Disney confirms Summer 2017 opening for Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom

November 19, 2016, 8:05 AM

Disney Parks chairman Bob Chapek announced this morning that Disney World's Pandora: The World of Avatar land will open next summer at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

This isn't any surprise, as that was the general date that's been widely touted for the new land. Chapek also said that the construction walls around the new land have moved in, revealing the bridge into the new land.

"According to the storyline developed by Walt Disney Imagineering and Lightstorm Entertainment, this bridge was built during a time when a destructive company called the RDA came to Pandora. Now that they’re long gone, nature is breaking down evidence of their presence. This bridge will soon serve as an entry into the base camp of Alpha Centauri Expeditions, the eco-tour group that is preparing Pandora for future explorers and adventure seekers," Disney revealed in a statement.

Replies (12)

Edited: November 19, 2016, 9:41 AM

Can't wait... been holding off on 2017 trip plans for awhile hoping for an opening announcement. "Summer" is still a bit vague, but if I plan a trip for next Fall I should be safe! Wonder when soft openings will start? April or May? So exciting!!!

November 19, 2016, 10:35 AM

Looking forward to it, but a land of this caliber and scale will almost certainly have the inevitable opening bugs. April or May would be awesome, but I think June or July is more accurate for softs.

November 19, 2016, 5:43 PM

I wonder if they're going to do some major publicity about the movie before then, like a major rerelease of the original film. It's been so long since I saw it that all I can remember about it is tall blue aliens. I still think that it doesn't make sense to put it in Animal Kingdom rather than Hollywood Studios. Yea, yea, I know there's stuff about ecology in it, but it's still a movie.

Now wondering and waiting for James Rao to come in here and give me multiple reasons why I'm wrong.

November 19, 2016, 11:04 PM

So the Na'vi will call Animal Kingdom home before the floats of Rivers of Light. Something is off here. Either way, does anyone know what the fate of the flying dragon we saw during New Fantasyland's opening will be? Will they have them flying over Pandora at night?

Edited: November 20, 2016, 7:46 AM

@James It would be very presumptive of me to correct a man of your stature on this site! Perish the thought!

DHS gets Star Wars/Toy Story, and DAK gets Pandora. Why not? Seems like a reasonable move to put a nature focused movie into a nature focused park. Plus, you gotta share the wealth.

Look, I am pretty sure no one is saying that Avatar was a great movie. It was ground breaking, immersive, and very pretty -- much like Star Wars (also long on pretty, short on originality). But even the best narrative attractions are based upon paper thin stories so grounded in our psyche that we already know what every character is going to do before they do it. Ride stories don't have the time to be complex, so cliches are essential when time is of the essence.

Personally I am not a huge Avatar fan. I enjoyed the movie quite a bit when I experienced it in the theater, but it is not in my top ten, for sure. However, my like or dislike of the film has nothing to do with whether or not the new land at DAK will be a good expansion. And we can clearly see from the many Pandora construction posts circulating the interwebs that WDI has the ability and the money to bring those pretty pictures to life.

Besides, if the Avatar moniker isn't a boon (and with three new Avatar related films on the way, why wouldn't it be?), the Pandora area is ready made for a transformation into the once-planned Beastly Kingdom area everyone romanticizes about endlessly.

One last point about the importance of this expansion at DAK: no one has complained about Everest's broken Yeti more than me, and I KNOW this expansion will pave the way for a significant Everest refub and the rebirth of our favorite abominable snowman. For that reason alone, I LOVE that Pandora is coming to Animal Kingdom!

November 20, 2016, 9:21 PM

James nails it on Everest. DAK needs something like Pandora to provide the "cover" for shutting Everest for the year necessary to rebuild the mountain and fix the Yeti.

November 21, 2016, 11:10 AM

So is the reason for the unfixed yeti that the repair will require such a long shut down of the ride that it's not practical for the park?

Edited: November 21, 2016, 3:28 PM

The short answer for Mr. Crawford is, "yes."

Orlando Sentinel (2010): "'The yeti is a complicated Audio-Animatronics figure whose complex functions have presented some challenges affecting its operation,' said Walt Disney World spokeswoman Andrea Finger. 'We purposely took measures in 2008 to reduce unnecessary stress and preserve many of its functions while we studied possible long-term solutions.

"'At this point,' she added, 'we're still considering those options.'

"Complex machinery

"The Disney yeti is an intricate bit of hardware. It has 19 axes of motion and moving parts, from its pelvis to its neck to its fingers. Constructed to appear as if it were hanging over the roller-coaster track, the yeti's free arm can move five feet horizontally and a foot-and-a-half vertically."

From the same article: "Disney would not discuss issues with the yeti beyond referencing the "stress" caused by the figure's movement. The most popular theory among company followers: The yeti's swiping-arm motion was so powerful that it has weakened the base of the animatronic, forcing Disney to shut it down to prevent further damage. (The yeti is one of three separate structures that make up Expedition Everest, along with the roller-coaster track and the mountain shell; none of the three structures touches.)"

November 21, 2016, 3:51 PM

The Yeti will be fixed eventually, but probably not until the newness of Avatar dies down. Imagine after checking out Avatar people will go to Animal Kingdom's second biggest attraction, Expedition Everest, only to find out its closed. My guess is Animal Kingdom attendance will rise dramatically for awhile, and Disney still won't be able to fix the Yeti until Star Wars and Toy Story open. Once that happens crowds at Animal Kingdom will diminish, and the Yeti will finally be fixed. Then, hopefully Disney will finally shift their attention to the park at Disney World that needs it most, Epcot. The only reason Epcot isn't the the least attended park is because they keep adding festivals as a cheap alternative to a much needed overhaul.

Edited: November 21, 2016, 5:50 PM

They need to shut down Dinosaur and remake the whole land as Indiana Jones Adventure. The Dinosaur was a big bore and since Eisner is gone, Iger can continue to fix the cheap decisions in Animal Kingdom. Dinosaur is a do once and done attraction. Not repeatable and largely in the dark. Lines are often not longer than 30 minutes. You don't need a Fastpass.

November 25, 2016, 9:28 PM

I'm excited for this land. But there's only a problem, Are there people for an Avatar land? I know a lot of People saying that Avatar is very overrated, mainly because people complain about the story. The story is basically the same as Pocahontas, Ferngully, Dance with Wolves, Atlantis: The Lost Empire. basically, I don't understand why Atlantis didn't do well at the box office. Honestly, one of the predictions for Disney is that they would buy Lightstorm Entertainment.

November 26, 2016, 4:06 AM

Well, Disney has proven with Splash Mountain that they can make a great attraction with Disney IP they frankly would rather you forget they made in the first place.

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