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Rumor: Avatar Land at Disney's Animal Kingdom delayed due to creative differences

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Rumors have emerged online that the planned Avatar Land at Disney's Animal Kingdom could be delayed or even cancelled, due to creative differences with director James Cameron.

IndieWire reports that Walt Disney Imagineering has suffered from a rocky relationship with Cameron, with IGN claiming that this could push the opening date for Avatar Land past the planned 2015/16 time window.

If true, the delay would be a blow to Disney, which had hoped for a significant attendance boost from the debut of Avatar Land. The project was announced in September 2011, with Cameron serving as a consultant on the project, having had previous theme park experience when developing Terminator 2: 3D for Universal. Plans are already in place to close the popular Festival of the Lion King show this fall and move it to a new location in order to create space for the Avatar area.

Inevitably, the Avatar Land reports have strengthened rumors that a version of Disney California Adventure's Cars Land will be installed at Disney's Hollywood Studios. With much of the work of designing Cars Land having already been done, this would potentially enable Walt Disney World to debut a major new area in a shorter timeframe.

According to the IndieWire report, the start date for production on the first two sequels to the original Avatar is also shrouded in mystery. If these are delayed, Disney's ability to co-promote the new Avatar area would be diminished, and a delay to the theme park project could be less impactful - provided Cars Land could be installed in the meantime.

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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