Will ‘Avatar’ From Fox Provide Disney With The Theme Park Hit It Needs?

Disney And Fox Unveil Plans To Develop ‘Avatar’ Theme Park Attractions

Disney must be hoping that its new plan to build Avatar theme park attractions will be the shot in the arm the business may need. And, unbelievably, the new feature is coming courtesy of Fox Filmed Entertainment and James Cameron.

On paper, all looks well for Disney’s theme park revenues: they were up 9% to $8.7B for the three quarters that ended July 2, while operating income was up 13% to $1.1B. Also attendance has held steady. But most of the growth was due to Disney’s decision to raise prices for tickets, hotels, food, and merchandise. That probably can’t continue if the economy continues to weaken. Meanwhile, some analysts have been alarmed by the high capital expenditures for parks, which more than doubled to $2.1B in the nine-month period. Disney is still working on the $1.1B upgrade it announced in 2007 for its California Adventure park — it struck many visitors as a cheap, generic amusement park when it opened in 2001.  Disney’s also investing in its Aluani Resort in Hawaii (it opens Thursday), Shanghai Disney Resort for 2016, expansion of the Hong Kong properties, a re-do of Disneyland’s Fantasyland, new cruise ships — and covering increased pension obligations.

Construction and licensing costs for the Avatar attraction from Fox and James Cameron could run about $400M, and there’ll be some revenue sharing for the merchandise. But the new project isn’t expected to change Disney’s forecast for its capital expenditures to peak in another year or two.

Financial engineering will help, but Disney parks also need more pizazz: Universal Studios stole a lot of the theme park thunder in Orlando last year when its new Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction became huge hit. Largely due to Potter, readers of the website Theme Park Insiders recently voted Universal’s Islands of Adventure to be the world’s best theme park for the second consecutive year.

Comments (14)

  • Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the Avatar franchise is made. Avatar-the T-shirt, Avatar-the Colouring Book, Avatar-the Lunch box, Avatar-the Breakfast Cereal, Avatar-the Flame Thrower. And last but not least, Avatar the dolls.

    Comment by Ed Eastwick — Tuesday September 20, 2011 @ 4:28pm EDT  
    • nice spaceballs reference

      Comment by Washi Kazuki — Tuesday September 20, 2011 @ 6:45pm EDT  
  • It’s good to know that James Cameron’s promotion of environmentalism and being good to the earth will gut and pillage multiple acres of land and send plumes of construction smoke on a collision course with the ozone layer. Where are the Na’vi, when you need them…

    Comment by Giovanni Ribisi — Tuesday September 20, 2011 @ 4:34pm EDT  
  • what happened to the Disney remake of The Beatles “Yellow Submarine”?

    A Beatles attraction at any Disney park is the ticket. “Penny Lane” would be a ride and restaurant. Maybe a gift shop by the exit? Apple Computer to underwrite the entire attraction…..

    Comment by Mr. Ideas — Tuesday September 20, 2011 @ 4:55pm EDT  
    • Disney plans to create this organic prehistoric “set” as a model to inspire the future. The trends show us that organic architecture has been a movement developing since the early 60s. Architecture that harmonizes with the natural environment. The concept of a Lord of the Rings Theme Park has been circulating around the campfires much more recently. Zero emissions.

      Comment by Gregori Robinson — Tuesday September 20, 2011 @ 9:42pm EDT  
  • Pandora Blues is cured!

    Comment by lane — Tuesday September 20, 2011 @ 4:57pm EDT  
  • Why stop there? Disney should license everything and open a Fritz the Cat Land! Caligula’s Palace! Human Centipede Kingdom!

    If new lands are too ambitious, they can rehab existing attractions: Go Ask Alice in Wonderland! Kevin Spacey Mountain! (Sissy Spacek Mountain for the gals?) Quizno’s Sub Adventure!

    Comment by Burrrbank — Tuesday September 20, 2011 @ 5:58pm EDT  
  • Hope he doesn’t endorse a Titanic line of cruise liners, that probably won’t end well for anybody….

    Comment by dee123 — Tuesday September 20, 2011 @ 6:39pm EDT  
  • I say they tear out California Adventure and make a Marvel theme park.

    Comment by Cody — Tuesday September 20, 2011 @ 6:45pm EDT  
  • Avatar was magical for me, I watched it over and over at the movies. It saddens me greatly that this fantastic story will turn into a happy meal franchaise.

    Comment by sweden — Tuesday September 20, 2011 @ 8:39pm EDT  
  • EPIC. WIN.

    Comment by Tom — Tuesday September 20, 2011 @ 8:41pm EDT  
  • Universal ain’t bad, but it’s not even in the same business as Disney World.

    Comment by LuigiDaMan — Tuesday September 20, 2011 @ 10:35pm EDT  
  |  More Comments

Sorry, comments are closed for this article.