Avatar land moves closer to construction as Walt Disney World announces new theater for ‘Festival of the Lion King’

in Disney, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Entertainment, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

festival-lion-king

Walt Disney World is preparing for the arrival of Pandora. Today Disney confirmed the relocation of the popular “Festival of the Lion King” stage show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom from its longtime Camp Minnie-Mickey home to a new theater in the Africa section of the park, set to open in 2014.

The show has been a staple of Disney’s Animal Kingdom since it opened 15 years ago and Disney has no plans of closing it any time soon. But with a themed land devoted to James Cameron’s soon-to-be “Avatar” series of films on the way, Disney is moving a few things around in the park to get ready for groundbreaking.

Recently the new Adventurers Outpost meet-and-greet opened, moving Mickey and Minnie Mouse away from their namesake Camp Minnie-Mickey, where they have been meeting guests for years. Now, with the area’s only big attraction on its way out, Camp Minnie-Mickey is ready to be taken over by the colorful forest world of Pandora.

Few details are known about what Disney is planning with its upcoming Avatar land, still several years away from opening. They’ve promised to tease a bit about the project at the upcoming D23 Expo next week, but no major announcements are expected there.

With James Cameron continuing to push back the expected release dates for sequels to “Avatar,” Disney is also hesitant to commit even to an opening time frame for Pandora, not likely to be seen until around 2016 or 2017. But there’s no doubt it is happening, with Walt Disney World president George Kalogridis recently confirming they are “committed” to the project.

33 Comments

  1. Jeff Lynch

    I am wondering if they will try to go cheap with Avatar. I know that TDO has a well-earned reputation of “value engineering” and going cheap…but they should see that spending money on attractions gives huge returns on the investments, like with Cars Land at DCA. They did that expansion right and have reaped huge rewards for it. They went cheap with New Fantasyland and they have not gotten the return they expected. This should be a learning experience for TDO.

    What I would like to see with the Avatar project (even though I am not a fan of the Avatar movies):

    * An E-ticket ride like you are flying on those banshee monsters through the skies over Pandora

    * A Jungle Cruise-like boat ride along an alien river in the jungle of Pandora, with all the animals of Avatar as animatronics. I think this would be great because Animal Kingdom has a real life animal safari so it could have a Jungle Cruise type ride with imaginary animals

    * A restaurant that would be really special and make you feel like you are floating over Pandora in a giant airship, or a space ship above the planet. This could be accomplished like on Disney Cruise Ships, where a lounge has the screens that look like windows and show scenes of various cities “outside”.

    * A quick service restaurant that’s like the base camp that people built on Pandora; they’d have a gift shop too, that would be like the supplies area of the base camp

    * A children’s water play area that would be like a petting zoo of alien animals with (like the Dumbo water spray area in New Fantasyland)

    1. Chris Douglas Jr.

      Your idea of avatar land sounds like a very good idea. I would love to see that in the parks.

    2. Frostysnowman

      Great ideas. When do you start work as an Imagineer?

    3. Justin

      Great ideas but i just got back from fantasy land at Disney World and didn’t think there was anything cheap about it…..

  2. Anonymouse

    I hear there’s nearly one dozen Avatar fans that are excited for this news.

    1. Alex Suissa

      lol exactly. No one cares about Avatar anymore. It is not 2009 and by the time this opens no one will care at all I suspect. The sequels are most likely being made only to make more money and won’t be nearly as good as the first, the first was not even that great of a movie. This is a stupid movie franchise for Disney to go after in there parks, in my honest opinion.

      1. PB

        My guess is that Disney panicked when Harry Potter went to Universal and Star Wars was not on the table at the time so Avatar was the only game in town to compete with HP. However, I don’t hear or see kids with Avatar toys, games, etc. No conventions or anything – there just doesn’t seem to be any excitement over Avatar. The movie was an OK summer popcorn movie – entertaining (and sometimes laughable) but forgotten about once the credits roll. Hope I’m wrong – we shall see.

        1. Alex Suissa

          This is exactly what I’m talking about. Try to name more than 2 characters in the movie? without looking it up? And if you can i guarantee a huge majority of people won’t be able to! It’s not anywhere close to a huge movie franchise that Harry Potter is and will never be. I will go to this when it opens because I love Disney and almost everything they do, which I suspect mostly everyone on this site, including you, do. The point though is I don’t see this being a huge thing that will have casual theme park goers and such flocking to the parks to see like Harry Potter had. Throwing stuff out there, I think they should have made Pixar Place bigger in Hollywood Studios. Things I have thought of was a Ratitouille restaurant, Monsters Inc. roller coaster (which was once thought of), bring the Cars ride over here and other such things adding different Pixar movies there. Another idea is expand Pirates of the Caribbean into a land and add different rides and such and make it feel like your in those movies. I think they gross enough and have a big enough standing to try something like that. The different movie franchises they could have went after, better than Avatar, are endless in my opinion and I think this is a mistake even though I have faith it will still be cool, just not a huge money grabber. I don’t know though, time will tell, hopefully I’m proven wrong and it blows everyone away.

          1. PB

            Great comments – totally agree on Pixar as that would have a much more broad audience to attract. I think Disney could pull the plug as they have Star Wars and a portion of Marvel now but it would probably be a PR nightmare and some litigation involved. AK does need something to pull people into the park longer – just dont think Avatar will be it after the newness wears off. Doesn’t Carsland have the exact same route/path as Test Track? I suspect they would have to change it if it were to be brought to FL.

      2. Jeff

        I suspect they will align with the release of Avatar 2

  3. I personally really liked this movie effects, actors and drama are very good, I like to see the implementation of this project in walt Disney, it is also important to always be changing themed or movies for viewers not bored, avatar is a good option.

  4. Patrick

    I am actually very excited about Avatarland. It will basically replace the Beastly Kingdomme which never happened… So legendary, mythical animals. Let’s face it: Universal has dragons, so dragons are not cool anymore… So I think Avatar will fit the bill very well. And the ecological message of Avatar absolutely fits with Avatar. I am also excited because it will be the first land… not attraction, but an entire LAND, that Disney will bring from another studio. I am excited to see what they will do.

    Now if they can give some love to EPCOT next (Future World rehab please!) then I would be super excited. But I will definitely fly to Orlando to see this new land once it opens. I also hope this means that guests will not see Animal Kingdom as a half day park (which it isn’t!).

    Finally, very excited that FotLK is staying. It is my second favorite live show at the parks after Fantasmic!.

    1. Patrick

      ahahah… ‘And the ecological message of Avatar absolutely fits with Avatar.’. I meant fits with Animal Kingdom :)

    2. Al D

      Dragons are ALWAYS cool

  5. Chaz

    I liked the Avatar movie, I just don’t see any place for it in Disney Parks. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, though.

    1. Jeff Lynch

      The place for it in Disney Parks is Animal Kingdom. That’s already been decided

      1. Chaz

        That’s not quite what I meant.

  6. Louis

    This is something else (“Avatar Land”) that I’ll bet continues to be cut down and pushed back until its a shell of its original concept. The company seems adverse to building anything bold until it absolutely HAS to. The new Fantasyland should quell any over excitement.

  7. zz

    sounds like the avatar 2 comes out in 2016 with an avatar 3 and 4 planned to

  8. Ben Slomowitz

    That’s a cool idea, but I have two questions:

    1. How did FOX and Disney support the expansion?

    2. Will there be any room for the new Camp Minnie-Mickey land?

  9. JB

    I don’t understand why Disney doesn’t spend the money on a Star Wars themed land, especially now that the new movies are coming out. Not to mention Star Wars is timeless with adults and children and would likely be more well received than a land based on a movie I’m sure few have watched again since its DVD release

    1. Gina

      They are, rumors have it that they’re expanding the Star Wars area in DHS

  10. Gina

    Honestly they should do something with the beastly kingdom or do the dark kingdom, those ideas were 1000x better then avatar land , it’s such a dumb idea in my opinion it’s just not classic Disney and it was bug when it first came out the same will happen with the next movies, can’t even compare to Harry potter world….ugh I hate that Disney could have done so many better things ….it’s a shame

  11. Jonathan

    Please cancel Avatar Land. I hate that crappy movie full of cliche plotlines and fake (yes fake) looking CGI. James Cameron doesn’t need an even bigger ego. Also, Avatar (much like the current Marvel stuff) does not feet Disney at all and is a disservice; Why not have a South American theme for a a park instead, with a boat ride to see birds, pythons, and monkeys, a huge free flying bird exhibit, and rides such as an Emperor’s New Groove dark ride and a Kronk roller coaster?

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  13. JEANYSANCHEZ

    I Think that Avatar land in Animal Kingdom will be great!

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  1. ‘Lion King’ show moving to new theater within Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Orlando Sentinel | Mouse House Online
  2. ‘Lion King’ show moving to new theater within Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Orlando Sentinel | Mickey News
  3. Parks News: Disney’s Festival of the Lion King Is Getting a New Home

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