So, here I am. The last to jump aboard the ‘death of Pandora’ blog-ship that has been rocketing itself across the interweb galaxy. Allow me to explain my reasons for this.
I wanted to sit in the shade of the fluorescent, glowing tree while I watched and read other people thoughts about the subject. There were some fascinating insights. Ultimately, my procrastination stems from the fact that I saw little news here, and no real surprise. I had seen this coming.
There was youthful excitement on the faces of James Cameron and Bob Igor as they made the announcement of a new themed land dedicated to the highest grossing film in history. Disney World’s Animal Kingdom would be its home, taking over the under-utilized land now occupied by Camp Minnie-Mickey. For fans of Disney World and Avatar, the marriage was inconceivably brilliant. Armchair Imagineers world-wide began the task of designing the new land. We started the rumors about attractions, food, and rides even though the notion of Avatar at Disney was minutes old.
It all sounded wonderful. Something ground-breaking at Disney World. Certainly something to reach a new fan-base. It was not long before reality crept up. Disney Imagineers began to experience the notoriously difficult James Cameron. The man who directed a few of histories highest grossing films has had very little to answer for in two decades. When you consistently make billions of dollars with every effort, your creative vision is very rarely questioned. Cameron has become accustomed to calling the shots without compromise. There had only been a small chance that Cameron and Disney’s master Imagineers were going to reach the same vision for Pandora.
The Cameron vs. Imagineer battle aside, the Disney Company may have simply been trigger happy to make an impact. It had been a number of years since Disney World had done anything relevent. Just down the road, the Boy-Who-Lived was stuffing cash into the ever-expanding pockets of Universal. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was still the toast of Central Florida. It had bridged a gap between children and adults; people who lived in Barnes and Noble and theme park junkies. The Wizarding World is the new fantasy where guests can interact with a place they’d only read about. Wether Avatar would have been as successful as the Wizarding World will be contested for years. It seems from this moment on, the comparisons will be largely assumed.
It’s really no surprise Disney followed those footprints. Like Universal, they found an outside production company, and were willing to pay a fortune for rights to build a hyper-themed area. Disney was never blind to the success of Universal. This was the response so many people expected.
There are other forces at work against Avatar. New Fantasyland, the biggest expansion in Disney World history, was underway. With so many minds and so much energy directed at the Fantasyland project, there was little space for Avatar. It is, after all, important to see whether the massive investment in New Fantasyland was going to be profitable before welcoming the tall Blue Men to Disney World.
Across the country is Cars Land, the wildly popular area at Disney’s California Adventure. Without question Radiator Springs coming to Florida is a possibility. What advantages does Radiator Springs have over Avatar? First, it’s ready to go. A simple transplant needing little more than some acreage in Disney World. Second, no money need be paid out to obtain licensing rights, and no James Cameron’s to clash with. The cons of Cars Land – well let’s leave that for another day.
While fans of Avatar may never get to stroll through Pandora, there are defiantly things to get excited about in the coming years at Disney World. You never know – one day we may again shake hands with aliens.
If you have thoughts about Avatar, Carsland, or future Disney World expansion – let us know in the comments, or e-mail us at email@example.com