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We just got back from WDW and we asked our VIP Tour Guide about the FOLK rumor. He said it isn't true. It was a proposition, but surveys and studies show that people aren't really enthusiastic about an Avatar Land, partly because Avatar, while technically a great show, it doesn't show promise of sequels being successful. Disney won't invest in something that may not be popular in 4 or 5 years and, by all appearance, Avatar won't be. They'd have to produce 2 more sequels that are box office successes before even contemplating having an Avatar Land. And even when they were talking about putting one in, the discussion included MOVING FOLK, not getting rid of it!
I think that's great news. I personally hope that Avatar land doesn't happen, as it just doesn't do that much for me... I'm sure the theming would be amazing, but I have been wondering about its sustainable appeal in a few years' time.
A lot of the "facts" that come out about changes or new things in the parks come from just this situation-- these are proposals that may or may not be on the table for serious consideration. I try not to pay too much attention to these non-official "announcements" , but it's hard not to get caught up sometimes.
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To me Avatar doesn't seem "Disney" and if they do want to have an Avatar themed show or ride it belongs more in DHS, like Star Wars. But since it was Sci-Fi I can't see the connection for it to be in AK.
Is it common that such an announcement would be made at a show, but not be announced officially (as in, fully publicly made)?
No, not common at all. Front-line cast members are not official spokespeople for the Disney company. I can't think of one example where management authorized such a statement from cast.
Cast members haver been known to comment on matters that directly affect them. For example, if a performer's contract is not renewed. That kind of thing is known months in advance. Usually, that means Disney is making a change in a show, rather than closing it down altogether, although there are examples where it did mean a complete closing. As always, any rumor of change is assumed to be change for the worst.
Co-Author, PassPorter's Walt Disney World, PassPorter's Disney Cruise Line, and PassPorter's Disneyland and Southern California Attractions