Disney’s Animal Kingdom Update – It’s official, the world’s largest theme-park operator, announced a summer 2017 opening for the much heralded themed land tied to the hit film “Avatar.” Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek gave a construction update on Saturday while speaking at a fan event in Orlando, Florida. The attraction, under construction at the company’s Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, will feature floating mountains and bioluminescent rainforest plants, seen via a boat ride along the fictional Na’vi River, the company said in a statement.
It’s the latest in a series of investments that Disney has made in its parks division. The Burbank, California-based entertainment giant opened a $5.5 billion resort in Shanghai in June that drew 4 million guests in its first four months. Disney is also building “Star Wars”-themed lands at its parks in Orlando and Anaheim, California. The construction boom is part of an arms race of sorts between Disney, Comcast Corp.’s Universal Studios, and other theme-park operators. They’ve found splashy new attractions can lead to increased attendance and higher ticket prices.
“Avatar,” the 2009 film directed by James Cameron, is the top-grossing film in history, with worldwide receipts of almost $2.8 billion. It follows humans attempting to exploit Pandora, a planet inhabited by 10-foot tall, blue-skinned creatures. The film was released by 21st Century Fox Inc.’s studio. Four sequels are planned, starting in 2018.