Disney company is reacting to the Potter attractions seems a bit naive. Indeed as the 2010 TEA attendance report indicates if any Central Florida park needs a response to Potter it is Sea World.

From James Rao
Posted September 28, 2011 at 8:51 AM
"Rao is obviously correct" - that had to hurt a little, TH. But I will do you one better.

TH, in his infinite wisdom, makes the perfect point: SeaWorld was far more impacted by the emergence of Harry Potter than any other Florida park. Their 12% attendance freefall leaves them clinging to the #9 spot in North America, a far cry from being the standard add-on to a family's usual WDW trip. IOA is now the standard add-on. In other words, IOA is to WDW what Robin is to Batman - a sidekick. Fun, likeable, filled with potential, but still playing second fiddle to the main event.

From TH Creative
Posted September 28, 2011 at 4:31 PM
A J. Rao ... I'll give you credit when credit is due ... Even a blind squirrel in guy-liner finds a nut now and then


And by the way ... 75

From James Rao
Posted September 28, 2011 at 6:58 PM
Being a blind squirrel does make it a challenge to apply the guy-liner, that's for sure!


From TH Creative
Posted September 29, 2011 at 10:02 AM
I bet a blind squirrel could design and build the 'Avatar' attractions and the marketing strategy and ticket packages would still ensure that DAK would out pace IOA in attendance


From Tim Hillman
Posted September 29, 2011 at 11:29 AM
Sad to say, THC, but you are right. Disney has so much inertia and is so uniquely positioned that they could build a park full of spinners and it would outdraw IOA.

That Geico commercial about the people who didn't have the money to go to a theme park so they built their own park at home is too close to the truth.

Disney - "TriceraTop Spin"

Patrons - "Cheap Carnival Spinner"

Disney - "TriceraTop Spin"

Can I put 78 down?

From James Rao
Posted September 29, 2011 at 12:26 PM
Are those last two comments praise for the genius of Disney's business model or an indictment of indiscriminate fans and lackluster marketing at IOA?


From TH Creative
Posted September 30, 2011 at 11:49 AM
I think it is praise for Disney's ability to build a better mousetrap! And 'Avatar' represents fresh cheese.

Only hope they don't drop the bar on the wrong mouse.


From TH Creative
Posted September 30, 2011 at 5:40 PM
Blue penguins have been seen in the vicinity of Sea World.


From Bob Liebe
Posted October 1, 2011 at 3:14 AM
I was defiantly surprised when I heard the news about Avatar. Avatar just doesn't seem very "Disneyesque". I have never seen Avatar and really don't plan on it anytime soon, but hopefully it can give DAK a boost. I am a Disney fan, but I'm a bigger Universal fan. So I'm actually a little relieved that it's not going to replace T23D since Universal is limited on space (unlike Disney) and now that space can be saved for something else down the line.

Maybe it's because I haven't seen the movie, but I don't quite get how Avatar fits into Animal Kingdom. I get Avatar has fictitious animals and is nature related, but to me that's like throwing Thomas the Train into Cars Land because they both have wheels and faces! :-P

All in all I'm not a huge fan of the move and it's not going to get me to rush to DAK, but I will admit that it's a step in the right direction and it will be good for theme park fans!

From Tom Cunningham
Posted October 1, 2011 at 4:36 AM
I must say I love the notion that Avatar is not a response to the WWOHP of course it is !!!, what Disney fans often forget is that Disney allways responds if you are challenging its market share. To give the biggest example MGM studios was built to respond to Universal studios opening in Orlando in the first place ands thats a whole park!! Now the realities are that Universal is on a major role at the moment figures across the board are massively up. Disney are being hit by this. In short alot of people visiting Orlando are now going to Universal first and spending their money on Butterbeer and Wands rather then Dole-whips and Ears.

Looking at the WWOHP and its massive success and taking into account rumors of an expansion around 2016 Disney had to act. None of Disneys recent franchises had anywhere near the impact of Harry Potter so they needed something really really big to take it on. So being Disney they went for the biggest movie aimed at a young audience they could find ie Avatar. The film made massive money yet has somehow failed to capture the imagination and in poll's to decide what would replace Jimmey Neutron at Universal the idea of Avatar got a very very luke warm reception a fairly good indicator as to the reception it would go on to recieve at Disney. If anyone remebers the announcement about WWOHP coming to Universal bar the odd Disney fan(atic) it was 100% positive.

So we are left with a mixed greeting to Avatar lets forget the movie for a minute and focus on the Imagineers they really really need to make this massive, it actually needs to blow the WWOHP out of the water because lets face it thats what it will be compared to. Now the Imagineers have not had an origional thought in the last decade all they have done is re-use old tech ie Carsland = Test Track, Little Mermaid = Nemo, The dwarf mine roller coaster = thunder mountain etc etc... Now given current lack of Imagineer form what do I think we are likely to see (and I hope Im wrong) a walk through environment full of animatronics (think jungle cruise without the boat) a main ride which can easily be brought to other parks most likely based on Soarin (the only Disney tech they have not managed to re-use) with 4D effects and a dark ride which will be a copy or a re-fit of Dinosaur. I hope Im wrong I hope the Imagineers hit the heights of the Tower of Terror again but given the serious lack of Imagination seen in recent rides such as Toy Story Mania and Space Ranger Spin( Toy Story a Franchise which deserved so so so much more) Im Not keeping my hopes up Please Please Disney No Giant Blue Mickey's or Blue Ears . The Fantasy land Expansion has completley failed to capture public imagination and I fear Avatar will do the same Disney are willing to spend €500 million on Avater because WWOHP proved the formula. In my mind though Disney need to be leaders not followers they need to lead the industry and they dont do that anymore I fear in 2016 that Avatar Land may be facing The expanion of the WWOHP and I think It might get well beaten very badly. Their are three things that make a land/world a succsess for a park.

1)Massive visitor numbers (The power to bring people to the park)
2) Massive merchandise sales
3) massive food and bevarage sales

1) Will Avatar get big numbers yes because Disney will, but will it get people to get on planes from the other side of the world to come and see it as WWOHP has done ?
2)Merchandise this is the big fall down for Avatar honestly can you think of one bit of Avatar merchandise you would like to buy ?
3) Food and drink. Anyone ??? no Butterbeer here

I hope Im wrong and Disney are not left wondering what they just did with $500 million dollars but...

Ps Sorry bout the book but I feel kinda strong about this

From James Rao
Posted October 1, 2011 at 6:25 AM
Tom, the THEA numbers for 2010 do not support your hypothesis. Disney market share was barely impacted by WWOHP. In fact, the ending of their "get in free on your birthday" promotion had more of an effect than the boy wizard. Furthermore, Animal Kingdom posted its highest attendance numbers ever during Universal's "comeback" year.

I will grant you that in terms of headlines, Universal is doing a great job. And one thing Disney does not like is being "considered" second fiddle in any media circles. So perhaps the announcements of New Fantasyland and Avatar are Disney's attempt to reestablish their media dominance? Unlikely, but there is a chance.

However, now that Disney has regained top billing in all the headlines, the question remains: what will Universal do for an encore? Despicable Me? While a fine movie, I hardly think it will bring legions of fans to USF the way WWOHP did. So, we wait for their next big thing...

Let's just hope that Universal won't rest on their laurels for the next five years like they have done in the past.... because we already know the sleeping giant is wide awake and boldly making moves to widen the gap even more.

From Tom Cunningham
Posted October 1, 2011 at 7:29 AM
Hi James actually the THEA numbers for 2010 do back me up. Disney World had an amazing third quarter up 54% on the previous two years with a 2% overall increase in profits for Disney World however this has been put down including by mr Iger to the sucess of WWOHP in drawing people to Orlando,The figure that has Disney worried is the profit per customer figure where they are well down on previous years and with the end of year figures for 2011 yet to be revealed by both parks the true damage (if any) done to Disney for a full twelve months have yet to be revealed.

Dispicable me is replacing a small ride in Jimmy Neutron and was never intended to draw the attention of Harry Potter and also Avatar has not really pulled the attention back to Disney as only themepark nuts/lovers such as ourselves are really talking about it just look at this tread for proof not even 100 comments most other blogs have similarly small numbers I mean this was the same level of response that the Jimmy neutron whats going to replace it nonsence got. Disney need to do something special with Avatar but for all the reasons I listed previously I just dont see it.

From Tom Cunningham
Posted October 1, 2011 at 7:29 AM
Hi James actually the THEA numbers for 2010 do back me up. Disney World had an amazing third quarter up 54% on the previous two years with a 2% overall increase in profits for Disney World however this has been put down including by mr Iger to the sucess of WWOHP in drawing people to Orlando,The figure that has Disney worried is the profit per customer figure where they are well down on previous years and with the end of year figures for 2011 yet to be revealed by both parks the true damage (if any) done to Disney for a full twelve months have yet to be revealed.

Dispicable me is replacing a small ride in Jimmy Neutron and was never intended to draw the attention of Harry Potter and also Avatar has not really pulled the attention back to Disney as only themepark nuts/lovers such as ourselves are really talking about it just look at this tread for proof not even 100 comments most other blogs have similarly small numbers I mean this was the same level of response that the Jimmy neutron whats going to replace it nonsence got. Disney need to do something special with Avatar but for all the reasons I listed previously I just dont see it.

From James Rao
Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:38 AM
Tom, your twisting of my words is quite impressive. Of course WWOHP has been a boon for Universal and Orlando in general. When did I say otherwise? My only statement was that Disney has not been adversely impacted by Universal's success and therefore is not reacting to it with their Avatar announcement.

As for Despicable Me, it is the only thing USF has upcoming. Has there been another announcement of which I am unaware? If there has, please let me know and I will change my stance, but for now, Despicable Me is all we can talk about when it comes to USF.

As for the popularity of the Avatar announcement...please. On TPI alone there have been no less than a half dozen threads (including this one) devoted to the news. Fan sites like Inside the Magic crashed due to hits for news. Facebook and Twitter users couldn't make announcements fast enough. Even lesser known blogs that get a handful of comments a week like WDW Today exploded with feedback. Check out MiceAge sometime and see thread after thread of people talking about the news. Not to mention that the initial story was found on the NY Times wedsite and was discussed ad nauseam on national news and entertainment programs around the world.

You are simply fooling yourself if you think Disney is not getting all the attention in the world right now. No one (and I mean no one except for a few diehard fanboys on this and other theme park-centric sites) is talking about the WWOHP these days. It was good news, but now it is old news.

Hey, I love Universal, they do a great job, and they offer a nice complement to the Disney magic. I do not debate that they have some of the finest attractions in the world and are second only to Disney when it comes to offering a tremendous and immersive package of themed entertainment. But, Universal is a distant second to Disney, and to reiterate the only real point I am trying to make, their recent successes (WWOHP) or failures (HRRR) in no way influence the spending decisions of the bean counters at WDW.

From Nick Markham
Posted October 1, 2011 at 4:03 PM
I also would like to point out 1 thing Tom had correct. This has not reached 100 responses. It is at a unbelievable low number of responses with a mere 88 RESPONSES!

From James Rao
Posted October 1, 2011 at 4:18 PM
I get that you are being facetious, Nick, but I should also remind folks, this is about the fifth thread started to discuss this particular topic on this site alone...

From TH Creative
Posted October 1, 2011 at 5:40 PM
The reason Mr. Cunningham's assertion that the announcement of 'Avatar' is a response to the success of the Harry Potter attraction falls short is that it relies wholly upon the premise that Walt Disney World had never intended to invest substantial money into expanding its existing parks before "the boy who lived" showed up at IOA.

Based upon Walt Disney World's FORTY YEAR HISTORY of adding and expanding the attractions and entertainment at its Florida property, such an assumption should be dismissed as "armchair Imagineering."

(P.S. I have just trademarked the phrase "armchair Imagineering.")


From James Rao
Posted October 1, 2011 at 7:27 PM
A.I. ==> I like it, TH. You are quickly becoming my hero!

From Bob Liebe
Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:11 PM
I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but between James Rao and TH Creative they have made up 27 out of the 91... now 92 comments on this thread. Way to pad the stats guys!!! lol

Also to any blue people out there, if you have been affected by the bad economy and are out of a job, now is the time to move to Orlando. Maybe become a cast member at Avatar Land or a backup performer with Blue Man group. All I'm saying is it's a good time to be BLUE!!!

From James Rao
Posted October 2, 2011 at 5:02 AM
That's why we get paid the big bucks, Bob! =)


From Andy Milito
Posted October 2, 2011 at 7:11 AM
This was fun to read!

From TH Creative
Posted October 2, 2011 at 7:18 AM
Wait ... Rao's getting paid?????


From James Rao
Posted October 2, 2011 at 10:44 AM
TH, you didn't think I would agree with your for free, did you?!?


From TH Creative
Posted October 2, 2011 at 3:21 PM
Hey Niles! You and I need to talk about a few things ... like RIGHT NOW!


From Tim Hillman
Posted October 2, 2011 at 3:43 PM
Yuck! I don't know what's worse, the mutual admiration society consisting of TH Creative and James Rao or TH Creative's coining the term "armchair Imagineer." You two are killing me.

I also think you two are missing something in Tom Cunningham's posts. Universal isn't hurting Disney now, nor were the expansions at the Florida and California parks a direct response to anything that Universal is doing now. But what about the future?

Disney spent decades building the goodwill (magic if you rather) that put them at the top of the theme park industry. Most of their recent activities have been to maintain that momentum rather than increasing it. They're playing it safe and maximizing their cashflows which is smart corporate behavior.

Universal is building for the future. For well over a decade they have given us the best new rides and new theme parks in the world. Universal is outperforming Disney except in the area of attendance which is largely due to smart marketing by Disney by exploiting the tremendous goodwill that has been built up over the years. Universal is now building up much of that same goodwill, and the payoff will be down the road.

So, I think Tom Cunningham's arguments have some merit. Disney may not be upgrading their parks in response to the tremendous success of WWOHP, but I'd be willing to bet that the scope and the complexity of their upgrades was influenced by WWOHP.

There's also that little thing called ego. The Imagineers have taken heat for producing mediocre rides and half day parks when Universal Creative gets to build state-of-the-art attractions and top-notch parks. Why, even you THC have taken a few shots at them in a different thread. Who's to say that the Imagineers and Disney management don't want to show off what they can do? (Other than build Yetis that don't work.)

So, I'm going to make the assertion that even though Disney has been building parks and attractions for well over 40 years, they don't operate in a vacuum. I think that Universal is starting to change the theme park picture in Orlando on a variety of fronts, and that Disney is starting to be more than a little responsive to the situation.

Tim "armchair Imagineer" Hillman

Ninety - Eight!

From James Rao
Posted October 2, 2011 at 5:22 PM
Disney Adding Avatar to Animal Kingdom: Your Reaction?


From James Rao
Posted October 2, 2011 at 5:42 PM
TH and Rao win. Again.


This discussion has been archived, and is not accepting additional responses.

Buy Tickets

Plan a Trip

Get News, Discounts