pandora

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • More Pandora: The World of Avatar details are coming soon.
  • A virtual reality haunted house is coming to Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights.
  • Disney is currently looking to cast Moana for theme park meet-and-greets.
  • Check out concept art for the Muppet-themed restaurant PizzeRizzo.
  • The Paint the Night Parade is staying put at Disneyland.

We are less than a year away from the 2017 opening of Pandora: The World of Avatar at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom and the many details of this ambitious theme park land remain shrouded in mystery. We know there will be two major attractions (a Soarin’-esque flight over Pandora and a more gentle water ride) and that the alien landscapes of the film will be recreated using all kinds of impressive technology, but the finer points, the stuff that will make this world feel truly alive, are being kept close to the vest.

Now, it looks like the floodgates may be about to open. io9 initially reported that Avatar director James Cameron, producer Jon Landau, and celebrated Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde will be on hand at the D23 Destination D event this November to reveal new details about this ambitious expansion. Although this event is open only to D23 Fan Club members, all of the important stuff will surely make its way online so the rest of us plebes can dig in and pre-judge and get excited and everything else we tend to do with the major theme park news that falls into our laps. Although Avatar‘s popularity has waxed and waned over the years, there are two constants at work here: you never bet against James Cameron and you never bet against Disney Imagineering.

The full press release for D23 Destination D also revealed events centered around Adventureland, The Jungle Cruise, and the Polynesian Village resort:

  • Welcome to Adventureland: Set off on a journey through “Adventurelands” at Disney Parks around the world, beginning with a rare look at artist Harper Goff’s exotic concepts for Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
  • Tales from the Jungle Cruise: Fans of “the backside of water” unite! Discover the legendary history of the world-famous attraction with a panel of wisecracking experts, including a behind-the-scenes look at recent holiday overlays and the new Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort’s 45th Anniversary: From tropical hideaways to enchanting entertainment, celebrate the spirit of aloha as D23 looks back at 45 years of the classic South Pacific-themed getaway.

If you are a D23 Fam Club member, tickets will cost you between $190 and $250.

Star Wars and Toy Story-themed lands aren’t the only new things coming to Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios theme park. Construction walls have officially gone up at the old Pizza Planet building, which is being transformed in PizzeRizzo, a restaurant themed around Rizzo the Rat from the Muppets. The new eatery is part of a larger Muppets expansion, with the area surrounding MuppetVision 3D being transformed into “Muppets Plaza.” Anyway, concept art for PizzeRizzo is on display around the construction site, revealing a restaurant that looks like a fairly classical pizza joint…except for the fact that it’s own and operated by a felt rodent.

electrical parade

Earlier this month, we learned that the Main Street Electrical Parade would end its run at Walt Disney World on October 9 and would return to its original home at Disneyland for a limited engagement. That led many fans to speculate that the Disneyland’s Paint the Night parade would be heading to the East Coast as part of a big ol’ parade swap. However, the Disney Parks Blog has confirmed that this is not the case – Disneyland will simply be doubled up on nighttime entertainment through the rest of 2016 while Walt Disney World will be without a late parade.

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