Okay, just this once. On the occasion of the WalDisCo and James Cameron going abed, we'll allow Disney's theme parks division to be nakedly reactive. This isn't the first time Disney has parried a perceived threat to its theme parks (see every other article Jim Hill has written from 1998 onward), but it's got to be the first time that they've telegraphed a counterstrike. (Okay, okay: The first time since Eisner.) It must have taken real restraint for Disney's social media wonks not to send a message like this one to the bloggers:
Yes, the Avatar attractions we're now planning for Disney Animal Kingdom are a response to the runaway success of Universal Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Also: As you've long suspected, we profit from our theme parks; they're not a public trust.
No, we couldn't come up with our own franchise to compete with Potter. Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Wars already have a presence in the parks, and we can't build around them without screwing up already-themed areas at great risk; we don't dare rip up that much Walt. Also, Tron has too narrow an appeal, Prince of Persia was a stupid idea from the word go, and you know what we're doing with Cars.
Yes, you're absolutely right, o savvy observer of our business: The reason we didn't announce this at the D23 convention was because contracts weren't yet in place. You're so smart! And you use such big words.
No, we could care less that James Cameron is kind of an asshole. He's an asshole who gets your money, again and again, despite his flat storytelling and crotch-grabbing acceptance speeches.
No, we can't put it in Disney Hollywood Studios. That's not the park that so desperately needs paid admissions. And Avatar kinda fits into Animal Kingdom better, anyway, because it has trees and animals and stuff.
Yes, it would be nice to have those KUKA Robocoaster usage rights about now.
Yes, we expect Geoff Carter will show up, despite the fact that he's never seen Avatar and he never, ever wants to see Avatar.
EDIT, SEPTEMBER 21, 9:30 A.M. PACIFIC TIME: Less than a day after I posted this entry, Disney released a statement that more or less approximates it. You're welcome, Mr. Staggs! I'll invoice you shortly.