What’s undead just in time for Halloween?
No, not this blog! AVATAR-land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. At Walt Disney World. In Orlando. Florida. (There, we’re sufficiently search keyword loaded to get blog hits – oh wait, also: “tickets.”)
Disney recently released – at the Tokyo version of the D23 Expo “naturally” – plans for the AVATAR expansion coming to Animal Kingdom. How did the Disney fandom react? Mass misinterpretation! If you follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or have ever had the displeasure of just having to listen to me rant in public, you’ll know that whenever concept art comes out the fans run to misinterpret it as much as possible. Hence: “I see that AVATAR-land is going to include a version of the UFO ride used for Luigi’s Flying tires!”
I’m honestly not sure if it’s the fact that I’ve had some formal design training or just that I am generally more observant of the world than most, but I’m blessed with the ability to see artistic intent within concept art and models. It is a visual language with its own unique vocabulary – one apparently about as Greek as actual Greek to the average blogger. Oh, and I know how to read EXIF data from image files. That’s important too. Why?
Well, because there’s an importance difference of the dates of creations of the images that Disney released recently. This is “concept” art from October 2012 that was released last week. That’s not a typo, these images were created over a year ago but not given to the public:
Why is the date important? Because those are literally vague concept images. They’re not meant to evoke the actual of anything. Reading into those two images and trying to figure out what’s going into AVATAR-land is an effort in futility. But why do they show what they do…? AVATAR-land will actually have a big “rock” floating mountain and within that “rock” will be the dragon-bird-animal-whatever-it-is flying simulator. How do we know this..? Because the ground plans for the area were leaked that same month in 2012.
I see a queue! I see found IMAX-style dome theaters! I see the general shape of a big “rock” building! Ok, so maybe they did have some clue when they made those images a year ago, but they’re left very vague intentionally. These were moreso to sell the idea internally than to delight and challenge fans. Why “sell” the idea? Because it was NOT internally fully approved. Rumor has it many parties involved didn’t even want to do it. Yes, they had the same skeptical “What? Why in Animal Kingdom?” reaction as many park fans.
But, aside the dragon-bird-thingy version of Soarin there’s also a family friendly boat ride. (Upper right, see the boat ride?)
What boat ride? This boat ride! Image created in September 2013 (this year.)
And while it’s is still vague enough to leave things open to interpretation, it does hint a “small world”-esque usage of glowing frilled rhino beasts. You can see them “in the distance.” The boat ride goes in and around the giant rock, as we saw in the various levels of the ground plan. Oh, and we can also see the boat ride path in the photo of the partial model for the area that was taken last month (Sept 2013):
If you can drag your eyes away from the three gents with horrible lighting and/or spray tans (orange-you-glad it’s Staggs?) and simply take note of the giant rock – I told you’d there’d be a giant rock – you’ll notice hints of blue amid the foliage. By golly, that’s water. If you look carefully, it’s on both sides of the image. It goes around the big rock a bit, under the pathway bisecting the image, and then pops out by Mr. Rhode’s hand… where the next portion of the model has been unceremoniously dragged across the room behind them so they can have their photo-op.
Suppose they’re sitting on stools? Upturned trashcans perhaps? Discarded boxes of spray tan? Regardless, it’s there. So – boat ride, giant rock, Soarin flight simulator featuring dragon-birds. It’s a decent expansion. The intermingled boat ride and rock building is actually part of the trend coming out of Shanghai Disneyland where the giant castle (giant castle.. giant rock.. giant castle.. giant rock.. see the similarity?) will have a boat ride partially exploring its lower levels as well.
All this comes to Animal Kingdom in 2017. Yes, 2017. Universal will probably have built a third park by then, and the second part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be old news by then. We’ll be saying how we’re so bored of riding between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure on the Hogwarts Express by then (or so someone at Disney hopes). Did you know that 3-5 years is the standard timeline for an e-ticket caliber attraction at Disney? Well, now you do. Announced in 2012, re-announced in 2013, construction beginning in 2014 (with the closure of Camp Minnie Mickey and the relocation of Festival of the Lion King) and final grand opening in 2017. Probably Sept/Oct because that’s where the key milestones for this project seem to keep landing.
And.. that’s it for now. If something else actually happens we’ll post again. Until then, we might continue to pay the site’s hosting fees.