Disney Theme Parks are a cornerstone of the fandom and a celebration of all things Walt Disney — along with whatever other properties fall under that umbrella, including but not limited to, Marvel. Many new parks and property-specific additions have been announced over the past few years and whatever news has crept out in their wake has been met with rabid anticipation by Disney pass holders.
Now fans of both Avatar and Star Wars can start counting down the days until they can visit Pandora and Tatooine from within the comfort and safety of a Disney Park. Star Wars Land was given a 2019 release date, which is closer than some expected, though not altogether specific, whereas Pandora: The World of Avatar has an exact date the doors will swing open: May 27, 2017 at Walt Disney World in Anaheim, California.
Disney CEO Bob Iger announced both of these dates as well as boasting that he has seen both Thor: Ragnarok and Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, praising both films that hit theaters in November and December 2017, respectively. He went on to add of Pandora: the World of Avatar that it is:
“very big,” and “We really believe in coming years that the interest in Avatar is only going to grow.”
Unfortunately, Iger offered no further insight into the current state of development on Star Wars Land, easily the more anticipated park of the two. Star Wars Land was originally announced during the 2015 D23 Expo as an expansion of both the California-based Disneyland and Florida-based Disney World with the possibility for international expansion to parks like EuroDisney hanging unaddressed. Many see this expansion as a direct answer to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter additions to Universal Parks that were completed in 2016.
It is certainly exciting for fans of the blockbuster Star Wars franchise to get a chance to step onto some of their favorite planets — beyond the brief Jedi training that used to be offered at the parks — as well as being a great business move with the new movie franchises running away with the box office each holiday season. Despite the fact that Disney Parks the world over hiked their ticket and subscription prices in the last year, leaving most consumers to spend well over $1,000/person if they are interested in becoming pass holders, the addition of Star Wars Land could have fans coming back simply to experience the Force.
It leaves one to wonder — why Avatar? James Cameron‘s 3D franchise has been in development since its first installation broke onto the silver screen in 2009. Four more feature films were announced, cast, and seem to be nebulously in production to this very day. Pandora: The World of Avatar is certain to be populated by beautiful creatures and landscapes, if constrained to a singular planet in comparison to plethora of worlds that could be seen over in Star Wars Land. While not necessarily the worst franchise to expand into a theme park, it does seem that Star Wars Land would have been the stronger foot to put forward, in place of Pandora: The World of Avatar that has struggled in some of its brand expansions — the Cirque du Soleil tie-in show TORUK has met middling reviews.
Pandora: the World of Avatar opens on May 27, 2017 and Star Wars Land opens in 2019.