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AVATAR Coming To Disney Parks

Thomas Smith

by , 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.


  • This is a huge disappointment. I enjoyed the movie but I truly don’t think Avatar fits into the theme of the Animal Kingdom. The movie is not Disney at all. The reason I love Disney theme parks is that they are so well imagineered.. There is a story behind everything and everything is there for a reason. I cannot imagine for the life of me how Avatar could fit into the story of the Animal Kingdom. It’s not even about animals, and it’s a movie. Wouldn’t this concept fit better in Hollywood Studios?

  • I saw the film 5 times …. Including 3D IMAX.  Love Love LOVE the idea of Disney creating this environment and it is a natural fit for Animal Kingdom. The Na’vi are able to link mentally with some animals and connect to each other through a bio-botanial neural network that connects all life ….. *squeal* !!!!  The god energy is represented in a Tree of Souls called Eywa.  The Na’vi culture is so tribal and gorgeous. 

    The story is beautiful, emotional and rooted in spiritual themes that explores how we are all connected to the “energies” that make life. 

    The Conservation message of AVATAR is purposeful and intense. 

    The animals in AVATAR are so unique and interesting and so well imagined. 

    AVATAR impressed me with how different the world was and at the same time it felt so familiar and real.

    I am a fan of Disney and a fan of AVATAR. I look forward to see what happens. I want to walk in an illuminated fantasy forest as “life” around me expresses itself in colorful phosphorus glows. I want to feel the spiritual vibe of the Home trees. See the illuminated seeds from the Tree of Souls trees floating down. How about flying on a Toruk  (a powerful pterodactyl-like predator) throughout the AVATAR world.

    How about an AVATAR evening parade at Animal Kingdom where the entire forest illuminates in bio-floresent colors and the Tree Of Life is transformed Into the Tree Of Souls 🙂 and maybe Eywa sends some seeds floating down on us 🙂

    I can envision the Na’vi glowing on the parade route with some of the Pandoran animals (who have joined up with the Na’vi in the bio-botanial neural network to which Pandoran organisms are connected) to the tribal beats and hypnotic melodies and chants.

    Knowing and loving the Nav’vi also means opening ourselves to accept and respect other cultures. To think outside ourselves and show some love is another good AVATAR message.

    *squeal* !!!!!

    bring it on baby … I’m psyched.  I am so happy to hear this news. 

  • This doesn’t belong in Animal Kingdom. It should be in the Studios if anwhere. I hope Disney isn’t spending a lot of money on this because honestly I’d already forgot this movie existed before this news. It will be like having a ride for Flight of the Navigator or The Black Hole in 10 years.

  • It is absolutely amazing news. Not just a ride but the whole land, cannot wait to see this. I can imagine the whole area lights up like floor at Epcot as you walk by, exotic restaurant, some trill ride and much more. Knowing Disney attention to details I cannot even imagine how great this project will be. Thank you Disney.
    I have a question, when some plans will be released to general public, cannot wait to see some pictures.

  • When can we look forward to WDI finally building The Beastly Kingdomme?

  • I am very disappointed to hear this! I saw Avatar once and did not love it or hate it. The story line has been redone so many times and I would not consider this a classic. This movie does not fit “disney”. I would never let my younger child watch this movie and the reason we return to disney world year after year is because he can relate to the characters, movies and the attractions. I think disney is trying to go in a new direction and I am afraid they are going to lose their niche.

  • I don’t understand all the negative comments made. Avatar isn’t Disney. Neither are Star Wars and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Both are very popular attractions. Think about Star Wars weekends. Personally I am excited about this concept. I love the movie and expected an Avatar land to be a big draw.

  • UMM WOW…. think avatar is a great concept however not a disney original which is sad. and placing this in animal kingdom seems like a bad fit. animal kingdom is such a beautiful park i really hope this.. expansion doesnt take away from the disney magic already in place……but time will tell..

  • I think…I would LOVE to see an obviously Pandora-inspired land in DAK as a type of “Beastly Kingdom” but not Pandora itself. As long as Disney brings out Avatar’s greatest strength, it’s scenery, and plays down it’s arguably weak story it just might work.

    This is movie that contains some harsh imagery and emotion…and it’s not done off screen like it is in Star Wars. Not to mention that in spite of all it’s beauty, Pandora is also shown to be a far more vicious world than our own. Na’vi rule. Humans drool (and are mostly a bad lot with a few exceptions). If the fauna doesn’t kill you, the flora will…assuming your breathing device is still functional. A lot of aspects of this world will have to be swept aside to make it palatable for all ages.

    I also agree that we are talking about a franchise that we have no idea how well it will stand the test of time. It’s certainly the major hotness now (whether you like the story or not, it IS visually stunning) but so was “The Matrix” back in its day and we all know what happened to that franchise. Is it timeless or is it a significant milestone in movie making technology? We don’t know yet. Two sequels later we could be looking back on this as something gone horribly wrong and it’ll cost a TON a money to do over what could potentially be a sore spot that was installed too hastily.

  • not sure what i think of this yet…i agree with a lot of ppl hollywood studios would be a better place for a hollywood movie, hollywood studios is also the smallest park so another land wouldn’t hurt, animal kingdom is the largest park and i don’t see any need for an expansion or change like this. I’m sure it’ll turn out great anyways…i mean we are talking about Disney here….still trying to imagine this…….:$

  • Nooooooooooo!

  • By the way, I agree 100% with Chris’ comment (comment 109).

  • In regards to some people’s question as to why this wasn’t announced at the D23 Expo; perhaps this deal was still in the planning stages and wasn’t ready to be announced publicly.

  • I really, REALLY like the movie Avatar but it just doesn’t seem to be a good “fit” with AK. Seems to me it would be a much better fit with Hollywood Studios and the original basis of that entire park which was….. movies! While I’m keeping an open mind for the moment, I have to say I’m not overwelmed….

  • Very disappointing news. I did not find Avatar to be family friendly at all. The subject matter was not for everyone. I can think of many things that could be done to improve AK, but I would rather nothing be done then this.

  • I am shocked at the reaction to this…….ANYONE RENOUNCING DISNEY WHO HAS NOT SEEN AVATAR IS WRONG… can you comment on something you know nothing about. This Movie is emotional, beautiful and extremely relevant. I will CONTINUE TO BE RELEVAN FOR YEARS as there are two addional movies to be released. They will not bomb as a matter of fact they are the closest thing to a sure thing besides move Star Wars films. The beauty of a fully realized Pandora will win over the naysayers, but this will be EXPENSIVE and has to be done the right way to be worth it. Dont do this on the cheap Disney or it wont be worth it.

  • Seems like many people feel pretty strongly for or against it. I, myself, think it’s a good idea. It’s a solid movie with a great deal of ‘stuff’ to foster rides, attractions, shops, etc., more than enough for a land of its own (to say nothing of the sequels).

    For those who think it’s not Disney, and so shouldn’t be a part of Disney– well there are similar examples that have worked in the past: Jim Henson, World Showcase (i.e. not its own distinct ‘brand’), and now Marvel. Also, it won’t take over the ENTIRE AK, it’s just a part of it. Just like if you don’t fancy Old West things, you need not go to Frontierland, so too if you don’t fancy Avatar, just skip the land! Disney knows its customer base well enough that it won’t compromise its other, existing characters, lands, etc.– Just have a little faith, trust, and you know what!

    This gives Disney an answer to Harry Potter, more muscle to AK, and best of all– yet one more of so very many reasons to visit WDW!! ºoº

  • There are several reasons why I would not want to see Avatar in a Disney Park. However, one thing really bothering me is that the film contains a lot of foul language. Are you really going to build entire ‘lands’ around a film that a lot of people wouldn’t let their elementary aged children watch? It’s one thing to have a single attraction based on a film that contains foul language (Indiana Jones), but when you have an entire ‘land,’ it’s a real problem. I love Animal Kingdom. I don’t want to have the hassle of avoiding a section of the park because it’s based on a film that I wouldn’t let my child watch until she was a teen. What happened to films that entire families could enjoy together? Disney used to equate to family. Walt put everything on the line to have a place that families could enjoy together. His films were family friendly. Avatar is not and does not belong in the parks on such a large scale. You wouldn’t hear me complain if you gave it a ride at Hollywood Studios. I’m just floored at the way this is going down.

  • First impression is this not good! Avatar has not stood the test of time like Star Wars or Muppets. Feels like DAK is changing focus whichbis too bad. How about some more countries in Worldd Showcase or improved Journey into Imagination.

  • At first I thought, “Avatar… in AK not DHS?” But then after thinking about the meaning of the movie, this is a great fit for the park! For those who keep talking about Beastly Kingdom, the mythical land of mythical creatures… this is it. They’re just a different mythical creatures than those of the past. If anyone can do this the right way, it’s Disney. And on another note, this even got the interest of my husband, who is NOT a Disney fan. In fact, he asked when it would be finished so we could go see it. That has never happened before! : )

  • Pretty excited to see how the imagineers will put their magical touch on this project!!

    have a great day,
    Steamboat Eddie

  • A lot of people seem to be defensive regarding the presence of “non-Disney” elements in the parks. Do they feel the same way about Muppets 3D? Star Tours? Or those pieces of the parks that are not tied specifically to Disney- “Expedition Everest”, for example. If Disney can harness the creative forces that brought us “Soarin'”, “Mission:Space” and “Mickey’s Philharmagic”, this could be an amazing experience. I say give it a chance.

  • That ‘Beastly Kingdom’ project has been dead in the water for a really long time. Bring on Pandora and all of it’s fantastic-looking creatures and exotic locals. This IS an original idea because it’s never been done before. It’s also a great addition to this park & I can’t wait to see how it will look at night.

  • In a follow-up to my first comment, I have to admit that while I have never seen Avatar, and I admit that I think the film received too much hype, I am still very intrigued by this. Again, this is very similar to the Star Wars and Indiana Jones presence in the Disney parks.

    One of the things that Imagineering does well is immersive environments, and there have been many movies (both Disney and non-Disney) that have had incredible environments that people have wished that they could see in real life.

    So, this has a lot of great potential.

  • David from UT said it perfect!

    Not very excited to read this…Seems like an odd choice.

  • Holy Cow!!!! Talk about your unexpected and much anticipated most excellent news! I love the environment of Pandora. I can’t wait to experience it for myself. I am impressed that you guys pulled this one off. I can’t wait to meet Jake Sully!!!!!

  • I think it is a good fit. Animal Kingdom is about nature and conservation and animals. I’m sure whatever the attraction or attractions will be I’m sure that will be the underlying theme.

    It will be mainly based on the upcoming 2 sequels and not the previous movie. And DAK is good with having attractions already made before the movie even opens, “A Bugs Life” (also not Disney at the time) and “Dinosaur”

  • Sounds cool… I’m just wondering how it’ll be convincing, theme-wise, without mile-high trees.

  • My hats off to Disney once again for going above and beyond what the mind can think of..Am so excited to see the World of Pandora!! Am wondering if this new attraction will be a featured ride or a walk thru??

  • Disney shouldn’t have to rely on other franchises when they have such genius ideas themselves, that’s what Disney is all about. What will happen in a few years? I just feel that Disney should stick to what they are good at, creating something timeless and loved by all.

  • I hope this goes the way of Night Kingdom. Animal Kingdom is a great park that truly needs a little more, but please just build Australia and an original Beastly Kingdom instead.

  • Isn’t Narnia a good idea for something like this !? … they have a lot of mythical animals too ! …

    still I kinda like the idea of Avatar….

  • You can do MUCH better than this, Disney. Let Universal have this dud. I don’t mind the fact that this is an outside franchise as much as I mind that it’s an outside franchise that has weak characters and shoddy storytelling. I wish this time and money was going toward something I could look forward to.

  • I have mixed emotions on this. On one hand Disney Imagineering typically does great work, and I’m sure that whatever attractions they make will be fun; but on the other hand if Disney was to negotiate on the license to a new property for their parks I’d prefer something a little more timeless rather than cashing in on the newest fad.

    Especially since their investing in a whole new land, not just a single attraction. In ten years when no-one cares about Avatar anymore they’ll have to spend money to retrofit everything into newer properties.

  • While I never got on board with all the hype associated with Avatar, I’m sure this’ll be a FANTASTIC addition to Animal Kingdom (if anyone can do it right, the Imagineers can!).
    And to all those complaining about bringing in outside characters: What about Indiana Jones, Star Tours, etc.? Where would the Great Movie Ride be without the Wizard of Oz scenes? Like everything else, I think we should wait to experience the finished product before judging it, but ANY addition to ANY of the parks is a plus in my opinion.


  • I love this news, I’m so excited. The movies environmentalist theme is going to fit great in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and with a little Disney Imagineering magic, Pandora lush extravagant world is going to look amazing. This is going to be awesome!!!

  • This news saddens me. With so many iconic Disney stories surrounding animals, it seems an unnecessary partnership.

  • I have mixed feelings about this news. On one hand, I’m sure it will be great and I’d very much like to see it when it’s through. I don’t have a problem, per say, about non-Disney properties existing in Disney parks (Star Wars and Indiana Jones are good examples of how to make it work), but I do agree with those who point out that Disney already has a staple of properties it could choose from. And, with the ownership of Marvel (Marvel are now Disney properties), it seems strange that Disney wouldn’t announce any developments here.

    As for this new Avatar land being in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I can see how it could blend into the environment here and tell an interesting story. I hope that it will not detract from the charm the park already exudes. First and foremost, for me, is that this park is about the animals. I love Expedition Everest, but, I’d gladly tear that down if it would have been at the expense of the animals. I trust Disney will continue forward with this, especially since Avatar’s message is that of environment and conservancy.

  • So unhappy about this. Avatar was pretty but it just doesn’t seem to fit my love for Animal Kingdom. Also, it makes me nervous to have Disney dependent on any other studio or creative minds when they’re so brilliant on their own. Disney has a lot of it’s own creative branding to use, why not use that? What if Avatar doesn’t stay popular? What if the other movies don’t do well? This makes me nervous and sad.

  • Walt Disney World hits a Grand Slam Home Run with this acquisition!!!!! Salutes to those who were responsible!

    To those who say this isnt Disney… neither was Star Wars or Indiana Jones at one time….but now we think of them as a member of the “extended” Disney family! 🙂

  • Jim Cameron’s known for big budgets. No, make that BIG budgets. Let’s hope this doesn’t take away from the TLC that is needed elsewhere in DAK. (Does the word “Yeti” spring to mind?)

  • The internet is a blessing and a curse. I personally hope that Disney executives aren’t reacting to a lot of these comments. Only on the internet would someone skim a brief announcement and create an entire opinion and cry “foul” before even hearing about the actual plans. I am so excited that this beautiful park is finally getting some much needed vision and attention. And with both Disney and James Cameron working together – this will no doubt be incredible.

  • Oh my! Can’t wait.

  • Philip,

    Star Wars and Indiana Jones are perfect for Hollywood Studios b/c its a MOVIE BASED PARK and those were great movies… AVATAR is a movie and I agree with LORRI, post 69, it belongs there. How would you feel if they said we r putting Star Tours in AK!!! I dunno I just don’t like it as a Disney-atic, but I hope I have a change of heart when it’s done!!!

  • I think it will be a very interesting and potentially fun attraction to the WDW Resort.

  • the movie was outstanding and the way disney comes up with wonderful ideas for an attractions this one will be great too.can’t wait to see it.

  • I was surprised when I heard this news. AVATAR doesn’t seem to fit into Disney as a land of its own. Maybe an attraction, but overall AVATAR seems like it would fit better in another park, like Universal. I know STAR WARS isn’t Disney, but it appeals to a much wider audience. If WDW wants to expand Animal Kingdom, why not dive into another wonderful world of Disney and bring in something from THE LION KING, POCOHANTAS, JUNGLE BOOK, UP, TARZAN, etc?

  • Does this mean we’ll have to wear 3D glasses the whole time we’re in the land?

  • Not a fan of Avatar, personally, so this announcement does nothing for me. I’m sure in true Disney fashion, it will look beautiful, but it’s not anything I’ll go out of my way to see on any of my visits. We already skip AK on most of our trips, and honestly this won’t lure us there any quicker.

  • Since when isn’t Animal Kingdom an all day park? However, as Disney finds its own footing after Roy’s passing, I would hope they remember that visually stunning does not necessarily make for a good movie. I walked out on Avatar because it felt as if the movie was telling me what I should care about instead of trusting me to come to my own conclusions with the information I’d have liked it to give me. I see it best as a children’s play area, similar to the Bug’s Life area at DHS.

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