Disney released some new concept art and additional details about Pandora – The World of Avatar at last month’s D23 event. No, I was not in attendance as Bob Chapek’s restraining order against me is not up until this time in 2020. If you don’t remember something, is there really any proof that it happened? That argument did not go over very well. Above is the current status of the project as seen from the Animal Kingdom bus loop.
And while it’s still impossible to capture how big everything is from the ground, we can get a better idea about the massive amount of detail involved.
— MickeyXtreme (@MickeyXtreme) November 9, 2016
These are the latest aerial pictures I’ve seen. Direct tweet link: https://twitter.com/MickeyXtreme/status/796428854659317760
But the biggest news of all may be that we now have an opening date, however vague that might be.
Summer 2017. It is perhaps worth noting that next year, summer technically continues through September 22nd. But considering how weak this past summer was and the fact that anybody that hears “Avatar Summer 2017” assumes they mean June, it seems somewhat likely that we’ll see “soft openings” as early as April/May. But I would also ask you to ignore that prediction considering how “wrong” I’ve been about everything Rivers of Light. Talk about a mess.
Literally the only “real life” image of the construction that Disney used during D23 was of this bridge, which is visible from Nomad Lounge’s outdoor seating area.
Above those walls, you can see some new lighting elements:
This does appear to be a relatively narrow opening for something that is meant to be the main entrance/exit into the Land. Over by the Festival of the Lion King theater in New Harambe, there is a separate area that may function as just an exit, though it could quite possibly be used as an entrance as well. You would think for the sake of crowd control that everyone would head in this way and then exit into Harambe.
After getting over the initial creepiness of the swirly faces, we can come to a slightly better understanding of what “Satu’li Canteen” will entail. According to Disney, “Satu’li Canteen will be the main restaurant in Pandora – The World of Avatar and will feature Na’vi art and cultural items.” It appears to be a quick service eatery, though it’s unclear if Disney will be trying the “fast casual” style of service that they’re currently testing at ABC Commissary or the usual order/pickup food yourself thing. Considering Disney is promising “alien cuisine,” Satu’li may borrow some of the food options from ABC as well.
“Pongu Pongu will be a special drink location with a design that is as eclectic as its Expat owner.” Note the tiki skirt around the torso(?) of the mech-looking-thing with the hand(?) holding up the “Tiki Bar” sign. It looks like the Canteen is there on the right and there’s an indoor seating area for the bar on the left. It’s going to be one wild opening, that’s for sure.
“At Windtraders, travelers can find Na’vi cultural items, toys, science kits, and more.”
Considering there’s supposedly four more Avatar films on tap and here at Pandora we are actually stepping into a world that is 100 years after the plot from the original movie, perhaps we will see some more marketable characters. Hopefully in an attempt to sell merchandise they don’t Jar-Jar-Binks it. The two kids holding the alien plush in the picture probably represent about as many as Disney can reasonably expect to sell given the canon from the first movie.
Finally, Disney released this short clip of the animatronic that we’ll see at the end of the river ride, which is supposed to harness some of the same technology as went into the Shanghai Pirates ride.
As always, Avatar looks to be an impressive addition to the Park. We’ll continue to watch how it shapes up.