Friday, September 23, 2011

Of Beasts And Burdens...

Yeah, king of the world baby...








As we learn more about this deal for an expansion of Disney's Animal Kingdom, some thoughts...

A lot of people are asking about how this deals with the possibility of fans seeing Beastly Kingdom? Well, to be honest, I'll let the dark lord of soulless numbers give you the answer:

”We just won’t do something else we were going to do”

- Jay Rasulo, Chief Financial Officer, Walt Disney Company

That was in response to a question he was asked about the cost of this new "Avatar" land and how it'll affect the bottom line. So for anyone expecting an announcement coming anytime in the near future, you better be patient. While the idea of Beastly Kingdom still lives in the halls of WDI in Glendale, it's not going to be happening anytime soon. And when/if it finally does, don't expect it to look exactly as the original proposal did. Somewhere, sometime in the future you could expect to see dragons, griffins and unicorns to make it to Animal Kingdom, but likely before the end of this decade. I'm willing to wait and watch it grow and evolve.

While "Avatar" wasn't my favorite film in 2009, I can see some appeal for putting it in DAK. And it does fall in the slot of fantasy or mythical creatures, but could likely be referred to as sci-fi creatures. So it would be a variation or play on the original theming of extinct animals, living animals and mythical animals. This would be a subset of that particular group.

And if James Cameron gets his way, which he's used to getting, then you can expect that every penny that he wants will get put into this project. And from what unnamed suits have been saying is this will be somewhere around $500 million dollars. To put that in perspective, Cars Land is somewhere close to $300 million and the Extreme Expansion of the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland is a little under that. Keeping that in mind, remember that the Extreme Makeover of DCA is a little under one billion dollars. So for just a section of DAK Imagineers will have half of that funding. This could make for an extremely immersive world if done properly.

And if everything goes well, dragons, griffins and unicorns will join this place when another expansion finally comes...

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I don't care how big the budget is for this project. It takes arguably the most thematically coherent park at wdw and shoehorns in something that does not belong, no matter the mental gymnastics involved in trying to get it to fit. This is a terrible idea. At least if they put it at the studios it might have somewhat fit, as avatar is a movie but as is this idea is doa. I hope that Cameron is the a hole everyone attributes him to be and the project blows up in Disney's face. Serves them right for even considering this idiotic move.

Anonymous said...

the two last posts were so enlightening... clear and objective. thanks. kudos from brazil!

Mewhunter67 said...

Honor, I agree with the above statement; I applaud bloggers like you that try to keep a middle ground.

While my opinion mirror's poster #1, I do appreciate that you continue to present just the facts and try to make sense of it all. I look forward to more updates

Anonymous said...

Just because you don't like the film doesn't mean it won't fit thematically. DAK is supposed to have "mythic" creatures as well as extinct and living. Simply because it is from a popular film and not a Medieval dragon or some other culture doesn't mean that it is messing up the theming of the park.

Anonymous said...

I think you meant, "but likely NOT before the end of this decade", no?

Jones said...

@ Anonymous: "Just because you don't like the film doesn't mean it won't fit thematically" - it´s not because he did not like the film - it´s because it simply does not fit, everyone can see that, and all the "mental gymnastics" (In like that) in the world won´t change that.

Kevin said...

I frankly don't like Avatar, and I think it doesn't fit with Disney at all. Their original idea was Journey to the Center of the Earth from Tokyo Disney Sea. I also though Beastly Kingdom was interesting, their mythic creatures area. Cameron is a jerk to work with on set, and an ego-centric person at that. Everyone is saying how Avatar is the highest grossing film ever, not true actually, it's Gone with the Wind, adjusted for inflation. Avatar drops to #14 on the list. They should have some kind of Lion King themed area with rides instead, the kids would love it. It's like a desperate attempt to beat Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure, interesting park, but I'm no Harry Potter fan.

Tom Sully said...

"I frankly don't like Avatar, and I think it doesn't fit with Disney at all."

It fits in with Disney's Animal Kingdom and their focus on animals and the environment and nature. Even if you don't like the film, it's a fantasy world of strange and interesting creatures. Just because it's not European myths and is instead based on film characters doesn't mean it doesn't fit. At the Magic Kingdom I would agree with you, but with the enviro-world of DAK, it'll fit in, but more importantly, it'll bring in lots of guests and make the park a full day park finally.

Anonymous said...

I wish that people would quit griping about this. I've never seen the movie, so I have no opinion about it. However, from what I've seen, it looks like the Imagineers will have a lot to work with. I'm just really happy that DAK is finally getting some attention. This will also be great for central Florida.

Anonymous said...

Kevin... that was one of the more incoherent posts I've ever read. The perceived quality of a film has little bearing on the quality of a possible themed ride. What Cameron's supposed on-set behavior has to do with anything is beyond me. Also, Avatar IS the highest-grossing film of all-time. Yes, if you adjusted for inflation, GWTW would have made more. However, I guarantee to you that if it were released today, it would have only made a fraction of what it did. It was made during a time of no TV, no home video, no internet, no video games, no smartphones, etc. Times change. You need to relax.

This is a good move for Disney. It DOES fit the theme of AK. Plus, it is the vital kick-start that this half-day park needed. Is it a response to Harry Potter? Of course it is. If done well, there is no reason that this land can't be great. I look forward to it.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem with Beastly Kingdom is that it's a little too similar to Harry Potter. Harry Potter is fantasy series full of dragons and magic and Beastly Kingdom was going to be a fantasy land full of dragons and magic.

If Disney went forward with Beastly Kingdom I imagine they'd be accused of ripping off Harry Potter by the casual theme park attendee. Sure, the hardcore would know the truth, but who cares about us?

Anonymous said...

While I prefer non-derivative themes for Disney parks, Avatar's message of environmental stewardship is anything but incongruous with AK's overall vision.

But I am not sure how Honor feels that that there is still a possiblity of BK elements being built. Where is the space? The biggest expansion plot is just north of Kali River Rapids...left unused because KRR was originally intended to be a much bigger ride. But I can't see a BK being inserted between Asia and Africa. There are also some empty spaces bordering Dino-land, but again not a place where I would expect Dragons or Unicorns.

- Tasman.

2.0 and Beyond said...

The biggest problem with an Avatar land is that, since the major aspect of the film was it's fantastic alien environment and animal life. As a major park element, it will take up a majority of the budget just trying to replicate those elements, since they won't be able to use any Earth natives to fill any of it.

Any attractions they want to include, in order to achieve any significant challenge to Harry Potter would also require a large investment.

Add to that any creative demands by Cameron (also costly), I really have doubts that whatever Imagineering is able to come up with (it probably would have been wise for them to actually have Imagineering input into the whole Avatar deal before hand) will have the impact that Disney's strategic planning executives are expecting.

Anonymous said...

Camp Micky Minnie is where Beastly Kingdom was supposed to go. The CMM land was done as a last addition to make up for the lack of BK not being there. But it's a very poor substitute for what could have been. Or hopefully will someday be.

FX Guy said...

This whole thing reeks of desperation on Disney's part. Universal and Disney have had a nasty rivalry for decades.

It was kicked into high-gear when Universal approached Paramount to partner with them for their Universal Studios theme park concept in Orlando 30 years ago. The head of the studio (at the time), an guy named Michael Eisner humored Universal throughout several conceptual meetings before politely declining. Oddly enough, Disney partnered with MGM for a Disney, studio-themed, park shortly thereafter. These two companies have been at each other's throats ever since.

The under-valued Islands of Adventure was a direct and desperate attempt to out-do Disney by adding more thrill to the theme park experience; but only met with a lukewarm response while the mouse shrugged it off. Meanwhile Terminator 2 3D, under Cameron's leadership was a hit and Universal continued building a relationship with Marvel.

Disney attempted to make a deal with J.K Rowling for a H.P. themed attraction. She wanted signatory authority for ALL aspects of the attraction. The mouse and declined, so Rowling walked. Wisely, execs at Universal creative jumped at the opportunity to let her have creative control. Of course it is a huge hit which is not surprising considering massive success and devotion to the H.P. stories and characters. Universal immediately began searching for other hugely successful franchises to further build on the succes of the H.P. attraction, Avatar being one of them.

The mouse has since responded desperately to this success by announcing a hastily planned expansion of Fantasyland @ WDW and snatching-away all of the possible licensing deals away from Universal including Marvel and Avatar.

This desperate move by the WDC is typical. My guess is that, with Cameron at the helm, the attraction will be very well done geeks and theme park fanatics praising the results, but the public response will be lukewarm at best. It is also my best guess that Beastly Kingdom will turn up at one of the other parks (Shanghai), but will be dramatically reduced in depth and scope.

Anonymous said...

If Disney won the Harry Potter rights, do you know where they would have placed the attractions? Which resort, park, land, etc.

Anonymous said...

DISNEY GEEK TRANLATOR

"I hate this, this is the worst idea ever"

TRANSLATION
I didn't think of this so I'm unsure and caught off guard...see everyone on opening day

Sincerely,
A fellow geek

FX Guy said...

No I do not. It is my guess that the details would have been determined after an agreement was reached. Perhaps it would have been a singular attraction initially in Florida then rolled out to the other parks if it was successful.

Truecoat said...

I bet Cameron is at home right now trying to add different food and drink scenes to Avatar 2. The first movie had no food except Jake cramming his face with some scrambled eggs. Maybe a plant that makes a beverage the humans will now try to fight over. Something to rival the butterbeer.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I don't know get why everyone is looking forward to this. Hello! This movie is in no way affiliated with Disney. If they wanted to go for the nature conservation route they could of went with Pocahontas.Its worrisome how you guys can just accept this and even want to pay for it.I thought it would of stopped at being able to purchase Wolverine and Spiderman dolls at the parks, now its going to be the Tall Blue Aliens. (I loved Avatar by the way) Disneyland is turning into a pretty expensive swap meet.Its obvious that the suits have all ran out of ideas or is it that the company is confused about itself.What a shame. Whats next? Shrek World or Lord of the Rings Land. Oh boy I can hardly wait.

Anonymous said...

"This movie is in no way affiliated with Disney."

Neither are Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Twilight Zone or Aerosmith but they all got multiple attractions based on them at multiple Disney parks. And they are some of the best attractions.

Anonymous said...

Star Wars, Indiana Jones, nothing to do with Disney, both provided some of the most memorable Disney attractions.

Heck, The African Queen... nothing to do with Disney, yet inspired an entire land. All the sponsors and showcases of classic tomorrowland... nothing to do with Disney, but, they made tomorrowland what it was.

Anonymous said...

Not happy with Disney outsourcing material from other studios. First Star Wars, then Indy and now Avatar.

The parks lose their uniqueness. While all the all the above make fantastic attractions, Disney does not need to borrow Fox, Paramountand Lucasfilm's ideas.

I read on Jim Hill Media how this deal came together: http://jimhillmedia.com/editor_in_chief1/b/press_releases/archive/2011/09/21/jim-hill-s-take-on-the-disney-avatar-deal.aspx

After reading the above article, I'm worried about Tom Stagg's next idea. Up until now, I thought he was a good fit.

Why can't Disney realize that their original attractions are the most popular (Space Mountain, Pirates, Mansion, Etc.)?

They should keep their parks uniquely Disney.

In addition to the Disney created franchises, they could also exploit their acquired materials like Marvel, Muppets, Pixar Etc. While I think Marvel should not go in the magic kingdoms.

Anonymous said...

I don't go to WDW to see Muppets or Star Wars or Avatar or all that other trash. I go to see DISNEY. Soon all of the DISNEY will be covered with trash. Walt must be spinning in his grave.

Darrell said...

Whoa. What happened to Honor? Is there simply a lack of news, or something else? No posts in nearly two weeks! That's got to be a record on *this* blog...

Anonymous said...

The Jungle Cruise may be inspired by African Queen. But it's not based on the movie franchise. Does Disney have to pay a license fee and share food and merchandise with MGM? Are there any warships? Do we see audio animatronic likeness of Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn?