If you’ve visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom over the last few years, you might have wondered what all of those construction cranes were up to on the one side of the park. Well, this summer, you and your family will be able to experience the fruits of all that labor.
Walt Disney World has partnered with James Cameron, the most successful filmmaker of all-time, to bring his fantasy world from the 2009 movie Avatar to life. The film, set on the fictional world of Pandora, introduced the world to the Na’vi, a race of tall, blue aliens, the planet’s natives, whose lives are nearly destroyed by the encroachment of miners from Earth. The film has grossed $2.7 billion worldwide and has sat at the very top of the world box office chart since its release in 2009.
With that type of pedigree, it’s no wonder Disney went further than just dedicating a single ride to the movie, and carved out an entire section of one of its theme parks to introduce rides and shows based on the fantasy world.
And, oh, what a fantasy world it is.
For the four or five people who haven’t seen the movie, the world of Pandora is awash in bioluminescent plants and creatures, which gave the film its distinct look and color palette. Dragon-like creatures fill the sky, mountains float, plants pulse with energy – all of which the Imagineers at Disney have recreated in exquisite detail at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
With all of that visual eye candy to play with, Disney has dreamed up some amazing attractions.
Avatar Flight of Passage
A motion simulator ride that puts guests onto the back of a banshee (the aforementioned dragon-like creature) so they may soar through the strange and amazing landscapes of the planet Pandora.
Valley of Mo’ara
A walk-through experience that guests can explore at their own pace and interact with the flora and fauna that inhabits the world of Avatar.
Na’vi River Journey
A boat ride that takes guests through the glowing, bioluminescent world inhabited by the Na’vi.
And, of course, there will be dining stops that serve dishes crafted to look extra planetary and taste out-of-this-world.
The best part about the new Avatar land is that the park will be extending its hours every day. Animal Kingdom was notorious for closing early each day out of respect for the animals residing there. But, since so much of the new Avatar land glows, Imagineers thought it would be best for guests to experience the attractions at night. The park will be staying up until 11:00 p.m. most nights, with some extended nights stretching park hours until 1:00 a.m.
The entire experience keeps with Animal Kingdom’s greater theme of preservation and awareness of the nature, since the movie itself is an ecologists dream story. The attractions will deepen the parks educational focus by enlightening guests to the concept of ecosystems, even though it’s in a fictional setting.
Not to mention, visiting Pandora in person will get your family pumped and excited for Avatars 2, 3, 4 and 5 coming in the next few years. They promise to expand the world of Pandora in new and mind-boggling ways!