Ever since Disney revolutionized family entertainment with their first theme park in 1971. Families have been able to take a break from this world into magical (mainly mechanical, but it still feels like magic) worlds of adventure, fun, and unending possibilities.
World of Avatar – From Silver Screen to Real Life
In 2009, the renowned director created a completely fabulous world and brought it to life on our screens in the form of the blockbuster movie, Avatar. Creative genius that he is, he wasn’t satisfied with that. He and his team wanted to give the world more. They wanted the world to experience the world of Avatar the same way Jake (the hero in the movie) experienced it. And so in 2011, developmental plans to create a theme park built around the Avatar movie began. It was dubbed: “Pandora – World of Avatar”.
For those waiting for the 4 sequels to the movie that have lined up, this will keep you busy in the meantime. After all, the second installment is only coming out in 2020, and that’s a long time to wait.
Disney Animal Kingdom Park – Evolving Into Pandora
The Orlando, Florida vacation destination, Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom park, set aside 12-acres to expand into their latest project. The much-anticipated World of Avatar has been in the making for 6 whole years. Being the perfectionist that he is, James Cameron made sure every detail, even the minutest reflected the “real” world of the Na’vi the native inhabitants of Pandora.
The whole idea behind creating the World of Avatar was to bring Pandora, its inhabitants, plants, and all strange creatures to life. Creating a living theme park like this is a task few a brave enough to take on, after all, there is a lot hanging at stake and anything could go wrong. But the brave crew behind Pandora pulled it off, spectacularly.
A corner of Disney’s Animal Kingdom park evolved into a living world. It’s like stepping out into another dimension altogether.
Experiencing Pandora – The Living Planet
From the moment you step into this world, everything changes. Not only visually but even the “feel” of the place. It, uncannily, feels real. Extraterrestrial flora and fauna, floating mountains, gushing waterfalls, in fact, everything here makes the expansion feels like a national park on an alien planet.
If you think Disney’s Pandora looks awesome during the day, wait until nightfall – it will be as if you’ve been taken to another world. Stunning bioluminescent effects breathe new life into the world of Avatar come night time, making everything look different. The transition is gradual, with a few plants beginning to glow as the sun goes down until the whole park becomes a glowing forest, floating mountains included.
As for the animatronics, you have to see it to believe it. Everything moves so fluidly you’d think they are living flesh and blood creatures – especially the “Shaman of Songs” who is one of the main highlights of the Na’vi river journey. Kind of eerie if you ask me, but that’s the whole point. Pandora is an eerie place after all.
Flight of Passage – Rite of Passage on the Back of a Banshee
The flagship ride at the World of Avatar is a ride on a Banshee – a dragon-like creature as seen in the Avatar movie. The “ride” (a 3-D virtual reality experience) pairs brave patrons with their own Banshee. Prepping for the ride involves being strapped into a motorbike-like ride and donning a pair of 3-D glasses. An enveloping, IMAX-like screen then completely fills your view. All set, your Banshee hurtles forward, dipping and diving through Pandora’s forests. The combination of the visual effects and the motion of the bike-like contraption make this flight feel so real your heart will soon be pounding harder as adrenaline rushes through your body. But the journey has just begun.
As you approach the Pandora’s ocean, a whale-like creature bursts through the surface and consumes most of the screen. As it goes crashing back down, a giant wave threatens to swallow you up, but thankfully, unlike you, your Banshee is used to life on this planet and it manages to find a way out. The encounter leaves you drenched, in real water. From a race with another Banshee to barely escaping a stampede of “Pandorian” creatures that engulfs you in a cloud of dust to a momentary respite in a cool cave, Flight of Passage is an amazing ride that will leave you wishing it was longer than 4 minutes.
World of Avatar – A Whole New World Awaits
If you are planning a trip to Orlando Florida, Disney Animal kingdom, in particular, be sure to grab a Disney World map, locate Pandora, and make a bee-line for the World of Avatar. This is a trip unlike any other, a trip into a whole new world.