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September 21, 2011

Cameron: Disney’s ‘Avatar’ land to look, feel, smell like Pandora

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avatar2 Cameron: Disneys Avatar land to look, feel, smell like Pandora

"Avatar" (WETA / 20th Century Fox)

When James Cameron’s “Avatar” hit theaters in 2009, many moviegoers were so dazzled by the lush, 3-D world of the alien moon Pandora that they wanted to step right inside. Now the Walt Disney Co. is aiming to offer that kind of experience to its theme park patrons.

Disney’s Imagineers are working with Cameron, his producing partner Jon Landau and studio 20th Century Fox to bring the fantasy world from “Avatar” to its theme parks, beginning with a multi-attraction themed land at the Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Fla.

Though the attraction is still in its earliest development stages, Cameron has clear ideas about what he’d like any Pandoran land to include, which he shared in an interview on Tuesday.

“I definitely want to do a flight attraction of some kind,” the director said, citing the “Soarin’ Over California” flying ride at Disney’s California Adventure Park in Anaheim as a personal favorite. “Flying is a big part of the movie. One of the things people liked the most at test screenings was going up into the floating mountains in the flying sequences. We may have banshees, Leonopteryxes, maybe some other flying creatures that don’t make their appearance until the second and third films.”

Disney’s Imagineers will also be tasked with bringing Na’vi culture and the natural world of Pandora to life, along with creating “a  general sense of the future,” Cameron said.

“It all needs to be one fabric,” he said. “As long as it’s thematically consistent, as long as it looks and feels and smells the way you imagine it, then we’ve succeeded.”

The hugely successful Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando, which depicts the universe created in J.K. Rowling’s books and Warner Bros.’ films right down to the mugs of butter beer for sale at concessions, provides something of a template for a theme park attraction that is faithful to its source material.

As Rowling was with the Potter theme park, “Avatar’s” creators say they will be hands-on in developing the attraction.

Groundbreaking for the “Avatar” land at Animal Kingdom is planned for 2013, but the attraction isn’t scheduled to open until 2016, after the premieres of the “Avatar” sequels in 2014 and 2015.

To linger a bit longer on Pandora in the meantime, see this story with Dawn C. Chmielewski on the theme park plans, or look back at some of our “Avatar” coverage from the past.

– Rebecca Keegan

twitter.com/@thatrebecca

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