Back in 2009, audiences kept returning to the movie theater to experience James Cameron’s Avatar and the alien world of Pandora again and again. It’s one of the reasons why the 3D spectacle is the highest grossing movie of all time. Audiences wanted a place like Pandora to exist, so they could visit the Na’vi for real. In 2017, you’ll be able to visit Pandora in Avatar Land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Disney World.
Over the weekend, the D23 Fan Expo was held in Tokyo, Japan for the first time in the expo’s history. While the U.S. version featured a major Star Wars presence, the Japanese version showcased James Cameron’s Avatar. Avatar Land has been in development with Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and Disney since 2012. Cameron introduced the video above, while he was working on the Avatar sequels, and Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde gave viewers a glimpse of Avatar Land. Blueprints of the proposed theme park leaked about a year ago, and it’s been only recently that we’ve heard more about the Technicolor park attraction.
According to Theme Park Insider, Avatar Land would replace Camp Mickey-Minnie at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, and is expected to open to the public in 2017. Although it will have been eight years since the release of Avatar, there are three sequel films in the works, with the third one expected to open in theaters around that same time.
New concept art for Avatar Land was also released at Tokyo’s D23 Expo that hints at the type of attractions the theme park will feature. The three major attractions appear to be a water ride that resembles Disney’s Jungle Cruise, a “Soarin’-type” 3D gliding ride, and Pandora’s Tree of Life, which would be featured at night to “replace” the Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life at the center of the theme park. Animal Kingdom will also receive extended park hours when Avatar Land opens in 2017.
It’s also rumored that Avatar Land will feature four giant movie theaters with two huge screens apiece. It is believed that the movie Avatar will play in 3D on a continuous loop for park guests. Considering that the alien planet has a different atmosphere than Earth, I wonder if park-goers have to wear special oxygen masks when they enter Pandora, just like in the movie Avatar.
Along with Star Wars Land at Disneyland, Disney is really taking advantage of current pop culture with their new theme park attractions. At the moment Star Wars Land is rumored to feature a Speeder Bike Thrill Ride, a Millennium Falcon walkthrough, a Cantina restaurant, and a Jedi Academy.
Meanwhile, James Cameron is busy at work putting together a long production for the three Avatar sequels, which will be shot subsequently. Cameron hired screenwriters Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and Shane Salerno (Armageddon) to help him with the three sequels.
Although Fox has yet to announce an official release date for the Avatar sequels, Avatar 2 will be released around Christmas 2016, Avatar 3 for Christmas 2017, and Avatar 4 for Christmas 2018.