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Fans of Star Wars and James Cameron’s Avatar will have new reasons to visit Walt Disney World in Orlando this year, after its parent company announced launch dates for two new themed areas. Gizmodo reports the attractions will begin opening as soon as May 2017.
During a quarterly earnings call with investors, Disney chief executive Robert Iger revealed Pandora: The World of Avatar would open on May 27 as an addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Directly inspired by the Oscar-nominated film, the new area will feature two rides, as well as shopping and dining experiences for visitors. The addition of the attraction takes advantage of the abundant space at Animal Kingdom, which currently contains a mix of safari-style tours and rides inspired by destinations in Africa and Asia.
The launch of Pandora will be followed by the expansion of both Disneyland in California and Disney Hollywood Studios in Orlando with a themed Star Wars world. Both theme parks will feature a 14-acre attraction dedicated to the Star Wars universe, timed to launch in 2019 and coinciding with the debut of the final movie in the sequel trilogy. The extent of the new lands has not yet been revealed, but early concepts for the attractions include a ride featuring the Millennium Falcon.
Disney’s move to open new attractions comes as it’s feeling increased competition for park attendees from Universal Resorts. Skift reports that Disney’s theme park division acknowledged an overall park attendance drop by 5% in 2016 during the call. However, not all of the drop was attributed to increased competition: Iger also cited the weekend winter holiday season and Hurricane Matthew as factors in the reduction.
Executives also noted that as the new attractions open, admission prices would continue to rise. In addition to seasonally adjusted prices, Iger noted the parks generally increase the prices on an annual basis.
Featured image of concept art courtesy of Disney Parks and Resorts.
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