Avatar fans will soon be able to walk—and take a few rides—through the mythical land of Pandora. Opening to the public this weekend in Animal Kingdom Park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, Pandora — The World of Avatar was officially dedicated Wednesday, May 24, in a specially themed ceremony (Na’vi-inspired drum performances included).
James Cameron, director of Avatar and creative partner on the Disney World project, attended the dedication, along with many of the film’s stars, including Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver. Speaking in front of the majestic recreation of the floating mountains of the Valley of Mo’ara, Cameron talked about his decades-long journey of bringing Pandora and the Na’vi to film and now reality. He also spoke about bringing Pandora to life inside Animal Kingdom Park.
“The Na’vi have a spiritual connection with their world. And that makes Disney’s Animal Kingdom—this park, which is based on a respect for nature—the perfect place to connect Pandora to our world,” Cameron said.
Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, also shared his excitement at the ceremony: “At Disney, we have a ‘How do they do that?’ standard…Now everyone, including me, who has ever dreamed of visiting this extraordinary world can explore its astonishing landscape and ecosystem, see the Na’avi, soar on the back of a banshee, and become part of the Avatar adventure.”
Back in 2011, Cameron and The Walt Disney Company reached a licensing agreement to bring Avatar, the highest-grossing movie of all time, to Disney’s global theme parks. At the time, the costs of the project were estimated to be in the $500M range. With the opening this weekend, fans and visitors will be able to hike around the Valley of Mo’ara, take a boat ride through a bioluminescent rainforest in the Na’vi River Journey, and experience flying on the back of a banshee in the 3D Flight of Passage ride.
On Instagram, Saldana shared a photo of herself from the park with a sculpture of her Avatar character, Neytiri.
Four Avatar sequels are currently in the works, the first scheduled for December 18, 2020. Pandora — The World of Avatar at Disney World opens officially Saturday, May 27.