Thanks to Deb Wills from AllEars.net for the head's up on this story:
In essence, there's a report that "creative differences" are keeping James Cameron (of Avatar) and Imagineering (at Disney) from seeing eye to eye on things.
This shouldn't come as a big surprise for anyone. With the Avatar sequels in stall, there's not as much impetus to really invest a lot of resources for AvatarLand. Part of the financial benefit of the deal was that there *would* be sequels and not have Avatar be just a one-hit wonder that would (and largely has) been forgotten by the fan world. A quick bit of Google-fu reveals that a search for Avatar comes up with a lot more links about the Airbender series than James Cameron's creation. It simply doesn't have the rabid fans that other serial franchises have maintained over the years (Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc.).
When the deal was first announced, it sounded very blue sky to do an entire land. I think it is incredibly realistic to have a single D- or E-ticket ride, a counter-service restaurant/snack bar, and gift shop that are Avatar-themed, but I think that will be the extent of infrastructure investment that Disney is willing to put into a project that doesn't seem to have a long-term and stable future.
Historically, Disney has had a troubled history with people who are convinced that their creations are more valuable than the rest of the world may see. Going back to P.L. Travers and the constant challenges getting Mary Poppins to print and as recently as Disney breathing a huge sigh of relief that they didn't have to do the Harry Potter franchise when they were in negotiations with J.K. Rowling (with many comments about "creative differences" early on in that, too), Disney has a better grasp on brand identity than most one-hit wonders in the publishing or movie industries. Because of this, there will always be creative differences between both players. If Disney is cutting the check, they are not going to sacrifice brand identity for the whims of the creative licensor.
This may be a disappointment for some folks, but I think as long as there's the ability to put a D- or E-ticket in place, there won't be too many people sobbing about the loss of AvatarLand. Just like a celebrity divorce that cites "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for the breakup, when a business partnership brings out the line "creative differences", financial divorce is not far down the line.
This is certainly a story to keep an eye on...that is, if there's anyone left who actually cares about Avatar.