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Cameron: "Flying" ride could form part of Disney's Avatar land

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The planned Avatar land at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom could feature an attraction that simulates flying, according to the movie's creator James Cameron.

Speaking to the LA Times, Cameron said of the concept: "I definitely want to do a flight attraction of some kind. Flying is a big part of the movie. One of the things people liked the most at test screenings was going up into the floating mountains in the flying sequences."

Citing Soarin' over California at Disney California Adventure as one of his favorite theme park rides, Cameron went on to suggest that creatures from the two planned Avatar sequels could feature in such a ride: "We may have banshees, Leonopteryxes, maybe some other flying creatures that don’t make their appearance until the second and third films.”

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post's Jim Hill claims that the deal between Disney, Cameron and Fox Filmed Entertainment to license the Avatar characters for use in theme park attractions came about quickly. Hill reports that Tom Staggs, the Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, was inspired to try and combine the best elements of the recently-opened Star Tours: The Adventures Continue simulator and the upcoming Cars Land at Disney California Adventure. Staggs reportedly convinced Disney CEO Robert Iger that Avatar would offer the perfect brand upon which to base a fully immersive land.

While many industry observers have praised the deal, some are unconvinced about Disney's plans to install its first Avatar land at the Animal Kingdom park. Speaking to Blooloop, Super 78's Brent Young said of the deal: "The minute the new experience opens, it becomes the Avatar theme park, upstaging the Animal Kingdom brand. The better play would be to leverage the new Marvel relationship and blend it with Avatar to create a new park that’s more appropriate for the more adult themes those brands represent – Disney’s Sci-Fi Kingdom."

Disney announced the Avatar deal earlier this week, revealing that it has secured exclusive rights to build Avatar theme park attractions. While Disney's Animal Kingdom will be the first park to host an Avatar attraction, the company does have the option of exploiting the franchise at its other global theme parks should it choose to do so.

The move to secure the rights to Avatar theme park attractions has widely been reported as Disney's response to the massive success of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure. The first Avatar movie grossed more than $2.7 billion at the box office worldwide, and is based on the story of the indigenous Na’vi people's attempts to fend off mining activities on the idyllic planet of Pandora.

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There is 1 comment.

A flying ride is the obvious best choice for an Avatar-themed ride. Cameron is spot-on especially given how much time he spent in the movie on flying sequences. Tons of time was spent on Jake taming a banshee, air battles, and the influence of a leonopteryx on the tribes. It would be absolutely foolish not to do a flying ride.

However, I think Brent Young raises a good point and sounds an alarm bell over Disney's Avatar plans. Animal Kingdom is not a good fit for Avatar. Animal Kingdom is all about creatures from this world. I don't really care for having Cameron's world crammed in there. It comes across as a cheap gimmick pulled by Disney to compete with Universal in the short term. Beastly Kingdomme was a much better long-term project. Dragons, unicorns, griffons, chimera, basilisks, and other fantasy creatures based in our world are a far better fit for the park. Going from Dinosaur land to Asia land to Africa land to Pandora land just doesn't really work.

What would the center piece be for an Avatar land? Another tree? A floating island that kind of looks like a hovering mountain? I just don't see how it fits in to Animal Kingdom. It duplicates what is already there. Tall blue cat people next to dinosaurs, yetis, and bugs is rather jarring. Avatar land would be a far better fit for Disney's Hollywood Studios. Maybe it would provoke Disney to get off their butts and build an entire section of the park dedicated to Star Wars rather than one skimpy ride. Disney has repeatedly blown that opportunity. I'm pleased they want to treat Avatar better, but I do agree that it will harm Animal Kingdom as a brand and a destination.

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