Disney hints that Pandora COULD be coming to Disneyland

Edited: March 7, 2023, 8:41 PM

Disney just hinted that Pandora: The World of AVATAR COULD be coming to Disneyland and that this isn’t temporary, but one like you’d find at “Walt Disney World.” But given the lack of room Disneyland Resort has, where do you think it could go? Or where would you want to see it?

But obviously details are still “under wraps” so probably best to take this with a grain of salt.

Replies (16)

March 7, 2023, 5:27 PM

Based on what they've released so far, I'm skeptical we'll see anything to the scope and scale that we've seen at Animal Kingdom. I'd be thrilled to be wrong. Tomorrowland seems like the betting favorite, with Innoventions as the likely candidate for a replacement.

March 7, 2023, 8:07 PM

Jacob Sundstrom, true that there is a lack of room at Disneyland/ DCA. DCA arguably still has more real estate for it. But when Disney thinks outside of the box just like they did for Galaxy’s Edge and even Runaway Railway, anything is possible. But demolition would happen regardless.

Did you see the D23 post on Instagram about it this morning? It hints that this won’t be temporary, but something pretty big and permanent! But possibly could also just be Flight of Passage.


March 7, 2023, 8:40 PM

For context, Bob Iger revealed this during Disney's earnings call last month: https://www.themeparkinsider.com/flume/202302/9385/

And I talked about it a bit in "What Should Disneyland's Avatar Experience Be?": https://www.themeparkinsider.com/flume/202302/9386/

March 7, 2023, 9:38 PM

there is absolutely nothing concrete announced in that D23 blogpost. a lot of vagaries, sure, but nothing worth getting excited about.

Edited: March 7, 2023, 9:46 PM

Yes! It does sound like from the D23 update, we’re in for at least somewhat of a treat! But if anything, you’re absolutely right, there would obviously have to be some major demolition. I’d love to see Hollywoodland at DCA replaced with it, even if it’s a misfit for the park. But DCA is having an identity crisis anyway.

Edited: March 7, 2023, 9:51 PM

Or if not all of Pandora, perhaps Flight if Passage for Tomorrowland!

I’m wondering if the bus station separating DCA between Hollywoodland/ Tomorrowland is up for grabs for this.

March 8, 2023, 12:02 AM

Disney would not dare cut eastern access to the park, not after the political firestorm that the Eastern Gateway proposal caused. So that street access between the parks will remain.

But all park expansion is on hold until the DisneylandForward process is complete, and the resort gets approval to reassign previously designated use for current non-park areas of the resort. That will allow Disneyland and DCA to expand into current parking areas and for some of the Toy Story lot to become a new hotel and commercial district.

If I had to guess, I still believe that the Launch Bay building in Tomorrowland is the best current option for some sort of short-term Avatar experience, with Pandora one of the top candidates for a DisneylandForward-enabled expansion.

March 8, 2023, 1:32 PM

If we're looking at something similar in scale to DAK's land, I see basically three viable options at the Disneyland Resort...

Option 1: Demolish Autopia, Launch Bay, Monorail, and Nemo, then put the land on that plot.

Option 2: Repurpose Grizzly Peak as Pandora, retheming existing elements rather than building a whole land from the ground up.

Option 3: Save the land for part of the Disneyland Forward expansion.

But I wouldn't get too excited yet. Even if the resulting attraction is much smaller in scale, Disney's going to hype anything Avatar as much as they can. Also, if it is indeed anything sizeable, it'd still be three to five years away even if construction started tomorrow.

March 9, 2023, 2:30 PM

As crazy as it sound, what about Jungle Cruise? I don't think it would ever happen, but it's already on a "river" in Adventureland, lol.

March 9, 2023, 3:57 PM

it would be a terrible day on the internet if disney announced they were axing a 1955 original for an avatar land.

Edited: March 13, 2023, 1:45 PM

Hi AJ, sorry again about my late reply! That's definitely true they would have to have a major demolition/ re-theme to make even a scaled-down version of Pandora possible. Although Iger did say this AVATAR experience will be "as amazing" as the Pandora at Walt Disney World, which is interesting. I want to say if anything, it might just be a Flight of Passage ride in a Pandora themed land, half the size of the one found in Florida. It would be an easier if they re-themed Grizzly Peak to AVATAR. However, fans would be really upset and both Soarin' and Grizzly River Run are beloved rides. Not to mention a) it would greatly detract from the idealized California theme unlike Cars Land or even Avengers and b) the Grand Californian is right behind the land, blends with it, and has its own entrance to Grizzly Peak unless they were to re-theme the hotel too. But that being said, they really should re-theme California Adventure to a "Cinematic Adventure" as the park is losing its identity. On the other hand, Disney needs major competition against Super Nintendo World at Universal Hollywood, and even the reimagined Toontown won't cut it. Iger obviously wants that, even if Bob Chapek cared more about cutting costs than competing against Universal. If we're talking a land, I do see somewhere in DCA or if we're talking just Flight of Passage, next to/ or in Tomorrowland. Galaxy's Edge is also far superior to Tomorrowland and it absolutely makes no sense whatsoever to keep anything Star Wars in Tomorrowland at this point. So we could also see Launch Bay, Star Tours, and/or Star Trader replaced with AVATAR. I wouldn't mind if they replaced Star Tours at this point, but they HAVE to keep Soarin' at DCA if anything! Obviously, it would take at least three years and on top of that, will have to draw up concept art, which they're probably finishing up right now.

March 13, 2023, 1:33 PM

Hey Robert! I'm sorry about my late reply. True that DisneylandForward hasn't been approved yet and obviously, something will be knocked down for AVATAR. Although Iger did suggest something pretty big and permanent is coming, and he made it sound like it wasn't the AVATAR Experience like the one found in Shanghai's Tomorrowland. Perhaps, it could be a standalone version of Flight of Passage, maybe with some theming around it. I know they just refurbished the Nemo Submarines, but they aren't very popular. Maybe that could get a Way of Water re-theme of some sort? I do also remember Scott Trowbridge teasing that the old Motorboat Cruise area is "at work," so maybe that could be a likely spot? On the other hand, that would also mean a vigorous re-routing of the monorail and Autopia, but if Disney rerouted the railroad and the Rivers of America for Galaxy's Edge and the Jungle Cruise for Indiana Jones, I bet they could do it for an AVATAR attraction. That's not enough room at all for the full PANDORA land like in Florida, but they could do what Universal Studios Hollywood did for Super Nintendo World, and only have Flight of Passage and maybe Satu'li Canteen and Windtraders. We'll see what happens. They might surprise us.

Edited: March 13, 2023, 1:36 PM

Jay R, I'm Disney would definitely not re-theme the Jungle Cruise to AVATAR. It's a beloved 1955 classic and they also just refurbished it less than two years ago.

Edited: March 14, 2023, 9:40 AM

I think you're reading far too much into Iger's comments on Avatar MaxicKingdom. I can definitely see something like a Na'Vi meet and greet or some other small interactive attraction, but anything that involves a new land and/or e-ticket level attraction would take 3-5 years to come to fruition. While something on the scale of DAK's PtWoA is not out of the realm of possibility in the not so distant future, it is not something that is going to open within the next 1-3 years to compete with Super Nintendo World.

Also, I just don't find it plausible for Disney to clone PtWoA in California because of the strong rumors that the Marvel e-ticket attraction that has already been promised is based on the FoP ride system. An Avatar land in Disneyland could certainly take some elements from its Florida counterpart, but I think it would be decidedly different, and likely more intimate given the California park's space and height constraints (i.e. no floating mountains).

This really is much ado about nothing here, and I think there needs to be some tempering of expectations regarding Iger's comments given the limitations in California as well as the methodical way Disney goes about things.

Edited: March 14, 2023, 1:21 PM

Russell, an AVATAR land and/or attraction absolutely would take 3-5 years to build. If you think about it though, Galaxy's Edge was built to compete with Wizarding World in CA in the first place, and that opened three years after. Of course they don't have to open it right away, and shouldn't if they want a good land. And that's still a way to compete with Universal. I think Iger wants to compete, even though Chapek, who was CEO at the time Super Nintendo World was being built, was more concerned about cutting costs. If you think about it, if Iger made a big deal about it announcing it in an earnings call, I don't think this will be a temporary thing.
But I can see why you might think that, knowing the lack of room for expansion that Disneyland has. Also, I now hear rumors that the Avengers ride may be cancelled- which would make sense now that Chapek has been fired by the board. Iger didn't mention anything about it, so it could be quietly cancelled, which personally, I wouldn't be sad about.

And I should've clarified and mentioned, it doesn't even have to be Pandora. Iger didn't exactly hint at Pandora. It could be a Way of Water inspired land that's smaller in scale, but still has an E-Ticket attraction at the very least, like Super Nintendo World in Hollywood. Heck, it could even be one attraction in Tomorrowland. But either way, it's going to be permanent and not something temporary. Especially now that Iger is back in the helm, and that Bruce Vaughn has returned to Imagineering. Don't forget the Hollywood version of Nintendo was smaller in scale than Japan's original land. So they could absolutely do that. If they were able to think outside the box and build Galaxy's Edge, I bet they would find a way to build an AVATAR land or simply an E-Ticket- and it could be half the size of Florida's and even with a Way of Water theme instead.

I also said it's very possible they could just build Flight of Passage and maybe Pandora theming around it on a much smaller and very different scale. Or perhaps it doesn't even have to be anything from Florida. It's always a delight to see Imagineering flex their creative muscles and build original attractions for California- IP or not. Maybe a Submarine Voyage re-theme to Way of Water? Or a Grizzly Peak reskin? Again, nothing is definite but I know Imagineering will come up with a clever way to get an AVATAR land and/or a major attraction into the park.

There's no question either way that there would be some major demolition, track re-routing, and/or re-theming happening for an AVATAR land/attraction in California- but as they say at Imagineering, "the sky's the limit."

Edited: March 14, 2023, 2:43 PM

Galaxy's Edge didn't have the City of Anaheim in the way of its development when that project was officially announced at 2015's D23. Also, Universal officially announced WWoHP for USH in May 2014, which is conveniently when Iger cancelled all Lucasfilm projects in the WDI pipeline to refocus resources for what eventually became Galaxy's Edge.

If Disney were to build an Avatar land in California, Iger won't even be CEO anymore by the time construction would start, and it would be at least 3 years behind if you want to argue that such a project would be to compete with Super Nintendo World as GE was competition for WWoHP. Also, I highly doubt he would commit the company to such a large and complicated project like this just as he's headed out the door. Iger doesn't seem like the kind of guy that wants to have a massive liability/project of this magnitude sitting on the books for his successor to manage to completion in an uncertain environment. Iger has been spending much of his time since his return getting Disney back on level footing, and completing projects already in the pipeline, not starting a new round of major initiatives. He's essentially a "fixer" right now, and I just don't see him initiating any big spends between now and the time a successor has been identified.

It's great to Blue Sky stuff like this and think of the possibilities, but there are far too many realities that would counter any argument that an Avatar land (or even just an e-ticket level attraction) would be coming Disneyland in the next 5 years.

If I were a betting man, I would put my money on Disney paying off Universal for the theme park rights to Marvel east of the Mississippi before putting a single cent on an Avatar land or e-ticket level attraction being built in California.

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