Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Walt Disney World
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(6/21/17) Avatar Update (MORE...) Link Fixed
(6/14/17) Not So Fast Banshee Hunters (MORE...)
(6/12/17) Banshees May Have Returned To Pandora (MORE...)
(6/10/17) Pandora Banshees Sold Out For Several Weeks (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Nothing is known to be scheduled for rehab at this time.
General Park News - (6/12/17) According to a reader who stopped by Pandora late on Sunday evening, they had just restocked the shelves with a new shipment of Banshees. No telling how long this supply will last, so if you want one, you know where you need to be in the morning.
(6/10/17) If you've seen the various stories about Disney's new World of Pandora attractions at Animal Kingdom, you may have come across some mentions of an interesting new "toy" for sale that has proven quite popular. Guests have been dropping $50 for the chance to take home their very own Banshee, a small puppet-style toy that guests can put on their shoulder and control the movements of their heads and wings.
Well... if you are visiting currently and hoping to take a Banshee home... you are out of luck. It seems the Rookery is not only completely sold out of Banshees, but they've wipes out Disney's entire advance stock of the little beasties, and it will be a few weeks before more are "hatched" and brought back into Pandora for guests.
Talk about a "good" problem for Disney to have. It should be interesting to note if the price-point changes at all when new Banshees arrive. (Of course, this problem has caused a few fun comments I've seen online, wondering why the California resort isn't trying to sell their own version, themed to Baby Groot instead.)
(2/16/17) Regarding the new interactive experiences at Animal Kingdom, I'm told that while they didn't make it into the times guide this week, they should be listed next week. They are still taking place this week however, and I'm told to keep an eye out near the entrance to Chester and Hester's Dinorama (near the Dinosaur ride side) at 3:30pm and 4:30pm daily. There is also supposed to be a new interactive bird experience in Africa that is also unlisted, but I'm told that the first one takes place at 10:30am.
2017- Rivers of Light - (2/13/17) If you are local or planing on visiting the park this week, keep and eye on the daily show schedule or your daily FastPass+ options on the app, because as we noted on Twitter late last week, the park began offering the occasional preview performances of Rivers Of Light. From what I’ve been told the Standby lines were really only open to CM’s and DVC members, but if you could book a FastPass+ for it you were also allowed in. Currently no other shows are shown as being slated until the official opening, but like I said, keep an eye on your FastPass+ options to see if they add one to the schedule between now and then at the last second each day.
(2/10/17) After a long delay Disney has announced that the new Rivers of Light night show at Animal Kingdom will open on February 17th. The park will also make special dining and FastPass+ reservations possible for the new show.
Meanwhile a video showing a preview run of the new show as shown to a "Social Media Moms" group (errr...ok...) was posted to YouTube this week, which you can check out below.
(12/30/16) While the new Rivers of Light show has yet to officially open, it seems a soundtrack from Disney with the new show audio plus the score from the Tree of Light Awakenings show is slated to be released soon in the parks. That said... it seems the Rivers of Light track has been posted on YouTube as well, which you can listen to here... or at least for now until Disney issues a take-down request.
(12/7/16) As expected following what was said to be some less than stellar CM Preview performances of Rivers of Light, the opening of the new night show is now officially delayed until sometime in 2017. If I had to guess, we may not see it ready to launch until we are closer to the opening of Avatar.
(11/30/16) OrlandoParkNews has posted their review of the Rivers of Light night show at Disney's Animal Kingdom this week. The showing was not open to the public, but only as a preview to Cast Members and their guests. From what they saw, and what I've heard elsewhere, the show is full of some amazing technology... and yet just seems lacking in a number of areas. Keep in mind that this was still a "preview" of the new show, which has yet to set any kind of opening date, which means a lot could still possibly change before it ever opens to the public.
(11/24/16) According to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney Cast Members will get a preview look at the long-delayed "Rivers of Light" night show at Animal Kingdom sometime next week. While Disney has not made an official announcement as to when the show could open to the public, having a CM preview is a good sign that hopefully much progress has been made since it was put on hold back in April.
(8/15/16) Rivers of Light is said to still not be ready to launch, so after Sept. 5th it looks like the projection show on the Tree of Life may be the only night entertainment option still running. Of course there will be attractions still up and running at night, though the park is shortening it's operating hours from 9am to 11pm to just 9am to 9pm for the immediate future from Sept. 6th going forward.
(4/21/16) Rivers of Light is still in development and they hope to set a new premier date soon for this nighttime spectacular that will celebrate the magic of animals, humans, and the natural world with a blend of performers, floating lanterns and theatrical imagery. “On the natural stage of Discovery River, guests will marvel as a timeless custom comes to life before their eyes in a stirring performance. The ceremony begins with the arrival of a pair of mystical hosts, two complementary forces who come to the river bearing gifts of light. They set out from the shore on elaborate lantern vessels, engaging in a dramatic dance of water and light to summon the animal spirits. With these storytellers as guides, the wonders of “Rivers of Light” unfold, building to a magnificent finale with bursts of light as animal images soar to the heavens– signifying the ancient belief that when animals passed from one world to another they danced in the sky and became beautiful rivers of light.”
Summer 2017 - PANDORA: THE WORLD OF AVATAR -
(6/21/17) ThemeParkOverload has posted a fairly extensive write-up featuring all the ins and outs of Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
(6/14/17) Banshee hunters... hold your horses. Apparently the puppet-style Banshees are still sold out for several weeks. The Banshees that arrived for sale in Pandora this week in the Rookery are just stuffed plush animals. Move along, these aren't the Banshees you are looking for.
(5/28/17) Yesterday was the day that Pandora: The World of Avatar opened to the public. The early word from those with boots on the ground was that the crowds did indeed show up in mass as expected. As I sort of predicted... the only people getting into Pandora for much of the day were those with FastPass tickets. Sorry... no stand-by or casual walk-ins being allowed in at this time... which is always a bummer when those who are willing to wait are not even given that option, no matter how far away they may have traveled.
Wait times for Flight of Passage were said to be betwen 4-5 hours for most of the day, with the wait times for Na’vi River Journey typically between 2.5-4 hours. No word yet on if they were able to solve any of the technical issues with Flight of Passage to get the capacity numbers back up to where they should be or not. I'm sure we'll hear more tales from Pandora thoughout the summer.
(5/22/17) Spoiler Alert! SPOILER ALERT! This is the big one... the one video everyone has been waiting to see. Someone has finally posted a full POV video of the Flight of Passage ride experience to YouTube. Check it out below if you can't wait to see it in person and absolutely must see it right now.
(5/16/17) A more detailed report about the status and issues with the Flight of Passage attraction in Pandora was sent my way a bit ago. According to this source, only two of the attraction's four theaters have been officially turned over to the park so far for use. However there is some kind of overheating issue plaguing them all, which seems to take each one down after about an hour's worth of use, so operations is typically trying to alternate between the two theaters they can use every hour, dropping the overall capacity down to say the least.
They are working to try and fix the overheating issues of course, especially on the other two theaters not available for guests yet, along with trying to implement some other fixes and adjustments to help allow larger guests to better fit, as well as some issues involving hydraulic fluid use.
But for now the clock is ticking...
(5/15/17) With the official opening of Disney's new World of Pandora only a couple weeks away with sneak previews happening about daily these days, and the official media events taking place on May 23-25th, I'm hearing some interesting comments about the land's new Flight of Passage attraction. I'm not know if things have improved over this weekend's previews or not, but according to comments sent my way the attraction feature four separate domes with four separate ride systems able to run on their own. Unfortunately, it seems that they have yet to get all four of these ride systems up and running at the same time, and all too frequently during the previews thus far they've only managed to have one or two of the theaters up and running at any given time... and even those are suffering from frequent bouts of downtime issues.
Of course, frequent downtime issues are to be expected with any high-tech new major attraction, but with the grand opening to the public set for May 27th, I'd say it's safe to assume you can expect a long wait-time for this one as it is still going through extensive growing pains. If this ends up anything like the problems they had with the Frozen ride at Epcot when it opened, don't be surprised if they close off the stand-by line entirely and only allow guests with FastPass to get in the queue in the first weeks.
For larger guests, both big and tall, I'm still hearing tales about fit issues into the unique "Link Chair" seats on the attraction. If anyone has more detail about which body dimension is causing the biggest issues, I'd love to hear more, as so far the most frequent reports seem to indicate that leg size may somehow be the biggest issue for many riders.
(5/11/17) While Disney is preparing to open the long-awaited World of Pandora expansion to the Animal Kingdom park, Imagineering has released a new video going over how the creative process took place in order to bring a fictional universe to life, and what earthly cultures and architecture helped inspire the look of the World of Pandora.
(5/2/17) Spoiler Alerts! Who's ready for some preview looks at Pandora, the land and attractions? Our friends at Attractions Magazine got a sneak peek inside Animal Kingdom's newest land and posted a few videos that are worth checking out. The first one shows off the queue and loading dock of the Na'vi River Journey attraction followed by a low-light camera POV through the attraction below that.
Then there is a video below those showing off the queue for the Flight of Passage attraction, which is actually quite awesome looking just by itself. Towards the end you see the safety video for getting into the Link Chairs, with our first look at the back and leg restraint systems. A bit of an early warning here... apparently the fit into the Link Chair is quite snug and we've been warned already that select riders of a larger size may not be able to ride. There are also a pair of videos showing off the land in both Daytime and Nighttime you may enjoy.
(3/11/17) More new footage from Pandora made it out to ABC programming, this time on Nightline where one of their hosts were given a tour of the land by James Cameron, Joe Rohde and Jon Landau that shows off more footage of both of the land's new rides (Na'vi River Journey and Avatar: Flight of Passage), which includes our first good look at how Flight of Passage will actually work.
Despite early rumors (and a very blurry photo posted to other sites) riders will NOT be sitting on the back of an actual Banshee while experiencing the ride. Instead, from the look of the video, guests will instead be using the Avatar Program's LINK technology to create the experience. What this means, and does make more sense from a story point of view, is that only a Na'vi or one of the Avatar Program's created Human/Na'vi host bodies can "bond" with select Pandoran animal species such as a Banshee to allow the pair to work together as one.
In the later portion of the attraction's queue (probably the final pre-show room) guests will be scanned by a computer system to find a suitable Avatar match body. Moving into the loading room, guests are then seated in a "Link Chair" for the remainder of the experience. As this world is set in the future of the story told in the movie universe, beyond the timeline of conflict to be told in Avatar 1 through 5, in a time of peace, the Avatar Program's Link technoology has evolved to the point where you no longer need to be enclosed in a confining Link Bed chamber, nor do they have to grow everyone a custom host body based on your own DNA. So with that in mind, the new Link Chair will fulfill the purpose of allowing you to link for a host body, bonded with a Banshee and go on the Avatar: Flight of Passage experience.
I've includes a couple of screen captures of the Link Chair from the video, cropped a bit and enhanced to be brighter in Photoshop. If you notice the padding that will go on either side of the rider when seated, it may look familiar, especially if you've been lucky enough to visit Shanghai Disneyland. While not identical, this matches up with an earlier rumor I had been sent that the ride's seating units were based on the Tron Light Cycle coaster seats designed by Disney and Vekoma, minus the large back restraint unit on Tron. And while it hasn't been seen anywhere, the rumor is that inflatable air-bags to mimic the sensation of the Banshee breathing, are indeed built into the Link Chairs to give the 3D attraction another 4D style enhancement effect to help make the Link Chair seem more convincing. (Suddenly, I'm wondering if the Banshee will snort or sneeze and give riders a light misting of Banshee snot during the ride, similar to the dog sneeze effect from the old Honey, I Shrunk the Audience attraction.)
Also in the video, you will see our first glimpse at new themed Pandoran food items you can eat only in Pandora. There will be two main food stops in Pandora... the Satu'li Canteen (the main restaurant area) and an outdoor drink shop called Pongu Pongu. At Pongu Pongu guests can sample the Pandoran version of Lumpia, a sweet rolled and fried pastry style treat filled with a mixture of pineapple and cream cheese, that I get the feeling may really appeal to Disney's Dole Whip addicts. (Sorry guys... I've never been fond of Pineapple). On the beverage side you'll catch a view of a new frozen multi neon-colored creation that actually glows in the dark in the video below. Alongside that brightly colored beverage (rumored to also come in an alcoholic version for adults) they also show the Navi Blueberry Cheesecake desert, which I assume will be available in the Satu'li Canteen. It sure doesn't look anything at all like your typical Cheesecake... looks more like an gelatinous egg yolk dropped onto another gelatinous Na'vi Blue sparkly sphere of goo, topped with a kiss of whip cream. It may sound odd, and look odd, but it does sound quite good.
Very little else is known about what you can get inside the Satu'li Canteen at this time, but those Pandorian Lumpia are supposed to be an exclusive item only available at Pongu Pongu. (Speaking of which, check out the new concept art released by Disney of both eateries... and look for the grass-skirt wearing retired battle-mech standing out in front of Pongu Pongu holdijng up the sign. Too funny!! Oh and apparently Pongu Pongu translates from Na'vi into "Party Party".) Disney's website for Satu'li Canteen only mentions that guests will "Discover healthful dishes and familiar flavors from another world - wholesome grains, fresh vegetables and hearty proteins" along with "international-inspired cuisine, vegetarian options and specialty libations".
(3/10/17) A video showing off James Cameron taking Whoopi on a tour of the new Pandora: The World of Avatar land and attractions has been posted to YouTube, showing off some of the best real footage we've seen to date of the new land which is worth taking a look at below, unless you want to be totally surprised.
On a related note, a Screamscape reader was able to get a preview of the new land as well, and while they did say that the overall land is a bit smaller than what you might be expecting when you are actually inside, the quality of it all is just so over the top and authentic looking that you will be blown away. Of course, this was a visit before the land gets packed by the general public, and the comments about the size of the land do have be a bit concerned about how comfortable it will be to visit once the area opens and gets packed by crowds to the point that you may not be able to enjoy the scenery.
But that's a problem for another time, and many of the same concerns were also expressed over Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and look how well that worked out for them.
(2/28/17) Disney aired a new ad for Pandora: The World of Avatar during the Oscars award program on Sunday night that seems to feature a bit more actual footage from within the land mixed in with scenes from the film.
(2/22/17) From what I’m hearing, it sounds like the marketing execs at Disney have decided to play dirty this year and are taking the kid gloves off when it comes to Universal Orlando. Universal Orlando had already announced a month ago that the opening date for their new Volcano Bay themed water park was taking place on Thursday, May 25th and sent out early invitations for an epic 4-day media event to transpire from May 22 to May 25th.
It wasn’t long after that Disney kicked their own Avatar themed hype-train into action to announce that the “Summer 2017” opening of Pandora: The World of Avatar would begin with a grand opening just two days after Volcano Bay opens on Saturday, May 27th. Jump to this week and apparently the early media invites from Disney are now going out for their own 3-day media event taking place from May 23-25th, making it difficult for those invited to cover both events.
What happens next should prove to be interesting… and while a new land can really outshine the opening of a new attraction, the actual grand opening of a whole new park, especially one as unique as Volcano Bay, could prove to be simply too irresistible to miss.
(2/20/17) Disney has started rolling out some teasers and hyping the new VisitPandora.com website to promote the story behind Animal Kingdom's newest themed land.
(2/8/17) Apparently Disney announced during an earnings call that the opening day for Pandora: The World of Avatar will take place on Saturday, May 27th. The timing is interesting, as Universal Orlando will be opening their new Volcano Bay cutting edge water theme park just a few days before on Thursday, May 25th.
(1/8/17) If anyone is curious about the capacity of the Flight of Passage attraction in the new Avatar land, I'm told that each of the four screens will accommodate 60 riders at a time: 10 riders per- floor-row, 3 floors to each tower, and two tower systems side-by-side in each dome, as seen in the video screen-capture from the last update. Each of the dome screens will run independently, based on how fast they can load and unload riders, but it gives the attraction the ability to handle 240 guests at once when all four domes are running. Typically Disney simulator rides like Star Tours and Soarin have a run-time of about 4:30 to 5 minutes in length. If you allow for an extra 2 minutes or so for unload/reload time, the attraction should be able to hit an hourly capacity of about 1,800 people per hour which is pretty good and should make it about equal with the throughput of the WDW version of Star Tours when it runs at full capacity.
(12/27/16) Disney released a new preview video (see below) for Pandora: The World of AVATAR on Christmas. The video also gives us our first peek at the actual ride system for the flight simulation attraction at around the 51-second mark, which I’ve also added some screen captures from the video to our gallery so you can make out the details a little better.
This is out first real look at the ride hardware itself, standing on the ground floor looking up inside one of the four projection theaters. This also matches up perfectly with those early drawings leaked out (see below) showing that each theater would offer two side-by-side sets of ride platforms, on each of the upper three levels of the attraction building. The large metal cage-like structure you see on the ground is identical to the one already installed on the lowest-level on the left-side of the image, serving as a sort of garage wall during load and unloading of the passengers, that will move out of the way as the riders push out into the projection dome during the ride itself. In the close-ups you can also make out where the individual seats are placed on each of the three levels, with the ones on the left side of the image looking a bit bare still, while the ones on the right appear as if they may have had their themed Banshee bodies added to the raw seat hardware. As mentioned before, riders are supposed to “feel” the Banshee move between their legs as if it was a living breathing creature. I’m told this effect will be partially achieved through the use of air-bladders that will inflate and deflate during the experience to mimic the sensation of the Banshee breathing.
According to our sources the actual seats themselves may be somewhat similar to the seats used on the Tron Lightcycle coaster in Shanghai, while the overall theater design really reminds me of the old Back To The Future design layout (now Simpsons) at Universal by loading guests on three separate levels of the structure.
(12/8/16) Want to see what may be an unofficial preview of the new Avatar world? An interesting and unique interactive exhibit has opened in Taipei called AVATAR: Discovery Pandora. The attraction was also created in a partnership with James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment and will be open for a three-month run before the attraction goes on the road with future stops planned at other major cities throughout the world.
Guests will experience the unique flora and fauna of the world of Pandora and get deeper insight into the culture of the local Na'vi population that inhabit it, with interactive displays that will bring the sights, sounds and smells of Pandora to life. Several pictures and more details can be found posted over at BlooLoop.
(11/21/16) Disney confirmed that the new Pandora: The World of Avatar land at Animal Kingdom would be ready to open for Summer 2017, so the long LONG wait is almost over. Disney also released a picture of the now uncovered bridge that guests will cross to enter the land, themed to look as if the plantation of Pandora had begun the process of reclaiming the old RDA bridge.
They also released our first peek at the Shaman of Songs, a Na'vi who you will meet during the Na'vi River Journey flume attraction.
(10/17/16) A reader of ours sent in a link from an old Variety article posted way back in late 2014 which included an very interesting tidbit of information leaked out by none other than Bob Iger himself which ties in nicely to our latest detail of the Avatar Flight of Passage attraction.
Last week we mentioned that the ride experience would have the guests actually riding on the back of an actual Banshee creature, but according Iger's this experience itself will be taken to the next level. According to Iger's own description of riding on a prototype vehicle created for the attraction back then, "It felt so real, so lifelike", "There's never been anything like it."
Even then it was reported that guests will be riding on the Banshees, "with bodies that move to mimic a breathing beast" sitting between your legs. It also goes on to describe the projected action in the large theater as being in "3D" as well, so it looks like you'll get to put on some kind of 3D glasses, or goggles, to complete the experience which may actually help the movement and "breathing" of the Banshee below you feel more real, as you will be focused on the 3D action on the screen visually, but your sense of touch will be captivated by the warmth and movement of what may feel like a living creature beneath you.
(10/14/16) According to the latest rumor sent in to Screamscape, another major detail about the AVATAR Flight of Passage flight simulator attraction is really going to set this experience apart from anything else we’ve seen before. From what I’ve been told, the position you’ll be flying in will be quite different than the other “Soarin’” style ride systems, because guests will actually be straddling the creature you are supposed to be flying, one of the flying Banshees.
(9/15/16) A great set of new aerial photos showing off the construction over the new Avatar themed land at Disney's Animal Kingdom has been posted by BlogMickey. Lots of work left to do, but so much more themeing is now in place, or just going up. Check it out!
(7/23/16) A fun construction update from the Pandora: The World of Avatar construction site has been posted to Blog Mickey, giving us a look at the wild rock and plant growth construction taking place, especially on those "floating mountain" structures.
(4/17/16) A couple of great new images showing off the new Avatar area under construction at Animal Kingdom were posted to Twitter the other day, shot during a helicopter tour of the nearby area.
(3/23/16) BlogMickey has posted some great pictures of Avatar this week, as fake plant-life is now being added to the rocky structures to give it a more natural look, or at least an otherworldly look, including a look at the vines now added to hide the steel beams holding up the floating rocks.
(2/22/16) An assortment of great photos showing off construction of the rockwork of Pandora (aka: Avatar) at Disney's Animal Kingdom has been posted to BlogMickey. Check it out.
(2/15/16) In interesting new permit filed by Disney seems to show off the basic layout of the Na’vi River Journey indoor boat ride. The permit itself is to allow the ride permission to drain the indoor water system, if the need should arise for maintenance, into a nearby storm drain system that would deposit it into a nearby drainage pond. The structure appears to be connected to the land’s flight simulator attraction building which is labeled on the image as “Facility $804”. Check it out over at Disney & More.
(12/17/15) The latest look at the Avatar construction comes to us this week from OrlandoParkNews, with plenty of photos of all the rock-work, floating and grounded, being worked on to create the jungle world of Pandora. They also got a good look at the new Tiffins restaurant under construction in the park as well.
(11/12/15) A few new pictures of the Na'vi River Journey attraction inside Pandora: The World of AVATAR have been posted to the Disney Parks Blog. The water attraction is described as being family-friendly as guests set out in canoes down a mysterious and sacred river into the bioluminescent rainforest, where they will encounter a Na'vi Shaman who has a musical connection to the forest.
(10/29/15) A new construction update from Animal Kingdom showing off the progress on Avatar's floating mountains and the Rivers of Light construction (on page 2) has been posted to OrlandoParkNews.com.
(10/5/15) Some new photos of Pandora: The World of Avatar have been posted to the Negative-G website, showing off some new views of some very odd looking structures in there, which I can only guess are part of the floating rocks system.
(9/17/15) A new collection of aerial photos showing off the Avatar construction site has been posted to DaMouse.
(9/16/15) OrlandoParkNews has some new photos of the Avatar construction site at Animal Kingdom this week. One of the most interesting things to see is the construction of the framework for the future Floating Mountains. Plus they show off other construction walls up around the park.
(9/1/15) DaMouse has posted an in-depth look at the model shown off at D23 for Pandora - The World of Avatar, which will give you a good idea of how the new land at Animal Kingdom will be laid out.
(8/21/15) It has been a long time coming, but new details were released at the D23 Expo for Pandora: The World of AVATAR... who also confirmed our earlier rumor that this was indeed going to be the name of the new land. The new flight-sim E-Ticket attraction will be called AVATAR Flight of Passage, where you get to experience what it is like to fly with the Banshees of Pandora. The land's second ride, was reconfirmed as a beautiful boat ride, through the bioluminescent forest of Pandora.
James Cameron was on site to talk about the new land and attraction as well, which you can see in the video below. Oh, and Disney park guests will be transported to visit Pandora, thanks to ACE... Alpha Centauri Expeditions.
(7/7/15) A new Animal Kingdom construction update has been posted to OrlandoParkNews this week that looks at all the little projects on-going around the park, as well as taking a good look at the twisted piles of steel being assembled in the sky over at Avatar. We can only assume these are the framework that the flying mountains will be built upon.
(5/12/15) One of our readers sent in a couple of new pictures of the large attraction building under construction inside the Avatar land for the new flight simulator.
(4/29/15) A new construction update from Animal Kingdom, checking out the latest progress on the new Avatar land and huge new ride building can be seen over at DaMouse.
(3/27/15) Some great new aerial photos of Pandora: The World of Avatar have been posted to WDWNT this week, and as you can see, not only has there been a LOT more vertical construction since the last time we saw it, but the structure that is going up for the new flight simulator attraction looks exactly like those leaked plans discovered back in 2012 (see below).
(2/28/15) Disney released a little new concept artwork (see below) and another preview video about the creation of the new Avatar themed land for Animal Kingdom, along with a video of the WDI crew in Glendale showing off what they've been working on to James Cameron, including a brief look at what the illuminated forest and plants may be like and how they could respond to guests as they pass by.
(2/24/15) A reader send in a picture (see below) of the streel framework for an unknown attraction going up on the Avatar construction site at Animal Kingdom. If I had to guess, this looks like it is likely the flight simulator ride.
(2/2/15) Remember that drone-cam footage shot over the Avatar construction site a few weeks ago before it was quickly pulled? The local news caught up with the story and tracked down the pilot on Facebook briefly, who had previously posted a number of videos of footage over the Orlando area's theme parks, including footage of the New Year's Eve fireworks show hovering over the Magic Kingdom at the time. Since then the videos were all pulled and the operator has gone dark. You can view the news report on the action, which also goes into the legal aspect of flying your own drone over private property by clicking here.
(1/17/15) While the drone-cam aerial view footage of Pandora: The World of Avatar was taken down, one of our readers for fortunate enough to get clearance to fly over the park in late December in a Cessna at 2,000 ft and take his own legal pictures of the site and has graciously agreed to share them with Screamscape. (Photo credit: Camden G.)
You can now clearly see the Plus (+) shaped structure that matches up to the leaked blueprints from 2012 (scroll down to see below) as being the site of the new flight simulator attraction. The large concrete pad next door is what was previously said to be the site for a new boat ride attraction that will take guests for a journey into the bioluminescent forest environment of Pandora, where I assume you’ll see some examples of the planet’s unique animal life-forms along the way. If I had to guess the “pit” area of concrete area may be intended as the water reservoir for the attraction, giving the water in the upper level(s) a place to flow into when the pumps are turned off, without flooding the rest of the lowest level.
(1/16/15) Unfortunately if you missed viewing the Drone-Cam footage of the Avatar construction site, the video has since been removed. In other news, various Hollywood news reports say that the release of Avatar 2 has been pushed back a year to Christmas 2017, with the two follow up films to be released back-to-back in 2018 and 2019. With the Avatar land expected to open in 2017, it could tie-in well with the release of the new film, even if it opens in Summer 2017, this would be the right time for Fox to start pumping out the Avatar 2 trailers and bring the Avatar Hype-Machine to life, using the Avatar land itself as a giant walk-through advertisement for the new movies.
(1/14/15) A stunning new video showing off aerial drone-cam footage of the Avatar construction site was found posted to YouTube this week. While this video really has to be seen to be believed, I also this it is also a very dangerous example of what not to do with a drone-cam... namely flying into and over an active construction site without permission. As you can see from the video, the drone goes in very deep into the construction site, which is surrounded by three very large construction cranes that reach up into the sky to about the same height that the drone appears to be flying at.
Maybe I've seen too many movies, but at one point I was expecting the construction workers below to start pointing up and try to shoot it out of the sky. I'm sure Disney is aware of this drone by now and I wouldn't be surprised if we see more intense security around the site, and eyes scanning the air, from now on.
(1/6/15) PixelsAtTheParks has posted some new pictures from Animal Kingdom that include some new visuals of Avatar steel rising up into place.
(12/16/14) OrlandoParksNews takes us back to Animal Kingdom revealing the first large steel beam to go into Avatar, which has been signed by a few hundred cast members from the look of it, being set into place.
(12/1/14) For the first time we get a peek inside the progress on Pandora: The World of Avatar thanks to new aerial pictures taken by ThemeparX this week. The large visible concrete pad is not the new flight simulator ride however, but rather I think that this might be the location of the flume ride next door that was visible in the leaked plans. However next to this you can see what looks like a series of concrete footers and slightly rounded walls in an almost diamond pattern that matches up perfectly in the shape of the four sided flight simulator ride plans. I’m guesing that the other visible structure going up nearby will be for either a restaurant or more likely, a large enclosed gift shop that will serve as the exit to the new E-Ticket attraction.
(11/19/14) Screamscape sources tell us that the first bit of vertical construction has started on the Avatar work site, where vertical supports for some kind of structure are now going up just behind where the old Pocahontas show theater used to be. Many concrete support footers have also been poured around the site, though much of the overall site is said to still be just in the dirt pushing phase, making it hard to tell what is what.
(5/5/14) Several more pictures of the demolition taking place for Avatar have been posted to ParkJourney this week, as well as a look at some new clearing taking place between Africa and Asia. Anyone know what this is for?
(5/3/14) Sorry folks, Disney has confirmed that Avatar wont be ready to open until 2017. This is what I’ve been saying for some time now, but I know many readers still can’t believe that this could be another 3 years away still.
(4/30/14) A couple of new pictures that may show off the future site of Pandora being cleared out have been added to ParkJourney this week. According to several readers, this is the site of the former Festival of the Lion King show area, soon to be part of Pandora: The World of Avatar.
(2/5/14) I’m not sure how true this one, but we’ve heard it said that the boat ride going into Pandora: The World of Avatar may be somewhat similar in feel to Pirates of the Caribbean. The fantasy ride through the bio-luminescent world of Pandora may include encounters with animatronic creatures, very cool lighting and projection effects and perhaps a small drop or two along the way to keep things exciting.
(1/13/14) The Disney Parks Blog confirmed what we already knew about… that construction was now officially under way, along with a special groundbreaking photos from the Avatar construction site.
(11/5/13) A new write up about the upcoming Avatar land at Animal Kingdom can be found at CentralFloridaTop5 this week, which features some new details and rumors about the expected after dark entertainment and water show, including thoughts about who may be involved.
They also have posted some rumors that I have heard as well about how the Tree of Life may be preparing to undergo a major retrofit over the next couple of years, where they could end up rebuilding it branch by branch with new more sturdy materials and possibly loaded with light effects to offer a new after dark appearance.
(10/21/13) About Theme Parks is back with a small new report on the Avatar project, after getting a chance to talk with Joe Rohde during a recent event at the Aulani resort in Hawaii, mostly revealing a few more minor details about the land’s E-Ticket attraction, the new Banshee flight simulator attraction.
(10/16/13) The latest update to JimHillMedia takes a look at the Avatar land announcement and has a good reason as to why this was shown off at the Tokyo D23 show. The theory is that WDI has been trying to sell OLC on the idea of adding their own Land of Avatar to Tokyo DisneySea. According to the report, there has been some tension between WDI and OLC as of late, as OLC seems to be more resistant to the high budget price estimates WDI has been giving them for new large proposals like the Cars Land one they turned down.
Jim also hits on another good point… with Avatar 2 on the slate for a 2015 release and Avatar 3 looking good for mid to late 2017, Walt Disney World is likely planning on trying to host a series of Avatar fan-weekend events in the park once the new land is ready, similar to the popular Star Wars Weekends that take place over at the Studios.
On a related note, it sounds like we will see Camp Minnie/Mickey close down sometime in 2014… probably once the new Festival of the Lion King theater is getting close to completion and they are ready to move the props and cast over to the new facility for installation.
Finally… we get more Avatar love from Disney this week as well, in the form of a new video presentation from Joe Rohde and James Cameron to talk all about Avatar. This features video footage showing off more of the giant Pandora model created by WDI, lots of fun Avatar footage to show off the kind of look they are going for and even a peek at what looks new POV footage in flight around the world of Pandora projected onto a giant screen. Can you say, “Soarin’ Over Pandora”? Plus some prototypes of what the bioluminescent plants of the land may look like. Disney & More goes gives their take on the video as well this week, along with some screen captures of some interesting scenes.
(10/12/13) The Disney Parks Blog surprised everyone this morning with an update with artwork for the Avatar land, now coming to Animal Kingdom in 2017. The details were first leaked at the D23 Expo in Japan this week and now online to everyone. According to the description, guests will encounter awe-inspiring floating mountains, wander through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants that are alive with light and sound and discover what it feels like to fly in the sky riding a Banshee.
When Avatar opens, more changes will also come to the rest of the Animal Kingdom park. They will open a new nighttime spectacular show full of music, floating lanterns, water screens and animal imagery on the Discovery River. Other nighttiume entertainment will be added around the park including live performers and a new nighttime version of the Kilimanjaro Safaris. In other words… Animal Kingdom’s hours will finally be increased and the park will likely be open after dark nightly.
(5/1/13) In case anyone is wondering, Disney did apparently confirm during their media event last week that they are still hard at work designing the Avatar land project. Nothing has been cancelled.
(12/10/12) Disney issued a minor update on the status of the Avatar land coming to Animal Kingdom at last week’s media events, and even showed off an interesting pictures of Cameron looking over a model with Imagineering. While there wasn’t much in the way of details on the model itself, the image on the wall in the background appeared to show some very interesting looking rock spires and arches that could very well serve as the entrance portal into the world of Pandora. Check out the video of the brief talk about Avatar as posted by Attractions Magazine.
(11/9/12) A weird new rumor floated my way, offering up some interesting details about that C-Ticket Boat Ride attraction seen in the leaked Avatar plans. According to our source, this slow family ride is intended to essentially server as a crash course in PANDORA 101, a way to bring all guests up to speed on the world of Avatar, and why humans have traveled across the stars to visit.
Intended as a sort of informational family attraction, the overall tone of the ride’s theme may actually have a bit in common with one of the Edutainment rides at Epcot. In short, this of this as a Pandora version of “Living with the Land”, showing guests the various plant and animal lifeforms of this new world.
(10/29/12) I wasn’t sure if I was going to post these right away, but since other sites have also obtained most of these same pictures, I’ll show my hand as well. What you see here is supposed to be early layout plans for the 3D flight simulator ride planned for Avatar: World of Pandora. From studying the plans myself for a few days, which seems to indicate three different floors in the building, I can verify the 3D aspect of the attraction plans, as the lower floorplan, which also shows off a boat ride layout for a C-Ticket attraction, has one room in the center of the four theaters labeled as the room to clean the glasses, complete with a pair of “chutes” up to the next floor, which seem to link up with what looks like pre-show rooms. This same second level piece of artwork, which I have yet to see anywhere else, also shows off the layout of the attraction’s themed queue which would be built on top of the indoor portion of the C-Ticket Boat Ride.
What has been bothering me post is the layout of the individual theaters, as they seem to feature a large circular screen, but also two more screens above the main screen that appear to have a gap of some kind in between them. Putting a “hole” in the middle of your view screen seems a bit crazy to me, at least in terms of a normal simulator style ride experience, so this may be something a bit out of the ordinary.
For one possible idea I came across that would perfectly fit into this concept very easily was something shown off at IAAPA 2011 by a company called Simtec called HEXaFLITE. It was their own take on creating a more dynamic version of the Soarin’ style flight simulator experience, but kind of flipping everything around, top to bottom. While you would load in the horizontal position, as you do in Soarin’, your seats were connected to the floor instead of inverted coaster style. Then at the start of the ride, your entire theater platform would move forward and drop into a vertical dive posture… as if you were going over the edge on a vertical drop coaster, except your seats would roll forward with you to keep you level and upright. Best to see the concept art that Simtec was showing off to really get a firm idea of what I’m talking about. Simtec said that the they could customize the system to have everything from a very mellow and simple (ie: Soarin’) range of motion, up to a fully dynamic 6-DOF full range of motion controls.
Now while I have not heard about any official connection between Simtec and Disney regarding this project, the similarities in the ride’s overall design style are close enough to lead me to believe that I may be on the right track here by pointing out this Simtec design. I also find if very interesting that Simtec has a rather humble website that doesn’t even attempt to flaunt this amazing new ride system concept on the front page, but instead has opted to bury it deep in the back end rather than try to promote it to the world. Could an exclusive use deal with Disney be pending? One has to wonder…
(10/26/12) Pandora: The World of Avatar may still be years away, but who’s ready to find out just what kind of major new attractions we can expect to find inside? From what I’ve heard so far, there are a few different proposals floating around with different offerings and different budget levels to choose from, as the final choice has not yet been made. That said, it does seem as if Disney may have selected their primary E-Ticket attraction for the land, which would some kind of new open simulator style ride using a large circular multi-story screen. While this may sound a bit like Soarin’ at first, I’m hearing that this is likely to be a different kind of beast, able to take advantage of the new style digital 3D system Disney used on Star Tours 2, and while it may be about flying around Pandora, I think we’ll see a more active and adventurous motion system used here, as travel through the World of Pandora will not involve the same mellow friendly skies we experienced from Disney’s Soarin.
Attached to this E-Ticket ride structure, which will apparently feature four different theaters to deal with the capacity problems, will be a second C-Ticket level adventure ride that will feature both indoor and outdoor scenes. I’ve heard that it may be family friendly boat ride experience (Small World of Pandora?) though I’d also got a hunch that it could be a land based dark ride system as well as it seems the early proposal may feature 6 to 9 passenger vehicles, using 3 rows of seats.
For those hoping for a little more action and adventure, I’ve also heard that Disney has drawn up some plans for a second E-Ticket ride that could use the same Vekoma MotoBike based coaster system that they are putting to use in Shanghai as a Tron Light Cycle ride. Budget is the primary factor here, as adding the launched coaster to the land would increase the budget by good number of digits. Hope to have more information to share about The World of Avatar soon… so stay tuned.
(9/7/12) Despite the rumor from IGN claiming that the Avatar project may have hit a speed bump, local sources say that the early prep work projects are moving full steam ahead, with deadlines to keep.
(9/5/12) According to a report at IGN, there may be a delay in the start of James Cameron’s planned back to back shoot of Avatar 2 and 3. They also claim that this delay could carry over into the Pandora: The World of Avatar land at Animal Kingdom. Of course, it was just a few weeks ago that we heard that the early work for this new land was starting, and with the pressure on from Universal Orlando with attractions like Transformers and a second Harry Potter land on the way, I don’t think Disney will be willing to wait.
(8/9/12) Engadget reports that Disney is working with Berlin-based Studio NAND to create a new kind of interactivity between humans and real life plants called Botanicus Interacticus. Through the use of a capacitive sensor, a low level current is piped through the plant so that the system knows exactly where you are touching it resulting in a variety of reactions. Examples of the technology was put on display at the SIGGRAPH show, where the results are displayed as an effect on a mirror image behind the plant.
While no actual practical use was mentioned for the project, this seems like something we would see added to Pandora: The World of Avatar for sure.
(8/6/12) A reader was kind enough to send in a picture they snapped early in the morning just outside Animal Kingdom showing off the fleet of balloons that were lifted over the park the other morning. While you can’t make it out in the early morning light, apparently some of the balloons were different colors (Yellow, Red, etc) seemingly to indicate either different height levels, locations, or both. To the view of one source, the red balloons seemed to be higher than the yellow, with one of the red balloons appearing to come up from a location just behind guest relations.
(8/3/12) A couple of interesting things were reported from Animal Kingdom early on Thursday. According to a Screamscape source, CM’s arriving early at Animal Kingdom that morning could see height test balloons being flown over the park, reaching an estimated 200 feet in height. (That’s about the same height of Tower of Terror for comparison’s sake…) The location in the park hasn’t been confirmed, but is thought to be in the Camp Minnie / Mickey area.
On a related note, apparently Joe Rohde sent out word to his staff that today was also the first day of on-site construction work for “Pandora – The World of Avatar”. So get ready for Avatar mania to begin…
(6/26/12) Disney Imagineering has been spotted testing something very odd at a small airport north of Bakersfield, CA. It can be best described as a heavily modified Ultralight style personal aircraft, heavily themed to appear as a dragon in flight. According to the local news report sent in, the dragon’s mouth can open and close, breath a little fire, tail wag and more. Apparently Disney signed a secret deal with the airport to keep quiet about the project, which is being kept inside a rented aircraft hanger at Shatter’s Minter Field. Some believe that the flying dragon may be a wild prototype created for possible inclusion in a new Avatar themed show concept for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
(3/14/12) In a perfect bit of timing, Disney CEO Bob Iger reaffirmed at the Disney shareholder meeting that their plans to build an Avatar themed land at Animal Kingdom are still on track to see it open by 2015. So looks like the rumors about possible Avatar setbacks were simply bad rumors.
(3/13/12) I’m not sure where this is coming from, but there is a buzz around the ‘net lately claiming that Disney may be re-thinking their plans to add an entire Avatar themed land to the Animal Kingdom. This does not mean that Disney is abandoning their plans to make Avatar themed attractions or lands in general… only that they may have come to the realization that Animal Kingdom may not have been the best place to build it. AK needs help, that is for sure, and there is no denying that a ton of major attractions have been pitched as possibly solutions to expand the park and add a new land to replace “Beastly Kingdom” over the years, but the Avatar land was the only one officially announced and confirmed by Disney so far.
Last I heard through the rumor mill was that the various attraction design pitches had been going well, and the look and feel of the land was really starting to solidify. Perhaps it was this more solid look at what would best represent Avatar as a brand that may have caused some second thoughts about putting it into Animal Kingdom. After all, one thing we did see a lot of in the movie was fighting, death, destruction, guns, mecha-troopers and much more. It doesn’t take a genius to know that if the attractions would also feature similar themes, it may fit in better over at the Studios. Anyone know a bit more about what may be going on, one way or the other?
(12/12/11) Stitch Kingdom has posted an interesting article about a new patent Disney has filed for detailing a new kind of attraction, officially titled as ‘Amusement Park Ride with Cable-Suspended Vehicles”. In a way, it kind of looks like a revamp of the old Konfrontation style ride concept at Universal, with the ability of the cabin to move through a real 3D space, while being able to control the altitude, pitch, roll and yaw of the rider cabin.The concept goes even further, suggesting that guests could be able control certain aspects of the ride’s movement, that could change the storyline or thrill level of the ride experience.
So just what ride may this really be for? There is some speculation that this could possibly be put to the test as an AVATAR based attraction, though given the timeline, I do have to wonder if it may have been dreamed up for something for the Shanghai park first.
(10/19/11) The latest news from the official Disney Park Blog shows off James Cameron touring Animal Kingdom with Tom Staggs (Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts) and Joe Rohde (Disney Imagineer) to explore the park and get a feel of how the world of AVATAR will take shape in the park in the near future.
(9/22/11) The buzz over Disney building a whole land themed to Avatar is still rocking the industry right now, and from what I’ve heard, the deal itself is so fresh, the ink on the contracts is probably still wet. So at this point, it’s far too early to even think about just what kind of rides and attractions will be coming into the land for sure. After all, this is the ultimate Blue Sky phase, as Disney Imagineering has been tasked with creating a themed environment to represent an entire planet in the middle of Animal Kingdom.
That said, the budget is going to be huge… and while nothing is off the table at this point, I’m hearing that the estimated budget limit to create the world of Pandora is sitting around the $500 million mark. It’s hard to imagine any kind of limits with that much money at your disposal, which is a fantastic place to begin.
(9/21/11) Shocking announcement from Disney today… and probably the big announcement that everyone had been hoping they would drop at the D23 Expo back in August. Disney has signed a deal with Fox and James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment to develop attractions and experiences based on the Avatar film series. Yes, there are two more films set in the Avatar universe on the way which promise new characters, new stories and new locations in the Avatar universe to explore.
The first project out the gate will be an entire Avatar themed land coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom park in Walt Disney World. While they were not ready to say just when it will be ready to open, they did confirm that construction was expected to begin by 2013, so we’re probably looking at a 2015 opening date at the earliest.
According to the press release, “We believe Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a great fit for this project because it was created to give guests the opportunity to experience the worlds of animals and nature – real and mythical – in new ways. Disney’s Animal Kingdom also celebrates adventure, living in harmony with nature and environmental stewardship – themes that are deeply rooted in the story of AVATAR.”
As a long time fan of James Cameron’s films myself, I have to admit to geeking out at this announcement in a big way. And it’s a nice bit of justifications for Cameron to find himself in good company alongside George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Jim Henson by having a Disney theme park attraction themed to his creative vision. And please note that this will only be the first Avatar themed lands to come to Disney’s theme parks. “Future locations for additional AVATAR-themed lands will be determined with our international theme park partners at a later date.”
As for the location… well this certainly will finally give Animal Kingdom that huge long overdue shot in the arm people have been begging for, and perhaps finally find a way to make people forget about the long lost Beastly Kingdom concept in favor of the world of Pandora.