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Did the Disney Pandora Spark More ‘Avatar’ Sequels?

Is director James Cameron creating multiple sequels to Avatar (2009) because of the Pandora land within the Walt Disney World Resort?

Pandora – The World of Avatar, inspired by James Cameron’s Avatar, is a region of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park based on the movie’s setting and Na’vi people’s culture. The $500 million development opened to the public in 2017 after three years of construction to great fanfare.

While the first Avatar film follows the foiled attempts of an Earthen military to colonize the fictional exo-planet moon, Pandora, the Animal Kingdom area of the same name does not feature any characters from the franchise. Instead, the theme park property invites Guests to a vaguer Pandora already one generation ahead to explore the fantastical flora and fauna from the perspective of Earth-based conservationists.

All in the Details: Creating Pandora – The World of Avatar As A Real Place  | Disney Parks Blog

Credit: Disney

Plus, the theming implies that the former colonizer humans are now attempting to rectify their past mistakes by preserving Pandora’s original habitats, which is in line with Animal Kingdom’s focus on environmental stewardship. What’s more, Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) even focuses on the next generation in favor of revisiting previous characters as well!

While the original film still retains the title of “highest-grossing movie of all time,” it’s unclear whether the upcoming sequel, which premieres December 16, will be received quite so well. However, regardless of its financial success, it does serve the purpose of bringing cultural relevancy to Avatar again while introducing its bioluminescent universe to a whole new generation of audiences almost a decade later.

Movie Review - 'Avatar' - Big-Picture Visions, Stirringly Realized : NPR

Credit: NPR

Of course, this benefits the Walt Disney Company, not just because they previously acquired the ownership over the Avatar franchise and distributer 20th Century Studios, but also as it drives new viewers inside the gates of Animal Kingdom to explore the world of Pandora. Indeed, while the Pandora theme park is popular with fans now, and acclaimed for its creativity and technological prowess, it’s possible this could change in the future.

Think about it. Unlike the physical permanence of a Park structure that would be costly to change or remove, societal whims and trends fluctuate rapidly. Will people a decade or more down the line even know what Avatar (2009) is? And by extension, will they understand or have an interest in visiting Disney’s Pandora?

This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Pandora – The World of Avatar at Night | Disney  Parks Blog

Credit: Disney

On the other hand, it’s possible that Pandora could grow dated and irrelevant quickly compared to more “classic” attractions and areas such as Main Street, U.S.A., or the Haunted Mansion, for example. In fact, as a sci-fi-inspired area based upon a modern, but nearly ten-year-old film, Pandora faces its very own version of the “Tomorrowland Problem,” one that releasing continued sequels could solve.

For example, if Avatar were to begin operating like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and produce new content regularly every few years, that intellectual property remains fresh in audiences’ minds and justified within Disney Parks. Could this be why Cameron has already announced up to six Avatar sequels?

In fact, these plans seem so assured, Cameron reported the names of two of the four sequels: a fourth film titled Avatar: The Tulkun Rider and the fifth, Avatar: The Quest for Eywa. Cameron even sees the franchise as so important to continue he’s willing to promote a successor to keep it alive after him:

“I’d be 89 by then, Obviously, I’m not going to be able to make Avatar movies indefinitely, the amount of energy required … I would have to train somebody … because, I don’t care how smart you are as a director, you don’t know how to do this.”

Countdown to Pandora – The World of Avatar: Cast Members Prepare to Bring  Pandora to Life | Disney Parks Blog

Credit: Disney Parks Blog

But why? Regardless of whether or not the Avatar films and Disney Parks and Resorts are truly linked, you have to admit this seems like an extreme amount of dedication to the franchise on Cameron’s part.

Do you think the Disney Park Pandora has motivated these Avatar sequels? Any Guests wishing to see Disney’s Pandora for themselves first can book reservations and purchase admission for the Animal Kingdom Park at the Walt Disney World Resort here.

About Spencer Beck

Spencer is a lifelong lover of theme parks, princesses, and Disney history that recently relocated to Northern California. She completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA, where she was the founder and first president of the campus Disney Club. A former Cast Member still mourning the loss of the Disney Store, she now haunts the halls of the Walt Disney Family Museum, and shares her opinions with anyone who will listen @pinknpurble everywhere.