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

posted on February 26th, 2015 by Bruce Vaughn, Chief Creative Executive, 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:

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Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Parks After Dark: Leave A Legacy

posted on February 26th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Were you one of the thousands who participated in Leave a Legacy at Epcot and got you or your family’s photo placed on a tile here? The area sure looks beautiful at night.

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Filed: Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort

Every Role a Starring Role – Disneyland Resort Merchandise Planner

posted on February 26th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Disneyland Resort cast member Freda Hardison is responsible for the inventory planning of toys, such as the popular “Build Your Own Lightsaber,” for merchandise locations at the Disneyland Resort.

She also volunteers time with our Diversity Resource Group (DRG) PULSE to provide cultural insight about the African American community. DRGs are composed of cast members from all lines of business who provide enrichment, awareness and education to support the diversity goals and objectives of the Disneyland Resort.

In this “Every Role a Starring Role,” Freda talks about the various steps to merchandise planning and how she also helped the Disneyland Resort celebrate Black History Month.

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Filed: Disneyland Resort

Victoria & Albert’s Chef Scott Hunnel Nominated for 2015 James Beard Award

posted on February 26th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Congrats to Chef Scott Hunnel, a semi-finalist for the prestigious Best Chef award for the South Region by the James Beard Foundation. Chef Hunnel leads the team at Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (already a AAA Five-Diamond winner).

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Filed: Disney Dining, Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort

Training the Horses of the Circle D Ranch at Disneyland Park: Duke Prepares for His Debut – Part Three

posted on February 26th, 2015 by Donna Fisk, Public Relations Manager, Disneyland Resort


Today we’re sharing part three of Duke’s “Journey to Main Street.” Throughout this series, we’ve seen that Duke, in addition to being a beautiful horse, is exceptionally well-suited for his new role at Disneyland park. As it turns out, Duke had previous experience pulling a tourist trolley in nearby Temecula, Calif. This experience, coupled with his outgoing personality, helped Circle D cast members choose Duke to join the Disneyland Equine Team.

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Filed: Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

Disney Days of Past: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on February 26th, 2015 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


I thought it would be fun to take a look at one of my favorite attractions from a vantage point rarely seen – above. Take a gander at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad photographed in 1991 from the sky.

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Filed: Disney History, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

New Locations Join The Landing at Disney Springs in February 2015

posted on February 26th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


Signs of the future are springing up across Downtown Disney this month at Walt Disney World Resort as the area transforms into Disney Springs. Several new retail locations have opened in area to be known as The Landing. Once complete, The Landing will be home to memorable dining such as STK, Morimoto Asia and The BOATHOUSE and unique boutique shopping. Here is a brief look at these newest additions.

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Filed: Disney Dining, Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World Resort

#DisneyKids: Experience the Ultimate Day for Young Families VIP Tour

posted on February 26th, 2015 by Russ J. Stacey, Writer, Yellow Shoes Creative Group


Carpe diem. Seize the day.

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Filed: Disney Dining, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, FastPass+, Magic Kingdom, MyMagic+, Vacation Planning, Walt Disney World Resort

Preview of New Disney Parks Collection | PANDORA Jewelry Coming in March 2015

posted on February 26th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


A few weeks ago, I promised a look at some new charms items from the Disney Parks Collection | PANDORA, which will launch in multiple merchandise locations at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts on March 12. The new charms will join the previously released jewelry collection that features hand-finished .925 sterling silver and 14K gold charms inspired by some of Disney’s most beloved characters and icons. Here’s a preview of some new items created especially for Disney Parks.

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Takes Over Popular YouTube Channel What’s Up Moms for Vacation Week

posted on February 25th, 2015 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


Not too long ago, YouTube sensations What’s Up Moms visited Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, for a family vacation. While at the Travel + Leisure Number 1 Top Family Hotel in the United States, the moms decided to have a little fun by shooting a parody video, featuring a new spin on a familiar hit song. This one takes a humorous look at some of the funny challenges parents can face when trying to capture a “perfect family photo” to share with friends and family. Enjoy the video below, and if you find yourself laughing at some of same familiar themes, then leave us a comment below about the time you might have tried “Livin’ for the Share.”

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Filed: Aulani