Time FramePreviews: Late May 2017 Official Opening: May 27, 2017 2017
Pandora: The World of AVATAR was first announced on September 20, 2011. Since then, details of the new land have emerged.
The land will be called, Pandora: The World of Avatar and will open May 27, 2017, with previews prior to that date.
- April 29: Select Media Previews
- May 2-4: Cast Member previews for Disney Animal Kingdom Cast Members
- May 5-6, 8-12: Cast Member previews for all Cast Members
- May 13-22: Annual Passholder and Disney Vacation Club member previews
- May 23-25: Media Previews
- The land takes the footprint of the former Camp Minnie Mickey area as well as adjacent plots originally intended for the Beastly Kingdom Expansion.
- Festival of the Lion King was relocated, opening in Africa on June 1, 2014.
- Construction officially began January 10th, 2014. The first pour of foundation was July 31st, 2014
- The floating mountains are called the Valley of Mo'ara
- The timeline for the land is set a generation after the last of 5 planned Avatar movies. At this time, the conflict between the Na'vi and humans is over.
Flight of Passage is a flight simulator attraction described on internal documents as an E-ticket
The premise is that guests are riding on the back of a banshee
- Per Disney "Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee."
- The vessels that guests will ride upon will essentially be the banshees themselves, with bodies that move to mimic a breathing beast.
The video will be in 3D and guests will wear "riding goggles"
- The flying sequences will be brought to life through large video screens - similar to “Soarin'” or The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios. The vehicles will move with the action inside one of four large theaters.
- The attraction will have four separate theaters with three rows of seating in each theater. Two of the theaters are expected to be ADA compliant.
- The building will have multiple levels with the guests entering on level 3. Each row will load on a separate level.
- Guests will be able to "feel the banshee breathe beneath them".
- The seats on the attraction will be similar to those found on the Tron Lightcycle ride in Shanghai Disneyland. Guests will be straddling their "Link Chairs" that will connect guests to their personal Avatar's riding a banshee.
- Capacity would be comparable to Soarin’ assuming an 8 minute cycle time.
- In the queue/pre-show guests will be scanned and matched to their personal Avatar.
- A portion of the Na'vi River Journey will enter the Northeast corner of the building, underneath the queue for Flight of Passage
- 44 inch height requirement, capacity for a single rider line but may not be used by operations
- The premise is that guests are riding on the back of a banshee
Na'vi River Journey a boat ride attraction described on internal documents as a C-ticket
- Described as a family friendly attraction through the bioluminescent forests of Pandora
- Leaked plans indicate this will be a C-ticket attraction, however those plans appear to have been changed. Reports of this being better than a C-ticket have surfaced.
- An indoor boar ride that will travel underneath the queue for Flight of Passage. It is unknown whether Na'vi River Journey will be visible from the Flight of Passage queue, but they will share space in the same building.
- It is expected to be approximately 5 minutes in length.
- Ride vehicles seat 8 guests in reed boats.
- No height requirement.
- A quick service location called Satu’li Canteen which will feature Na'vi art and cultural items
- A shop called Windtraders where guests can purchase Na'vi cultural items, toys, science kits, and more
- A drink location called Pongu Pongu designed by it's expat owner
- When Pandora: The World of AVATAR opens, it is expected that the Animal Kingdom will introduce tiers to their advanced Fastpass+ booking. Na'vi River Journey and Flight of Passage will be in Tier 1 and guests will be forced to chose between the two.
- There will be components of the land that interact with each other as well as MyMagic+
- Part of the land's backstory includes the fictional company, Alpha Centauri Expeditions and much of that backstory is outlined on VisitPandora.com
Teaser Video: The plant life in Pandora: The World of AVATAR (Posted April 18, 2017)
Teaser Video: Pandora: The World of Avatar (Posted April 4, 2017)
Teaser Video: Pandora: The World of AVATAR (Posted March 22, 2017)
Overview of Pandora: The World of AVATAR (Posted March 16, 2017)
Na'vi River Journey (Posted March 16, 2017)
Preview of the Lumpia snack available at the Pongu Pongu from The Chew (Posted March 9, 2017)
Pandora: The World of Avatar and Na'vi River Journey preview with Whoopi Goldberg and James Cameron from The View (Posted March 9, 2017)
Pandora: The World of Avatar and Flight of Passage Preview from Good Morning America (Posted March 9, 2017)
Pandora: The World of AVATAR (Posted March 6, 2017)
Na'vi River Journey (Posted March 3, 2017)
Pandora: The World of AVATAR with James Cameron (Posted February 26, 2017)
Pandora: The World of Avatar Design Philosophies with Joe Rohde (Posted February 21, 2017)
Pandora: The World of AVATAR (Posted February 20, 2017)
Na'vi River Journey (Posted February 19, 2017)
Flight of Passage (Posted February 14, 2017)
Official Concept Art
Pandora: The World of Avatar
Na'vi River Journey
Flight of Passage
Additional video was been made available on the Disney Parks Blog:
February 26, 2015:
November 20, 2016
Behind the Scenes at Pandora: December 25, 2016
- A Budget of $500-600 million
- The floating mountains will be 143' tall. Per Disney, "awe-inspiring floating mountains."
- Per Disney, "A nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants that are alive with light and sound."
- There will be animatronic Na'vi with at least 64 axis of motion in the face alone.
April 29, 2017: Select media was invited to tour Pandora: The World of AVATAR today. AttractionsMagazine was amongst those invited and they were allowed to film inside the land. It appears that some restrictions were imposed as their initial video ride through of Na'vi River Journey was taken down and replaced by an edited video that shows selections from the attraction. That can be found here.
Disney also posted official B-Roll of the Shaman inside the attraction.
Elsewhere in the land, they were able to take a walk through of the flora and fauna, tour the Satu'li Canteen quick service restaurant, tour the Windtraders merchandise shop, and ride the Flight of Passage attraction. Video was available for everything except the ride for Flight of Passage, however Attractions Magazine did post a full walk through of the attraction's queue.
Walkthrough of the land
Flight of Passage Queue
Media was allowed to stay into the night and experience the bioluminscent forest.
April 26, 2017: WDWMagic.com user Alektronic is reporting that Flight of Passage was designed with a Single Rider line but it is up to operations on whether or not it will be utilized.
April 24, 2017: WESH.com hosted a video on Facebook that offered additional details on Pandora: The World of AVATAR. The video features a Disney Imagineer and the head of Disney's Animal Kingdom, Djuan Rivers. Together they discussed the backstory of the land as well as shared images of the name tags and costumes that will be worn.
The cast members found in Pandora: The World of AVATAR belong to one of three separate groups:
- Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE): This is a human run organization of Eco-tour guides that is facilitating our travel to Pandora. They are they hosts of the land.
- The Pandora Conservation Initiative: This is a group of scientists that study Pandora. This group researches the flora, fauna and culture of Pandora.
- The Expat Community: This is a group of people that have come to Pandora and "fell in love with it". They run some of the smaller locations in the land like Pongu Pongu.
The land has created 1500 new jobs including the construction and staffing of the new land.
The full video can be found below:
BlogMickey.com also shared additional photos of the costumes and name tags that will be utilized inside the land.
April 19, 2017: The Disney Parks Blog shared details on some of the specialty beverages that will be available at Satu'li Canteen inside Pandora: The World of AVATAR.
Beverages were created to compliment the menu at the quick service location and include the following:
- Pandoran Sunrise: A non-alcoholic mix of tropical Juices with Powerade melon that can be served in the souvenir Satu'li Canteen Flute Flask.
- Banshee: Banshee is a Napa Valley winery that supplies a Banshee Chardonnay and Banshee Pinot Noir that are both available by the glass.
- Dreamwalker Sangria: with a splash of Blue Curacao
- Hawkes' Grog Ale: an ale with a "fruity hop character (apricot and peach with a hint of wheat).
- Mo'ara High Country Ale: an ember ale with the, "aroma of herbal spice hops and tastes of caramel, toffee, and nuts".
Over at the Pongu Pongu cart, other drinks are available as well.
- Night Blossom: a non-alcoholic frozen drink that's a mixture of limeade with apple and desert pear, topped with passion fruit boba balls. This can also come in a souvenir Pongu Pongu mug with a glow cube.
- Mo'ara Frozen Margarita: a frozen drink with Sauza Conmemorativo Anejo Tequila with strawberry and blood orange flavor topped with strawberry boba balls (can also come in the souvenir Pongu Pongu mug).
- Both the Hawkes' Grog Ale and the Mo'ara High Country Ale are available here as well.
Pandora: The World of AVATAR officially opens to guests on May 27th.
April 18, 2017: The Disney Parks Blog released a new video detailing the plant and animal life in Pandora: The World of AVATAR. In the detail they highlight certain plants that will be interactive.
April 4, 2017: In their line of preview videos for Pandora: The World of AVATAR, the Disney Parks Blog shared another video that discusses the collobarative efforts in this project. People from both Walt Disney Imagineering and Lightstorm Entertainment worked together to create the visuals in both the land and the attraction.
March 30, 2017: The Disney Parks Blog announced new merchandise offerings that will be available as part of Pandora: The World of AVATAR.
A new pin in the "Countdown to Pandora" collection will be released on April 6th.
When the land opens, a new Na'vi translator device will be available for guests. The device was created by Marshall Lamm of Alpha Centauri Expeditions. Product developer Cody Hampton explains the device:
“The Na’vi have no written language, so the translator will be a helpful tool for any human visiting Pandora. Guests using the translator can learn how to pronounce 90 Na’vi words using interchangeable translation cards. The device also lights up at night, which makes it perfect for nighttime explorations on Pandora.”
The device will come with 15 translation cards as well as an extendable (up to 12 inches) clasp that can be attached to a belt or backpack. Other translation cards will be available in trading card packs as follows:
Additional translation cards will be sold in trading card packs, each containing eight randomly selected cards. There are some common cards such as Nouns (Blue) and Adjectives (Purple). Other cards will be less common to find in the trading packs including Animals (Orange), Phrases (Aqua), and Landscapes (Tan). The rarest cards are Plants (Green) and Gear (Yellow).
The Na'vi Translator will be available in Windtraders when this summer.
March 25, 2017: Multiple sources are reporting that Disney will hold cast member previews for Pandora: The World of Avatar. They are as follows:
- May 2-4: Cast Member previews for Disney Animal Kingdom Cast Members
- May 5-6: Cast Member previews for all Cast Members
- May 8-12: Cast Member previews for all Cast Members
March 23, 2017: BlogMickey.com is reporting that guests will be able to make their Fastpass+ selections for both Na'vi River Journey and Flight of Passage beginning March 24th. Fastpasses will be available for dates beginning May 27th and it is anticipated that the Animal Kingdom will introduce Fastpass+ tiers similar to those held in Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
Flight of Passage and Na'vi River Journey are expected to be in the same tier, forcing guests to select a single Fastpass for either attraction.
In addition, from May 27, 2017 - July 4, 2017, Pandora: The World of AVATAR will be open for nightly Evening Extra Magic Hours from 11:00 PM to 1:00 AM. No other attractions in the park are expected to be open.
Lastly, Disney is allowing annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members to sign up for previews of Pandora: The World of AVATAR. The previews will run between May 13th and May 22nd. DVC members and Passholders must log into their account where they can select a two hour window to explore the new land.
March 22, 2017: The Disney Parks Blog shared a new teaser video of Pandora: The World of AVATAR. The video discusses the land's placement in the Animal Kingdom.
March 16, 2017: Disney released official B-Roll to the press featuring new footage of the Na'vi River Journey and parts of the land of Pandora: The World of AVATAR.
Overview of Pandora: The World of AVATAR
Na'vi River Journey
Music from the video is taken from the Avatar movie and not necessarily going to be used in the land or the attraction.
March 10, 2017: The last ABC show to offer a sneak peak at Pandora: The World of AVATAR was Nightline. The show offered a different guided tour with James Cameron and Joe Rohde that showcased the land and the Na'vi River Journey.
The footage also shows longer cuts of Nightline's Paula Faris and Avatar's Producer Jonathan Landau on Flight of Passage. The footage does showcase the unique seating configuration of the attraction where it appears that guests sit in a motor cycle seat similar to the Tron Lightcycle Run in Shanghai DIsneyland.
March 9, 2017: In a press release, Disney confirmed that on Flight of Passage guests will feel the banshee breathe beneath them and that each reed boat on Na'vi River Journey can seat 8 guests.
March 9, 2017: Throughout the day, various ABC television shows offered different looks inside Pandora: The World of AVATAR. The programming began with Good Morning America showcasing a walk through Pandora, a glimpse of the food and a few more details on Flight of Passage.
Guests boarding Flight of Passage will be scanned and matched to their personal Avatar before donning their 3-D "riding goggles" and experiencing the ride. No views of the ride itself were shown, but the seating configuration pictured appeared to be similar to Soarin'.
Video from Good Morning America featuring a walk through of Pandora and a glimpse at Flight of Passage.
On The View, Avatar Director James Cameron joined Whoopi Goldberg for a tour of the new land. It appears that the first view of the land originates through rock work, but this could also have been a backstage area. Cameron also established the timeline for the land, which is a generation after all five Avatar movies take place. At this period of time there is no conflict between the Na'vi and the humans. Together, they walked through the Mo'ara floating mountains before experiencing the Na'vi River Journey.
On The Chew, they introduced a snack offering called Lumpia that will be available at the Pongu Pongu kiosk inside the land.
March 8, 2017: The Disney Parks Blog announced a full day of programming that will highlight various components of the upcoming land Pandora: The World of AVATAR. ABC will be home to all of the shows listed below and each promises to offer a glimpse into the new addition to Disney's Animal Kingdom
- Good Morning America - The show will offer a glimpse at the Flight of Passage attraction
- The View - Whoopi Goldberg and James Cameron will do a walking tour of Pandora: The World of AVATAR including a look at the Na'vi River Journey attraction
- The Chew - The show will take a look at Lumpia one of the culinary offerings in Pandora: The World of AVATAR
- Nightline - Will over an in depth look at the land and stories inspired by the land.
March 6, 2017: Disney has posted a new teaser video of Pandora: The World of AVATAR
March 6, 2017: WDWMagic.com user MansionButler84 is reporting that Na'vi River Journey will have no height requirement and Flight of Passage will have a 44 inch height requirement.
March 3, 2017: @VisitPandora on Twitter shared a 9 second preview video of Na'vi River Journey. Blog Mickey.com posted the video to YouTube as well.
March 1, 2017: The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that on May 9th, Avatar director James Cameron will be joining Whoopi Goldberg on ABC's "The View" for a tour of Pandora: The World of AVATAR.
The View will be taping a week of shows in Orlando, and the March 9th segment will be a tour hosted by Cameron.
February 26, 2017: Disney introduced a new 30 second ad for Pandora: The World of AVATAR hosted by Avatar's creator and director, James Cameron. Ads are being released with regularity as Disney prepares for the May 27th official opening.
February 23, 2017: WDWThemeParks.com contributor Ryan has informed us that the media event for Pandora: The World of AVATAR will run from May 23rd to the 25th.
February 21, 2017: The Disney Parks Blog shared a video about how Pandora shares the values of Disney's Animal Kingdom from a design philosophy. The video is hosted by Imagineer Joe Rohde who indicates additional videos previewing the land will be made available in the coming months.
The shared components are:
- The intrinsic value of nature
- Transformation through adventure
- Personal call to action
February 20, 2017: Disney has posted a new teaser video of Pandora: The World of AVATAR that utilizes previously released footage.
February 19, 2017: Disney has posted a teaser video of Na'vi River Journey
February 14, 2017: Disney has posted a video of the first Pandora: The World of Avatar teaser advertisement. The add states that now there is a place where you can ride on a banshee.
February 8, 2017: Disney recently launched a new website called VisitPandora.com. The site features a history and backstory of Pandora and was created by Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE). The backstory of the land features ACE as the exclusive provider of tours to Pandora.
The website goes into detail on the floating mountains, the flying banshees and other flora and fauna of the world.
February 7, 2017: During Disney's Q1 Fiscal Year Earnings call, CEO Bob Iger officially announced that Pandora: The World of Avatar would open on May 27, 2017.
February 5, 2017: During the pregame interviews for Superbowl 51, Fox reporter Cooper Manning interviewed Jon Landau, the producer of Avatar. In the interview Landau shared details and images of Pandora: The World of Avatar. BlogMickey.com posted a video showing the entire interview.
February 2, 2017: WDWNT.com has posted an image that features what appears to be a design of the banshee vehicle/seats for the Flight of Passage attraction.
The photo appears to show two guests per banshee and a head and wings on the creature. It is unknown if this image reflected the final design of the seating for the attraction or an early test concept.
February 1, 2017: @WDWThemeParks reported on Twitter that Cast Members are being told to attend informational meetings being held over the next two weeks about Pandora: The World of Avatar.
January 25, 2017: WDWThemeParks.com is reporting that invited media may be able to preview Pandora: The World of Avatar between May 14th and May 17th. Preview invites will be sent for media visits during that time.
The official media preview will begin on May 21st with Annual Pass and Disney Vacation Club soft openings to follow.
January 25, 2017: WDWThemeParks.com is reporting that Disney will be holding a 7 day press event beginning on May 21st. Details of the press event are unknown but speculation is that it will be related to the opening of AVATAR.
January 4, 2017: Disney announced a new 3-day ticket for Florida Residents that has blackout dates at the Animal Kingdom only between May 27 through June 9, 2017. While unconfirmed, the blackout dates could be an indication of when either Pandora: The World of Avatar and/or Rivers of Light are expected to debut.
December 25, 2016: The Disney Parks YouTube channel shared a video featuring Imagineer Joe Rohde, AVATAR writer and director James Cameron and AVATAR prodcuer Jon Landau. Together they show construction footage of Pandora: The World of Avatar as well as brief glimpses inside both rides: Na'vi River Journey and Flight of Passage.
The video can be found below:
November 20, 2016: At a presentation earlier today as part of the D23 Destination D event, Imagineer Joe Rohde was joined by Avatar creators James Cameron and Jon Landau. Together, the trio shared details of the land as well as a sneak peak at the Shaman animatronic that will be part of the Na'vi River Journey attraction.
The Disney Parks Blog also shared this video of the animatronic.
November 19, 2016: At the D23 Destination D event, Head of Parks and Resorts, Bob Chapek shared additional details on Pandora: The World of Avatar. Details include:
- The land will open in Summer 2017
- A quick service location called Satu’li Canteen which will feature Na'vi art and cultural items
- A shop called Windtraders where guests can purchase Na'vi cultural items, toys, science kits, and more
- A drink location called Pongu Pongu designed by it's expat owner
Additional details included some insight into the backstory of the land. Per the press release:
The new entry bridge to Pandora – The World of Avatar. According to the storyline developed by Walt Disney Imagineering and Lightstorm Entertainment, this bridge was built during a time when a destructive company called the RDA – Resources Development Administration came to Pandora. Now that they are long gone, nature is breaking down evidence of their presence. This bridge will soon serve as an entry into the base camp of Alpha Centauri Expeditions, the eco-tour group that will host explorers on their Pandora adventure.
November 17, 2016: WDWMagic.com user WDW1974 is reporting that Na'vi River Journey is 2/3rds of the way complete and James Cameron and Bob Iger are expected to be "pushed through" the attraction this weekend.
October 30, 2016: NearMap.com has updated it's aerial images of the Walt Disney World area. OrlandoParksNews.com posted several photos from the update and WDWMagic.com user danlb_2000 identified what appears to be ride vehicles for Na'vi River Journey. The vehicles appear to be consistent with the concept art with two rows of seating for guests.
October 10, 2016: WDWNT.com has posted photos of several pins that will be available as part of Pandora: The World of Avatar.
September 17, 2016: Construction Photos from WDWThemeParks.
August 30, 2016: WDWMagic.com user danlb_2000 is reporting that Disney has filed a Notice of Commencement to "Install Scenic Elements" to Pandora that are unrelated to either of the attractions. The expiration date is December 31, 2018.
August 15, 2016: Disney announced that James Cameron, Jon Landau and Bob Chapek will be presenting at the D23 Destination event on November 19th and November 20th.
August 2, 2016: WDWMagic.com user rioriz is reporting that the target date for Avatar is the fourth quarter of 2017. In a separate post he also indicated that the boat ride is potentially experimenting with the use of drone technology as part of the show scenes.
June 28, 2016: InsideTheMagic.net posted a video detailing a patent involving interactive live plants that may be utilized in Pandora: The World of AVATAR.
April 28, 2016: The Disney Parks Blog added photos of several elements coming to Pandora: The World of AVATAR. Items include a bioluminescent plant, illuminated walk ways and Na'vi artifacts.
April 20, 2016: TheDis posted a video of the Pandora: The World of AVATAR section of the Around Our World presentation. The very end of the clip shows a close up of a Na'vi face that may be an animatronic for the attraction.
April 8, 2016: WDWMagic.com user danlb_2000 reported that Disney has filed a permit for Show Set installation for Na'vi River Journey scenes, 4, 7 and 8. The permit has an expiration date of 4/8/2017 whereas most Avatar permits have an expiration of 12/31/2018.
April 7, 2016: D23 announced the dates for Destination D, a fan event to be held at Walt Disney World on November 19-20. As part of the event, D23 will offer a look at Pandora - The World of Avatar.
Explore the origins and incredible evolution of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, from early concepts to new experiences to be discovered at the park.
March 19, 2016: BlogMickey.com posted a photo update of Avatar construction that shows work on the vines that come off the floating mountains as well as the detail work on the restroom facility.
February 25, 2016: WDWMagic.com user WDW1974 reported that there is a Blue Sky concept for a Pandora themed hotel at Walt Disney World.
February 25, 2016: WDWMagic.com user danlb_2000 has reported that a new permit has been filed for "Attraction Install" at Flight of Passage. The contractor, DH Griffin often handles large machinery and the speculation is that this is the installation of the ride system.
February 11, 2016: WDWMagic.com user danlb_2000 posted a photo from a recent South Florida Water Management permit. The photo shows a rough layout of the Na'vi River Journey attraction. The photo indicates that the ride will be entirely indoors and the water volume for the attraction is .472 acre-feet which is 153,801 gallons. The water volume is approximately 1/4th that of Pirates of the Caribbean in California. It is also speculated that the attraction will be approximately 5 minutes in length.
January 21, 2016: WDWThemeParks.com posted a construction update that includes photos of Tiffins.
November 18, 2015: ORLParkPass.com posted a large photo update that featured several aerial photos of the Avatar construction site.
November 6, 2015: The Disney Parks Blog confirmed that the boat ride in Pandroa: The World of Avatar will be called Na'vi River Journey and it will open in 2017 with the rest of the land. They also shared an additional piece of concept art.
November 1, 2015: On Episode 90 of The Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish podcast, Jim Hill said that Disney is working to have Pandora: The World of Avatar open by the end of 2016.
August 18, 2015: WDWMagic.com user Coaster Lover has posted aerial photos from the Pandora: The World of Avatar" construction site.
August 15, 2015: At the D23 Expo Parks and Resorts Presentation Joe Rohde, James Cameron and Jon Landau confirmed the name of the Avatar land will be, "Pandora: The World of Avatar". They also confirmed the name of the banshee flight simulator as, "Flight of Passage". In addition, they share a video on the research and development behind the land.
August 14, 2015: WDWThemeParks.com posted a video and photo update from the D23 Expo. The video includes an introduction to the Pandora experience. Guests can visit Pandora using the fictional tour company Alpha Centauri Expeditions. The presentation talks about a boat ride and riding on a banshee. Inside the Pavilion, guests can see artifacts from Pandora as well as the full model of the land.
August 13, 2015: In a media preview for the D23 Expo, Instagram user @igatame posted photos of the Avatar model and InsideTheMagic.net was first to report that the AVATAR land model is on display in the Parks and Resorts Pavilion.
@JimHillMedia posted an additional photo to Twitter.
July 24, 2015: D23.com has reported that the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Pavilion at the D23 Expo will feature an in-depth look at Pandora: The World of Avatar with models, exhibits and images on display.
July 1, 2015: On Episode #82 of the Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish Podcast, Jim Hill indicated that the budget for the Avatar Project is $600-800 million. He also gave additional details on the attractions:
- Boat ride: "200 foot ceilings", animals stalking you.
June 24, 2015: WDWMagic.com user WDW1974 has reported that he knows the budget for Avatar to be $500 million.
June 15, 2015: On Episode #81 of the Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish with Jim Hill, Jim mentions that the Avatar project is 8 months behind schedule.
May 17, 2015: WDWThemeParks.com provided a photo construction update on the project.
May 6, 2015: WDWMagic.com user WDW1974 has reported that he had heard that Disney is working on a third attraction for the AVATAR project. He did caution that this is still very much a rumor and he has not been able to get anyone to confirm this.
April 27, 2015: Cirque du Soleil officially announced that a new show inspired by James Cameron's AVATAR called "Toruk" will begin touring the country in November. At this time there are no plans for this show to come to Disney World, however with the existing Cirque du Soleil facility at Downtown Disney and the upcoming AVATAR project over at Disney's Animal Kingdom, a future link is possible.
The description on the official website reads,
Inspired by James Cameron’s AVATAR, TORUK – The First Flight, a live experience by Cirque du Soleil, envisions a world beyond imagination thousands of years before the events depicted in the film.
April 15, 2015: @AustinCarr of FastCompany.com was able to speak with Imagineer Joe Rohde about the Avatar project and how MyMagic+ would be integrated. The article has this to say about that exchange:
Imagineer Joe Rohde, who sports a tribal-style earring that weighs down his left ear, speaks eloquently about the pros and cons of MyMagic+. We meet over a model of Avatar Land, the movie-inspired Disney World extension set to open in 2017. He tells me the Imagineers are trying to hit that sweet spot where the technology stays "subconscious," because he doesn’t want to see "switching behavior"—he waves his wrist around in front of his face—"in between the human and the experience."
I ask where MyMagic+ will influence Avatar Land, and Rohde turns my attention to the model, which is the size of three Ping-Pong tables. He swirls his finger around a tiny section. This little spot is where MyMagic+ will be put to use, in "the most intensive, interactive moments." What about the area’s two big attractions? "Less so," he adds.
What excites the Imagineers about Avatar Land? The robotics prototypes they’ve built, which they think represent the next generation of animatronics. MyMagic+ is just a tool that Imagineers tell me they don’t want to force on visitors. "We don’t want to say, ‘Hey, guest, go around and tap with your MagicBand to cause something magical to happen,’ " Vaughn says. "We never want to do it just because we can."
Austin answered additional questions on WDWMagic.com about his thoughts on the construction model.
Yes, I got to spend time with Joe over the Avatar models. I would say what struck me most are not just the new-age animatronics -- which are pretty mind blowing -- but more so the level of thought Joe and his team are putting into EVERY detail of Avatar Land. I mean, when we were looking at the model, he wasn't just referring to specific attractions, but audio cues, how certain parts of Avatar Land respond to other parts, etc. The whole thing is seemingly designed to be a living, breathing organism, and I'm sure Joe barely scratched the surface on what he has planned. Very fascinating dude.
March 28, 2015: WDWThemeParks.com posted a photo update of the Avatar construction.
February 26, 2015: The Disney Parks Blog shared a new piece of concept art, as well as a video of executives (Tom Staggs), Imagineers (Joe Rohde), James Cameron, Jon Landau and others experiencing some of the bioluminescent walk ways and plant life that will be featured in the Avatar project.
January 19, 2015: WDWThemeParks.com has posted a photo update on the World of Avatar Project.
January 16, 2015: WDWThemeParks.com has posted a photo update on the World of Avatar Project.
January 9, 2015: YouTube user "YOUR FLYING CAMERA" posted a video from a miniature drone over the Avatar construction site. The video shows vertical construction in multiple areas.
December 12, 2014: Orlando Parks News has reported that Avatar construction has gone vertical.
December 10, 2014: Variety has reported that Disney CEO Bob Iger had a chance to experience the Banshee flying attraction.
The vessels that guests will ride upon will essentially be the banshees themselves, with bodies that move to mimic a breathing beast. The flying sequences will be brought to life through large video screens — similar to “Soarin'” — with vehicles moving with theaction inside a massive theater.
October 10, 2014: OrlandoParksNews.com has reported that beginning October 15th, Avatar construction walls will move to the Discovery Island DVC booth and the side entrance to Pizzafari. During this portion of construction, the section of Pizzafari will be closed to guests. The walls are currently set back at the Discovery Island side of the bridge leading into the new area.
September 16, 2014: WDWThemeParks.com posted a construction update that included a photo of the cranes for Avatar.
August 10, 2014: Episode 62 of the Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish podcast with Jim Hill include updates on several rumors. Those rumors related to Avatar are as follows:
- $600 Million for Pandora
- Might open with one ride (Simulator), with the boat ride coming on line 18 months later.
July 31, 2014: WDWMagic.com user 01pewterz28 has reported that the foundation was poured on July 31st.
June 20, 2014: WDWNT.com posted a series of aerial photos of the Avatar progress to date. It appears to be largely land clearing.
June 17, 2014: Disney issued a press release that included content on Avatar:
AVATAR - At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney is teaming with visionary filmmaker James Cameron to bring the mystical world of AVATAR to life. Guests will encounter awe-inspiring floating mountains and wander through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants that are alive with light and sound. Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee. And the new AVATAR-inspired land won’t be the only change coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The largest expansion in the history of the park also includes all-new entertainment experiences, featuring after-dark entertainment and an evening version of the Kilimanjaro Safaris.
June 2, 2014: WDWMagic.com user pheneix is reporting that the cancelation of the Avatar Boat Ride or delay into Phase 2 are false.
June 2, 2014: WDWThemeParks.com has reported that the Na'vi River Journey (Boat Ride) attraction has been moved to a 'Phase 2' of the Avatar project. The ride is seemingly contingent on the success of the initial build of the land as well as the new movies.
June 1, 2014: SlashFilm.com has reported that James Cameron (Speaking at the Los Angeles Times Hero Complex Film Festival) recently revealed the working name for the Avatar project, "Pandora: The Land of Avatar". Previously we had been referring to it as "Pandora: The World of Avatar." Additionally, Cameron revealed that there will be animatronic Na'vi and multiple attractions. The full quote is as follows:
It’s going to have floating mountains. It’s pretty cool. I’ve seen the model and the design work the Imagineering people have done is spectacular. They’ve got a quarter inch to the foot scale model of the whole park and I’ve looked at all the sight lines…it’s not a park, it’s a land within the park but a land is not just a ride. There will be several rides and a number of other attractions. It’s really just a place you’re gonna wanna go and hang out. It’s gonna be gorgeous. Of course it’s gonna be gorgeous at night and they’re using every new trick, every new bit of technology that they’ve created.
The animatronics for the Na’vi characters are gonna be fantastic. For example, their early animatronics would use 12 axis of motion and I think the most they’ve ever done was 32 axis recently. I think they’re up to 64 just in the face of the Na’vi characters. So it’s gonna be remarkable. They really see it as a major, major attraction.
May 16, 2014: Disboards user mcel has reported that during a showing of Avatar on May 15th on FX, producer Jon Landau mentioned the boat ride for Avatar as well as that the floating mountains would be 143 feet tall.
April 29, 2014: MiceChat.com mentioned that cost overruns on My Magic+ and Shanghai may have reduced the Avatar project to one simulator attraction, a handful of shops and a restaurant.
April 28, 2014: OrlandoParksNews.com is reporting that a cast member event will take place inside the new Festival of the Lion King theater on May 8th. It is expected that Cast Members will be informed of upcoming changes to the park that may include Avatar, the nighttime show and the nighttime Safaris.
April 12, 2014: James Cameron participated in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit where he answered a single question on the Avatar project in the Animal Kingdom:
Question: I am beyond excited to be able to step foot into Pandora. Any details you could share with us about the park expansion at Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World? Even the tiniest detail would be awesome! Thanks for taking time to talk to us fans.
Answer: Well, Disney are doing a first-rate job designing it. It's going to be completely spectacular. It will be like being on Pandora. You will see real floating mountains. It's going to be a very magical experience just to be there and walk around. And the two rides will be absolute state of the art. But I don't how much they want to say about what those rides specifically will be, so I probably shouldn't say anymore than that. But from what I've seen so far, it will be amazing. I will be sad it's in Florida, because I won't be able to go a lot to it.
February 10, 2014: WDWMagic.com user Alektronic has reported that the current working title of the boat ride is "Na'vi River Journey". He also mentioned that the simulator is still known as "Flight of Passage".
February 5, 2014: Screamscape.com reported that the boat ride attraction, "May be somewhat similar in feel to Pirates of the Caribbean. The fantasy ride through the bio-luminescent world of Pandora may include encounters with animatronic creatures, very cool lighting and projection effects and perhaps a small drop or two along the way to keep things exciting."
January 29, 2014: Youtube user BigFatPanda from BigFatPanda.com posted a video featuring Imagineer Joe Rohde and Avatar Producer Jon Landau speaking a cast member exclusive screening of Avatar held at the Theater in the Wild on January 28th.
January 28, 2014: WDWMagic.com user rioriz posted an image taken from the website of ride manufacturer Vekoma. The showcased ride system is speculated to be used or adapted for the main attraction in the Avatar expansion. The attraction has the look of Soarin' with a large wrapped screen, but the seats load on different levels and have a much larger ranger of motion relative to Soarin'. The wrap around projection seems to be a larger scale version of Disney's DISH system used to showcase ride throughs during early Imagineering testing.
January 6, 2014: Construction Walls went up after Camp Minnie Mickey closed. You can see photos here.
November 30, 2013: Robert Niles of ThemeParkInsider.com posted additional information about the main attraction in the Avatar project. The information specified two of the four theaters would be ADA compliant and otherwise reinforced the earlier reports from WDWFanBoys.com and WDWThemeParks.com from October of 2012.
November 25, 2013: The first Avatar paperwork has been filed with the Orange County register. The description reads "Morpho - Early Development Package". As mentioned previously, "Morpho" is the project code name for Avatar. The application expires in 2016.
November 19, 2013: WDWMagic.com has reported that height balloons have been spotted behind the Rainforest Cafe. These balloons are used to check site lines for new construction. There were reportedly 5 balloons at roughly 3-4 stories in the air.
November 8, 2013: We have separated the Festival of the Lion King components into a separate rumor. That can be found here.
October 14, 2013: The Disney Parks Blog showcased a video featuring James Cameron and Joe Rohde discussing and showing many attributes of Avatar. In the video, Joe Rohde explains that the environment itself will interact with guests, and a small ride through clip of a simulator attraction was showcased as well.
October 12, 2013: Disney officially revealed concept art for the Avatar project. The concept art showed a boat ride, floating mountains, biolumenescent plants, a banshee ride, and several other components. WDWMagic.com has also reported that Cast Members have been informed that Camp Minnie Mickey will be closing in 2014.
Tom Staggs revealed the following at Japan's D23 Expo:
Our combined team has taken huge steps forward in “imagineering” Pandora as a real place for our guests to see, hear and touch. At the first-ever D23 Expo in Japan, we shared an early glimpse of the plans for AVATAR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park and I wanted to share some of these breathtaking images and a short preview of what’s to come with all of you.
As these concept renderings show in epic scale, in the world of AVATAR guests will encounter awe-inspiring floating mountains and wander through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants that are alive with light and sound. Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee.
As the world of AVATAR becomes real at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the energy and passion shared by our Imagineers and the Lightstorm team for this monumental task continues to be remarkable. I can’t wait to see the reactions of our guests as they step into a world that until now has only existed on the screen.
September 9, 2013: Orlando Theme Park News has posted a photo of survey markers in Camp Minnie Mickey.
August 13, 2013: The Boston Globe has reported that CEO Bob Iger said the following, "We’re going to continue to invest in Disneyland,’’ Iger said. ‘‘We’ve got some pretty exciting things that we’ll be announcing over the next couple of months.’’ It is assumed that this will also include attractions for Disney World as well.
August 13, 2013: WDWThemeParks.com is reporting that Imagineer Kathy Mangum told them that she will be spending more time working on projects other than Avatar in her new role at Walt Disney World.
August 8, 2013: InsideTheMagic.net posted several images from the Imagineering Pavilion at the D23 Expo Media Preview. Details were limited, but it is the first public display of anything related to Avatar development to date.
July 31, 2013: WDW1974 posted on WDWMagic.com that the delays in Avatar construction are the result of overages in the Next Gen budget.
July 30, 2013: WDWMagic.com user Alektronic has posted the following that would link the rumored nighttime show to the new Avatar themed area, "The water show that is being planned will be in the Spirit Forest area."
July 25, 2013: Jim Hill tweeted that fans should expect Avatar and Star Wars concept art at the D23 Expo but minimal details on the attractions.
July 24, 2013: The latest Disney Insider newsletter reports that the Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Pavilion at D23 will be offering sneak peeks at upcoming projects including Disney Springs. As well, there will be teasers for new attractions based on Avatar and Star Wars.
June 28-29, 2013: MiceAge.com interviewed D23 spokesperson, Jeffrey Epstein and Imagineer Dave Fisher about the upcoming D23 Expo. In the interview, and later confirmed by Jeffrey Epstein on Twitter, it was revealed that there will not be a Parks and Resorts arena presentation at the D23 Expo. Disney and More also confirmed that due to secrecy surrounding Avatar and other projects, Disney was simply not ready to announce them at the upcoming D23 Expo.
May 15, 2013: Mickey and Minnie officially move from the Camp Minnie Mickey Character Greeting Trails to their new indoor home at the Adventurer's Outpost on Discovery Island.
May 14, 2013: OrlandoParkNews.com posted an update on the Avatar rumor. The expectation is that more details will be announced at the D23 Expo, and the C-Ticket is expected to be identified as a boat ride or a walk through at that time.
May 3, 2013: George Kalogridis told the Orlando Business Journal that the new Avatar land will open by summer 2017.
April 30, 2013: WDWMagic.com user Alektronic has reported that the current working title of the simulator attraction is, "Flight of Passage".
March 31, 2013: Orlando Theme Park News posted photos of individuals that appear to be Imagineers in Camp Minnie Mickey.
February 20, 2013: The Disney Park blog confirms that the Beastly Bazaar shop will be renamed the Adventurers Outpost and beginning in the Spring, Mickey and Minnie will be relocated to this new area.
February 14, 2013: Disney mentioned in a press release: Walt Disney Imagineers are currently in the design stage for AVATAR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide is joining forces with visionary filmmaker James Cameron and Fox Filmed Entertainment to bring the world of AVATAR to life creating themed lands that will give Guests the opportunity to explore the mysterious universe of AVATAR first hand. With its emphasis on living in harmony with nature, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a natural fit for the AVATAR stories, which share the same philosophy. Construction is expected begin in 2013 and project of this size typically takes approximately five years to design and build.
December 7, 2012: Disney held an "Around the World" presentation where Tom Staggs stated that the project would carry a budget between $400-$500 million and they are still in the early stages of development.
October 24, 2012: WDWFanBoys.com and WDWThemeParks.com posted the same article discussing the first ride information. Later, blueprints confirming this content would appear on WDWMagic.com as well as Epcyclopedia.com
September 13, 2012: At the 2012 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference, Disney CFO Jay Rasulo said the following, “Avatar is coming for Walt Disney World” in “15-16? and will be funded out of the normal capital expenditure profile.”
August 12, 2012: The Beastly Bazaar shop in the Discovery Island area closed to make way for an indoor Meet and Greet area.
November 12, 2011: The Disney Parks Blog showcased a photo-opp of James Cameron visiting the Carsland construction site with Tom Staggs
October 18, 2011: The Disney Parks Blog reported that James Cameron had visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom with Imagineer Joe Rohde as well as Tom Staggs (photo below)
September 20, 2011: Disney announced via press conference and on the Disney Parks Blog that they have partnered with James Cameron to develop a new land in the Animal Kingdom based on the movie Avatar. A follow up Disney Parks Blog post featured questions and answers from Tom Staggs, the Heads of Parks and Resorts.
September 27, 2008: The Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends stage show had it's last day of operation. At the time the thought was a version of Mysterious Island would be built in this area but that concept was since replaced by World of Avatar.