Disney shares first look at possible Avatar experience coming to Disneyland

Apr 03, 2024 in "Disneyland Resort"

Posted: Wednesday April 3, 2024 2:39pm ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

At today's Walt Disney Co. annual shareholders meeting, Disney CEO Bob Iger shared a first look at blue-sky concept art for a possible Avatar experience at Disneyland Resort in California.

Iger said, "You've heard me mention before our intention to bring Avatar to Disneyland and our Imagineers have been hard at work dreaming up what guests might expect. And today I'm excited to give you a first look at the creative inspiration for this possible new destination."

The rendering shows a Pandora landscape with a water-based attraction. The rockwork appears to hide a show building, and the attraction may be a larger version of Animal Kingdom's Na'vi River Journey, with indoor and outdoor elements and most likely a thrill component.

Following the shareholder meeting, Disney Experiences Chairman Josh D'Amaro added, "We are excited about the stories our guests could experience at Walt's original theme park destination after approval of DisneylandForward – including the chance to experience all-new Avatar adventures with a visit to Pandora."

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MistaDee5 days ago

Yeah I think we're on the same page - just semantics at some point. Was just trying to say that Disneyland Forward is the better outreach and workshop approach. It's not just the re-zoning, it's the affordable housing and cash payments etc that represent the new approach to relations with Anaheim.

MagicWDI5 days ago

I see this becoming a chicken and the egg scenario. Let's just say this. If DisneylandForward did not pass, Disney could still move forward with an Eastern Gateway project. However, they could not continue with theme park expansion west of Disneyland Dr or retail into Toy Story. So no, the Eastern Gateway is not dependent on DisneylandForward the same way the rest of the resort expansion is. Disney conducted the whole process of the first project all wrong (as well as with the 4-star hotel announcement at the same time the original Easter Gateway project was cancelled), but that doesn't mean this project needed DisneylandForward to pass. They could've later revived the project with better outreach and workshops, which they should've done from the beginning.

MistaDee5 days ago

Yeah I think you're right on the money, will be interesting to see where construction begins. Isn't that "pushback" entirely the reason why DisneylandForward became such a carefully coordinated, marketed effort for Disney to work with Anaheim? From my limited understanding, the original Eastern Gateway plan still needed approvals from Anaheim that have now been folded into DisneylandForward. So it's not entirely accurate to say it wasn't dependent on rezoning proposals specifically when it's more about Disney's overall strategy for managing the city of Anaheim and its constituents, which is much of what DisneylandForward represents. This is my suspicion as well - seems like a very short-sighted way to manage very long-term park investments but maybe they're just hoping for the "synergy" an attraction announcement for a big box office Marvel film might provide DIS on the stock market...

britain6 days ago

They also might be waiting for good news on the Marvel movie front to THEN say, “And we’re making progress on the E-Ticket!” Way of Water was like the last box office hit they’ve had.

MagicWDI6 days ago

But the Eastern Gateway was never truly dependent on any rezoning proposals included in DisneylandForward. I mean, the project, albeit the smaller project that kept the former ICE building intact, was already rolling back in 2017. It would've been finished years ago if it wasn't cancelled (scary thought, indeed) due to pushback. The expanse pad for Hollywood Backlot was already in the works and would've been ready for any expansion by now. If Avatar was slated for this spot (not saying it is or isn't, was or wasn't) it could've gone thru even if the DisneylandForward rezoning didn't happen. But now... now we have the possibility of an even bigger Avatar experience and the Hollywood Backlot expansion pad could be used for... Zootopia maybe? Just spit balling here.

BrianLo6 days ago

Locations can and do change. Especially since I think Pandora is still somewhat a bit earlier in the design process than alluded to. It was only really started from scratch in Jan 2023. But I think given the recency of multiple sources spilling details on the land, that were really quite quickly verified by Disney indirectly with the new concept art, it's a bit foolish for us to speculate that it has moved. We'd need something a bit more concrete other than well wishes. Pandora's connection to DL Forward was always tied into the Eastern Gateway project. So while Bob mentions it as tied to DL Forward, a project like Avengers, that theoretically should launch first, is clearly not.

Ismael Flores7 days ago

I think a hint could have been something Bob said several days back. He said something about Avatar going to Anaheim but the size of the experience would be determined depending on whether disneyland forward was approved. That statement sounded like no matter what they wanted to get Avatar in the parks. Problem most likely was that the area for it was not large enough for what they wanted to do. The Disneyland forward approval now gives them the option to still build the land at an expanded footprint since the shuttle area can now be relocated as soon as the new shuttle area is built. They can do that before the parking structure is even finished. If that is the case it will be interesting to see how quick they move on building the pedestrian bridge over Harbor because that would be a key element. The new shuttle area can be built fairly quick since it is mostly flat construction work on an existing parking lot

Professortango18 days ago

I always found that DCA has, currently, one solid "Disney-level E-Ticket" in a way that reflects scale and artistic quality Disney has become known for, and that is Radiator Springs Racers. I suppose you can say Mission BO, but while they made the queue more elaborate, they made the ride experience even cheaper feeling with screens replacing the two practical scenes and effects. It feels like a Universal Studios E-Ticket like Kong Skull Island or Fast and Furious Supercharged. Great queue, physically a little exciting, but visually flat and feeling like a studio tour upgrade. GRR, Soarin', and Incredicoaster have the scale of an E-Ticket, but lack the Disney quality of storytelling that we come to expect. I've always considered Midway Mania a D ticket due to the queue Animatronic and just how fun the ride experience is. I wanted to hate it, but I do have a fun time on the attraction. Monsters Inc is a definite C for me. Its figures are similar to what you would find in Fantasyland, the ride design is similar as well, the effects are fun and work within the ride's scale and scope. Its usually a walk on like most of the Fantasyland Darkrides. As for Avatar, I HOPE it goes in Simba as I don't think it works in Disneyland and the transition from Hollywood Land to a lush alien jungle immediately leaves me very worried as that's not Disney's style. But the idea that they would need to build it in Simba and then also construct a bridge/sink the street and theme that leaves me concerned that its too much work to get it open for guests to experience. If it is in Hollywood Backlot, they can just take down the walls when they are done and its open for guests, however jarring the transition is.

britain8 days ago

I rescind my previous statement. I understand now that building Avatar in the lot south of Pixar hotel is in actuality the fastest thing they could do, as long as they don’t NEED those parking spaces.

MistaDee8 days ago

Yeah I totally agree with GRR - especially if we're gonna call Incredicoaster an E-ticket then it's basically the same but with water instead of roller coaster. I guess it's sort of a reflection on the overall quality of the offerings that I'd say GRR is an E for DCA, but Popeye's Bilge Rat Barges at IOA would probably be a D, even though I think it's probably the superior rafting ride. C and D are definitely the hardest to categorize and I think I'm struggling to distinguish between my own preferences and the more objective scale/quality of the offerings. Little Mermaid, Spider-man, Midway Mania could all go either way for me - sky school and Monsters Inc feel more like surefire C-tickets. Redwood Challenge trail could easily be a B ticket too - I guess I just associate "walk-through" with lower value but it's certainly a far superior experience to something like Silly Wings or Inside Out.

mickEblu9 days ago

Ok, I think C and D Tickets are probably the hardest to classify and generally where you'll find the most disagreement. I think GRR is most definitely an E ticket. I think if it had even just one impressive AA nobody would call it a D ticket. So if it's one Harold away from being an E than that means its already an E. Here's how I would classify them. I know most people probably consider Spiderman and TSMM D tickets. E-ticket: Radiator Springs, Soarin', Mission Breakout, Incredicoaster, Grizzly River Run D-ticket: Monsters Inc, Little Mermaid C-ticket: Goofy's Sky School, Spider-Man, Toy Story Midway Mania, B-ticket: Luigi's, Mater's, Inside Out spinner, Silly Swings, Zephyr, Jumpin Jellyfish A-ticket: Red Car Trolley, Redwood Challenge Trail* *Feels like it could/should be a B ticket. This is why I think in modern times we just need to lump A's and B's together. How can these dressed up carny rides rank higher than Redwood Challenge Trail. I know its not a ride but quality/ theming is much superior.

MistaDee9 days ago

Yeah I'm certainly a little confused as to how they're phasing their investments, especially with regards to the languishing Avenger's E-ticket.... it's now been 5 years(?) since it was announced and they don't seem to be close to breaking ground. It was my understanding that: - they'd be able to break ground on an avatar sized plot of the Simba(? south of paradise pier hotel) and be able to absorb the decreased parking within Mickey and Friends. If that is true, then in some ways a parking lot is easier to build and stage construction on compared to working within a park boundaries, demolishing existing structures and reconfiguring the bus depots. The only added infrastructure question would be building the connection to DCA and potentially an entrance from Paradise Pier Hotel. I may very well be wrong about that though. Also the city can't really cry "bait and switch" at all at this point. The plan is signed sealed and delivered so they'd have to sue to have any recourse. Disney can build in any order they want. Yeah very well might be the case they just break ground on the DCA site for Avatar - who knows! To be honest, only E-tickets seem that well defined, in DCA I guess I'd say categorize some as follows: E-ticket: Radiator Springs, Soarin', Mission Breakout, Incredicoaster, D-ticket: Grizzly River Rapids, Toy Story Midway Mania, C-ticket: Goofy's Sky School, Spider-Man, Monsters Inc, Little Mermaid (this was originally billed as a D ticket but has suffered) B-ticket: Luigi's, Mater's, Inside Out spinner, Silly Swings, Zephyr A-ticket: Red Car Trolley, Redwood Challenge Trail, Jellyfish jumpers Lots of edge cases here: Mermaid could be a D, Web Slingers too maybe - but that's generally how I see it

mickEblu9 days ago

The elusive modern day C ticket is probably the most confusing for me. In my mind there are E tickets, D tickets and then flat rides which I guess most are A tickets? Or are A tickets reserved for transportation rides? Actually shooter rides to me kind of fit that C ticket spot perfectly. If Monsters is a C ticket, is TSMM a B ticket? Oh ya, insiders are wrong often (although sometimes I think that's because the plans actually changed) but the way you worded your post had me wondering if you actually read heard any rumors that indicated it was going in DL Forward. I think Bob's comment indicate the opposite. Feels like the more likely thing would be for them to start work on theme park proper/ DCA and the Eastern gateway.

britain9 days ago

Well, I suppose it’s possible that Avatar will be put in one of the new locations, but that kicks it down the road quite a bit, because there’s so much that has to happen in order to free up those spaces. I mean, I guess you can act like Avatar is the “grand finale” of the new Disney decade (like Westcot was going to be) but there’s gotta be stuff you build in the meantime (today’s equivalent of the original little mermaid ride, the young Indiana Jones stunt show, Dick Tracy’s crime stoppers, etc.). I still think Avatar will be something they soon build on land that is already theme park, while they also start building the parking garage to free up other space. The city may cry “bait and switch” but how is it hurting them if it’s built sooner on “regular” theme park land?