Avatar Arrives

May 27, 2017: Disney's Animal Kingdom welcomed the first guests to Pandora - The World of Avatar today. For the very first time, guests were able to walk beneath floating mountains, soar on the back of banshees and sail on a river through a bioluminescent forest. Guests also select their own banshees to care for at Windtraders merchandise shop (pictured). Disney's Animal Kingdom is one of four theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Steven Diaz, photographer)

On May 27, Disney's Animal Kingdom welcomed the first guests to Pandora - The World of Avatar. Photo courtesy Disney (Steven Diaz, photographer)

// by Emily Bailey
The first film may have come out in 2009 and the second, originally projected for 2014, still seems to be sitting in limbo but other plans for Avatar have long since been set in motion. On May 27 Walt Disney World opened to the public their latest addition: Pandora - The World of Avatar.
The area in Animal Kingdom is a total immersive experience, one that doesn’t drop you into the plot of the movie—or any of the future movies—but into the world in which the movies take place. Guests of the planet Pandora walk between floating mountains and disappearing waterfalls. They can take a virtual ‘Flight of Passage’ on a banshee or go on a boat ride through the bioluminescent forest on ‘Na’vi River Journey.’ Stay after the sun sets and the dark ride isn’t the only place you’ll see the glowing plants and animals of Pandora for the whole area shows off it’s bioluminescent features. 
‘Flight of Passage’ is the area’s E-ticket attraction where guests are linked with an Avatar who is paired with a banshee, which they ride around the skies of Pandora. It may be another 3D-simulator, but the Disney Imagineers tried to make the experience feel as real as possible with tiny details such as crosswinds blowing in your face and having the banshee breath beneath you. 
Pandora boasts an array of new technologies, but among them sits a long-standing Disney tradition. At the climax of the family-friendly Na’vi River Journey, guests encounter an animatronic Na’vi, such as those on Carousel of Progress or Pirates of the Caribbean, except this one is the most lifelike yet. Na’vi don’t walk the grounds and other encounters are digital projections so this experience is unique. It brings life to the world that Disney has created.