Is the World of Avatar Finally Coming to Animal Kingdom?

It appears that the Avatar franchise will very likely make its way into Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World.

A partnership between James Cameron and Disney was announced last September, but then things fell silent.  There were a couple mentions at Disney events and shareholder meetings, but not much more than “we’re still working on it” comments.

However, Disney has been working diligently on blueprints behind the scenes.  Yours truly had the privilege of reviewing the conceptual floorplans, building sections, architectural narratives and mechanical/electrical scopes for a new mini-land in Animal Kingdom.

While the plans do not come out and refer to Avatar in any way, the code name for the project is “Morpho”.  There are a number of hidden connotations to that, which we won’t go into here.

After some additional fact checking today, it was confirmed that these plans – which are currently in the hands of a number of contractors who are assisting Disney in creating a preliminary budget for the project – were drawn with Avatar in mind.  Granted, if Disney and Cameron can’t come to terms, these plans could be repurposed for just about anything.

Some highlights of this project, should it see the light of day:

  • It will be built where Camp Minnie-Mickey is now. Festival of the Lion King is slated to close and supposedly move to another location in the park.  This new land would encompass most of that area, and likely extend further south into some cast parking behind the Rainforest Cafe
  • There will be a main show building which will house what Disney is calling an E-Ticket attraction, as well as part of a C-Ticket attraction.
  • The E-Ticket attraction will be much like Soarin’, but in 3D.  Guests will climb a winding path up through a mountain and into the show building. From there, they will be directed up or down a ramp to one of three levels of ride platforms.  There are four theaters, each with 3 levels of seating, so the line should move fairly smoothly. It’s unclear what type of ride apparatus or vehicle they’ll use – but it will be substantial and heavy based on the foundation drawing we saw.
  • The first two floors, under the 3rd floor queue for the E-Ticket, will be an indoor part of the C-Ticket boat ride (or at least what appears to be a boat ride).  It will also venture outside, or perhaps travel within the lower levels of the mountain/rockwork under the sloping outdoor queue.
  • Not yet drawn, but noted as “Under Development” are retail locations, area restrooms and a quick service restaurant.
At this time, we don’t know much more than this.  These documents are highly confidential, and seem to have slipped through a few slippery contractor fingers.  Our guess is that Disney is quickly figuring out a price tag for this land, so they can finalize negotiations with Cameron before the big December 7 “announcement”.  If they fail with Cameron, we’re positive they have a Plan B up their sleeve that will use the same ride systems.
If we hear more, we’ll keep everyone updated. Until then, watch for hints on the Disney Parks Blog.