Disney to build ‘Avatar’ land in Animal Kingdom theme park
September 21, 2011, 1:21 am
The Walt Disney Co. plans to build a multi-attraction “land” based on the movie “Avatar” in Disney’s Animal Kingdom as the first step in a broader licensing deal that will lead to similar attractions in Disney parks worldwide. “Avatar is just a set of worlds that is really rich and offers so much to explore, we thought that offering a land-based approach gives us a much better opportunity to explore,” Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs said in an interview following the announcement.
Disney said it would begin construction of Animal Kingdom’s Avatar land in 2013 and expects to open it to guests about five years from now. A company executive indicated that the price tag would be approximately $500 million.
The deal announced Tuesday gives Disney exclusive theme-park rights to use elements from the 2009 blockbuster and from sequels due out in 2014 and 2015. “Avatar,” which was directed by James Cameron and grossed nearly $2.8 billion in worldwide box-office receipts, is widely considered one of the most valuable intellectual properties not already tied up by a theme park.
Disney said it plans to build multiple-attraction lands based on the film’s fictional world of “Pandora,” including themed shops and restaurants and entertainment. It’s the same approach Universal Orlando has taken with its wildly popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which has fueled huge attendance and guest-spending gains since opening in Universal’s Islands of Adventuretheme park last year. Cameron said he initially thought Disney would want to build only an individual ride based on his film.
“I quickly realized that their vision for this thing is far beyond what I imagined,” he told reporters. “It was kind of thrilling that they wanted to do a land and really bring the world of Pandora to life.” More Avatar lands would follow down the road. Disney currently has five theme-park resorts worldwide and is building a sixth in Shanghai, China.