How Pandora The World of Avatar Reflects the Film

There is no denying that the movie Avatar was once a great cultural event. In late 2009, director James Cameron’s blockbuster about blue-skinned aliens was seemingly all anyone could talk about, even though it was arguably not even the best science fiction film that year (to be sure, the landscape was crowded, with District 9, Star Trek, and Moon all jockeying to be the sci-fi inclusions on people’s Top Ten lists.)

Critics hailed Avatar as a singularly immersive theatergoing experience, and audiences agreed, insofar as they helped it unseat Cameron’s previous film, Titanic, to become the highest grossing film of all time. Even when adjusted for inflation, it still ranks as the second highest grosser, right behind the classic Gone with the Wind.

Yet as many have noted, in the intervening years since Avatar set off the big wave of post-converted 3-D films, it seemed to vanish from the cultural conversation. Back in 2014, on the fifth anniversary of the film’s release, Scott Mendolson of Forbes.com posted an article examining the film’s legacy. The headline of that article asserted that Avatar had “left no pop culture footprint.” And indeed, the film’s cultural relevance, or lack thereof, is something the voices on our own /Filmcast have continued to debate.

As of this summer, however, Avatar the experience (emphasis on “experience” over the film’s middling story) has suddenly become relevant again. All it took was the opening of a certain theme park land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida.

Let’s take a closer look at Pandora – The World of Avatar, how it fits in with Animal Kingdom, and how it brings aspects of Cameron’s film to life in a way that just might make a believer out of you, even if you are not an Avatar fan.

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avatar flight of passage ride

Avatar 2 may be several years away, but Pandora can become fully realized soon in the Flight of Passage ride that will be open in Walt Disney World’s Pandora: The World of Avatar on May 27, 2017.

A few lucky fans got an early preview of the ride and have posted a full, detailed video of the experience. Get a sneak peek of what it’s like to soar through the skies of Pandora on the back of a Banshee.

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pandora

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • The uniforms of Pandora: The World of Avatar are revealed.
  • The “roles” that Pandora cast members play in the park.
  • A peek at the Avatar-themed merchandise you’ll be able to buy at the park.
  • Disney is researching how to projection map a human face.
  • Disneyland is getting with the times and offering Wi-Fi in their parks.
  • There’s a new robot named iCan wandering around Tomorrowland.
  • And more!

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avatarland animatronic

Over the weekend, Walt Disney World previewed Animal Kingdom’s Pandora: The World Of Avatar to a bunch of press. We weren’t invited, and we’ve decided to keep calling it Avatar Land because the official name is not very good (and it’s more fun to say). Anyway, we are living vicariously through the photos and videos that have come out of the event. Below, watch some of the best videos from the preview, which give us our first look at this new theme park land, the incredible animatronic Na’vi, the lush bioluminescent environment Disney Imagineers have created, the food, merchandise and more.

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avatar land videos

Oh, man. Theme park construction news grows up so fast. It seems like only yesterday we were scrutinizing blurry images from Walt Disney World’s Pandora – The World of Avatar. Now, full-blown videos walking us through this meticulously designed theme park land have arrived. I feel like I’m waving goodbye to a child as it drives to college, ready to finally complete its transformation from dirt pile to multi-million dollar tourist attraction. Let’s watch the videos below.

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avatar land tour

Universal Studio’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter didn’t just transport you to J.K. Rowling’s fantasy world – it transported you to a specific point in the Harry Potter canon, with the events of the attractions taking place at a specific point in the series. Not to be outdone, Walt Disney World’s Pandora: The World of Avatar isn’t just an extension of James Cameron‘s film (and soon to be film series). The entire experience is a sequel in its own right, sliding right into the series’ timeline.

This revelation arrived as Disney started opening the gates to the new theme park land (located in their Animal Kingdom theme park) to a few media outlets. This resulted in a bunch of new footage from the themed area, including a look at the new rides, arriving online.

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avatar ride footage

For the past three years, we’ve slowly watched Walt Disney World’s Pandora: The World of Avatar transform from a giant dirt pile into a jaw-dropping recreation of the alien jungle seen in James Cameron’s Avatar. Now, we’re on the homestretch, flying toward the theme park land’s May 27, 2017 opening, and first footage from the interior of one the area’s two main attractions has arrived online.

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Na’vi River Journey Avatar Avatarland

We’ve written before about the ongoing theme park cold war between Disney and Universal Studios, both of whom are battling it out to become the top dog in this industry. Universal took the high ground when it debuted the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but Disney is returning fire with a James Cameron-powered salvo: Pandora: The World of Avatar, which takes the highest grossing film in cinematic history and makes it a physical space you can explore. Honestly, there are no real losers in this conflict: both companies are forced to innovate (we have Star Wars and Nintendo-themed attractions on the horizon next) and we, those who enjoy theme parks, get to reap the rewards.

Even though Pandora is only a few months away from officially opening its gates (and will probably begin soft opening sooner than that), the area’s two main rides remain pretty mysterious. Do two new trailers reveal anything noteworthy?

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Na’vi River Journey Avatar Avatarland

During their quarterly earnings conference call earlier today, The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger confirmed earlier the opening date for Walt Disney World’s Avatar-themed land. Pandora – The World of Avatar will have its grand opening at Walt Disney World Resort’s Animal Kingdom theme park on May 27th, 2017. Also, Iger also confirmed that Star Wars Land, which is currently being constructed in both Anaheim’s Disneyland and Orlando’s Hollywood Studios are on target for a 2019 opening.
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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

avatar na'vi river journey

For theme park fans, Walt Disney World’s Pandora: The World of Avatar has long existed as a series of rumors wrapped in photos taken from a distance, a handful of intriguing promises that didn’t quite line up with the fact that the Animal Kingdom theme park’s newest themed land has looked like a construction site for most of the past year. So this new video, which teases this endeavor as an actual place with rides you can go on and things you can do, is a pleasant surprise after so many aerial photos tracking minuscule changes.

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