Avatar Land Coming to Disney World!

Plans for AVATAR Land have been posted online, and on October 12, 2013 at the Japan D23 Expo, Disney released concept art seeming to confirm these plans. While Disney didn’t explicitly say so, the concept art features a boat floating through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants (think Living with the Land, except breathtaking “Imagineered” plants), a sim ride where you soar into the sky riding a Banshee (think Soarin’), and an incredible environment based on AVATAR, with mountains that appear to float, and other mythical environments. All of this roughly matches those plans that leaked back in 2012.

For some, the even bigger news is that the new plans call for nighttime entertainment on Discovery Island. Based on the description and concept art, this new show sounds like a combination of the Disney Dreams (at Disneyland Paris) tech and the type of pageantry from Tapestry of Nations, the parade that ran in Epcot’s World Showcase during the Millennium Celebration.

This all comes just a couple of months AVATAR Land was teased at the Anaheim D23 Expo, effectively putting to bed months of rumors that the project was on life support or dead. It sounds as if an agreement between James Cameron and Disney has been reached concerning the content of AVATAR Land, and the pace of the project is set to pick up. After the colossal success of the Disney California Adventure overhaul, let’s hope AVATAR Land is similarly well-done. (more…)

Disney Springs Announced for Downtown Disney


Disney Springs is the redevelopment of Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World, announced March 14, 2013 and set to complete construction in 2016, but open in phases prior to that. It is a shopping district concept that is intended to revitalize Downtown Disney and replace the disjointed Westside and Pleasure Island with a single, cohesive concept, separated into four areas: Town Square, Landing, Marketplace, and Westside. Construction begins April 2013.

Once complete, Disney Springs will have over 150 establishments (double Downtown Disney’s current number of approximately 75). The redevelopment is designed to evoke the feeling of turn of the century Florida, and Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs focused heavily on the redesign being a place for families. No announcements have been made concerning the shops, restaurants, and entertainment that will operate at Disney Springs, but speculation is rampant based upon previously leaked plans and a presentation containing the names of numerous third parties, as well as a few Disney-operated restaurants.

The facts of the announcement are covered here and the leaked plans are available here, so we’ll spare you that regurgitated info. Instead, we’ll share our reaction to the news… (more…)

Disney 2013 Promotion: “Limited Time Magic”

Walt Disney World’s and Disneyland’s 2013 promotional celebration was announced today, and it will feature 52 weeks of small celebrations dubbed “Limited Time Magic.” This “Limited Time Magic” campaign replaces “Let the Memories Begin,” which has been the loosely-utilized promotional campaign for the last two years that has really only featured a marketing campaign along with the introduction of The Magic, The Memories, and You!, a nighttime show on Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and on ‘it’s a small world’ in Disneyland (this show will be plussed and reintroduced as Celebrate the Magic (click for information about and our reaction to the announcement of the show) in late 2012). Disney made the announcement in for “Limited Time Magic” in New York and followed with a blurb on the Disney Parks Blog offering additional information. A website has also been launched for the campaign.

“Limited Time Magic” continues Disney’s tradition in recent years of offering a yearly marketing-driven celebrations, but “Limited Time Magic” will undoubtedly offer more for guests in the way of entertainment than “Let the Memories Begin!” or several more recent offerings. (more…)

In Defense of Starbucks on Main Street

Disney California Adventure Starbucks

Disney California Adventure’s Starbucks. Sticks out like a sore thumb! ;)

We Disney fans like to complain. We like to make mountains out of molehills.

This is fine and understandable. I do it too. I think it’s in large part because we spend inordinate amounts of time thinking about and discussing theme parks, which, comparatively speaking, don’t involve the same type of contentious issues as many other topics. So at times we concoct issues.

Now, I’m not attempting to flippantly dismiss the counter-point to my argument before I have even made my actual point. There are unquestionably valid concerns about the addition of Starbucks to the Disney theme parks, and I respect anyone who offers impassioned constructive criticism of Disney that is well-reasoned and thoughtful. This criticism doesn’t (necessarily) make anyone a Debbie Downer (or “foamer” as has become the internet parlance). Actually, I think these folks help draw attention to ill-conceived decisions by management that are only aimed at increasing short-term revenue at any cost. I certainly prefer this type of rational and critical thought over the conflicting polarized groups that, on one side say, “I’ll love anything that Disney does because it’s Disney and Disney is magical” and on the other side reacts to every proposed change as, “ruining the Disney name; not something Walt would want or would have done.” (more…)

Disney Buying LucasFilm For $4.05 Billion

The Walt Disney Company announced today that it is acquiring Lucasfilm, George Lucas’ company responsible for the Star Wars franchise, Indiana Jones, and numerous other properties, for $4.05 billion. As part of the deal, Disney also acquires all of Lucasfilm’s subsidiaries and businesses, including Industrial Light and Magic and Skywalker Sound, which are widely used in the film industry. Disney’s board of directors as well as LucasFilm’s have approved of the transaction, which is now subject to antitrust scrutiny before being finalized.

Regarding the acquisition, Disney’s official corporate blog states, “Fans can expect a new feature film, Star Wars Episode 7, in theaters worldwide in 2015. George Lucas will serve as creative consultant on the film and Kathleen Kennedy, the filmmaker George handpicked to lead Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the rest of Lucasfilm into the future will be the executive producer (she’s also joining Disney as president of Lucasfilm)…Disney plans to release a new Star Wars feature film every two or three years for the foreseeable future.”

Here’s a video Disney released regarding the acquisition:

Our Reaction

Wow. Did anyone see this coming? (more…)