Yesterday, Disney announced that they had secured the limited North-American domestic retail non-seasonal theme-park rights to the movie Avatar, and would soon be creating a new Avatar-themed land in Florida’s Animal Kingdom. Today, they released additional details, including a very important correction.
Instead of trying to explain this ourselves, we’ll let an excerpt from a press release of dubious authenticity do the talking:
In the many years that Disney has been licensing properties and announcing that we have licensed properties, there have been a few moments of unintentional fun. It goes all the back to Walt Disney, who had to rescind his plans for Edison Square at Disneyland when it was discovered that his legal team had forgotten to license Thomas Edison’s name, and that Edison’s estate was not interested in any theme-park attraction that might be seen as implying that the great inventor was “a square.”
In more recent years, then Disney-MGM Studios had to retract its announcement of the creation of a real-live Sesame Street when it was realized that somehow Disney had forgotten to purchase most of its related characters when it bought the Muppets from Henson Productions. And who can forget the happy accident of Disney, intending to obtain the licensing rights for the state of Indiana, accidentally licensed the Indiana Jones movie franchise.
So it is with a sense of optimistic hopefulness that Disney must correct its previous announcement about the licensing of characters and locations from the film Avatar. It turns out — and we’re sure you’ll find this as funny as we did — that instead of licensing the James Cameron film, our property acquisition team somehow managed, through a little honest miscommunication, to license the television show Avatar, which was recently made into the M. Night Shyamalan film, The Last Airbender.
Although there may be some fans who are disappointed, we think this is a great opportunity. Market research conducted last night revealed that our original plan to create enormous animatronic Na’vi that could be mentally controlled by selected guests would likely have not been popular at all. Guests really don’t want to have to go to all the trouble of hooking up electrodes to their head just to play with a huge alien robot in a thoroughly realized artificial alien world. Research also indicated that guests would be disappointed with the land if it lacked certain elements from the film, such as free-roaming dangerous animals and an atmosphere that’s deadly to humans. Thank goodness Disney didn’t go through with this and similar plans only to find out that guests didn’t like them!
Instead, we will be devoting close to a billion dollars to creating a world right out of The Last Airbender. There will be, for example, enormous animated fountains that use air instead of water, a bald white kid signing autographs, and — well — a bunch of other neat things that we’re going to be thinking of really, really soon. This will be an expansion Animal Kingdom can be proud of!
For those James Cameron fans who are still feeling a bit let down, don’t forget that Disney Studios’ Great Movie Ride still has an awesome Aliens scene with a character that looks just like Dr. Grace Augustine with a gun!
Having to make a sudden change in plans has opened up a Pandora’s box (no pun intended) of difficulties for Disney. They had already contracted with dozens of former basketball players who were willing to be painted blue every day and depict Na’vi, hundreds of pounds of unobtainium had been purchased to construct trash cans for the new land, and the song that was going to bridge the transition from Animal Kingdom’s Asia area into the Avatar area — Survivor’s new hit, “Eywa the Tiger” — had already been recorded (it will be released online as a free download).
Thankfully, the worldwide popularity of The Last Airbender — a film with enough die-hard fans to nearly fill a high school gymnasium locker room — practically makes Animal Kingdom’s new Avatar land a shoe-in for success.