Get ready for 'Avatar' attractions at Disney theme parks
Soon, you can re-visit the world of Pandora, but not in the way you think.
"Avatar," James Cameron's 2009 epic which made so much money they had to invent new numbers, is headed to Disney's new Animal Kingdom park in Orlando.
The studio is planning a massive attraction inspired by the film's elaborate alien ecosystem, in which Sam Worthington's character (through his avatar) encountered all sorts of exotic creatures and plant life.
The studio has acquired the rights from 20th Century Fox and Lightstorm Entertainment, which could mean even more thrill rides, interactive adventures, and, of course, a shipload of new merchandise. We might even get to see Mickey Mouse riding one of those big pterodactyl-bird things.
Like "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" before it, "Avatar" is a rare non-Disney property that will be turned into an attraction at Disney's parks. Cameron and producer Jon Landau will act as creative consultants on the project. The acquisition could be partially inspired by the enormous success of the Universal-WB deal that resulted in the "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" at Universal Studios Orlando.
However, Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom is planned to begin construction in 2013, so the Avatar attraction is still a long way off.
"I'm chomping at the bit to start work with Disney's legendary Imagineers to bring our 'Avatar' universe to life," Cameron said in a release. "Our goal is to go beyond current boundaries of technical innovation and experiential storytelling, and give park goers the chance to see, hear, and touch the world of 'Avatar' with an unprecedented sense of reality."
"Avatar," with its eco-friendly message and it visual emphasis on the foliage and alien animal life on Pandora, seems a good fit for the Animal Kingdom, although the park has a long way to go before being as recognizable a name as Epcot or Disney's Hollywood Studios Orlando.
Fox's Jim Gianopulos added, "It lends itself very well, not only to subsequent films, but to be imagined and realized in the parks. Yes, it's creative content. But what it really is is an immersive world. And that's what Disney intends to create."
Meanwhile, a planned sequel is still a few years off, so it's possible that the next film and Disney's "Avatar" attraction will open around the same time.
The original film starred Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez, and Sigourney Weaver and is the highest-grossing film of all-time, earning over $2 billion at the box office.