Avatar Flight of Passage will take riders on a high-tech adventure on winged creatures. // © 2017 Walt Disney World Imagineering
Feature image (above): Guests will venture down a river within a bioluminescent rainforest during the Navi River Journey. // © 2017 Walt Disney World Imagineering
Inspired by the 2009 film “Avatar,” the Academy Award-winning hit from James Cameron about the planet Pandora and its indigenous Navi people, a new land at Walt Disney World will immerse park guests in the movie’s mystical world of bioluminescent rainforests and floating mountains.
Pandora — The World of Avatar will open May 27 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
“We’re going to take you inside the breathtaking world of Pandora, where we are pushing the limits of our legendary creativity,” said Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.
The 12-acre land will include two main attractions. During Avatar Flight of Passage, guests will board winged Mountain Banshee creatures for a high-tech adventure that takes them through jungles and over the oceans of Pandora. The family-friendly Navi River Journey boat expedition, on the other hand, is a “beautiful, lyrical ride” on a sacred river into a bioluminescent forest, according to Joe Rohde, senior vice president of creative for Walt Disney Imagineering. And, according to director Cameron, an encounter with a Navi shaman at end of the journey promises “something amazing that you’ve never seen before in your life.”
In addition to the two attractions, Pandora — The World of Avatar will also feature shopping venues and themed dining options, including main dining location Satuli Canteen, decorated with Navi art and cultural pieces, and Pongu Pongu, a unique drink kiosk with an eclectic design that reflects its expat owner. Shoppers looking to stock up on Navi cultural items, toys and even cool science kits will find everything they need at the Windtraders store.
The Pandora expansion will complete the transformation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom into a nighttime theme park. When the sun goes down, the land of Pandora will come to life with a magical glow, and throughout the park, guests will experience extended entertainment, such as an after-dark experience on the banks of Discovery River that celebrates the connection between animals and humans.
Designed to reflect the planet of Pandora a generation after the human-Navi conflict depicted in the film, the new land is the result of the creative collaboration between Walt Disney Imagineering, Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment. Rohde explains that nearly everything in the world is custom-designed, from the complex ride systems to the hundreds of synchronized plants.
And, he notes, bringing together digital design artists, structural engineers and robotics technicians resulted in “a stunning amount of innovation” that will bring the mythical world of Pandora to life.
“It’s a real-world experience,” said Jon Landau, producer of “Avatar.” “We are taking guests to Pandora.”