Disney’s Avatar theme park won’t be cheap

As we previously reported, James Cameron’s Avatar has inspired a series of Disney amusement park adventures that should be ready in time for Avatar 2’s release in 2014. 

Now Cameron has spoken to the L.A. Times about Disney’s upcoming plans for the rides, which are still obviously in the early stages. 

However, Cameron confirmed he wants to do a flight attraction of some kind, “[as] flying is a big part of the movie.”

“One of the things people liked the most at test screenings was going up into the floating mountains in the flying sequences,” he noted. 

Cameron has also said there may be creatures incorporated into the attractions that we won’t see until the second and third movies. He added, “As long as it’s thematically consistent, as long as it looks and feels and smells the way you imagine it, then we’ve succeeded.”


The Times also reports that construction will begin in 2013, but the attractions are slated to open in 2016, when both Avatar 2 and 3 will already be in theaters in 2014 and ’15 respectively. We also just reported on TG that there’s a Star Trek theme park ride in the works to open in Jordan in 2014, so you’ll be able to make the trek there at least two years before the Avatar rides are ready.


Of course none of this is going to be cheap, that’s never really been a word in Cameron’s vocabulary, and Deadline speculates the construction and licensing costs on this could cost “about $400 million,” which could have been what Avatar itself cost to make.

Although no one’s saying for certain, there have been some crazy estimates that put it at $500 million, while others name a $300 million range. Jay Rasulo, CFO of Disney’s parks operations, was just quoted on Deadline as saying the Avatar arrangement is “a stand licensing deal” that won’t give Cameron a percentage of the ticket sales, like Spielberg’s deal with Universal, but they will be sharing the merchandising spoils.


You would think there’s still a lot of money that can be made from theme park rides, a knowledgable source told me there was a point in the ’70’s when the Universal Studios Tour was making more money than the company’s movies, and like most things Cameron, I’m willing to bet this should rake in some big money, especially with the trilogy completing by mid-decade.