First 'Avatar' Land Ride Footage Arrives Online

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.

The footage comes from the Twitter account of Visit Pandora, a promotional campaign assembled by Alpha Centauri Expeditions. This is the travel agency of choice if you want to book a trip to the dangerous and beautiful world of the Na'vi. On other words, it's part of the marketing for Pandora: The World of Avatar and like the Visit Pandora website, the Twitter account is committed to staying "in-character."

So while the text says "here's a cute joke pretending that Pandora is real," the attached video says "hey, here's the first actual footage from the Na'vi River Journey attraction."

The video is conspicuously lacking sound, which may be by design. The official description of the ride teases the "Na'vi Shaman of Songs" who "fills the forest with beautiful music," which suggests that the Na'vi River Journey is very much a next-gen version of It's a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean – a slow boat ride past enchanting visuals set to catchy music. Here's that description:

Climb aboard a reed boat and soon you'll see that on the sacred Kaspavan River, every moment tells a story, and every bend sings a song. This expedition into the rainforest deep within the Valley of Mo'ara will take you right into the middle of Pandora and Na'vi culture. Traveling into the darkest part of the forest, you'll find yourself surrounded by a canopy of exotic glowing plants and amazing animals on the move. Listen closely and you'll hear the Na'vi Shaman of Songs as she fills the forest with beautiful music about the sacred bond between nature and ourselves. Beyond any family adventure you've had before—that's the Na'vi River Journey.

Of course, the technology on display looks first-rate. In the slow pan across the scenery, you can see at least a few minor animatronic creatures living amongst the bioluminescent flora, but those larger creatures seen near the end appear to be (very convincing!) projections. Since we already know there will be at least one full-sized Na'vi animatronic (the Shaman of Songs herself), it looks like the Na'vi River Journey will feature a combination of practical robots and projections.

Pandora: The World of Avatar will open with one other major ride: the banshee flying simulator Flight of Passage. The exterior of the land, which features a recreation of those floating mountains from the film, will offer different experiences depending on whether you visit during the day or at night. We'll know more in just a few months when the land opens at the Animal Kingdom park in Florida's Walt Disney World.