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Does AVATAR Land belong in Disney's Hollywood Studios?

Without a doubt the news story of the day, week, month and quite possibly the year is Disney's announcement to acquire the rights to build a themed land in Disney's Animal Kingdom based on the film AVATAR by James Cameron.  The news has been met with lots of different opinions and it's also got a lot of people thinking about many decisions Disney has made.  

Myself, I tend to look at things through a Hollywood Studios filter (shocking, I know) and I couldn't help but ponder if AVATAR Land should be in Disney's Hollywood Studios.  My gut reaction when I first read the news was, "Why didn't they put it in the Studios?".  Off the bat, AVATAR doesn't exude an aura of animals.  It's not the sort of film that makes you think of animals in the way that Finding Nemo or the Lion King do.    And clearly Disney's Hollywood Studios is a park devoted to celebrating Hollywood so I saw a stronger connection to the Studios than Animal Kingdom.

I probably should mention I haven't actually seen AVATAR, however when a film becomes as popular as AVATAR was when it became the highest grossing film of all time, it's hard to not know some basic details about the film.  Some friends of mine who had seen the film explained the conservation angle and it made better sense to me then.  Yet the film's connection to Animal Kingdom wasn't crystal clear.

Ultimately, I don't think AVATAR Land is in Animal Kingdom because of just the conservation angle.  I think the decision to put it there has more to do with logistics than theme.  Even if I could make the decision to put AVATAR Land in Disney's Hollywood Studios, the reality is there's nowhere to put it given the size of the land that the project needs.  There's certainly not enough vacant land within the confines of the park's boundries to do so and if you're thinking of knocking something down to make way for it, the only option is the Backlot Tour but I'm not sure Disney perceives the Backlot Tour as needing to be replaced.

With Animal Kingdom, they certainly have the space for it since it's rumored to be going in an area of the park that was proposed in the park's original plans, but never built (Beastly Kingdom).  In addition, anyone that knows anything about Disney World is fully aware that Animal Kingdom desperately needs more attractions.  So the decision to put AVATAR Land in Animal Kingdom makes more and more sense.

So while I think in terms of just theme it makes sense for AVATAR Land to be in Disney's Hollywood Studios, nonetheless I can see why Disney ultimately chose the Animal Kingdom for this new $4-600 million expansion.  

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A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 by