5 Reasons to Love AVATAR Land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

| October 28, 2013 | 15 Replies

Whether you agree or disagree about the implementation of AVATAR Land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, there are advantages for theme park fans.  Anytime Disney puts a little TLC into its theme parks we reap the benefits.   I’ve seen the movie AVATAR and I’m just as shocked as most to see Disney implement this world into the Animal Kingdom.  But, after sitting back and digesting the announcement and recently released details I do see several advantages.  Let’s take a look at a few and why we should be excited about the world of Pandora.

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Some of the reasons why you should love AVATAR Land are not directly related to the land itself.  Some of the reasons are indirect or even external to the Animal Kingdom theme park.

Number 1 – New attractions coming to the Animal Kingdom

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When I first visited the Animal Kingdom in 1998 I left the park thinking it had great potential, but lacked attractions.   It didn’t seem like the park was ready for guests, nor would it be ready for some time.   It needed more.   It’s the biggest of the 4 theme parks, but lacked the entertainment offerings we expect from a Disney theme park.

Fast-forward to today and a few new attractions and experiences have opened.  With the addition of AVATAR Land we have 2 new attractions on the horizon.   Some of the recent concept art released shows a boat ride with luminescent lighting all around.   Another rumored attraction is a Soarin’-type ride where guests will get to fly on a Banshee through Pandora.  No matter if you’re an AVATAR fan or not you’ll at least get to experience these newly imagineered attractions in a wonderful setting.

Number 2 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Consistently Open at Night

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I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it, “The Animal Kingdom theme park is the most beautiful park at night.”  What’s scary is the potential for the night time lighting with the addition of AVATAR Land to make it even better.

Picture this, what will it look like as you leave the forbidden mountain on Expedition Everest going down the biggest hill of the ride at night.  I can foresee a beautiful view of the park at night, especially with AVATAR Land in plain sight.  Not only that, but just walking through the park you’ll get to see unique lighting surrounded by lush foliage.  Dimly lit, but colorful attractions that leave you wondering where you really are – Walt Disney World or another continent.

Number 3 – AVATAR Land will decrease crowd levels in the other theme parks

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With the addition of AVATAR Land and increased evening hours at the Animal Kingdom, we should expect crowds that would normally be in the other 3 theme parks to filter over to the Animal Kingdom.  This would be especially true at night.  Currently, 3 theme parks are consistently open after 6:00PM.   We can now expect Disney’s Animal Kingdom to welcome guests through at least 8:00PM.

We all love the nighttime entertainment in the theme parks.  Between Wishes, Illuminations, and Fantasmic!, crowd levels can get a bit crazy, especially during peak times of the year.  With the addition of nighttime offerings at Disney’s Animal Kingdom we should see less crowd levels at the other 3 nighttime spectacles.  This should make these evening extravaganzas more comfortable and more enjoyable for us all.

Number 4 – Night time entertainment offerings

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Remember the rumors of a night time show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, The Rivers of Light?  The rumor said the show was in development in 2006 and then put on hold in 2008.  Well, now we have confirmation from Disney that with the introduction of AVATAR Land, nighttime entertainment and a new nighttime show will be introduced into the theme park.  Evening offerings look to include roaming performers, a nighttime Kilimanjaro Safari’s viewing experience, and a new nighttime show along Discovery River.

This is a very welcomed addition to the new details released about AVATAR Land.  It sort of completes the 4 park experience at Walt Disney World.  Now that each theme park will have a nighttime show we have more options to choose from and more to see and do inside the parks.  It seems like our entertainment value at Walt Disney World is about to get a serious boost and that is something we should all be excited about.

Number 5 – A new land means heightened competition among Orlando theme parks

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If AVATAR Land is as well done as we all hope it should put pressure on the other Orlando theme parks (Universal & Sea World) to continue their growth.  New expansions and experiences at the theme parks has been the norm lately.  Over the past 5 years, new lands and attractions have begun to pop up back and forth like a pendulum.  AVATAR Land will only increase the demand for fresh new attractions at the other theme park resorts.

New attractions and experiences at the theme parks only means more entertainment value for us – the guest, the fan.  Let’s wish Camp Minnie-Mickey a fond farewell and bring on AVATAR Land.  It’s certainly a needed improvement for the Animal Kingdom.

Conclusion

I have to admit I’m not a big AVATAR fan yet.  However, I am a theme park fan.  When you drop a movie franchise into the theme parks it tends to grab my interest and I start following it more.   I’m a bit disappointed that lately Disney has turned to franchises to build attractions.  I miss the original attractions with classic Disney characters and where Imagineers didn’t have to rely on a creative Hollywood Producer to provide input.   I believe Imagineers work better when it’s with their own ideas and creativity.

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Be that as it may, I still believe AVATAR Land will be advantageous inside Walt Disney World.   I can’t wait for the attractions, entertainment, and other offerings to become available sometime in 2017.   It should help the Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, and even Orlando become a better experience all the way around.  “To Pandora and beyond!”  Oops, wrong movie.

Read Nicole Mancini’s First Thoughts on AVATAR Land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photos and concept art courtesy of Disney Parks and Resorts

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Category: Disney World

  • Hawkeye_321

    Thoughtful article, thanks.

    I still think the AVATAR expansion is a misstep, however.

    It doesn’t have the pop culture appeal of so many other characters in Disney’s arsenal (huge box office, yes… but compare AVATAR licensed products like lunch boxes, toys, etc. to things like Star Wars, Marvel, Harry Potter, etc. and it’s not even close). Disney could and should have looked elsewhere for possibilities, IMHO. (Still feels reactionary to Universal’s recent huge success, and Disney rarely operates in that mode.)

    Also think they’re limited on night-time events at AK because noise levels need to be restricted for the animals. So no “Illuminations” or the like.

    But we shall see.

  • Thomas Wickett

    I thought that I would never say this about anything Disney, but here it goes. I will never, ever visit this park once this politically biased anti-human piece of garbage is implemented.

    • John Wilson

      Did you ever see Pocahontas? Avatar is merely Pocahontas in Space, it’s the same political message as well. I find it immensely humorous (not to mention hypocritical) that the most capitalistic corporate merchandisers out there make these films about the rapacious looting capitalists.

  • Jason Albert

    Super cool article. I am really looking forward to seeing what Disney does with this. All the pre viz stuff looks amazing. Disney usually gets it right. There is a reason that Disney gets it right most of the time. They are the frontrunners when it comes to this type of thing. Im excited.

  • Brendan

    My only real critique is on #5, placing pressure on neighboring parks to up their ante. If anything, Disney has been content to rest on its laurels for the last several years, and it was only the massive success of Harry Potter at Universal (not to mention its continued expansion and Transformers’ speedy opening) that drove the Avatar development. Make no mistake, if Disney wants to place the creative pressure back on Universal, they’ll need to knock this and the speculated Star Wars expansion completely out of the park. I think that’s why so many people view this with trepidation. The idea of the next huge success in the Disney parks relying on the Avatar brand doesn’t exactly instill a lot of confidence.

  • Mike Naypauer

    I agree with some of the comments that Avatar doesn’t have the Franchise Power of Star Wars or Harry Potter; however neither does Cars and DCA did a marvelous job recreating Radiator Springs. I think Carsland has appeal beyond the movie. Anyone who has that bit of nostalgic flair can appreciate Carsland. I think with Avatar you could appreciate the recreation of an alien world and the rides without being a big Avatar fan.

    Also as 3 sequels are planned I think the verdict is still out on just how this will grow as a franchise.

  • Sandra Rudolph

    Not excited about Avatar Land. Thought the movie was weird. Wish they would invest the time and money in a new Star Wars Land. CM’s have always said that Animal Kingdom must close early because the animal need to maintain a schedule and night time hours would be to disruptive. So, why are night hours no longer a problem?

    • Nancy Nolan

      You’re absolutely right! I thought it closed early because of that very thing. I’m a huge animal lover and I’m a bit concerned how it would affect the animals. Disney could take some major heat for this not only from guests but various groups.

  • Dave

    couldnt possibly think of a better IP than avatar. tremendous eye candy absolutely will be a home run for Animal Kingdom. just glad disney got it… Pandora will be THE place to visit after dark in the orlando area

  • Goofy_Guy

    “Fast-forward to today and a few new attractions and experiences have opened”…barely…if you consider Kali River Rapids the finishing of Asia, and the circus area (cough cough) the finishing of Dinoland. Then only Everest has really opened, and considering Pocahontas and the boat ride closed, you can barely say that anything significant has opened.
    So AVATAR is a welcome addition…and about time…and can’t have enough Soarin’ type attractions in my opinion, the perfect thrill ride for the entire family (-the nausea)

    • MistaWu

      I can’t even remember the boat ride!

  • Julie Vartanian

    Not excited about Avatar land infact think it is contradictory to the Animal Kingdom message.Why not a mystic land of pirate shores or an enchanted forest it woud still provide options for memorbilia Disney has timeless opportunities i personally think they will find others even ran to far with the Harry Potter ball. They need to think of possibilities that are endless. What Disney fans crave is right in front of them.The imagineers hold the key to success and to our hearts they are not seeing, listening, hearing or believing in the magic …
    WWWS ( what would Walt say)

  • Cristine Butler

    You sum up my feelings exactly in the first paragraph of your conclusion!

  • Carla Anderson

    When this park was announced, I was so happy that Disney was moving into a beautiful and educational theme that would help our children realize how wondrous our world truly is. I thought the ANIMALS were to be the main event at the Animal Kingdom. Disney has touched only two continents and their magnificent creatures ~ why not Australia or South America instead of Avatar? At least dinosaurs were real at one time! So, now we once again take movie fake magic and ignore the true magic that’s out there.

  • Stefanie Bartolomeo

    I’m definitely excited to enjoy DAK at night. I’m just wondering how it is the animals will not be affected by the Safari still being open & the noise & lights in the park.