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.
Thanks to InsideTheMagic for capturing all of this great video:
Na’vi River Journey Ride-Through
First up is a queue and ride video for the Na’vi River Journey attraction, which is a Pirates of the Caribbean-style boat ride through the bioluminescent Pandora rainforest. This looks spectacular, and the animatronic Na’vi Shaman looks next level, better than anything Walt Disney Imagineering has produced to date. Seeing it makes me sad that the other Na’vi and Pandoran animals in the ride are merely projections.
The video doesn’t seem to accurately capture the experience of being on this boat ride, which may be due to the low light of the bioluminescent forest.
Na’Vi Animatronic in the Flight of Passage Ride Queue
Speaking of animatronics, another great Na’vi animatronic can be seen in the queue for the Flight Of Passage ride. Guests will see a Na’vi avatar body floating in a tank, ready to be linked to a human explorer. It would have been cooler if the park guests were “scanned” (photographed) in the previous room, and one was chosen to be linked with the avatar body (much in the same way one guest is selected to be the rebel spy on Star Tours: The Adventures Continue).
Flight of Passage Queue Walk-Through
For those of you who want to see a full walk-through of the queue for this attraction, the video is embedded above. The line takes guests through caverns featuring cave paintings showing the intimate relationship between the Na’vi species and the Banshee. The cave brings visitors to a human facility where Resource Development Administration (RDA) used to conduct questionable activities and experiments. This area has been long abandoned and is now being reclaimed by the planet’s bioluminescent forest. Eventually, you enter a military research lab filled with eye candy. Around the corner is the Na’vi avatar body in the tank, ready to be connected with a human.
From here, groups of 16 people are moved into smaller pre-show rooms where it is explained that they will be matching portions of individual’s DNA with that of Avatar prototypes and that the guests will have the ability to briefly link with a Banshee and explore Pandora from the skies. There are interactive screens that match guests with an Avatar prototype. You then straddle a “link chair,” which will connect you for your flight (this is your ride vehicle). Guests straddle the ride vehicles like a motorcycle, and the ride locks tight on your body and legs. The ride vehicle is more than just a moving motion simulator but also sends vibrations to make the experience more immersive. Apparently, you will feel the Banshee breathing below you.
The ride itself apparently uses the same film projection experience as Disney’s Soarin’ attraction, but this time it’s in 3D with glasses. There are smells and misting effects as well. The ride takes guests flying “around the floating mountains, past many other Na’vi, across an ocean, under a wave, and wind up with a beautiful sun-soaked overview of Pandora.” As far as I can tell, there is no ride video for this attraction, and considering it’s 3D, someone would have to polarize the lens to make it watchable.
Valley of Mo’ara Daytime Tour
InsideThe Magic has also posted a walking tour of the Valley of Mo’ara, giving you a look at the lush world they created for this theme park land.
Bioluminescent Night Time Preview
They also posted a brief look at the bioluminescent night time experience of the land, which seems like an entirely different experience.
It is primarily felt in the vegetation. Each plant is connected to a bioluminescent system within Pandora. This means that it all acts as a unit, evolving throughout the evening as if playing different movements in a visual symphony.
I’m blown away by the interactive elements, and like the boat ride, this seems like something that can’t accurately be captured by today’s consumer video cameras.
Satu’li Canteen Food & Tour
As for some of the food, you’ll be able to eat while on Pandora, this video tour of the Satu’li Canteen, the premiere eatery of the new theme park land. The Canteen allows diners to build their own meal offering 48 different combinations (plus two additional bao bun options, a couple of desserts and a kids menu).
Windtraders Store Tour
And for those of you wondering what kind of merchandise is sold on Pandora, here is a video tour of Windtraders, one of the land’s gift shops. Some of the cooler items include a miniature stuffed animal Banshee which you can puppeteer, a Na’vi figure that is customized with your face using 3D scanning technology, and a coffee cup modeled after Pandora’s floating mountains. I know Avatar haters will have a field day with all this merchandise, but I imagine a lot of this will be very popular within the theme park.