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Avatar Revealed in New Concept Art and Model for Disney’s Animal Kingdom


Disney Parks Chair Tom Staggs was the first to reach out to Director James Cameron with the idea to bring the worlds of Avatar to life at Disney’s theme parks. At Japan’s D23 event, Staggs shared the most details yet about the exciting plans for the first Avatar-land to be built at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Currently scheduled to open in 2017, Avatar will take guests to the mythical world of Pandora, inspired by Cameron’s Avatar. The awe-inspiring land of floating mountains, bio-luminescence rainforests and soaring Banshees will become real for Disney guests to see, hear and touch. The Avatar-inspired land will be part of the largest expansion in Disney’s Animal Kingdom history.

Four pieces of concept art and one photo of Staggs, Cameron and Imagineer Joe Rohde were published. These appear to confirm many of the rumors about the land, including the presence of a boat ride and an emphasis on the bioluminescent glowing plants night effects that wowed so many in the movies. Guests will also be able to soar into the sky on the backs of a Banshee. The latter, is expected to be a motion platform projection movie experience similar to Soarin’ but with the latest digital technology (and most-likely 3D).




Staggs also revealed the addition of long rumored night time additions to Animal Kingdom. The park will get its first water show combining live music, floating lanterns, water screens, and swirling animal imagery viewable from the banks for the Discovery River. The night will be transformed with lights as live performers circulate through Discovery Island and there will be a new nighttime version of the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction.


Update: just added high-resolution versions of the above concept art to this photo set on Flickr.

For everyone who is wondering why Disney hasn’t announced the much rumored changes to Disney’s Hollywood Studios or EPCOT yet, it’s because Disney announced Avatar-land first. They really owed their fans and investors an update and proof that there really is something to be excited about. Yes, I know many fans fall into the ‘meh’ camp when it comes to Avatar, but I think it will add some much needed pull to the park. Think of Avatar like a giant ‘Weenie’ (which in Walt’s parlance is that thing which draws in the customers (like a carnival barker, but usually visual)) for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It will get people to visit who otherwise wouldn’t give “Disney’s Zoo” a second glance. PLUS, the rest of today’s announcement would be exciting all by itself. A night time water show with lights, music and water screens (using the latest technology instead of the decades old stuff Fantasmic uses), plus a night time overlay for Discovery Island. By themselves those would be big announcements.

What do you think of the concept art and attractions for Avatar? Also, are you excited for the other night time additions coming to the park? Will Avatarland and new Disney’s Animal Kingdom night time shows and Safari be enough to answer Universal’s Harry Potter? Or do they still need to expand DHS and EPCOT?

10 thoughts on “Avatar Revealed in New Concept Art and Model for Disney’s Animal Kingdom”

  1. I agree that Animal Kingdom needs a “Weenie” to get people to visit the park. And maybe an Avatar land will make that possible. However when I tried to watch the movie, it put me to sleep very quickly.

    I really think a big expansion at the Studios using the Star Was franchise should be considered if it hasn’t already. I don’t know where they’d put it but I can think of 3/4 “worlds” they could put in that would be major draws – Tatooine, Coruscant, and Naboo (above ground and below water).

  2. I think this MAY help falling numbers at DAK, but no one should think it will make up for Harry Potter.

    I think adding another actual land (like Oceania or South America) would be a better pull for a park that only has two actual lands, Africa and Asia.

    I can’t wait to see how everything turns out. I have so much faith that our Imagineers will make everything SO amazing. :D

  3. The concept art, the idea of the musical and light-up plants is ridiculously cool, but I am most excited for DAK at night. A World of Color-esque show at the most gorgeous Disney World park is such an exciting thought.

  4. Unless James Cameron requests an edited, cleaner version of his film so it matches the level of family-friendliness on which many other properties, including Star Wars, lie, I will have a hard time enjoying an area based on a PG-13-rated property with an iota of R-rated content.

    I don’t mean to be cynical, but I always thought having McDonald’s give out Happy Meal toys to promote the film was a big mistake, what with the film not being family-friendly at all.

  5. I really think this looks like a cool concept of an immersed land at AK…what is already my 2nd favorite park. This can only make it better…and this coming from somebody who did not like the movie, or the idea from the start. I trusted the imagineers who created this amazing park, and it looks like this is going to be awesome.

    I actually do think this could be “Potter-like”. It sounds completely immersive and with some good thrills too. Perhaps it will help tell the story of PANDORA, or the one the movie was not able to do well. PLUS, Avatar will only get more popular…with 3 more movies coming and everything Cameron touches turns to gold.

    With that said, I am not too excited about a nighttime water show…I just feel it will distract from the intimacy and spiritual essence of the park. I would rather see the new water show go to DHS, where Fantasmic needs a break.

    Nighttime safari…will have to wait to find out more about that one. Sounds interesting and curious, will see what they do.

  6. Pingback: New Avatar-land concept art and video from James Cameron and Joe Rohde | The Disney Blog

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