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Construction Begins For AVATAR-Inspired Land At Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Thomas Smith

by , Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Earlier this week, leaders from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and Lightstorm Entertainment kicked off the largest expansion in Disney’s Animal Kingdom history with a ceremonial groundbreaking for the park’s new AVATAR-inspired land with blue, Na’vi-inspired shovels.

In this photo illustration, they were joined by Jake Sully, showing the scale of characters from the “AVATAR” film.

The area, which is being designed by Walt Disney Imagineering in partnership with “AVATAR” creator James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment, will be unlike anything ever experienced at a Disney park. Guests will experience the wonders of Pandora when they fly with banshees and explore a rich natural environment with mountains that float and interactive plants that glow at night.

Using Na'vi-inspired shovels (left to right) Joe Rohde, creative executive,   Walt Disney Imagineering; Bruce Vaughn, chief creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering;   Jon Landau, AVATAR producer and Tom Staggs, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts   celebrated the ceremonial groundbreaking for the largest expansion in Disney’s Animal   Kingdom history.

“Disney’s Animal Kingdom is already home to some of our guests’ favorite attractions,” said Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “With AVATAR, we are adding a spectacular new world and an exciting set of attractions unlike any our guests have experienced. The expansion now under way will make the park a true full-day, must-see experience.”

This week’s milestone is just the first step in a larger expansion for the park that will also include the debut of a new evening spectacular, as well as a nighttime version of Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Check out the video below for a look inside the ceremony, and be sure to follow the Disney Parks Blog for future updates on this exciting expansion.

For previous AVATAR coverage, see these blog posts:


  • Has anyone heard a firm reopening date for Festival of the Lion King? I’m hoping it’s open in early June when we are there!

  • I don’t feel like this fits in with DAK, all the other lands there are rooted in real locations or real things that existed at one time (Dinoland). This is fantasy – they should have put it at Hollywood Studios for the film connection or somewhere else. It doesn’t feel organic to me.

  • Can not wait!! Wife really liked the movie can not wait to be part of the movie AVITAR. Hopefully there will be a couple of new RESTAURANTS added to that area.

  • I am in love with this movie and can’t wait for this to open! I am definitely going to be there!! I love that Disney incorporates non-Disney movies in the parks…they definitely have their guests in mind when they are trying to grow and improve the experience for all!

  • At first I was perplexed and confused why Disney would pick a non-Disney movie as well as a movie that was released so long ago. But after giving the thought some time and consideration, I believe there is no better fit. Animal Kingdom feaures animals of the past (dinos), current animals (observation areas), and animal conservation area. The element that is missing is the future of animals, which Avatar perfectly combines the futuristic animals with the need for conservation. The movie was a blockbuster and future installments will be produced after Avatarland is opened in 2017, making Avatar ‘Disney’. Further Avatar has a following, an image in people’s minds, a story, characters, and a moral / lesson; whereas, a Beastly Kingdom would have to be started from scratch, no movies / marketing would support it, and would have to create a following from nothing. Avatar is a perfect fit with it’s key component of conservation, it’s future movie releases, and it’s already imaged theme. Bravo to the Imagineers who put all of this together. I can’t wait for the 2017 opening!

  • SO SO EXCITED and THRILLED to learn that Pandora is coming to Disney!!!! I can not wait to see it finished and also see Jake and Neytiri’s incredible story brought to life!! Cant wait for Part two of the movie in 2017!!! Thank you DISNEY!!!!!!!!

  • I have great faith in Joe Rhode & James Cameron with “Construction” !!! The new land will be AWESOME no doubts !!!

  • Just another good reason for me to continue to be an Annual Passholder!! I love Disney! For all the nay sayers…..We wouldn’t have Walt Disney World today if Mr Disney let the nay sayers stop him!!

  • Excited about the expansion, and the fact that this will make AK a full day park open later in the evenings.

    I would love to see Disney open another Table Service restaurant in Animal Kingdom. As it is now there is only Tusker House and Yak n Yeti. Yes there is Rainforest Cafe, but I would like to see another Disney restaurant, not a chain such as Rainforest Cafe is.

    It would be great to have another Table service choice in AK.

  • Looking forward to what promises to be an exciting new addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

    Let’s hope Disney announces something soon for Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studio. Both parks haven’t had a major new addition in years and are becoming rather stale.

  • This theme park expansion has me scratching my head. Every year at Halloween my suburban neighborhood is crawling with hundreds of trick-or-treaters, but I have NEVER seen anyone dressed up as an Avatar anything. Avatar is not on the kids radar, or the adults and big kids who also dress up for Halloween. Interesting that Disney wants to make a big theme park area based on that movie concept.

  • Being Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park my favorite, I’m glad this expansion, but not really for Avatarland, but because DAK cease to be a half-day park: the new nighttime show and the night safari sounds amazing. I’ll wait to see how it looks, because i know the Imagineers will do a great job.

  • This is awesome! and I’m excited because I love Avatar!

  • WoW. I just visited AK 3 weeks ago with the family and it was def in need of something new. Im not a big Avatar fan but after watching the preview , I must say it looks AWESOME!! Cant wait… way 2 go Disney (as always)!!

  • I am so happy it’s finally starting!!!!! I am a very big fan of the film, and am super excited to see the new films!!!
    I am very happy that Disney is creating this new addition! I am also very very excited about the new merchandise they will sell in this new section of the park! The night time light stuff sounds awesome!!! I really really hope it looks a lot similar to what the film has! Will there be the glowing otrees? Because if you can do that that would be amazingly awesome!!! It would be cool if the ground glowed as you walked at night time!

  • Txantsan! Seykxel sì nitram! (Excellent! Strong and well! in Naʼvi) I’m glad to see work on this project is underway, and I can hardly wait to see what Disney has come up with to recreate the world of Avatar!

  • I work at Animal Kingdom. It will be interesting to see the evolution of the construction as it goes along.

    For those who are wondering, Pandora is taking the place of Camp Minnie Mickey, and Festival of the Lion King will reopen in Africa by summer this year.

    No secrets. It’s out in the open, especially if you go to the park and find Camp Minnie Mickey closed and construction in Africa. 🙂

  • I think DAK and Avatar are perfect fit. The artwork I have seen of the land looks amazing. What year will it open?

  • I’m so excited for this! Can’t wait to go again!

  • Looking forward to seeing the progress. The floating mountains look fantastic.

  • Bravo Disney! Joe Rhode and James Cameron are involved, so I’m sure this new land will be amazing. And can’t wait for the additional park enhancements like the night time show and night safari!

  • So Spring 2014 brings the kids Seven Dwarf coaster & new parade. Then three/four years later in late 2017 Avatar Land opens in AK. So my question and i think the biggest most asked question among fans, families planning vacations, and many others. What is going to be happening between Spring 2014 – Late 2017 at Walt Disney World? That is a huge gap with nothing new announced for any of the four theme parks or two water parks.

  • Bethany, Avatar-land/Pandora is being constructed in the area currently held by Camp Minnie-Mickey. The Festival of The Lion King is being moved to Africa.

  • I’m looking to move to FL within the next few months…. I would love to have a job in this part when it finally opens!!!

  • I have to admit, I think that Avatar is over-rated. However, I do think that the concept art looks impressive and I think that this land has potential.

  • Avatar will take over all of the land that is currently Camp Minnie Mickey. Festival of the Lion King is closed temporarily while they rebuild the theatre in Africa. It is scheduled to reopen in 6-9 months.

  • Super excited about this! Loved Avatar and I think it will be a reason to get my out-of-town friends to want to go to my favorite of the Disney Parks! (AK is usually not at the top of their list for a short visit, but maybe this will change that!)

  • This is great. I’m so excited!

  • I am interested to see what the new avatar land has to offer. But I want to know why Disney World and DIsneyland keep building new lands to their parks that can only offer attractions and theming to one movie or a series i.e. Cars Land at California Adventure. I like the areas of the parks that can have attractions for more than just one movie or concept, like the other lands in AK or especially like MK. Just my opinion on the new expansions at Disney.

  • Cool! Can’t wait to see expansion plans to make Disney Hollywood Studios a full day park too!! 🙂

  • I really like ‘Avatar’ at the movies and am excited that this project is moving forward. Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite Disney parks and when this expansion is done it will put it back at the top of my Must Do @ Disney list.

  • I can’t wait to explore Pandora. I’m so excited

  • I gotta say that I’m very excited. I can’t wait to experience Pandora.

  • I look forward to seeing what Disney comes up with!

  • Isn’t a “ground breaking” where you physically dig in the ground that will be where the project is located. It looks like the ground was already broken and put in a planter for a ceremony. Kind of odd.

  • Todd, ditto.

    All I will say is: Beastly Kingdom!

  • That’s cool. That means one less person in line! 🙂

  • Very excited to hear construction is finally underway, particularly after seeing the concept art and model video a few months ago. Looking forward to hearing more details in the near future.

  • Will Disney be providing Exo-packs to all visitors? After all the atmosphere of Pandora is toxic to human life.

  • Is there any word as to where in the park this is being constructed?

  • I hate Avatar but Joe Rhode is involved and I have a feeling he will turn us “Haters” into Avatar “Lovers”. Everything he touches turns into Imagineering gold!

  • Hate to say it, but two years later and still not excited.

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