Walt Disney World’s Avatar Land is getting a big new character

April 7, 2018, 10:03 AM · Disney's biggest character is coming to its Avatar land at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

No, we're not talking about Mickey Mouse. By "biggest," we meant that literally. On April 22 — the 20th anniversary of the opening of Animal Kingdom — the Pandora Utility Suit will begin making appearances in Pandora - The World of Avatar.

The Pandora Utility Suit is the civilian version of the Amplified Mobility Platform used by the military during the original Avatar film. Now that the mining wars are over and human beings are visiting Pandora as peaceful visitors (in the backstory of the land), the PUS (again, Disney, are you just trolling us with these acronyms?) will be used to "study the wildlife, collect plant samples, and survive Pandora's terrain," according to Disney's press release.

So how did Disney create this massive, walking character? It was team effort, involving Walt Disney Imagineering, and Disney Parks Live Entertainment, joined by James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment and puppetry experts at Michael Curry Design.

This isn't the first giant character that Disney has created for its Pandora land. Disney had a Na'vi character at the land's ground-breaking ceremony in 2014. (*Update: Okay, maybe it didn't. See comments.) But Na'vi characters never have appeared in the land, save for animatronics in the Flight of Passage queue and River Journey ride and a photo of that ground-breaking ceremony that is displayed in the Satu'li Canteen. (Apparently, Disney has retconned that as the groundbreaking for the tourist center on Pandora. Clever.)

Replies (31)

April 7, 2018 at 10:38 AM ·

The Na'vi characters in the ground-breaking picture was digital added...
This attempt with this character looks bad. Rather place some AA animals in the area to breath in some life.

April 7, 2018 at 6:08 PM ·

There’s also the Shaman Na’vi in the NRJ ... This new addition to PTWOA looks cool ... Almost a year after opening it remains the ‘Hamiton of themed entertainment.

April 7, 2018 at 11:48 AM ·

Yawn. This is a poor man's transformer from Universal.

April 7, 2018 at 12:49 PM ·

TH, shouldn't you be saying that this is another "home run" for Disney like in most other posts? LOL just poking a little fun! This Is a nice addition but in no means is this going to be a "must do" photo opportunity like most other park characters.

April 8, 2018 at 6:54 AM ·

I like it and want them to sell take home versions in the gift shop, please! In my mind this new character interaction is a perfect example of Disney PUS...I mean, PLUSSing an attraction that really doesn’t need plussing. The area is already booming with visitors and activity and Disney could have just stood pat. Instead, they go the extra mile to bring more life and fun to fans and to make a fantastic expansion even better. Great addition. I love it.

April 7, 2018 at 3:25 PM ·

And yet no Na'Vi as meet and greet here.

April 7, 2018 at 5:12 PM ·

It is Disney being the follower instead of the leader. I question the management of Disney in their direction that they are heading. Disney won't do AAs now days because they are expensive and I don't think they have the talent to create and maintain them. Thus the reason they are installing all the projections. It also looks like they are slowly removing the AAs and the attractions that are designed around the AAs. I'll tell you part of what makes or should say made Disney so great was the AAs. The next attraction that will be going is the Tiki Room to become some place to eat. Igor is definitely not a visionary and I think is dragging all of the Disney products down. I do not see the ideas of Walt anymore. I haven't see a real new idea from a Disney movie in a longtime. I do not want to go and see 10 versions of Beauty and the Beast all telling the same Story or for that matter any of the Disney movies. As Walt said early in his career. "You can't beat pigs with pigs" in His talk about the failure of the second 3 little pigs cartoon that he tried to follow the hit of the first Three Little Pigs he did.

April 7, 2018 at 5:29 PM ·

@ Mr. Hoster, the shaman figure in the Na'vi River journey is one of the most sophisticated AA figures ever built. Then there's the Frozen figures at EPCOT and the AAs at Dwarf Mine Train. Additionally both Universal and Disney have developed gate crasher attractions that don't demand a bunch of AAs.

April 7, 2018 at 5:50 PM ·


From the article:"Disney has been paving new ground with animatronics for decades now (The Tiki Room’s birds and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln namesake robo-president date back to 1963 and 1964, respectively), but the Na’vi Shaman takes things to a whole new level in terms of expressiveness, fluidity of motion and the ability to blow your mind."

April 7, 2018 at 11:04 PM ·

I hate this character because I think it looks cheap and is a poor imitation of what Universal has done with Transformers.

That being said, Disney is still numero uno with AAs and the technology. NRJ is not worth a five minute wait but that shaman is top notch. Although, the Kong AA blows away that yeti. Remind me again why it STILL hasn't been fixed??

April 7, 2018 at 9:41 PM ·

I don't recall these suits being a particularly noteworthy thing from the movie. The cultural phenomena was all about blue aliens and flying monsters. There is nothing unique or memorable about robot body suits let alone a "civilian version" inspired by the movie. Give us more blue aliens and flora and fauna, rather than ruining the spirit of a land by putting in characters whose very thematic purpose was to be an out of place invasive species that ruins the spirit of the land.

April 8, 2018 at 2:56 AM ·

Ummm so for the 20th Anniversary there taking a PUS approach to things. A dumbed down version of the military unit, PUS (Pandora Utility Suit, I can’t believe that’s what there calling it) is supposed to be environmental and do “research”? Pandora where everythings delicate and deadly, PUS looks like a has been Go Bot that’s been on a shelve for too long. Where’s it’s weapons to defend itself like tranquilizer darts? What energy does it omit? What kind of research can someone do inside a giant metal contraption? It looks like it would step on and kill nature rather than research it.

I’m sorry but this PUS is a slap to the face to yet again show that Disney doesn’t want to go the extra few steps to make what should be a cool concept into trash.

April 8, 2018 at 7:59 AM ·

While I appreciate that they're adding something when they didn't have to do so, it's not something that really stands out. I've never been a fan of Avatar as a movie, but I do like the attention to detail that Disney is putting into their newest lands.

We'll see how long this PUS lasts... and yes they need a new name for it already!

April 8, 2018 at 8:12 AM ·

@TH Creative
Disney (nor Universal) are creating these AA's in-house. You confuse old Disney with the current Disney Company. At 10 minute they clearly talk about Disney taking the credit for THEIR work although they only wrote a check.

April 8, 2018 at 9:41 AM ·

@OT "creating" or "building"?

April 8, 2018 at 10:31 AM ·

This looks like a discount version of a Universal Transformer. Just bad.

April 8, 2018 at 11:49 AM ·

I agree, looks a lot like Transformers suits. Always cool to see additions to a land this far after opening, but not entirely innovative

April 8, 2018 at 2:40 PM ·

Looks like fun to me. I agree with James, I wish they'd sell them in the gift shop.

April 8, 2018 at 8:39 PM ·

Looks Real Cheesy.

April 9, 2018 at 5:50 AM ·

Yeah well that "real cheesy" suit is generating chatter on multiple theme park sites reminding everyone that Pandora exists.

April 9, 2018 at 7:47 AM ·

TH, what I am wondering is if as you stated at the start of this thread that "remains the ‘Hamilton of themed entertainment." why does Disney need this to remind "everyone that Pandora exists", your words not mine. I also was not a big fan of the movie so I can't help but wonder why Disney decided to bring us PUS which I can't help but wonder how much damage it would do to the environment of Pandora and still ignore the Na'vi.

April 9, 2018 at 9:54 AM ·

I don't really get the presence of this character. After the shine wears off, who's really going to line up to take a picture with a generic guy in a mech suit?

I commend Disney for sticking with their "no Na'Vi" storyline at PtWoA despite all the questions from guests about their absence, but this doesn't make up for the missing leads. I'd much rather take a photo with DeVine than this weird thing that could just as easily come out of "Aliens" or "Halo".

April 9, 2018 at 11:34 AM ·

Kind of sad that Disney needs to generate buzz and remind people that Pandora exists. Hasn't even been open a year. Yikes!

April 9, 2018 at 12:12 PM ·

Finally, something cool that I'd actually want to buy a replica of in the gift shop. Now how about outfitting that thing like it's actually on a planet full of dangerous wildlife? Having trouble getting into the whole DANCES WITH SMURFS vibe. Adventureland is more like a botanical garden without the threat from wild animals and headhunters. And like the late Bill Paxton says in James Cameron's ALIENS when ordered to relinquish his ammo: "What're we supposed to use, harsh language?"

April 9, 2018 at 2:53 PM ·

Pandora doesn't need to be reminded. Flight of Passage and Navi River Journey has the longest waits of Animal Kingdom still after a year. Avatar sequels are coming in a few years. Will you call this desperate too?

April 9, 2018 at 4:49 PM ·

Nice post from Anton ... Here Barry, let me help you up off the floor.

April 9, 2018 at 6:18 PM ·

This looks like a discount Transformer.

April 10, 2018 at 12:54 AM ·

I never used the word desperate so I have no idea that Anton was speaking to me?

TH: I can't believe you'd be so ignorant not to see I was mocking your comment. Nice try bud! Kind of like Disney's attempt to compete with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Close, but no cigar.

April 10, 2018 at 7:29 AM ·

Barry: How is complaining about "Hasn't even been open a year. Yikes!" not considered desperate?

April 10, 2018 at 12:20 PM ·

Anton...I was mocking TH and his comment:

"...generating chatter on multiple theme park sites reminding everyone that Pandora exists."

Not complaing about anything.

April 12, 2018 at 11:08 AM ·

So has Disney explained why you don’t need a face mask to breathe on this planet? Pretty sure that was an important plot point in the movie.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive