Walt Disney World is celebrating the grand opening of Pandora – The World of Avatar by partnering with the Disney Conservation Fund for a new program that will donate up to $1 million to help protect and restore habitats critical to 10 at-risk animals. The Connect to Protect program levels will be unlocked by park guests who participate in conservation ‘missions’ initiated via a Facebook Messenger encounter while exploring the immersive land of Pandora.
Walt Disney World Resort President George A. Kalogridis made the announcement Thursday morning during a press event to officially launch Pandora and preview other offerings throughout the Resort.
“Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Pandora – the World of Avatar both demonstrate that every animal, endangered or otherwise, requires a healthy habitat to thrive,” said Kalogridis. “Through Connect to Protect, our guests will join us in helping protect the habitats critical to 10 animals here on Earth and share in our commitment to nature.”
Visitors to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Pandora will be invited to take part in numerous conservation-themed ‘missions’ via Facebook Messenger, facilitated by one of the moon’s digital ecological specialists, Fitsimti “Fits” Buckley.
By completing one or more missions, each guest will unlock a $10 contribution to be made through the Disney Conservation Fund, or a $5 contribution just for discussing conservation with Fitsimti. Those guests will then get to choose how the contribution (of up to $100,000 per animal) will help protect or restore habitats important to one of 10 threatened categories of animals: apes, elephants, butterflies, coral reefs, cranes, monkeys, rhinos, sea turtles, sharks/rays, and tigers.
“Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is thrilled to open Pandora – the World of Avatar, and to celebrate this milestone, we’re asking our Guests to help us protect the environment,” said Bob Chapek, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “Their participation will unlock up to $1 million in contributions to protect and restore the habitats of 10 at-risk animals.”
Guests will also be able to learn more about each animal the Disney Conservation Fund supports, the habitat conservation programs the contributions will support, and the nonprofit organizations they are working with to reverse the decline of the 10 animals.
In 2016, the Disney Conservation Fund announced a new initiative called “Reverse the Decline, Increase the Time,” aimed at reversing the decline of at-risk wildlife through scientific research, community collaboration, and increasing the time kids spend in nature to inspire them to care for the planet. The Fund is supporting leading nonprofit organizations that are working to protect threatened wildlife and inspire a lifelong love for nature in young people. In addition to funding, the initiative is also providing opportunities for Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment team to apply the expertise and talents of its cast members and employees to help threatened animals.
The Reverse the Decline organizations supported by the Disney Conservation Fund that will receive the contributions from the Connect to Protect program are:
- International Crane Foundation (Cranes)
- International Rhino Foundation (Rhinos)
- Save the Golden Lion Tamarin and Wildlife Conservation Network/Proyecto Tití (Monkeys)
- Perry Institute for Marine Science (Coral Reefs)
- The Jane Goodall Institute (Apes)
- University of Florida Foundation (Sea Turtles and Butterflies)
- Wildlife Conservation Society (Elephants, Sharks/Rays, and Tigers)
“The Disney Conservation Fund has been core to the history and values of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and we are excited to continue to engage our guests in our shared commitment to wildlife, people and the planet with Connect to Protect,” said Kevin Callahan, vice president, Corporate Citizenship, The Walt Disney Company. “The experiences our guests will have in Pandora, will not only continue to inspire families to connect with nature, but also give all those who visit the opportunity to protect some special habitats and species here on Earth.”