Floating mountains. A thrill ride on a banshee. A serene experience on a canoe.
Disney on Friday offered a detailed look at its upcoming “Avatar"-inspired land coming in 2017 to Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Fla.
The preview came on the floor of its D23 Expo, the three-day convention dedicated to all things Disney at the Anaheim Convention Center. The world of Pandora is inspired by the 2009 James Cameron film, for which multiple sequels are in the works.
A heavily detailed model pulled back the curtain on the floating mountains that will be the centerpiece of the land of Pandora, which is dotted with wooden bridges, snaking rivers, dense forests and luminescent plant life. The mountains look sprung from giant tree limbs and hover over a river.
Disney Imagineers led guests through a darkened room which showed how Pandora will come to glow as night falls. While the Imagineers on hand weren’t authorized to speak to the press, they stressed that the exhibit is trying to convey the realism of the land.
Unlike, say, the more comical forests that dot the Jungle Cruise, or the more fantastical worlds of Fantasyland, Animal Kingdom’s take on the make-believe world of Pandora will try to make guests feel like tourists on a distant planet. Piers overlooked bodies of water and pathways looked to be cloaked in greenery or rubble.
FULL COVERAGE: D23 EXPO
At the D23 Expo, guests were led into Pandora via a sort of trans-galactic travel agency called the Alpha Centauri Expeditions. “Pandora offers a world of lush rainforests, exotic creatures and enormous mountains that actually float,” read a pamphlet Imagineers handed to visitors.
The exhibit included small models of exotic creatures -- a panther-like animal with rib cages showing, a rhinoceros-like creature with a horned face -- and some of the clothing that the Pandora natives will wear. Here’s a hint: They look to be relatively bare and made of leather and beads.
The exhibit began with a brief video that appeared to tease the attractions that will be found in Pandora. A young boy spoke of riding a banshee through floating mountains while a young girl said she had just emerged from a canoe ride through heavily floral forests.
Tomorrow, Disney will host a panel giving a peek at the what’s coming to its parks and resorts. It’s expected that a more detailed look at the attractions within Pandora will be revealed.
D23 Expo runs through Sunday and offers teases of upcoming Disney and Pixar animated films, as well as the company’s live-action fare. With the D23 Expo running concurrently with Disneyland’s 60th anniversary, many of the panels and exhibits offer a look back at the first Disney theme park.
For instance, there’s a museum-like look at Disneyland’s history, which features early ride vehicles from Alice in Wonderland, artifacts from the Main Street Electrical Parade, a peek into Disneyland’s private Club 33 and many other oddities. Tomorrowland, for instance, once offered a look at “the story of aluminum,” and that pamphlet is on display.