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That Neytiri animatronic is amazing.

 

PS: Of course I cheated and Googled her name. Who the hell would remember that? lol

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This is all so amazing looking! I am wondering how the land resonates with people who never saw or didn't really care for Avatar.

I doubt many people visiting Magic Kingdom nowadays have ever seen Song of the South, but Splash Mountain remains one of its most popular attractions. Given how amazing this looks, I'm thinking a similar principle could apply here.

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This is all so amazing looking! I am wondering how the land resonates with people who never saw or didn't really care for Avatar.

 

I finally watched the movie last week, and liked it more than I thought I would. The world they created was remarkable (more so than the story, although its eco message seems to resonate even more now). Looks like Disney did a great job re-creating Pandora--perfect for DAK.

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With the next movie being in 2020, I think this land is perfect for introducing people back to the franchise. I would not be surprised if the kids who are going to grow up with the theme park as their first exposure to Avatar will think that Avatar 2 is based on a Disney World ride. Some really amazing design work there by Disney. They truly are masters of theme park design. I imagine that the overseas parks are looking into adapting this land as well.

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...I imagine that the overseas parks are looking into adapting this land as well.

 

From what I recently know and read, it isn't going to happen in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai or Anaheim,

any time soon. They have their own major projects going on, and Pandora isn't on any future lists of theirs,

to the best of my knowledge.

 

However, it just occurred to me, that maybe Disneyland Paris might actually be able to do it, with that

land that's beside the Indy Jones coaster. It's always been rumored as a "future attraction" area for

Adventureland. Everything from a new Jungle Cruise to cloning another Indy Jones Adventure has been

suggested.

 

This could be a new welcome, and totally unexpected, expansion to the park.

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There's always room for expansion at Disneyland Paris! :p Sept.2016

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Theme Park Review was fortunate enough to be invited to a "Media Sneak Peek" for Pandora The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom. We were told many times by the Imagineers that were there hosting our tour through Pandora that we were among some of the first non-Imagineering guests to step foot inside of the new land. They have even limited access to cast members as their cast member previews don't even start until this week. Needless to say we were honored...

 

While the photos & videos below will give you a far better idea of this new land, here's some honest thoughts and musing about Pandora...

 

I went into it with medium to high expectations being that I have never seen the movie Avatar but this is Disney so I expected it to look great, but I wasn't sure what my interest level would be in it.

 

Unlike the Potter lands where I also have not seen any of those movies, where by not knowing the property you are even more confused about what is happening within that land, I did not feel the same way about Pandora.

 

At no point did I feel having not seen the movie impacted my overall enjoyment of the area, and I was completely blown away.

 

The insane, and I mean *INSANE* amount of detail given to the landscaping and scenery of the land is not something we have seen done on this level. The photos do not do it justice.

 

The rides were both great. Full disclosure: I am not a fan of media-based attractions, but the "Flight of Passage" (Banshee ride) was amazing! For those of you who find Soarin' too tame and wished it was more thrilling, this ride is for you! It's like a combination of the giant screen of Soarin' with the mild short drops of Tower of Terror that actually give you that "airtime" feeling in your stomach. When you look behind you and watch the ride vehicle you can see it moves quite a bit and jumps quite far and at a good pace. And them added fact that you can feel your Banshee "breathing" or heart beating or whatever is also a ridiculous attention to detail. I absolutely LOVED this ride!

 

The boat ride was VERY impressive looking with some crazy visual effects. It does not have any "drops" and it a perfect mild attraction and that park desperately needed another ride with no height restriction at all that "everyone can ride." I'll be honest and say that part of me wished it would have been a bit more like Shanghai's Pirates, but it's more of a slower moving boat ride, and that's fine. It's visuals and animatronics will be a huge hit with everyone!

 

Then the area at night was just crazy looking. And we only got to see a small portion of it and they said it wasn't even near complete, and we'll see a lot more done to it by our next media event in 12 days.

 

Overall, It was just impressive and words or photos really cannot do it justice. This joins New Fantasyland and Cars Land in the "Tokyo Disney level" of theming we've seen out of WDI lately in the US. And I cannot imagine how insane Star Wars land is going to look.

 

So now onto LOTS of photos with some video!

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Here we are bright and early at Animal Kingdom!

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Yes, we have been invited to take a sneak peek at Pandora The World of Avatar!

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We have been staring at that green door for quite some time, and now we get to find out what is behind it!

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Upon entering Pandora you start to get a little bit of an idea of the story about the land. You have been invited by Alpha Centauri Expeditions to take part of a tour on this other world.

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And immediately entering the land, you realize that this is going to not look like anything you've ever seen at a theme park.

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Imagineers explain that this land is "not based on the story of the film of Avatar, but on the overall world of Pandora." Meaning that if you haven't seen the movie, that doesn't mean you cannot be amazed by this world!

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As you walk in, the plant life and vegetation does not look like anything that belongs to "Earth."

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There are some things that seem somewhat familiar, but nothing you've really seen before.

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The incredible landscaping is EVERYWHERE you look!

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Walking a bit further you can see a lot more larger structures through the trees.

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As you come around the corner the big reveal of the floating mountains. PIctures do not do it justice. It is so huge and insane looking in person!

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Another angle showing more of the alien vegetation.

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I swear that looks like a monkey pushing a rock!

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Close up on our monkey character.

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Close up on a rock. The detail is just insane!

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Seriously, this is a *theme park* unlike anything we've seen before.

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All of a sudden Walt Disney World has a land that is on the level of a park like Tokyo DisneySEA. Nothing else in Orlando even comes close to this level of detail!

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There will be a show here at the "Drum Circle" or you can come bang on these when the show is not going on.

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And here we are! TPR is very happy to be part of this awesome sneak peek!

Stop what you are doing right now and watch this video. This gives you a MUCH better idea of what the area looks like during both the day and night! Pay careful attention to not only the visuals but the sound as it changes from the daytime to the nighttime!

 

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Our first attraction we will experience will be the Na'vi River Journey.

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Some of the theming as you enter the queue.

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As you can see this attraction does not have any height restriction at all. This is a very welcome addition to the park as most of the other attractions, other than the shows, have a height restriction. This ride is accessible to everyone, and we think that's awesome!

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More theming of the outdoor queue area.

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When you get indoors, here is the loading area for the boats.

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The boats are a much smaller version of what you'd see on Pirates or Small World, but there are a LOT of them. I'm sure this ride is going to have a very high capacity!

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The ride itself is just amazing looking.

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There are parts of this attraction where you're not sure if it's a screen or an animatronic as it blends together so well.

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Everything inside the ride feels so organic.

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The bioluminescent glow is on almost everything in this attraction.

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And of course you'll find Na'vi from the world of Avatar inside the attraction.

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These small lizard-like creatures you'll see crawling above you on the plants look fantastic!

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And the Shaman animatronic towards the end of the ride is one of the best figures we've ever seen!

We were allowed to post some "highlights" of the ride. Check out this clip. It will give you an idea of how amazing the visuals are on this attraction!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6e_ohve_qA

 

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After the boat ride we headed over to "Flight of Passage" and of course that requires walking under floating rocks!

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Again, the level of detail in the landscaping and the depth is just CRAZY. We have not seen anything else like this at any other park!

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This ride is a bit more thrilling and carries a 44" height restriction, the same as Expedition Everest over on the other side of the park.

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Just look at that! It's nuts!

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And this is all part of the queue for Flight of Passage (aka the "Banshee Ride" as we like to call it!)

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Is that a real lizard or some crazy Pandora world creature? We're not sure! lol

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Still walking through the queue pathway getting to the main building.

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This is your surroundings and it's just incredible!

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We are now inside the building. We had no idea this ride would house one of the best themed queues we've ever seen. Certainly the best in Orlando and it's right up there with attractions like Journey to the Center of the Earth at Tokyo DisneySEA.

 

The storyline is a bit more involved but we'll paraphrase it for you... It's years after the bad guys did evil stuff to Pandora and now we are trying to help fix that, and conserve the relationship that the Na'vi had with the Banshee creatures. Banshees have a special connection with Na'vi that humans don't quite understand, and once a Banshee and Na'vi are "linked" they are linked forever. The Pandora Conservation Institute is here to help right some of the wrongs that the bad guys (RDA) did in the past and help study and understand the connection with the Banshee. Did I cover it all? I think so!

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There are areas of the queue where you can see where the "RDA" from the movie did their bad stuff and it looks more like a compound that it does a natural environment.

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As you get further into it, you reach the more natural areas of the world that are being preserved to help understand the Banshee.

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This section of the queue is incredibly detailed and themed.

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You can see the areas where the RDA stopped drilling and doing their bad stuff and now we are trying to fix that and make good with the world of Pandora.

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More bioluminescent natural beauty of Pandora.

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We made it to one of the labs where they are studying the inhabitants of the land and where you'll also find them linking characters to Avatars to explore the world of the Banshee.

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These sections of the queue remind me a lot of Journey to the Center of the Earth. So much detail to look at here.

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It will take us a few laps through the queue to take a look through all this cool stuff and find many hidden details.

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Just more examples of what we are talking about.

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Another reminder of the world that the Pandora Conservation Institute is doing.

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More of the creatures that are found and studied on Pandora.

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Here you can see a character being linked with the Avatar to ride the Banshee. And yes, that is a REAL figure in there! That's not a projection!

This video shows it off even better...

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The effects and amount of detail is almost overwhelming. Some of the coolest looking visual candy we've seen in a themed area gets overshadowed by even COOLER looking stuff!

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As you move forward through the facility there are paintings on the walls that help describe the important connection that Na'vi have with the Banshee.

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Here on this giant screen you can see characters being linked with the Banshee's, weather conditions, and more information you'll need on your journey.

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So many details to look at around every corner.

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The final room leading up to the boarding areas. I just love the overall "sci-fi" feeling this queue and area has. It's a nice contrast from the organic feel outside and earlier on in the queue.

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The boarding system is also high-tech and fascinating.

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In this pre-show room the system know if you are standing on your number or if you are not. So please pay attention and stand on your number!

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Here is where you will be cleaned of any contamination from the outside world and you will be linked to an Avatar so you can ride a Banshee, which humans themselves are not able to do.

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When all that is done, you continue on to the next room.

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The story explains more of what the RDA did to impact the Banshee ecosystem and what is now being done to correct the damage.

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The human driver is connected to the Avatar so it will be safe for them to ride the Banshee.

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The ride itself is just incredible. As I said, I'm not usually a fan of screen-based rides, but this ride system is so cool and it does so much more than a typical "simulator."

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The ride vehicle is like a "bicycle seat" and you can even feel the Banshee breath while you are riding it.

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The goggles are also unlike any 3-D glasses we've seen, and they will fit comfortably over your regular glasses.

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The ride gets a HUGE thumbs up! The best way to describe it is like a combination of the giant screen of Soarin' mixed with the motion of Star Tours, but adding in the smaller sized "drops" of Tower of Terror. Throughout the ride you can feel the ride vehicle move quite a bit and you do get that "airtime feeling" in your stomach when the vehicle drops. Yes, it's a media-based ride, but the actual ride system is VERY COOL and had quite a bit of action to it!

While we were not able to take video of the attraction during this preview, we were able to show you the loading process for the ride, which will give you an idea of what the ride vehicle is like...

 

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Now that we have ridden, it's time for some lunch! Outside the restaurant area is one of these mechs from the RDA. Don't worry, it's no longer in service doing damage to the area!

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Behind the mech is a small quick-serve bar mostly for drinks and light snacks.

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But we are going to head into Satu'li Canteen and check out this quick service restaurants options!

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It's always a happy moment when you see dudes at the grill cooking up some meat!

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Here's the lunch & dinner menu. Those Satu'li Bowls are DELICIOUS!!!

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The breakfast menu.

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Drinks and desserts.

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And something new! You will be able to pre-order your meal on your mobile device through the My Disney Experience app similar to how you would order Starbucks on the app, and then come pick it up at the restaurant. No waiting in a line to order! We *LOVE* this idea!

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Here's an overview of some of the food offerings.

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The cheeseburger and curry "pods" were great!

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But the real winner here were these Satu'li Bowls. You choose your meat, your sauce and some extras and you have a winning combo. We are told there are 50 different combos you can make!

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The roasted grilled beef with the Chimichurri sauce was wonderful!

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They gave us a nice spread so we can sample a little bit of everything!

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Here was my plate and everything we sampled was high quality and delicious! I think this restaurant will be a huge success and it's nice to see something very different being served here.

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Both desserts were also great! Please do not make me have to choose between the dark chocolate and the cheesecake! :)

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And just like the rest of the land, the theming inside of the restaurant is filled with incredible detail.

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And the MOST IMPORTANT feature of all! That's right! Coca-Cola! No James Cameron saying "We didn't have Coca-Cola in the movie so we don't have it in the land!" No, he's at least realistic, and for that we thank him! ;)

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We see you floating mountain!

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And of course no theme park land would be complete without some cool merchandise to buy so let's go check out what we have in the Windtraders shop!

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So this little guy is a personal customizable Avatar that you can buy.

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They take your personal "DNA" and transfer it into an Avatar figure!

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Your data is all stored in this card which you use at a machine to create your custom character! It's very cool!

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And another super cool item was these little guys!

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That's right! You can even adopt your very own baby Banshee! They move and are very detailed! We love these! I am SURE people are going to go crazy for these characters!

Seeing these little guys in motion is even better! Take a look at this video of the baby Banshees!

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There is plenty of logo merch for the area and attractions.

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Some nice Pandora signage.

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The area will even have it's own merchandise bags different from the rest of the park!

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Outside you'll have face paints that will paint you themed to Avatar characters.

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Which one will you choose?

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This one is kind of cool!

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Here's the traditional Avatar.

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Hmm...maybe I'll go for this two-faced one! ;)

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More merchandise for you to collect....

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I love the socks!

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And YES you can even buy a tail!!!

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Coming back into the area at night it's like a completely different world!

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The area is alive with bioluminescence everywhere you look!

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We were told this is just a small sampling of what the completed area at night will look like and when we come back for the next media event we should see a lot more.

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But what we see now looks AMAZING!

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Not only does the area LOOK different, but it also SOUNDS very different, too. There are different animal and ambient sounds at night versus during the day.

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These bioluminescent pathways are a lot of fun to walk through!

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And you'll be able to get some cool creative selfies at night, too!

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A very proud Joe Rohde, who is the lead designer and producer of Pandora! He should be proud! He and his team did an incredible job, and once again, words and pictures do not do it justice. You HAVE to come see this in person!!! We were just blown away by it!

 

Thank you for reading!

 

Be sure to POST YOUR COMMENTS!!!

(we took the time to write the report, the least you could do is say something nice about it!)

The Missile_[R]_(Real).nlpack

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Elissa uses her "big hose" to put out the fire!!!

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Edited by robbalvey
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I'm not a huge Avatar fan but I am very, very impressed. It looks like it does everything a theme park is supposed to do... transport the guest to a different place, and delight and surprise them. And that animatronic... they've come out of the uncanny valley with that one. It's amazing.

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I love parks that give you a "full day experience" and with "Pandora" and "Rivers of Light" Animal Kingdom will finally become that kind of park. The combination of real vegetation with artificial themeing is very innovative, it must have been super difficult for the imageneers to pull that off. I am so looking forward to see all of this for myself.

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Very nice TR and pics! Thanks for sharing!

 

I'm going to Florida again this November, and taking the kids, but wasn't planning on hitting up any Disney parks this time around. However, if I WAS going to do one park, it was already going to be Animal Kingdom, just because of how much I love Expedition Everest ( ), and the fact that I think the kids would enjoy the animals there. With how awesome this Pandora addition looks though, I am definitely thinking more and more about trying to work Animal Kingdom into the trip for sure! Thanks again for the preview!

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WOW! I'm almost speechless, this is just on a whole other level from anything I've seen before! This will without doubt be a HUGE hit for Disney and Animal Kingdom, and it will be very interesting to see how much their attendance numbers will increase with this addition.

 

Imagineers explain that this land is "not based on the story of the film of Avatar, but on the overall world of Pandora

 

I'm very happy they went with this direction! The world of Pandora is amazing, but I wasn't a huge fan of the storyline in the movie...

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I'm really looking forward to seeing Pandora for myself. I've always believed that DAK was a bit under-rated among Disney's parks, but I think this new land will give the park a big push.

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That's an amazing report TPR. I'm glad you guys got a sneak preview. I was always confused as to why they would base an entire area on a theming from one movie (yes four sequels are in the works) but now we know why. It also helps like you said Robb because you don't really need to know the story to enjoy it. Harry Potter had seven books then eight movies based on those books which puts people at a disadvantage. I love that you took time to detail the food offerings as well. It looks like they've got some amazing new choices that I can actually get a Coke Zero to wash it down with. One question for you. Did they mention if they could add a ride or attraction once the sequels come out? Oh and from now on I'll only be able to see the monkey instead of the mountains!

 

If you have a 4K UHD TV I highly recommend watching their 4K video on YouTube. It's amazing!

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Thank you for an amazing look at Pandora.

 

I think you just inspired us to make another trip down there this summer. Typically, we go to Disney for a week at a time and maybe spend half a day at Animal kingdom durring that week. This new addition in my opinion, now makes it a full day or more park.

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Wow, I mean I was pretty optimistic about this project from the beginning but this whole thing just looks insane. The detail in the Flight of Passage que is stunning, I can't wait to check this all out.

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I haven't kept with the construction of this area and apologies if this has already been answered, other than these 2 rides that Robb showcased, are there anymore in construction now?

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^No. The land will open with two rides, a quick service restaurant, a bar, a shop, and several kiosks (drinks, merchandise, face painting) and entertainment areas.

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Wow! Pandora looks amazing, this is one of a few times that I'm sad I moved away from Orlando. Seeing this makes me wish I was there. Thanks for the pics and videos Robb.

 

Animal Kingdom was always my favorite Disney World park, I would go there just for the atmosphere alone. Now Pandora adds a whole new level of atmosphere and exploration just waiting to be discovered.

 

One question though, do you think the area will suffer from congestion like Potter, or is there enough room to move about?

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I'm really excited about this. I really enjoyed the film despite the recycled and uninspired story-line simply because of the amazing visual elements and luckily those elements of the film are the only elements that really matter when you're translating it into a theme park land / attraction. It looks like they hit a home run, and I'm sure Pandora at night will be mind blowing.

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One question though, do you think the area will suffer from congestion like Potter, or is there enough room to move about?

 

I'm certain that this summer with it being the 'new hotness' it will be congested. It's just a land, not a whole giant park. The pathways seem larger than potter, but with people grouping for certain interactive plants, or trying to get food at the one location, I could see bottlenecks for sure.

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Just wow! I had medium expectations for what this would turn out to be both with the rides and the look of the land. Based on the photos and reviews Pandora looks like it will easily exceed those expectations and be a big hit for DAK. Look forward to getting back to Disney eventually check out this new land, especially at night!

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Thanks for posting this! We have our pass holder preview thingy in a few weeks. I'll admit that I was looking forward to seeing this area, but wasn't really looking forward to the big attraction. Your description of the Banshee ride makes me much more excited to ride!

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Wow! I, like others have said, was a bit (ok, VERY) skeptical of how good Pandora may, or may not, look like. Seeing the photos and videos, I'm pretty much blown away. I didn't understand the size of the floating mountains until the pics from underneath, and the video of the guy walking thru. This seems seriously impressive!!!

 

And, knowing how much Robb and Elissa have a certain disdain for "simulator" type rides - their high endorsement of the "Banshee" ride, speaks VOLUMES!!

 

Never thought I'd say this - But, I'm REALLY looking forward to your next media day report!!

 

JJ

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