Disney: ‘Avatar’ land to open next summer at Animal Kingdom

Orlando Sentinel

Walt Disney World visitors will be able to enter Pandora, a land based on the movie “Avatar,” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park “next summer,” according to Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

Chapek shared that and other theme park news at a gathering of D23, Disney’s official fan club, at Disney’s Contemporary Resort on Saturday morning.

He revealed no specific opening date within 2017 for Pandora – The World of Avatar, but the group was shown fresh construction photos and never-before-seen artistic renderings.


Pandora will be “the most immersive land that we’ve ever built,” Chapek said, lauding the Imagineers. “There is no challenge too big for them.”

Images shows included the Satu’li canteen, Windtraders shopping area and Pongu Pongu, a beverage stop, all of which were designed to be “in story,” Chapek said. He also showed close-up video of a blue-skinned shaman that will be featured in the Na’vi River ride.

Chapek had high praise for the Na’vi River attraction, which he called family friendly “so everyone can go on it”) and compared it with the well-received Pirates of the Caribbean ride that opened this summer at the new Shanghai Disneyland Resort. That Pirates ride mixes a dark boat ride with animatronics with big-screen projection action.

“Even if you haven’t see the movie, you’ll still get it,” Chapek said.


Chapek also previewed other Disney World attractions, including the Star Wars land now under construction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

“This is an extraordinarily ambitious project,” he said. There has been no opening date announced for the Star Wars area or its sister attraction based on the “Toy Story” movies, also under construction.

He also dispelled a rumor. The Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios will not be getting a “Guardians of the Galaxy” makeover that its twin is getting at Disney California Adventure, he said. The crowd applauded. That park’s Star Tours ride will be getting segments from the eighth installment of the “Star Wars” series.

Chapek also said that Epcot will be undergoing a “major transformation,” but he gave no specifics.


“It will stay true to our original vision,” he said.

D23 members are attending a conference called Destination D: Amazing Adventures, which includes behind-the-scenes looks at Disney properties past, present and future. Attendees also were the first to receive the next-generation MagicBand 2, which are a different shape, allowing the power-packed “icon” in the center to be worn as usual or popped out and attached to a lanyard or carabiner. The new style of bands will be rolled out to the public before the end of the year.

The event concludes Sunday.