We’re now three months away from the planned opening of Disney ‘s(NYSE: DIS) Avatar -themed expansion. Pandora — The World of Avatar will open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida.
Pandora — The World of Avatar is the theme-park operator’s most ambitious addition to its domestic resorts since 2012, when it opened Cars Land in California and New Fantasyland at Disney World. With the May 27 official grand-opening date closing in, Disney can’t afford to drop the ball. It just raised ticket prices on Sunday, and attendance at Disney World has declined in three of the past four quarters.
Let’s go over a couple of the things Disney is doing to make sure its most ambitious expansion in five years is a hit that brings back crowds who won’t flinch at the higher ticket prices.
3The launch of VisitPandora.com
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There are many unique challenges to promoting Pandora — The Land of Avatar. Unlike the New Fantasyland and Cars -themed Cars Land expansions, Disney doesn’t own the intellectual property, here. James Cameron is Avatar ‘s creator, and Disney isn’t even the studio behind the movie franchise; Fox is the studio behind the franchise.
However, a bigger obstacle than being at the mercy of someone else’s handiwork is educating consumers about the property itself. A popular knock on Disney’s push for an Avatar -themed land is that mainstream audiences have forgotten about the 2009 movie. Ask a random person about Pandora, and odds are good that they will bring up the streaming-music service or the charms-saddled bracelets before they get to the fictional Avatar moon.
Avatar was a box-office hit in 2009, but few outside of the film’s hardcore fans even remember the name of the Na’vi tribe or the film’s principal characters. The media played this up as Disney’s response to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at rival Comcast’s Universal Studios theme parks in Florida and, more recently, California and Japan. However, the breadth of knowledge is deep when it comes to folks who read J.K. Rowling’s seven-book series and saw its eight movies.
There’s a fine line between ignorance and apathy, but Disney is trying to get ahead of the situation with last week’s launch of VisitPandora.com , a website that introduces (or reintroduces) the Avatar lore to the site’s visitors. It plays out as a visitor guide, dabbling into the mystique of the floating mountains and the bioluminescent landscapes. Website visitors are pitched the Kaspavan River that they will be able to explore in one of the expansion’s two new rides. The site also plays up the mountain banshees that guests will be able to ride as a simulation in the new area’s thrill ride.