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OTRC: 'Avatar' is coming to Disney theme parks

Mickey Mouse / Zoe Saldana appears in a scene from the 2009 film 'Avatar.' (Walt Disney Company / 20th Century Fox)

"Avatar" is coming to Walt Disney World.

Themed lands based on the hit James Cameron blockbuster, the top-grossing film of all time, are set to be built inside Disney parks, the company says, adding that construction on the first such project is set to begin in 2013 in Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom.

"With its emphasis on living in harmony with nature, Animal Kingdom is a natural fit for the Avatar stories, which share the same philosophy," the Walt Disney Company said in a statement.

"Avatar" tells of a soldier's change of loyalties amid a mission to take advantage of the natural resources of peace-loving aliens in the lush planet of Pandora. The film incorporates cutting-edge 3D technology and made more than $2.78 billion in box office profits worldwide since it opened in December 2009.

"Avatar created a world which audiences can discover again and again, and now, through this incredible partnership with Disney, we'll be able to bring Pandora to life like never before," Cameron said in a statement. "With two new Avatar films currently in development, we'll have even more locations, characters and stories to explore."

Cameron is working on two sequels and said in September 2010 that they will be set in the oceans of Pandora. "Avatar 2" is tentatively set for release in 2014 with a third film due to hit theaters the following year.

"I'm chomping at the bit to start work with Disney's legendary Imagineers to bring our Avatar universe to life," Cameron said. "Our goal is to go beyond current boundaries of technical innovation and experiential storytelling, and give park goers the chance to see, hear and touch the world of Avatar with an unprecedented sense of reality."

The agreement between Cameron and the Walt Disney company gives the firm exclusive global theme park rights to the "Avatar" franchise, paving the way for more themed lands based on the film to be built at other Disney parks. The company maintains several, such as Disneyland Resort in California, Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland.

The spectacular settings, intriguing characters, imaginative creatures and strong themes of family and loyalty seen in "Avatar" make the film "a perfect fit for Disney," Tom Staggs, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said. "We can't wait to give our guests the ability to journey to Pandora and explore the incredible immersive world of 'Avatar' in person."

"Harry Potter," Warner Bros. Pictures' hit fantasy franchise that is based on a series of novels, also has its own theme park. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is located at Universal Studios in Florida.

(OnTheRedCarpet.com is a product of KABC Television, part of the Walt Disney Company.)

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