Okay, just this once. On the occasion of James “King of the Assholes” Cameron selling Avatar’s theme park rights to Disney, we’ll allow the WalDisCo 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 their counterstrike. It must have taken real restraint for Disney’s social media wonks not to send a message like this one to the usual influencers:
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. 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: The reason we didn’t announce this at the D23 convention was because contracts weren’t yet in place. Good investigative work, o savvy observer of our business.
No, it doesn’t bother us that James Cameron is kind of an epic asshole. Why? Because’s an asshole who gets your money, again and again, despite his flat storytelling and crotch-grabbing award 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 in tone. You’re welcome, Mr. Staggs. I’ll invoice you shortly.