News hit the wire this weekend that Disney will be expanding its theme park offering to include a new attraction based on Avatar. Sadly, for fans of Aang & Co. the Avatar in question refers to the big, blue catlike people of Pandora made famous by James Cameron in his script-by-the-numbers 3D epic and not the peace-loving protagonists of The Last Airbender ...although, that animated world would make for a pretty awesome theme park!
Fact: All Na'vi own at least one pair of denim culottes (source)
Everything about James Cameron's proposed Avatar theme park seems odd. For starters, it is being sponsored and housed by Disney, which is in itself strange considering they had absolutely nothing to do with the production of Avatar (that would be 20th Century Fox) and are usually pretty good at sticking with their own brands. Secondly, the theme park is slated to be a feature of Disney's Animal Kingdom, the red-headed stepchild of The Mouse's empire, which makes some degree of sense given the forested nature of the park. One would think Epcot would be a better fit for such an attraction, but then I suppose Disney needs a way to generate some interest in Animal Kingdom as the memories of The Lion King continue to fade.
While I'm sure the prospect of seeing costumed actors in second-skin blue bodysuits is sure to generate some ticket sales from beleaguered parents (as will the inevitable Cirque de Soleil tie-in show, Eywa), I can't imagine the theme park will be that big of a draw for kids. As for the older tourist demographic, it would be a hard sell to sci-fi geeks to pay $85.00 for the chance to wander through a giant safari land when they could be buying butterbeers (and waiting in hours-long lines...) at Universal Studio's Wizarding World of Harry Potter for roughly the same price, and far more geek cred.
Despite these reservations, chances are good that the Avatar theme park will be a wild, over-produced success that will dazzle the eyes and earn millions of dollars from the movie-going public before they realize that they've once again been tricked into fangushing over Fern Gully.
As for myself, I'll probably go and see it- as I did with the movie- just to say that I did, and will hate myself for it in the morning.