Pandora – The World of Avatar

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Pandora – The World of Avatar
Pandora full logo black.svg
Valley of Mo'ara in Pandora – The World of Avatar.jpeg
The floating mountains in the Valley of Mo'ara
Location Disney's Animal Kingdom
Coordinates 28°21′20″N 81°35′30″W / 28.3554244°N 81.591694°W / 28.3554244; -81.591694Coordinates: 28°21′20″N 81°35′30″W / 28.3554244°N 81.591694°W / 28.3554244; -81.591694
Status Operating
Opening date May 27, 2017 (2017-05-27)[1][2][3][4]
Replaced Camp Minnie-Mickey
Theme Avatar
Area 12[5] acres (4.9 ha)
Attractions
Attractions 2 total

Pandora – The World of Avatar is a themed area inspired by James Cameron's Avatar, located within Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, near Orlando.[6] Set a generation after the events of the Avatar films, the area is based upon the fictional exoplanetary moon, Pandora, and features Pandora's floating mountains, alien wildlife, and bioluminescent plants.[7][8][9] Spanning 12 acres (4.9 ha), Pandora – The World of Avatar includes two major attractions, Avatar Flight of Passage and Na'vi River Journey,[10] as well as retail and dining outlets.[11][12][13]

Disney began development on Pandora – The World of Avatar in 2011,[11][12] jointly with Cameron and his production company, Lightstorm Entertainment, with the intention of transforming Animal Kingdom into a full-day operation, complete with added attraction capacity and nighttime experiences.[14] Construction on the area began on January 10, 2014,[15] and the land opened to the public on May 27, 2017.[4][16]

History[edit]

Development[edit]

An "abandoned" area that serves as a restroom provides an example of human interference reclaimed by the Pandoran environment.

In early 2011, James Cameron was approached by Disney executives Bob Iger and Tom Staggs, CEO and COO respectively, regarding the possibility of Avatar-themed attractions at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts properties.[17] Originally, discussions were held about creating an Avatar-themed attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios, perhaps at the park's then-functioning Studio Backlot Tour.[18] Tom Staggs suggested to incorporate the film into a newly designed "land" at Disney's Animal Kingdom to improve the park's attraction roster.[18] Cameron was initially surprised at Disney's approach in scope, commenting that "Disney’s vision when they came to me was to create a land. I thought we were going to be talking about creating an attraction."[19]

On September 17, 2011, Disney entered into an exclusive, long-term licensing agreement with Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment and Fox Filmed Entertainment for the worldwide theme park rights to Avatar; Disney agreed to pay Cameron and Fox a licensing fee and a percentage of merchandise sales.[17][20] The deal was officially announced to the public on September 20, 2011.[21] The highlight of the announcement was that Disney's Animal Kingdom would receive a new themed area entirely devoted to Avatar.[9] While no specifics were announced, the new area was described as being several acres in size and costing an estimated $400 million to build, a scale similar to Cars Land at Disney California Adventure in California.[22] The area was later estimated to cost approximately $500 million.[17] Disney showcased a first look presentation of the land at the 2013 Japan D23 Expo.[1]

Construction began in January 2014,[15] with an initially planned opening date in 2016.[11][12] The deal could see Avatar attractions added to other Disney theme parks in the future—Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland are also in consideration—however, there are no immediate plans to do so.[23] The opening date was later revised to summer 2017.[1][2][3][11][12][15] In February 2017, the official opening day was confirmed to be May 27, 2017.[4] The land received a dedication ceremony on May 24, 2017 with Iger, Cameron, Jon Landau, Fox chairman Stacey Snider, and cast members Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver, attending the dedication.[24]

Design[edit]

The peaks of Wulingyuan in China (top) served as visual inspiration for the Valley of Mo'ara and its floating mountains (bottom).

Pandora – The World of Avatar is designed by Walt Disney Imagineering and Lightstorm Entertainment with Avatar producers James Cameron and Jon Landau acting as creative consultants.[20][25] Imagineer Joe Rohde, creative executive of Disney's Animal Kingdom, served as creative director for the project. The area was constructed in the former location of Camp Minnie-Mickey, which was originally earmarked for the Beastly Kingdom, a never-built themed land which would have been based around mythological creatures.[26] Instead of including characters or basing the land on existing plotlines from the films, the team emphasized issues such as conservation and environmental stewardship.[27][14] Project mananger Tim Warzecha described the land as a standalone experience from the films, focusing on "all about the people, the environment, the culture, the animals and the beauty of the world."[28] Rhode cited the film's themes and environmental message as compatible to the park's established values. Rohde said: "If you think about the intrinsic value of nature, transformation through adventure, and personal call to action — these are the values of Animal Kingdom. But if you say them again, those are the themes of the film Avatar. So Avatar and Animal Kingdom will nest into each other very, very neatly."[29]

Animal Kingdom is a place about the kind of realism that derives from those animals. We really want to live up to that state of realism to the detail, to the complete immersion which is part of the signature of that park to the sense that these are events that are really happening to you - that it is your adventure. When we translate that into the world of Avatar it presents a whole new series of technical challenges because of the very nature of that world itself."

— Joe Rohde, describing Avatar's connection to Animal Kingdom.[30]

Disney and Lightstorm decided to set the land's timeline a generation after the warring conflict between the indigenous Na'vi and the Resources Development Administration (RDA) that sought to exploit Pandora for its unobtanium in the first film.[19][31] According to the backstory, the Na'vi and humans have achieved peace and Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE)–a fictional tourism company–has partnered with the Na'vi to present Pandora as a new destination for ecotourism and scientific research.[32] As a result, ACE established the Pandora Conservation Initiative to preserve and study the native Pandoran species.[33]

In September 2011, Cameron confirmed that a flying attraction featuring "3-D projections and creature designs that were cut from the original film" was a concept on the drawing board for the area.[17] Pandora – The World of Avatar includes elements from the original Avatar film as well as its four, yet-to-be-released sequels.[25] Rhode initially admitted difficulty in adapting the locations depicted in Avatar to the physical realm, as Pandora is portrayed in the films solely through computer-generated imagery.[19] Therefore, Imagineering adapted the concept art and digital designs from the films and expanded upon it, with Rhode explaining that "there was not enough detail in those images for an actual place that you're really going to build."[34]

The distinct bioluminescence of Pandora is created through a combination of color lighting, fiber optics, and blacklight effects.

A major visual feature of Pandora is the Valley of Mo'ara and its floating mountain ranges. The 156 foot (48 m)-tall mountains employ forced perspective to appear larger than they physically are, and are held aloft by steel beams concealed with rockwork and vinery.[35] Designers were sent to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park to study the jagged pillar peaks of the Wulingyuan region for inspiration, as well as foliage studies in Hawaii.[19] The steel foundations for the floating mountains required a year to complete.[19] Pandora's bioluminescent species of flora are also found throughout the area.[7][8][9] Imagineers created twenty species of Pandoran flora exclusively for the land.[36] The landscaping consists of real Earth plant species mixed with sculpted Pandora flora, with each alien plant requiring its own concealed control box to create the necessary amount of illumination in bioluminesce during the evening hours.[37][19] New motion sensor technology developed by Disney Research, allows the plant life to respond to tactile interaction from guests.[38] Audio recordings of Pandoran animals create ambient noise throughout the land.[30]

Unlike other themed lands and attractions in the company's history, Disney omitted traditional theme park attributes throughout Pandora – The World of Avatar—such as attraction marquees, Disney-branded merchandise, and Mickey Mouse images on the MyMagic+ scanners found in Fastpass lines—as a way of maintaining the natural theming of the land.[27] The parks' cast members play ACE field experts.[28]

The area features music composed by the late James Horner and Simon Franglen based on the original score from Avatar, which was originally composed by Horner and arranged by Franglen.[39][40]

Guide sign welcoming guests to Pandora.

Attractions[edit]

Restaurants and shops[edit]

The land contains two food locations:

  • Satu'li Canteen - a quick service restaurant [43]
  • Pongu Pongu - a food and beverage stand [44]

At the end of Flight of Passage, the queue exits into Windtraders, the land's only gift shop. [45]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Staggs, Tom. "First Look: AVATAR to Come to Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom". Disney Parks Blog. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Smith, Thomas. "Na’vi River Journey adds music, energy to Pandora – The World of AVATAR". Disney Parks Blog. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Fickley-Baker, Jennifer (November 19, 2016). "Pandora – The World of Avatar Set To Open Summer 2017". Disney Parks Blog. Archived from the original on November 20, 2016. Retrieved November 19, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c Smith, Thomas (February 7, 2017). "Just Announced: Pandora – The World of Avatar Will Open May 27 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom". Disney Parks Blog. Archived from the original on February 8, 2017. Retrieved February 7, 2017. 
  5. ^ Tribou, Richard (May 6, 2016). "What we know about 'Avatar'-inspired Pandora coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on August 19, 2016. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
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  21. ^ Smith, Thomas (September 20, 2011). "AVATAR Coming To Disney Parks". Disney Parks Blog. Archived from the original on September 23, 2011. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
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  39. ^ "Simon Franglen on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved May 29, 2017. 
  40. ^ "Past". Simon Franglen. Retrieved May 29, 2017. 
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  44. ^ "Pongu Pongu". Walt Disney World. Retrieved 2017-10-03. 
  45. ^ "Windtraders". Walt Disney World. Retrieved 2017-10-03. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]