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AVATAR Coming To Disney Parks

posted on September 20th, 2011 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

We have great news to share today. At a press conference happening right now at Walt Disney Imagineering, Bob Iger and Tom Staggs just announced a long-term creative partnership with James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and Fox Filmed Entertainment to bring the fantasy world of AVATAR to life at Disney Parks. And it’ll all begin at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort.

AVATAR Coming To Disney Parks

James and his producing partner Jon Landau and their team at Lightstorm Entertainment will serve as creative consultants on the project and will work side-by-side with our Walt Disney Imagineers as we dream up experiences that will take our guests deep into worlds of AVATAR like never before. There are also two sequels to the record setting first film in the works, which will offer more fascinating stories, characters and locations to explore in the AVATAR universe. Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort is planned as the site of the first AVATAR-themed land with construction expected to begin by 2013.

We believe Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a great fit for this project because it was created to give guests the opportunity to experience the worlds of animals and nature – real and mythical – in new ways. Disney’s Animal Kingdom also celebrates adventure, living in harmony with nature and environmental stewardship – themes that are deeply rooted in the story of AVATAR.

The design phase on the Disney’s Animal Kingdom project has just begun so stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for more details.

Got questions about the announcement? If so, Tom Staggs will be answering them in a special Q&A blog post later today. Just submit your name, city where you’re from and your question to and then check the Disney Parks Blog later to see some of the answers.

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Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

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Michael from FL on September 20th, 2011 at 1:34 pm

This is a huge coup for Disney Parks. Are we to assume that Avatar-land inside DAK will take the place of the long-rumored Beastly Kingdom?


Allen on September 20th, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Guess I need to see the movie so I can get more excited. Great news!


Paul from OH on September 20th, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Huge! Absolutely amazing.


Norm on September 20th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

The Animal Kingdom definitely needs the attractions, but… Avatar?


Cheryl on September 20th, 2011 at 1:41 pm

OMG this is thrilling!! I am a huge Avatar fan! If this is done right it could be simply mind blowing. I can just imagine walking through the world of Pandora!!!!!


Joseph on September 20th, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Perfect! I am intrigued to see how it will work out in real built form, but amazing idea. Congrats on the huge deal and I can’t wait to see the plans!


melissa on September 20th, 2011 at 1:43 pm

that sounds absolutely amazing!!! i cannot wait to see this story come to life. i love the movie and think it will be a great fit for Animal Kingdom. this gives me another reason to come back to Disney in a few years :>


Kristen on September 20th, 2011 at 1:47 pm

um, i don’t know about that. Not sure I see James Cameron & disney & avatar working out. I’m sure it will be…interesting.

However, the “answer” to the wizarding world is not going to take harry down in my opinion.


Adam on September 20th, 2011 at 1:48 pm

CANNOT WAIT to visit Animal Kingdom when this is complete. I hope the 2nd and 3rd films live up to the first so that the park can truly thrive off this.


Ashley on September 20th, 2011 at 1:48 pm

I wish I could say I was excited for this development but I just can’t. I never got into the hype over this movie but I can see why Disney would be interested in it (Pocahontas anyone?).
AK is my favorite park and while I’d love to see Disney do something to expand it I wish this wasn’t the direction they were going to go in. I know I’ll be in the minority as Avatar was a huge success but this saddens me. I wish Disney had moved forward with their plans for the mythical creature portion of the park in the first place then perhaps this wouldn’t seem so out of place.


Emmanuel on September 20th, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Sounds exciting! The link to ask Tom a question is an email correct?


Thomas Smith on September 20th, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Hi Emmanuel, yes…Tom is taking email questions.


Devin from FL on September 20th, 2011 at 1:52 pm


Talk about left field Thomas! Can’t wait till the details start coming in about what’s going to be included…


gideon on September 20th, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Wow this is very exciting news! Cant wait to see how it turns out


Marco from PR on September 20th, 2011 at 1:55 pm



Thomas from VA on September 20th, 2011 at 1:55 pm

This will be very interesting.


Gary on September 20th, 2011 at 1:55 pm

can’t wait to see what’s in store


Bart on September 20th, 2011 at 1:56 pm

This is GREAT news!!! Couldn’t be more excited, especially since it’s coming to Animal Kingdom! Totally caught me by surprise as well! Keep us posted!


Douglas from MS on September 20th, 2011 at 1:56 pm

This is so very surprising! I am blue with excitement to hear the details. Great announcement and congratulations for keeping this under wraps until the announcement!


Keith on September 20th, 2011 at 1:56 pm

This is a pity that’s for sure. I’m sure it will be a fun land for kids and will have some fantastic themed rides but it’s not very “Disney” is it?

Something more original would have been much more welcoming and I’m sure this will have Disney die-hards pretty annoyed as it will add another eye sore to a great park (can anyone say Dinoland?).

Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come where more and more non Disney rides, lands and pavilions are created. I fear for the announcement of a Marvel land soon.


Anthony on September 20th, 2011 at 1:56 pm

whoa, does this mean rides, attractions, etc??


Lu on September 20th, 2011 at 1:57 pm



Jaime from TX on September 20th, 2011 at 2:00 pm



BRAD on September 20th, 2011 at 2:01 pm



Dan on September 20th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I do appreciate the conservation angle that Avatar had…but at the Animal Kingdom? now…if this is a new version of of the “beastly” kingdom concept I’m all for it…provided that more non-avatar stuff is put in, dragons, loch ness adventure, etcetc


Kevin from IL on September 20th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Interesting response to Wizarding World. But fitting theme for DAK and good trigger to move to full-day park.


Jonathan on September 20th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

I think this is a great concept. My wife and I love the Animal Kingdom, however I have always felt there is something missing, and definitely not enough rides! It is also (I believe) the least popular park. Hopefully Disney will add some sort of 3-D Avatar ride similar to the Harry Potter and Spiderman rides to bring life back to the Animal Kingdom.


Edward on September 20th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

OMG! OMG! Haha! So excited. Why is it that WDI is always using my ideas. lol


Deborah from PA on September 20th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Please don’t destroy AK with this! It certainly won’t be an enhancement. If Disney really feels the need to do this, then create a whole new park somewhere else — preferably another continent. I do not like this idea at all.


Amanda from CA on September 20th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I am very disappointed, dismayed, and frankly upset about the announcement of adding Avatar to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I don’t want to see Marvel or any other outside characters added to the Disney Parks. Disney has so many great stories and characters in their own library, why add this Avatar nonsense? Very, very disappointed… :(


Jason from Hampshire on September 20th, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I think this is a terrible decision, and my heart sank reading it. I think it will totally destroy the charm of Animal Kingdom. I can understand a newer more modern version of the Beastly Kingdom plans coming into play, but Avatar? In Animal Kingdom? No way. Its too non-Disney. With this, and the parks being overtaken by Marvel merchandise, i think Disney is losing its unique-ness, and i can never imagine Avatar fitting with the theme of Animal Kingdom. I am very disappointed to hear that this will be happening, and i have to say, recent decisions arent exactly encouraging me to return to WDW, which is a disaster, as i love it so much!


Jose on September 20th, 2011 at 2:12 pm

AVATAR is indeed one of my all-time favorite movies and with this announcement, it has not only made my day but the next decade. I am super excited about this project and can’t wait to hear more about it.



Shannon on September 20th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I hope Disney reads Facebook’s comments to this post before going through with this. Overwhelming disappointment there.


Michael from NY on September 20th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

What a disappointing way to add to AK. This is the best response to Harry Potter you can come up with? You have a huge stable full of characters and “worlds” to draw inspiration from. I don’t get it.


Lisa on September 20th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Wow. Not excited. Avatar has nothing to do with Disney except for taking the basic plot of Pocahontas. Avatar was only good in box office, and I’m sure the sequels are going to be bad too. Huge disappointment in Disney.


Ron on September 20th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Don’t get me wrong I liked “Avatar”, but I’d rather have a land for Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli or Pixar before Cameron’s “Avatar”-land. I’d rather hang out with Kiki, Princess Mononoke, Totoro, Howl, Ponyo, and the other Miyazaki characters. There are so many Pixar characters in all the parks that it might be a challenge to bring them together from the other locations.


Brian on September 20th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

I am shocked at the negative reactions to this announcement. I think it’s brilliant, and something Animal Kingdom will really benefit from. Wow! Still reeling from the news. =)


Adriana from NY on September 20th, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Eh, not sure how I feel about this. Avatar was way to hyped, never got into it. Would love to see a million other things in Animal Kingdom before this. Disney could do so much better using it’s own store of movies, new and old. Or what about putting in the rumored Beastly Kingdom – now That would excite me~


Joey on September 20th, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I’d rather Animal Kingdom do something with the Beastly Kingdom concept of mythological animals rather then going right to space animals from a really overrated non-Disney movie.


Randy on September 20th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Since my favorite part about Avatar is the beautiful scenery and landscaping, I’m excited to see the Imagineers bring Pandora to life. Sure, it doesn’t seem very “Disney”, but let’s give it a chance here. They haven’t announced any rides or shows or details at all.

Your Highway in the Sky


Bill on September 20th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Avatar really isn’t for kids… is it? I think this is an odd choice.


Laura from Puerto Rico on September 20th, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Wow, this is unexpected to say the least. First off, I don’t understand why people here are saying that this is a response to WWoHP, really? Why does Disney have to respond to everything Universal does and vice-versa? Let each park go on with their different creative ideas without comparing each and every one of them. Second, though I’m not sure how this will work out, I’m glad Disney is deciding to expand Animal Kingdom. It is the dullest park and even though there are some thrill rides those are getting old fast. Any addition to the park is welcome in my mind, and just imagining the world of Avatar is exciting. However, I agree with some here in that Animal Kingdom should have continued to explore the mythical creature land it had originally plan, but I won’t lose faith that it may be in the plans for the future.


Christopher on September 20th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Oh come on!! What about Kingdom Hearts!?


Elvin from NY on September 20th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I’m totally Meh on this. Sounds like the AK version of American Idol, a non-Disney franchise past it’s popularity. If they wanted this type of partnership they would have been better off going after the Potter franchise when they had a chance.


Dustin from IN on September 20th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I’d rather see them blow the money on Beastley Kingdom. While Dinosaur is great, the land it’s in kinda stinks. It’s like dinosaur plus a giant amount of carnival rides. Not so cool after a while.

Beastly kingdom is still relevant whether or not Universal has the Harry Potter thing going on. The point of Animal Kingdom is to show creatures from both past, present, and mythical. That is STILL a great idea. Disney could very well pull off something that no other place on the earth could by showing folks “real” mythical animals.

I would just at least hope the Avatar land isn’t too extensive. If the films flop, Disney will have paid a lot of money for something they couldn’t use.

Basically, come on Disney, priorities straight. People love you. You’re still the best at what you do. Don’t go crazy licensing other people’s stuff. You still have your own kind of magic…use it!


Brandon on September 20th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Wasn’t a big fan of the movie, but Disney does everything AMAZINGLY so I’m sure it’ll be great. I’m sure the environment will be really immersive and beautiful. Maybe this is the updated version of the rumored Beastly Kingdom?

Is there a chance that with James Cameron on board, there will be a push for new technology that’ll make the experience like nothing before?

Really excited…hopefully it can compete with Harry Potter


Lauren on September 20th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

I can’t see the mission of that park interlining with general Hollywood. Avatar has no history (like a Star Wars) and is a large investment for a film series that we don’t even know will be successful and or, more importantly, fitting with the Disney audience. Give it a go at Hollywood Studios, keep Animal Kingdom away from pop culture.


Heather on September 20th, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Avatar isn’t a Disney movie . . . doesn’t Disney have a large enough body of work to use something that is already part of the company? I frankly haven’t seen Avatar and don’t know if it will fit in well or not, I’d rather see the Beastly Kingdom get built . . . without a movie tie in. Does this also mean we’ll be seeing a sequel to the movie in the near future. Doesn’t make sense to build a land themed to a movie that is several years old and without the huge following that something like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings brings.


Laura from Puerto Rico on September 20th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I also think that everyone seems to be forgetting the environmental theme of the film.


JEANY on September 20th, 2011 at 2:29 pm



Amber from MD on September 20th, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I just dont get it, but i have never seen the movie either :)

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