Wow! Yesterday was a flurry of new information all about Pandora – World of Avatar courtesy of a plethora of ABC shows -“The Chew”, “Good Morning America“, “The View“, and “Nightline.” The goal of these spots were clearly to get excitement ramped up and it most certainly worked!
So if you’re looking forward to the official opening of this new land as much as I am, here’s what you should know courtesy of recent news developments. (If you want to avoid minor spoilers about the land, stop reading now. This is your only warning!)
According to James Cameron. The story is that we are found in a generation of Pandora after all the movies when the warfare between the humans and Na’vi is over. The Na’vi have welcomed us to Pandora to help us understand nature and ourselves better. Essentially, we are welcome because we are here to learn and educate ourselves.
There are two Pandoras that Guests will get to experience. Day and night. Trust me, you will want to see this place lit up at night!
Guests walk through an opening and will be immersed in the Valley of Mo’ara. Here, Guests can walk right under the enormous floating mountains. The land is lush and is a mixture of earth plants and Pandorian foliage that all helps to gives the idea that it’s a real ecosystem. Of course, these plants will come to life with beautiful bioluminescence each night.
The Valley of Mo’ara will also include a Na’vi-built drum circle that will contain instruments that are playable by all, Na’vi totems and other cultural items found. For those who are Wilderness Explorers fans, there will be brand new challenges and badges to collect in Pandora too! Guests who visit may even come across tour guides from Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE), scientists from the Pandora Conservation Initiative (PCI), or even an eclectic expat or two!
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Things We Can’t Wait To See In 2017! 2016 was another unbelievable year in the theme park world, containing a wide mix of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. 2017 is already shaping up to be even more amazing. We have a new immersive land that promises to eclipse what Disneyland has done with Cars Land and Universal with Diagon Alley, a new President being added to the Hall of Presidents, and the first of its kind “water theme park.” If that doesn’t get your blood pumping about the next 12 months you may actually be a Host from Westworld, but for the rest of you, here’s some of the things we can’t wait to see, starting with…
# 6 – Pandora: The World of Avatar (Animal Kingdom)
Our long national nightmare is almost over. First announced on September 20, 2011, Pandora: The World of Avatar is nearing completion. Disney is saying “Summer 2017” for this new land, and is going on record saying it is the most immersive area in any theme park. Just from what we can see from what rises over the construction walls and the Blogger-In-The-Sky helicopter camera shots, the land does look STUNNING. The info we’ve been given on the bioluminescent plants in the area along with the experience in the Na’vi River Journey make both seem like “wow” moments. Last year, this fine blog did question what Pandora will be doing in the areas of food and merchandise, two extremely important factors a theme park land needs to deliver on to satisfy its Return On Investment (ROI). These are also two areas that Disney has not released much info on for Pandora. We all know that Avatar the movie – by far and away the most financially successful film in the history of cinema – never really figured out a way to get its fans to buy merchandise the way that Star Wars, Marvel, Harry Potter, and even Star Trek have.
Na’vi River Journey. (photo courtesy of Disney Parks and Resorts)
One of the most exciting things about Pandora is that it appears the land will be using projection mapping on its incredible rock work. This is something that has never been mentioned by Disney over the course of the Pandora project, but Johnny-on-the-spot bloggers have seen this technology being tested. Your Humble Author thinks projection mapping is one of the areas that Disney is heads and tails above anyone else in the industry right now. Whether on the castle in the Magic Kingdom, the Great Movie Ride facade in DHS, or the jaw dropping Tree of Life Awakens shows at Animal Kingdom, Disney’s use of projection mapping in the parks is amazing.
What looks to be testing for projecting mapping on the rock work in Pandora. (photo by @Blog_Mickey)
# 5 – Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon (Universal Studios Florida)
Last year Universal fans lost Twister…Ride It Out! along with its Bill Paxton performance that was so mailed in he should have put a stamp on it. In Twister’s place will be the upcoming Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. One of the most underrated aspects of this change, is that the attraction takes place in the New York area of Universal Studios Florida, so it is a perfect fit. There are many who do not like Fallon’s broad sense of humor, but his Late Night TV dominance shows there is most likely a much larger group of people who love what he brings to the table (Your Humble Author included). While there have been some debates on how the “flying theater” ride mechanics will actually work, one thing we do know is that Universal is trying something truly different with how people experience the attraction’s queue.
Much like how Dumbo at the Magic Kingdom allows kids to play in a themed area until it is time to ride, Race Through New York looks to have things for adults to do while waiting. There will be a woman’s quartet singing songs, a chance to check out classic bits from from Fallon’s Tonight Show run (including Lip Sync Battle), write your own “Thank You Notes” at an interactive desk, and even get a meet and greet with the Tonight Show’s mascot, Hashtag the Panda.
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon is designed to get guests to laugh, and comedy is one thing Universal is very good at delivering on. From the criminally underrated Horror Make-Up Show to the non-stop gags in Springfield USA, be prepared to bring your smile when stepping into Universal Studios Florida.
Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon concept art.
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon in Universal Studios Florida. (photo by @bioreconstruct).
Who is ready to travel to Pandora? it was announced today that the lush world from the movie Avatar will open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the Summer of 2017.
Guests will enter Pandora through a bridge found near the new table service restaurant, Tiffins. According to the backstory of the land, “the bridge was built during a time when a destructive company called the RDA came to Pandora. Now that they’re long gone, nature is breaking down evidence of their presence.”
Guests will enter Pandora into the Alpha Centauri Expeditions base camp. Alpha Centauri Expeditions, for those who don’t know, is the eco-tour group that is preparing Pandora for further exploration.
Pandora will feature two attractions. One is a boat ride that will take Guests into a visually stunning world where they will travel into a bioluminescent rainforest through a sacred river. The journey will end with an encounter with a Na’vi Shaman. The family friendly attraction will be called Na’vi River Journey.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six of Our Emotions Coming Out Of the D23 Expo. Last week we gave our D23 Expo Preview and can proudly announce that we were the only blog on the entire planet to call Disney involving Stan Lee in their Parks and Resorts presentation. While some would call us The Nostradamus of Theme Parks, we’d like to remind you that we are just your humble servants striving to provide the best possible article in the history of mankind.
With that out of the way, what a D23 Expo it was! Hopefully you caught some of the excellentD23coverage by TouringPlan’s own Guy Selga (who has lovingly been referred to as a poor man’s Tom Bricker, or a rich man’s Tim Grassey). There were so many things to come out of of the Expo, but we’re going to take a page from this summer’s blockbuster hit TomorrowlandInside Out and express our emotions via the very characters in the film! So sit back, relax, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…
# 6 – JOY: Star Wars Land is finally announced!
Our long national nightmare is over. STAR WARS LAND IS COMING! From the day Star Tours opened in the 1980s we’ve all wanted more Star Wars in the theme parks and now we’re actually getting it. The man in charge, WDI’s Scott Trowbridge, is also the very same man behind one of the all time greatest rides in theme park history, Universal’s Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. While details were scarce, what we do know is a jaw dropper. The land will be spread out over 14 acres, have an attraction that sees guests piloting the Millennium Falcon, and cast members will stay completely in character, similar to the witches and wizards inside Diagon Alley.
Do you believe in miracles?! (photo by Andrew Marchese)
This week marks the fourth ever D23 Expo, which is the exposition event for Disney D23 (the official fan club for The Walt Disney Company). Since 2009, and every second year after that, the event has offered fans the chance to come together and celebrate all things Disney while also getting a sneak peek at upcoming projects across the company’s numerous divisions including parks, film and even video games. With rumors swirling about possible announcements for quite some time now, speculation and anticipation are at a fever pitch. One of my favorite parts of any event like this is making predictions because a) it offers me the chance to brag about how right I was or b) laugh at how wrong I was. I can’t lose! With that in mind, here are my ten predictions for the D23 Expo.
Let’s get one of the big ones out of the way. Every Disney fan at this point knows that Hollywood Studios is getting a huge revamp. With the new changes will also come a new name for the park, which was previously revealed by Disney CEO Bob Iger after he got tricked by a young fan at the annual shareholders’ meeting. From everything I’ve read, the most popular new name appears to be Hollywood Adventure but at this point, it’s anybody’s guess.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Theme Park Questions For the Magic 8 Ball. Theme park fans have a lot of questions. In fact, the mailbag at the Saturday Six offices is stuffed with letters from fans asking about their favorite Orlando parks. Unfortunately, thanks to TV being our babysitter growing up, our reading comprehension isn’t that great. We hired some interns to handle the mail, but they are even worse because of YouTube, Vine and Twitter (enjoy life now because we’re all doomed when this generation takes control of things.) So we did the only thing that we could do given the circumstances….we made up our own questions.
# 6 – What will Avatarland do in the area of merchandise?
A Na’vi makes the bond with 15.99% APR. (photo by Matt Cleary)
Disney has slowly been giving us information on the upcoming Avatar expansion at Animal Kingdom, including the groundbreaking ceremony in early 2014 in which Imagineers used 10 foot shovels. Several attractions have been vaguely teased, and the point is always stressed that this land is attempting to be one of the most amazing experiences in theme park history. It’s James Cameron and Walt Disney Imagineering, two of the best in the world at what they do.
However, one thing that hasn’t been mentioned at all is what kind of retail opportunities there will be in this land, if any. Avatar is the most successful movie in the history of cinema, but it does not lead itself to the traditional methods of merchandising that Universal has used for its Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The third act of Avatar is hinged on the fact that the humans have nothing to offer the Na’vi, because the natives of Pandora have no use for materialistic things. What are those materialistic things? Shirts, action figures, magnets, and pretty much anything else you would find in a theme park gift shop.