Fresh off the smashing success of “Avatar: The Way of Water,” Disney will bring a new “Avatar” experience to Disneyland. The announcement was made by CEO Bob Iger during the company’s first-quarter earnings call, with further details to be announced at a future date.
Pandora – The World of Avatar, an immersive land featuring two high-tech attractions (Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey), opened at Animal Kingdom in Florida’s Walt Disney World in 2017. “Avatar” filmmaker James Cameron and producer Jon Landau oversaw the opening of the Florida attractions, but it’s not immediately clear how involved they will be in the Disneyland experience.
“Avatar: The Way of Water,” Cameron’s long-awaited sequel to the first “Avatar,” opened in December and has since grossed over $2 billion at the worldwide box office. Three further sequels are on the way, with “Avatar 3” due to open in 2024.
A few years ago, Disney had earmarked a juicy piece of Disneyland real estate – the former site of the Carousel Theater (which housed the Carousel of Progress following its splashy debut at the 1964/65 World’s Fair) as the spot for a standalone version of Flight of Passage.
This version of the attraction, which sees guests board the back of a banshee for a thrilling, unexpectedly emotional flight around Pandora, was meant to be the centerpiece of a largescale redo of the Tomorrowland section of Disneyland. Besides some talk of expanding the Project Stardust project, which was meant to make Disneyland more guest-friendly, particularly in the wake of the increased crowds attending Galaxy’s Edge (the “Star Wars”-themed land behind Frontierland), a full-bodied redo of Tomorrowland has yet to materialize.
Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a huge land, slightly smaller than Disney California Adventure’s Carsland, with two expansion pads already prepped for expansion (large enough to hold a new E-ticket attraction and a sit-down restaurant). It’ll be interesting to see if Disney tries to carve out even more real estate for an “Avatar” land or if they will follow-through on this plan for a standalone attraction in the heart of Tomorrowland (next to Space Mountain, just down from Star Tours).
When TheWrap spoke to Cameron ahead of the release of “Avatar: The Way of Water,” he admitted that the Walt Disney World attraction actually primed the pump for audiences for the sequel. A continued presence in the theme parks could build excitement for the upcoming sequels, with the still-unnamed third film on the way.