Over two years ago, the Walt Disney Company announced - with infamously few details, fanfare, or concrete plans - that they had secured the global, worldwide rights to bring James Cameron’s Avatar film to their theme parks. Construction never seemed to begin, and fans almost universally begged for an entire “Avatar Land” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park in Florida to be cancelled altogether.
Now, two years later, at the first Japanese D23 Expo in Tokyo, Disney has finally released images and models of what PANDORA - The World of Avatar will look like. The plans look fresh, detailed, and fun, including a “floating mountain” centerpiece for the jungle-terrain land, a flight simulator style ride over the alien planet, and a dark ride boat trip through the planet’s bioluminescent jungles at night.
I’m still hesitant to love the idea of this land. I still don’t think Avatar has the longevity that it should have to become a permanent, massive LAND in a Disney Park. I still think Disney made the hasty purchase and even hastier announcement just to try to deflate Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I still think there are better ideas for Animal Kingdom. But I’m incredibly happy to see the amount of effort they’re putting into this. If it has to be Avatar, at least they’re going all out and making it “jive” with what Animal Kingdom already has. I’ll definitely visit many times!
The other great news is that with the addition of the land, all of Animal Kingdom will be retrofitted with the ability to stay open late (it currently closes in the early evening, as the park’s animals head in for dinner and bed). Pandora AND the park’s icon - the Tree of Life - will be covered in bioluminescent life that will sparkle and glow in the dark (last photo). The park will also host a nighttime show using water screens (like World of Color) and the park will come alive at night with floating lanterns and a special nighttime take on Kilimanjaro Safaris.
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The new concepts for DAK look badass! I’m not a massive fan of avatar or them kinda movies being in the parks but the concept looks so pretty! Music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery sounds beautiful for new nighttime shows :):)