Thursday, September 29, 2011

Disney Parks: DAK getting an added land...

If the blog reports are true (I've read it in several locations now, including FutureProbe and Voyages Extraordinaires), Disney's Animal Kingdom is adding a whole other land, to be based on the movie Avatar. Reactions appear to be mixed.

The most common objection seems to be that Disney is not trusting enough in its own properties and its Imagineers to come up with something interesting enough to base an entire land on. Instead, they are "copying" off Universal and licensing a franchise to create content for their park. I suppose there is something to this. Not so much the properties part, because, well, what does Disney have as far as film that would fit with an entire land in the Animal Kingdom? I'm not sure; perhaps someone has some ideas. I understand the objection, but I don't know what the content that they already own that they're supposed to use is.

The second part is that the Imagineers could come up with something more engrossing than Avatar. This is a stronger objection, in my view. The Imagineers have proven themselves over and over again. Could they, on their own, have come up with a Beastly Kingdom conceptual overlay, for example, that would work better than Avatar? It's likely they could.

It does seem that Robert Iger likes acquiring properties rather than developing them, so the licensing of Pandora fits in with his modus operandi. Then there's cost. I'd guess that, since this story and theme have been pretty well developed for the film, perhaps it is somewhat cheaper to turn it into a land. Perhaps it's even significantly cheaper. I don't know. But it does take out the beginning stages of development, with all the failed ideas and directions, and sets the Imagineers firmly on their path. And there is no reason that they cannot shine in what they finally conceptualize and develop for the theme park land.

In the end, I don't care. This development addresses some significant problems that Disney has. They need something more at this park, and they need something to add capacity to the parks at the resort, on a whole. A while back I posted an entry wishing for a fifth gate, and in the comments it was suggested that they can't (or won't) maintain what's already there, and that what they really need is to turn DAK and DHS into something closer to a full day park.

This development may just do that for Disney's Animal Kingdom.


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