Disney Parks Chairman Tom Staggs Answers Questions About ‘Avatar’ Land

Posted Wednesday, September 21st, 2011 05:00 pm GMT -5 by

After the big announcement of Disney teaming up with James Cameron to bring ‘Avatar’ to life, many fans had questions about the deal. They were invited to send in their queries and Tom Staggs, chairman of the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, kindly answered them on the official Disney Blog. Here is some of what he said:

Any idea when the experience will be open to guests?

We’ve just begun the design phase on our Animal Kingdom project and we expect to begin construction in 2013. From start to finish, a project of this size and scope takes about 5 years to design and build. We can’t give you an exact date but we know that when it’s complete, it’s going to be a truly unforgettable experience.

Will it replace any existing attractions in Animal Kingdom, or will it be built in a new parcel of land within the park’s boundaries?

…we’re just beginning the Blue Sky process so I don’t have much to share about how we are going to execute our vision for our first AVATAR land but we’re focused on this being an important addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I look forward to sharing more details as our plans progress.

What types of attractions will be in AVATAR land?

This was hands-down one of the most popular questions we got and understandably so. While we’re still in the very early stages of design and planning, we expect this land to be anchored by multiple attractions, entertainment, merchandise locations, restaurants and other immersive elements. Our AVATAR lands will give guests the chance to see, hear and touch the world of Pandora and we can’t wait to dive in with James Cameron and his team as we create new experiences that will delight and thrill our guests.

This film is PG-13. How does this match with a family friendly park.

At its core, AVATAR is a film that embraces strong, positive themes of family, loyalty, living in harmony with nature and belief in oneself – all values that we share at The Walt Disney Company. You can be sure that these are the same themes that we will explore throughout our AVATAR lands. They will be places where friends and families can spend time together getting lost in a fantasy world, one of the true hallmarks of any Disney theme park experience. And with two sequels in the works, we feel this is a creative property whose potential is limitless.

Are there plans to add Avatar attractions at any other Disney parks?

… the only land we are announcing today is at Walt Disney World Resort but AVATAR is a possibility at any of our other locations. The first film AVATAR is a franchise with massive global appeal and its success at the box office both inside and outside of the U.S. – I should also note that as we determine our future locations, we look forward to working with our international theme park partners as our plans evolve.

Why buy someone else’s idea instead of letting WDI come up with something?

Some of you asked why we would choose to collaborate with an outside partner rather than use our own Disney characters and stories to expand the parks. We are as committed as ever to creating attractions and entertainment around favorite Disney characters and stories – with Cars Land at Disney California Adventure park and our expansion of Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park being two great examples. At the same time, we like to look beyond our own walls at non-Disney properties, like STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES, creating some of our most popular attractions. At the end of the day, we are focused on creating a great experience for our guests and I truly believe that this unique partnership with James Cameron and AVATAR gives us an entire world of imaginative creatures, fascinating locations and intriguing characters with which to do that.

If you have questions regarding the new ‘Avatar’ land at Walt Disney World let us know! I’m sure many of you, like me, are buzzing with curiosity and excitement with this new addition. Just the thought of walking through Pandora itself is enough to get me started on planning a full on vacation to experience the opening! How about you?