06 September 2012

The shortest route

There has been a lot of talk and speculation around the entertainment and Disney communities about the delay of Avatar’s three sequels, with the subsequent conversations revolving around the delay and/or death of Avatarland coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The follow-up to this is the rumors, when paired with bringing Imagineer Kathy Magnum, Cars Land’s lead designer, to Walt Disney World is that Cars Land is coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

I’ve previously talked about my thoughts of Avatarland and Cars Land coming to Walt Disney World, which means that those should probably be required reading before moving forward with this article. Go ahead, I’ll wait. For those of you who didn’t jump away, the basics are that I was cautiously optimistic about Avatarland, the basic wait and see what designs were revealed before passing judgment, while I felt that Cars Land would be better served by staying unique to Disney California Adventure and Disney’s Hollywood Studios building up a wider selection of mid-ranged attractions.

Have I changed my mind since I’ve written those editorials? Not really. I’m still in the wait and see for Avatarland, although now it is a wait and see if it is even on the drawing boards any longer. As for Cars Land, I stand by the statement that it doesn’t need to copied for Walt Disney World.

With Pandora potentially being shelved, and no real designs to discuss or lament, my main concerns is what lies ahead for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Of the four parks in Walt Disney World, I still feel like Disney’s Animal Kingdom has the largest need for an injection of new experiences. If the plans to move Festival of the Lion King to Harambe and character meet-and-greets to what is currently the shop Beastly Bazaar, then that leaves a massive gap of land to be developed in the footprint of Camp Minnie-Mickey. The idea of Australia has been batted around for the past couple of years, and as great as that could be, I’d still like to see something from the realm of fictional or mythical creatures come to the park. That doesn’t mean I would only accept an expansion that included elements of the never-built Beastly Kingdom, but I’d love to see a land constructed around that line of thought.

Meanwhile, in a park far, far away, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is looking to add a massive land dedicated to a single animated feature. Don’t get me wrong, I cannot wait to get out to Cars Land in Disney California Adventure and I understand that the loss of tourism for Disneyland would be lessened by the fact that Cars Land couldn’t open in Disney’s Hollywood Studios before 2015. However, I still think there are so many other entertainment properties to dive into that would be better suited and offer new experiences for a film/music/television theme park. Could Cars Land be the death knell for the Studio Backlot Tour and Lights, Motors, Action!? Possibly. There is a lot to explore here, both in terms of potential losses and additions, but I am keeping with the theme of wait and see until something is announced before I denounce or praise the next move for this park.

If you gleam anything from this article I hope it is that we shouldn’t be jumping to any conclusions just yet. No matter what you believe should or shouldn’t be done in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you can still hold onto those dreams until Walt Disney World makes an announcement and puts plans in motion. Remember all those who lamented at the idea of an Avatarland? As it may turn out those fears could have been unfounded. So, let the better measures of your patience win out here, and let’s be cautiously optimistic together about what comes next for Walt Disney World!


Unknown said...

I can't say that I would be too pleased with a WDW Carsland. Instead, use the space to encompass more PIXAR characters, as it is called PIXAR place, after all.

Throw in an awesome Monsters Inc ride, a Brave dark ride just to name a couple. This would make the "land" easier to update. I would hate the idea of such a limited palate to choose from that a Carsland would offer.

I am one of those that definitely thinks that the studio backlot tour's time is up. It used to be an incredible experience with the facades of the TV houses, workers busy at work on all sorts of things, and now it is simply a museum that rarely gets updated.

Lights Camera Action also needs to move on. It is awesome the first time that you see it, but I personally don't see the value of going to see it over and over.

I was a CP at DHS and loved the atmosphere, but those areas need some love, and I don't think throwing an east coast version of Carsland would be a good long term solution.

Like you, I went with the idea of Avatar, because knowing Disney, it could have been incredible. I am, however, a little relieved in knowing that plans have halted, a bit. There is so much more that can be done to DAK. Anyone else want the river boat cruise to return? Sure, it was anti-climactic, but it was a fun, relaxing trip.

We missed the Beastly Kingdom boat when that idea was taken over to Islands of Adventure in the Dueling Dragon coaster. I really thought DAK would have progressed much further than it has since opening. So much promise there. It is time to put some of that Marvel money in to plussing up forgotten areas.

Rich T. said...

Even though I can't stand Avatar (the film, the story, the characters or even the look), my mind was opened by, of all things, my family's experience with Cars Land.

I love the Cars films, so naturally I adore Cars Land. What surprised me was the reaction of the family members who have never seen the Cars films or didn't like them. They had a great time, enjoying the rides, the scenery, the food, the music and the whole good-natured 50's-60's vibe. They even bought Cars Land souvenirs, including the soundtrack CD. And they *still* have no interest in watching the Cars films. The land worked for them as a stand-alone.

I figure if my Cars-hating relatives can enjoy what the Imagineers did with Cars Land, I should have some trust that they could build an Avatar Land I could appreciate...if, indeed it ever gets built at this point.

My main beef with the concept remains this: our traditional mythological creatures are part of human heritage, history, and the ways cultures have perceived our planet. Beastly Kingdom would have tied in with our cultural history. The sci-fi creatures of Avatar have no connection at all to Earth, its history or its cultures. It's simply James Cameron. A Star Wars world at DAK instead of DHS would cause the same disconnect.

It's too bad Disney decided to part ways with the Narnia franchise; that could've made an awesome addition to DAK.