Residents of Bakersfield, CA might have felt like they were either in a future season of Game of Thrones or transported to Pandora recently as a huge, flying dragon was spotted in the skies at a local air field. The dragon is a prototype owned and designed by Disney and is something the Imagineers have reportedly been working on for years.

Disney blogs are speculating what, exactly, this contraption could be for and the two best bets are either an attraction for the in-development Avatar Land at Animal Kingdom in Orlando, FL or possibly something to do with the under construction Disneyland in Shanghai. Check out the images and decide for yourself.

Thanks to Tammy Zaninovich and the Bakersfield Californain for the images and The Disney Blog for the concept and speculation.

In March of 2010, the concept represented in the image above was patented by the Imagineers. The shots of it in action were taken last week. No one at the airfield in Bakersfield or from Disney would officially comment on what the device actually was.

So let’s try and figure this out. The patent for the design was in March 2010 but the announcement of an Avatar section of Animal Kingdom wasn’t until September 2011. It’s almost certain that with the success of Avatar, the idea for the theme park integration began way before the reveal. However, in March 2010, Avatar was still in theaters. It seems much too early to be securing patents for something that won’t begin construction until 2013 aimed at opening in 2016 or 2017. Possible? Yes. Probable? No.

The more likely reveal is something to do with Disney Shanghai, the huge Chinese Disneyland which was announced in 2009 and will likely open in 2015. There’s obviously a huge connection between the mythical creatures and Chinese culture plus the timing just fits better.

Still, the idea of a flying dragon ride in Avatar Land is pretty sweet and maybe similar technology could be used for both ideas.

What do you think this dragon is being used for?

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