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Commentary: Although visually appealing, ‘Avatar’ not worth theme park

Disney unveiled a first look of its ‘Avatar’ themed section at the Animal Kingdom park, one of the four theme parks at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., on the Disney Parks blog Oct. 12.  Credit: Courtesy of Disney

Disney unveiled a first look of its ‘Avatar’ themed section at the Animal Kingdom park, one of the four theme parks at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., on the Disney Parks blog Oct. 12.
Credit: Courtesy of Disney

Remember “Avatar?” That one film about giant blue aliens? The film that everyone thought was going to win Best Picture at the Oscars in 2010, but instead lost to director James Cameron’s ex-wife’s film?

Yeah, me neither.

Disney unveiled a first look at artist renderings of its “Avatar” themed section at the Animal Kingdom park, one of the four theme parks at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday.

Tom Staggs, chairman to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, made the announcement on the Disney Parks blog. Staggs wrote the park was designed in partnership with Cameron, as well as Lightstorm Entertainment, the film production company Cameron founded, which worked on “Avatar,” as well as other Cameron films such as “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” and “Titanic.”

“Our combined team has taken huge steps forward in ‘imagineering’ Pandora as a real place for our guests to see, hear and touch,” Staggs wrote.

That’s right. You too can experience the life of “Avatar’s” city of Pandora and its natives, the Na’vi — in 2017, that is.

“Avatar” is a science-fiction, fantasy film about Jake Sully, a paraplegic Marine who, through the use of an avatar assignment machine, assumes life as a Na’vi in order to gather information on how to wipe the Na’vi out from their home to mine for materials. The film stars Sam Worthington as Sully and Zoë Saldana as Neytiri, Sully’s Na’vi lover.

The news of the themed section was released in a press conference with the Walt Disney Imagineering team in 2011.

“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,” Thomas Smith, social media director of Disney Parks, wrote in a post on the Disney Parks blog announcing the park’s plans in 2011.

If the renderings become reality, the park would be a gorgeous and — most likely — an expensive sight, bringing in a new edge to the Animal Kingdom, which lacks the entertainment flair Disney World’s other parks have.

However, has “Avatar” been current in our pop culture since 2009? Even with future films in production, slating to release in 2016, 2017 and 2018, I feel the film isn’t established enough to design a whole theme park around it.

I get Disney is trying to pull a Universal Studios a la Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but why not instead create a “Star Wars” themed park? With the success of their Star Tours rides at both Disney World and Disneyland and the fact that the Disney Company owns nearly everything George Lucas has built — and destroyed — Disney could have had the perfect opportunity to have their guests experience life as a Jedi. I might never get to shoot first at the Chalmun’s Cantina or have a photo opportunity where I’m Jabba the Hutt’s slave.

I guess instead of selling Princess Leia bikinis, we’ll have to settle with aboriginal alien loin cloths.

One comment

  1. Totally agree. Who even cares about Avatar anymore? Bet we won’t see many people dressed like Navi at Halloween this year. No matter how nice the place is, in about 10 or 20 years it’ll seem really weird they have this whole huge thing based on some random old movie no one remembers. It certainly won’t have Harry Potter’s staying quality. Or Star Wars – 35 years and going strong.

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