Disney to open Avatar attraction next year

Cinema Still: Avatar.
Cinema Still: Avatar. PHOTO: SINGTEL

NEW YORK • Walt Disney Co, the world's largest theme-park operator, has announced a new attraction opening in the middle of next year, based on the hit film Avatar.

Disney Parks & Resorts chairman Bob Chapek gave a construction update last Saturday while speaking at a fan event in Orlando, Florida.

The attraction, under construction at the company's Animal Kingdom park in the city, will feature floating mountains and bioluminescent rainforest plants, viewed from a boat ride along the fictional Na'vi River, the company said in a statement. It is the latest in a series of investments that Disney has made in its parks division.

The Burbank, California-based entertainment giant opened a US$5.5-billion (S$7.8-billion) resort in Shanghai in June that drew four 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 among Disney, Comcast's Universal Studios and other theme-park operators.

They have found that 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 US$2.8 billion. It follows humans attempting to exploit Pandora, a fictional planet inhabited by tall, blue-skinned creatures.

The film was released by 21st Century Fox's studio. Four sequels are planned, starting in 2018.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2016, with the headline 'Disney to open Avatar attraction next year'. Print Edition | Subscribe