So, Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You thought you were the coolest movie-specific theme park around? Well, think again, because James Cameron is coming, and he’s going to squash you like a tiny, magical bug.
That’s right: Director James Cameron is teaming up with Disney to create a totally Avatar-themed land within the vacation mecha that is Disney World. This is unusual for Disney; Avatar, you’ll recall, was produced by Fox, rather than the Mouse, and generally Disney sticks to its own franchises within its theme parks. But hey, if YOU were given the chance to make a fully-realized recreation of a place as iconic as Pandora, wouldn’t you take it? Yeah, me too.
By all reports, Cameron plans to go all out with it, too. In much the same way that J. K. Rowling was closely involved in the creation of Harry Potter World, so too will Cameron be connected to the creation of Disney’s Pandora. The land will exist within Disney’s Animal Kingdom, by the way, and yes, I’ll admit that at first, this kind of made me go, “huh?” Since it’s a futuristic land, wouldn’t EPCOT or the Magic Kingdom make more sense? Or, since it’s a movie, wouldn’t Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios) make the most sense of all? But then I read the press release, which said that “with its emphasis on living in harmony with nature, Animal Kingdom is a natural fit for the AVATAR stories, which share the same philosophy.” Okay; yeah, that makes sense. I’ll roll with it.
And you know what? It… actually sounds kind of cool. Cameron went on record as saying that their goals are to really push the bounds of technical innovations and to “give park-goers the chance to see, hear, and touch the world of Avatar with an unprecedented sense of reality.” And really, isn’t it the world of Avatar that made the movie so spectacular in the first place? The story was sort of whatever, given that it was essential Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest, but the world, man, the world! A fully-realized culture that no one had ever seen before? THAT is what was so mind-blowing about it, so this seems like a good way to go. With the power of Disney behind it, just think what will be possible: The ability to walk around Pandora, the chance to hang out with the Na’vi, and hey, maybe if we’re lucky, Sam Worthington will stop by.
Anyway, besides simple the joy of being able to exist on Pandora, what sorts of attractions will be available in Avatar Land? According to Hero Complex, Cameron has plans for a flying ride a la the popular “Soarin’ Over California” attraction at Disney’s California Adventure Park in Anaheim: “I definitely want to do a flight attraction of some kind,” Cameron said said. “Flying is a big part of the movie. One of the things people liked the most at test screening was going up into the floating mountains in the flying sequences. We may have banshees, Leonopteryxes, maybe some other flying creatures that don’t make their appearance until the second and third films.” Not only are we going to be able to walk around Pandora—we’re also going to be able to fly over it? AWESOME. And also “Leonopteryxes” is kind of a hard word to type. But that’s neither here nor there, so moving on.
They’re still in the very early planning stages for the park; groundbreaking won’t happen until 2013, and the place itself won’t be open until 2016. But Cameron’s parting words concerned the need for Avatar Land to be “one fabric”: “As long as it’s thematically consistent, as long as it looks and feels and smells the way you imagine it, then we’ve succeeded.” Man, if Cameron can figure out what my imagination thinks Pandora should smell like, we’ll know exactly how far-reaching his vision is.
What do you guys think? Will this be as awesome as it sounds? Or will it crash and burn?