I'm in Hawaii for the grand opening of Aulani, Disney's new resort on the island of Oahu. I'll have plenty of features, photos, video, and other content to share with you about this wonderful place in the coming weeks. But let's turn our attention to the stunning Avatar announcement that Disney just made. According to the company, it signed a long-term deal with James Cameron to create lands and attractions based on his hugely popular films (two follow-ups to the blockbuster are in the works) at the theme parks. First up: an Avatar land at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
If you think you'll be able to take a trip to Pandora in the near future, however, you might just turn blue in the face. Tom Staggs, the chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, says that development is in the very early stages, that the company doesn't expect to begin construction on the project at Disney World until 2013, and that it wouldn't open until a few years after that. But he did say that the Avatar land should include multiple attractions. Other parks may get Avatar-themed projects as well.
This wouldn't be the first Cameron movie to get a theme park tie-in. The filmmaker directed a 3-D mini-movie based on his Terminator series (starring Arnold my-marriage-has-been-terminated Schwarzenegger) that's been showing at the Universal parks. But Avatar, which holds the record for the highest-grossing movie (by far) and should maintain juggernaut status with its sequels, has the potential to generate incredible buzz as its fictional worlds make the leap to theme park reality.
Photo: Disney, 2011. Used with permission.