Back in September 2011, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts announced that they would be bringing the world of James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ to their Animal Kingdom theme park. Dubbed ‘Pandora – The World of Avatar’, the expansion is set to open in Florida some time in 2017 and we’ve been seeing bits and pieces of what’s coming over the past few years. There has been a lot of talk and some vague teases of bioluminescent plants, floating mountains, and flying dragons, but now we get to see even more of this new land coming to the twelve-acre addition to Walt Disney World.
During D23’s Destination D: Amazing Adventures event in Orlando recently, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek unveiled some brand new concept art for Pandora that offers fans a look at some of the dining and shopping areas inspired by the 2009 epic sci-fi film (that will soon be followed up by four sequels about ten years after the original was in theaters). In the first picture, according to Walt Disney Imagineering and Lightstorm Entertainment, we see a bridge that acts as an entry point into “the base camp of Alpha Centauri Expeditions (A.C.E.), the eco-tour group that will host explorers on their Pandora adventure” that was a remnant of the Resources Development Administration (RDA)’s destructive time on the planet. From there, we move on to the main restaurant of the area called the Satu’li Canteen, a store called Windtraders that is stocked with Na’vi cultural items, toys, science kits, and more, and the Pongu Pongu, “a drink location with a design that is as eclectic as its Expat owner”. You can get a closer look at the concept art in the gallery below:
As cool as these pictures are, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Alpha Centauri Expeditions (A.C.E.) Founder Marshall Lamm joined filmmaker James Cameron and Imagineer Joe Rohde to debut our first look at the ride known as the Na’vi River Journey. In a short video at the conclusion of their presentation, we meet the Shaman of Songs, “revered member of the Na’vi people” with a “deep connection with the life force of Pandora” (and a main character of the ride):
Can someone say shots fired? Theme park enthusiasts are often praising Universal Studios and their extremely popular Harry Potter lands, but none of them have audio-animatronics like this. In fact, most new attractions at Universal Studios are moving away from robotics in favor of pushing the limits of 3D screens. But even the people who aren’t interested in the ‘Avatar’ franchise have to admit that the technology bringing those movies to life is pretty incredible. Sure, we may be a few years away from robots mounting an uprising against us ala the ‘Itchy & Scratchy Land’ episode of ‘The Simpsons’, but until then, I know that I’m going to marvel at how far theme park attractions.
What do you think about the latest look at ‘Pandora – The World of Avatar’? Are you excited for this new area to open in Disney’s Animal Kingdom? And do these attractions make you more excited for the next four ‘Avatar’ films? Sound off in the comments.