Today, I’m going to focus on one land that is going to come to fruition and another land that gets talked about A LOT in rumors. Those lands are Avatar Land (coming potentially in 2017) and Star Wars Land (much talked about but only in rumor). I’m going to talk about these lands individually as my views on them vary.
Let’s start with a potential Star Wars Land. Star Wars Land has been in the heavy rumor phase recently with the rumored closure of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and the announced closure of the American Idol Experience that a full fledged Star Wars Land is coming to Hollywood Studios. However, Dad has heard that the rumored closure of Indiana Jones is false so we can put the brakes on any potential Star Wars Land at Hollywood Studios for the time being.
Does Star Wars Land makes sense to put in Hollywood Studios? The answer is a resounding yes. There are six movies already made and most of them are classics. Three more movies are in production to complete the story told in the first six episodes. Plus, all of the movies are now under Disney control. If Disney were to create a Star Wars Land, there is no one in the way to slow down the creative process in creating attractions.
Star Wars Weekends are one of the most popular events at Walt Disney World and the most popular event at Hollywood Studios. Based on this popularity, it would make sense to turn some current attractions (like Lucasfilm’s Indiana Jones Stunt Show) into a Star Wars attractions. I’m only throwing the Indiana Jones show in here as an example because it would be swapping on former Lucasfilm property for another.
While the retheming into Star Wars Land could potentially go on, it could be a very low impact to the park goer. It would be on the level of Mickey’s Toon Town Fair getting rethemed and expanded into New Fantasyland. This process only took a couple of years and breathed some fresh air into the Magic Kingdom. Star Wars Land could do the same for Hollywood Studios. Hollywood Studios already has Star Tours and the Jedi Training Academy.
Only a few more attractions are needed to make any potential Star Wars Land complete. An indoor show could be added where the American Idol Experience is. Perhaps something around the Great Jedi Library to keep the building in place. Add a couple of outdoor attractions and the land is complete.
This is an idea that should move from the rumor stage into the public planning stage (maybe the private planning stage is already taking place). This could drive park traffic to that section of the park and add a “thrill” attraction to that side of the Sorcerer’s Hat. This addition would solidify Hollywood Studio’s status of the #3 theme park in terms of attendance.
Groundbreaking at Animal Kingdom for the brand new Avatar Land with a scheduled completion date of 2017. So, like it or not, Avatar Land is coming. Put me in the camp of those who do not like Avatar Land coming to Animal Kingdom or Disney in general.
To me, Disney is something iconic and a park when the Disney icons go. Mickey Mouse is an icon, the Disney princesses are icons. Avatar is not iconic. That’s not to say that it won’t become iconic. It’s just not iconic yet. With three sequels in the works, it has a chance to make that leap but it’s not there yet.
Also, it’s not a Disney creation. That means a lot to me. Disney is a place where Disney characters and movies go. Everything there was created by Disney and Disney Studios. Avatar does not fit this equation. It was created by someone else. Disney Imagineers, now, have to fit the land around someone else’s vision not their own. They will not have the same creative control over the land as they had over New Fantasyland for example.
The first Avatar movie hasn’t had time to age into a classic. It will be only eight years from its debut to when the land opens in 2017. That’s not a lot of aging time for a movie. Now, people could say the same things about many of the Disney Princess movies that have come out and the princess, a year later, has their coronation into the Disney Princess Court. But these are Disney creations or Disney adaptions from fairy tales.
Did Avatar make a lot of money at the box office? Yes, it did. Does that make Avatar a classic movie? Yes and no. People will consider it a classic movie and from a strictly movie-making aspect, it’s a classic. It has a cabinet full of awards for cinematography. From a story-telling aspect, it falls short. Disney Lands, at the parks, need to have both. Visuals are greats but in the end they are just that visuals. If you don’t have a solid story behind the pictures, they are just pretty pictures.
In my opinion, Disney acquiring the theme park rights to Avatar was done so Universal Studios did not acquire them and have Avatar Land in addition to The Wizarding World of Harry Porter. This would have given Universal Studios Orlando a park which could compete with the Walt Disney World Parks and probably move to #3 on the yearly attendance lists ahead of Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. So from a business standpoint, I understand Disney’s move. Putting the land in Animal Kingdom makes even more business sense because it is the park with the lowest attendance numbers at Walt Disney World
If I were Disney, however, I would have tested out Avatar with an attraction at Animal Kingdom. Perhaps an attraction in Asia between Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Maharajah Jungle Trek. See how people respond to the attraction. If they responded well, then go ahead and build an entire land for Avatar. But, right now, an entire land for just one movie (at the moment) is just too much too soon.
Some mock-up photos:
What’s your opinion on Avatar Land and any future Star Wars Land?
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