Guests visiting Pandora – The World of Avatar will fly on the back of a mountain banshee at one of its major attractions, Avatar Flight of Passage. Soaring on the back of one of these powerful winged creatures represents an important rite of passage for the Na’vi. Today, I’m thrilled to announce a new way for guests to connect with these animals at The Rookery inside Windtraders, the primary merchandise location on Pandora. Cody Hampton with Disney Parks Merchandise gave me a first look at these new interactive creatures, and explained how they continue the tradition of immersive storytelling found at Disney Parks.
“We love bringing to life stories from our attractions through creative and innovative product designs,” explained Cody. “Banshees are an important animal on Pandora, both as an animal in the ecosystem and as a cultural symbol to the Na’vi. Disney’s Animal Kingdom will also will feature a Na’Vi River Journey ride, where guests get a chance to cruise through a Pandora jungle. They are also part of one of the signature attractions, so it felt natural to feature them as a must-have souvenir from a visit to Pandora. These banshees are fun, interactive, and continue the excitement guests will feel when experiencing [Avatar Flight of Passage].”
At the Rookery, a Naturalist from Alpha Centauri Expeditions will assist a guest with identifying a favorite banshee from among 10 unique styles. Each interactive banshee includes three ranges of motion – mouth, head, and wings – that are controlled by hand. Guests will also hear them make authentic banshee sounds provided by Disney’s partners at Lightstorm Entertainment.
“We worked closely with [Lightstorm Entertainment] when designing the banshees,” continued Cody. “Their colors were inspired by banshees seen in the ‘Avatar’ motion picture. Their sounds make them feel as though they flew directly into Windtraders from the attraction. Guests will determine each banshee’s personality through a combination of hand movements and sounds.”
Guests can either display a banshee on their shoulder or cradle them in their arms. We will also offer a banshee perch that is sold separately.
Cody shared one final Pandora detail that ties back to the core ideas of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
“The mountain banshee has come to symbolize our continued commitment to the environment,” said Cody. “Before guests depart Windtraders, Naturalists will encourage them to make a pledge to respect and protect the natural world on Pandora and back home on Earth.”
When you see other banshee keepers on Pandora, or back at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, please greet them with “Oel Ngati Kameie” (“I See You”), the traditional Na’vi phrase of greeting and respect.