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Bringing the World of AVATAR to Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Bruce Vaughn

by , Walt Disney Imagineering

Since we first broke ground last year at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we’ve been looking forward to welcoming guests into Pandora, the mythical land based on the blockbuster film AVATAR. We’re having a lot of fun dreaming up ways to bring to life the land’s iconic elements from the magnificent floating mountains to the interactive bioluminescent forest, and even to the soaring banshees.

This creative process has been one of the most dynamic and collaborative ones we’ve ever undertaken. It began when our then-Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts proposed to James Cameron that together we might recreate the world of Pandora at Disney. Since that time, our creative development team, led by Joe Rohde, has been working hand-in-hand with Jim, Jon Landau and their team of artists and designers at Lightstorm on every aspect of this project—from overall design to the smallest—yet crucially important—details. And along each step of this process, Tom, as well as Disney CEO Bob Iger have been actively involved in helping guide the creative vision that is shaping the extraordinary world we’re building.

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We all recently got together at our offices in Glendale, California and walked through the fantastic progress on the whole land—including the awesome experience of seeing Pandora while riding on a banshee.

When he was with us, Jim said, “I think one of the things that people loved about the movie is that they felt as if they had visited Pandora… now, thanks to Disney’s amazing Imagineers, people are going to truly experience Pandora firsthand. From the details in the plants to the production and design, extraordinary thought and care has gone into this entire world. The teams have really created something special, and it’s not going to be like anything else.”

This project is really pushing the boundaries of what is possible. But one of the things that makes Disney Parks so special is that it takes all of our Cast—across the segment—to really bring these experiences to life. We were glad to be able to share our work with the creative teams and thought you might want to see it, too. Here’s a sneak peek of what we showed them:

For previous AVATAR coverage, see these blog posts:

Comments

  • The floating island structure seems sorta nightmarish–like something you’d see in a medical book. I am excited to see exactly how it turns out.. Liked previous imagery much better.

  • Tyler – I don’t think there will be anything for Avengers at WDW because of the already established Marvel tie-in at IOA.

    Hopefully there would be no such restriction at Disneyland Paris though!

  • The name is believed to be Pandora: The Land of Avatar.

  • Bruce, has the area been given an actual *name* that you can reveal? “Avatarland” just sounds silly, but that’s what the critics are derisively calling it. (I’ve been calling it PAJIJCA as an acronym for a couple years.)

  • As a big Disney fan, I’ve wondered why so much is being invested on an entire part of AK with a movie that people don’t even remember now. I hope a movie sequel is coming to coincide with this opening to renew some interest in this big undertaking. This may turn out to actually reveal just how great Disney imagineers are with a land that folks will first experience and then actually cause the renewal in the film itself. Either way, knowing Disney, I’m sure it’ll be something great to experience!

  • Really looking like this will be absolutely beautiful. Will Pandora open all at once or be opened in phases like New Fantasyland? Also, will there be multiple rides or only the banshee ride? Looking fantastic, and I can’t wait to hear of any other new developments at WDW. (cough-Star Wars-cough)

  • I’m not a fan of Avatar, but this looks very cool.

    Bruce–I sure hope that there are some exciting projects in development for Disneyland in California! :)

  • personally the Avatar project does not interest me in the slightest, but I know Disney is about quality so I know those that like Avatar will enjoy this, I just can’t wait until something big like this happens for Avengers (Disney’s highest grossing film ever), and Star Wars

  • This looks absolutely incredible. But I AM glad the Tree of Life will still be the tallest thing in the park, and I absolutely LOVE the backstory I heard about how it was measured. :-)

  • Wait you call James Cameron JIM????

    Yes, that is in fact what I took away from this article.

  • I WILL be planning a trip just to see this. I’m not going to lie, I LOVE Avatar & it is a dream to just pretend that I can step foot in Pandora. The opening of this park can’t come soon enough.

  • This looks really great and I think Avatar fans and even non-Avatar fans will enjoy it. Looking forward to it!!

  • Not an Avatar fan, but I liked the glowing footsteps responding to pressure in the line queue(?), as you walk through the phosphorescent jungle.
    The better E-rides have the better designed pre-shows.

  • This looks amazing, I am so excited for this park! I love the world of pandora and the culture of the Navi! I was and still so excited for this section of Animal Kingdom and the fact that it is going to be touch interactive makes it even better! I would love to work in this part of the of Animal kingdom!

  • Okay, you got my attention! I’m ready to see more. (Please)

  • I can’t wait for this! It’s going to be visually amazing, especially at night!

  • What I am most looking forward to is the visuals and details of the new land. The rides are very important, but I feel like the true success of this will be in the details, and Disney never misses the details. I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS!

  • Awesome! I can’t wait to experience Avatar land in 2017! Awesome Work Disney and I love it!

  • When is Pandora projected to begin receiving guests?

    • Thanks for the question, Katie. We’re incredibly excited about how cool this is and want you to experience it as soon as possible. As you can see from the details captured in the video, building this entire land is a huge undertaking. We’re planning to share Pandora’s grandeur with our guests in early 2017.

  • I cannot wait to see this in person! I will have to make a special trip out from the West Coast to experience this!

  • WOW! I admit that I wasn’t looking forward to “Avatarland”, but these pictures are so exciting! I can’t wait to see all the other things you are working on :)

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