by Rob Boylan
Earlier today at the D23 Expo in Japan, Disney announced plans for the next big theme area: Avatar, at Disney's Animal Kingdom here in Orlando.
The plans look expansive and somewhat innovative, but are not wholly exciting at this early stage. I would expect something to be announced later about multiple immersive 3D experiences, something along the lines of that 3D motion CineTransformer contraption that JC had built for Sanctum.
As these concept renderings show in epic scale, in the world of AVATAR guests will encounter awe-inspiring floating mountains and wander through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants that are alive with light and sound. Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee.
Avatar is, of course, the biggest box office smash hit ever, but never really caught on in the public imagination to the extent that the likes of Star Wars or E.T. or even The Terminator did. Look through Twitter for photographs from the New York Comic Con this weekend and you'll find plenty of Hans and Leias and stormtroopers, but you won't find too many Na'vi cosplayers. The film looked cool and made a ton of money when it came out in 2009, but the screen story was fairly flat and it was barely worth seeing outside of IMAX 3D.
However, the fact that it was an "experience" film, and a film that that left a lot of its world undiscovered, might actually lend itself extremely well to a theme park. Don't hold your breath waiting for it to open though. It's currently slated to open in 2017, the same year Avatar III opens.
Check out some of the concept art:
For more, check out the Disney Parks blog.