Avatar land construction begins at Walt Disney World, bringing the world of Pandora to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

in Disney, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Entertainment, Featured, Movies, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World


Just as Camp Minnie-Mickey closed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the next phase of the Walt Disney World theme park has begun construction.

Avatar land is officially on its way.

Ground was broken using giant blue shovels inspired by the Na’vi from “Avatar” to begin building Pandora. In attendance for the groundbreaking were chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs, Imagineer Joe Rohde, Chief Creative Executive for Walt Disney Imagineering Bruce Vaughn, Walt Disney World president George Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney Parks United States and France Meg Crofton, and “Avatar” producer Jon Landau.

Video: Avatar land groundbreaking at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

No specific details have been revealed as to what will be included in this new land, though some hints have been offered through artwork, including a boat ride and plenty of nighttime entertainment:

Video: Avatar land concept artwork

In conjunction with the addition of “Avatar” to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the theme park will add new after-dark entertainment centered around and above Discovery River, including live performers on Discovery Island, and a new night version of Kilimanjaro Safaris as well as an evening show.

Avatar was first announced to come to Walt Disney World in September 2011:


  1. Jason

    Why is Disney/Iger so set on jumping this shark? Why is Iger so intent on spending all this cash on a project most don’t like, when he’s stopped everything else park-related due to massive problems with NextGen…which is a project that most people actually DO like (with a few notable exceptions that we all hope and pray will be working soon, like only getting three FPs and not being able to schedule them for park-jumpers)? Sounds like a Disney version of the ObamaCare fiasco bearing down like an oncoming train.

    1. Cate

      I agree. Avatar isn’t Disney, and I’m not excited about this expansion at all. (I know I’m in the minority on this, but I couldn’t even make it through the movie even after multiple attempts.) Does anyone else remember talk about dragons at one point? I could have bought into dragons, much more than Avatar. They must think it will be popular though if they are going to pour so much money into it.

      1. Traci

        I agree as well – I would have much rather seen them do a Cars Land expansion – It will be odd.

      2. tim

        I totally agree….this has no Disney feel at all. this has more of a Universal feel. since Mickey owns that now, maybe this is where it should have went…..I dunno, maybe they’re trying to reel in a different kind of park go-er…. I personally would have much rather seen Carsland come to Florida RATHER than this……but that’s just me (shrugging my shoulders)

        1. Barry

          Disney does not own Universal. Disney did buy up Marvel, which Universal currently has the theme park rights to for the Eastern US.

        2. armyofrobots

          Disney owns…Universal…?

          1. josh

            Disney does NOT own Universal you twits, look it up! Comcast bought NBC/Universal 2 years ago, hence the reason why on every new universal movie you see “a comcast company” at the bottom of the universal logo page.

          2. armyofrobots

            Hey Josh, lay off the caffeine, buddy.

          3. Jeff

            You must be kidding. Disney is running scared of Universal. This is a grasp at straws to attempt winning the older audiences. Disney has become a kids paradise, where as Universal is more geared towards teens and adults. While Disney has made some decent improvements,(Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Carribean, Star Tours)and some blah upgrades(Dumbo, Barn Stormers) they have not really added anything new in a long time that grabs the older audience. The Fantasy land addition was a flop. Oh yay a french restaurant…because kids just loved Chefs De France and the Bistro in Epcot and were always begging their parents to go there right? *rolls eyes* Avatar May give Disney a little spark. But don’t think for a second that Universal is not 10 steps ahead of them. When Universal sold them back the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, that was basically them telling Disney “Here ya go, congratulations. We are bigger than you now.” Disney wasted all that money buying out Marvel and Lucas Films and this is what they are firing back with? Avatar? Hilarious.

        3. Anonymous

          Shut up, Tim.

          Besides, people like you and Traci are only agreeing with Jason and Cate so you can look cool and save your own skins.

        4. scott

          To me you are right i my self think that Disney is going away from what Walt had start and to something not them

      3. Anonymous

        Your whole point is completely moot! There’s already quite a few Disney attractions based on non-Disney properties such as The Twilight Zone and American Idol.

        Plus, Disney has had attractions centered on Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the Muppets before Disney bought the rights to them.

      4. scott

        i am not happy with Disney I think they need to come up with more disney themed thing not fox. i would like to see this but not with disney

    2. Liz


      I don’t like this idea. I thought the movie was a stolen, played out story. The only thing that made it worth the time I will never get back were the visual effects. Now, here’s why this works for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

      1. The intense and unique visual effects that were brought to us in the the movie, can only be replicated in the real world by Disney.

      2. Disney’s Animal Kingdom lacks Fantasy. Disney is an escape to yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy. Even at the front gate, you buy tickets standing under a giant dragon, and you may have parked in Unicorn. But where is the fantasy past the gate? We have time travel, world travel, and camp Minnie Mickey. Pandora is the Fantasy DAK lacks. The animals in Pandora are what will make or break how successful this is as part of the Animal Kingdom. Giant bugs are not enough fantasy.

      3. It maintains the all inclusive feel that a visitor feels in the rest of DAK. If you are digging for bones, on a safari, an expedition, a train ride, a trek, or in a time machine, you are there in Africa, Asia, or the prehistoric past. Pandora will envelope the visitor like what has been done throughout DAK. Tall trees block views of other areas, sounds and smells will enter your senses and take you to Pandora. It will be like when you walk into the New Fantasyland, everything has been made to make you feel like you have left reality.

      Like I said, I don’t like Avatar. It was a dumb name for a dumb movie. But I’m really excited about Pandora coming to DAK. It will be a good fit, whether we like it or not.

      1. Fred

        So, how much do you get paid to post ridiculous pro Disney posts on forums?

        1. Dan Dailey

          What Liz said made perfect sense. Why attack her or anyone for stating an opinion ?

      2. Kevin

        1. You say that like it’s a requirement. Or true.

        2. The dragons and unicorns come from Beastly Kingdom. If DAK needs fantasy, then they should resurrect plans for Beastly Kingdom. Also, you forgot the Yeti.

        3. Pandora does not maintain the feel of DAK. Animated glowing animals distracts from discovering already fascinating animals that exist on this planet. Wilderness Explorers shouldn’t have to worry about a badge involving mating with a winged bird that James Cameron made up. World travelers don’t need to jump on a rocket ship to Pandora. It may just as outlandish as time travel to see dinosaurs, but at least that’s on the same planet. And at least dinosaurs, yeti, dragons and unicorns aren’t trademarked products.
        And the thing that lessons the feel of DAK the most is that Avatar and Pandora DON’T MATTER. If you go around DAK and talk to people who work there you’ll learn so much about the animals, other cultures, and what is important about OUR planet. The one that you affect and affects you. DAK is an opportunity for people to connect to the world they may not have the luxury of exploring and get a glimpse of it first hand. Avatar is a movie. It doesn’t maintain DAK, it cheapens it.

        1. Mason

          The point of DAK is conservation and the main point of Avatar was conservation that is why it is going where it is going yes it is going to be different but you will still be able to learn about the animals that are there but now you can really have the fantasy of Pandora and learn about Animals that you might not already know Dragons and Unicorns are alright but they are played out at least this way you will be able to learn about more of the Na’vi culture

          1. Don

            You know mystical creatures are based on folklore, old religions and history. They where there, created by humans, to understand the world around them. It was also due to respect of animals and nature.
            Avatar is sci-fantasy. There are animals that look like rino/peacock hybrids, dragon/pterodactyl and glow in the dark gazelles. All thought up to look recognisable and different enough in a CGI world. It has no history or roots, Yes the (preachy) story is about conservation but that’s already effectively portrayed in the park.
            The only reason I can think of Disney going with this is that the money pusher think because it was a commercial success in the movie theatres it will be a (much needed) impulse for AK. I think Disney is making a mistake.
            A park with a broken headliner, a to short water ride, a train ride to nowhere and a cheap carnival as a theme it could have done better fixing the current problems instead of creating new ones. But that is just my humble opinion.

    3. RichBoi99

      regardless what anyone saying, James Cameron & Bob Iger had a nice meeting and JC got the best deal of his life

    4. Anonymous

      He has NOT stopped everything else park-related. That was nothing more than a big fat lie made up MiceChat! >:(

    5. Freedom Lover

      Agreed. This whole thing is clearly an attack on our freedom and patriotism. Thanks Obama!

    6. Red

      “…a project most don’t like”? There’s plenty of people who despise Avatar…but there’s 10-fold more who love it. It’s the best-selling movie of all time. It may not have the “Disney-feel,” but this shouldn’t be something puzzling.

    7. Barry

      I can’t wait for it to open, I’m in my 60’s and an avid Disney fan, but also an avid Science fiction fan. This will give the park a nighttime appeal. It is also something only Disney could do. The movie was lush with jungle scenes and look like underwater creatures, ie. the giant tube worms. The visual effects should be stunning. The parks are not just for kids. They are a place to escape everyday life, and live beyond our normal existence. Make it so.

  2. Doug

    Indiana Jones and Star Wars weren’t Disney at the time of construction of the original attractions either.. Unless you mean ‘not disney’ in spirit that is.

    1. aurora

      I agree Doug. My family and I love Avatar.

      1. Monimon

        I LOVE AVATAR and totally agree with above comment regarding Indiana Jones and look at that success!! The movie is AMAZING and if they can recreate even a portion of it, I TOTALLY believe with the collective creative minds – it’s going to be awesome!! I have 3 grandkids lined up for a trip with Grandma and Grandpa in 2017 now…BUILD IT!! WE WILL COME!!

    2. Kristen

      While Star Wars and Indiana Jones were not Disney, they make more sense at Hollywood Studios. This explanation makes no sense for this park. While I like the Avatar movie I think that this would have been better at Hollywood Studios if they are going through with this partnership.

      1. Anonymous

        Kristen, just because Avatar is based off a movie franchise
        does not automatically mean it should go to Hollywood Studios.

        The other parks have been heavily featuring film-based attractions for AGES (Splash Mountain and the various Fantasyland rides in Magic Kingdom, just to name a few).

        Besides, the Studios doesn’t have as much for expansion as Animal Kingdom does.

      2. Susan

        Don’t forget Star Wars, Indiana Jones and even Michael Jackson are in the original Disney park – Disneyland. And no one seems to think they are out of place.

  3. Brian

    Change it to Frozen, before it gets out of hand!

    1. cat

      I completely agree I would rather have a Disney frozen attraction maybe ice skating at their castle ! it would be a nice attraction for epcot

      1. Kayla

        The rumors are a “Frozen” attraction is going into Epcot in the Norway area!

    2. rosemary

      I think Frozen would work well in Epcot. Maybe have a meet and greet and maybe a Frozen theme. Since there is a Norway pavilion.

      Maybe have a ride where it’s in a ship and cold and producing fake snow and showing a 3 d type movie of Elsa singing Let it Go.

      It’s just a thought

  4. Eric

    Pretty nice. I can’t wait for that new land at AK.

    And I wonder if Disney would also think of creating attractions based on Non-Disney animated films to their parks someday. Probably Ice Age film series. What would you think?

  5. Gordon

    The “photoshopped-in” Na’vi bugs me for some reason…


    I agree! I love Avatar too!

  7. Chaz

    This isn’t something I would have chosen to include at a Disney Park, and I’m still not entirely sure what to think of Avatarland, but I’m very open to this being an excellent new addition to Animal Kingdom. I enjoyed the movie, so this could be very fun. I’ll, of course, wait for the end product before I make up my mind.

  8. Blake

    There appears to be a heavy handed amount of negative feelings about WDW introducing the world of Avatar to Animal Kingdom. Someone even went as far as stating that Avatar was a stolen, played out story although no mention of who “stole” it was offered. Played out story???? I beg to differ. The theme has been repeated many times in different stories but considering what we as a species are still doing to this planet, it’s a story that can not be repeated enough. I thought Avatar was a visually stunning film and welcome it’s a addition to the world of Disney. kudos.

    1. Jeff Lynch

      Blake — a lot of people think that “Avatar” was just Pocahontas in Space with a lot of Fern Gully thrown in. That’s a common criticism.

      Personally, I thought the movie was dumb…but the idea of a “land” in a Disney park devoted to alien life and what life might be like on other planets is fantastic to me. I think the Avatar area is going to look gorgeous and will have a lot to do. I also think that Animal Kingdom was really lacking something imaginative and detailed like this.

      I can’t stand that ugly Chester/Hester area. It’s so junky. So, seeing this Avatar area and having it be a place that they look like they are spending real money, that’s a great thing.

      1. Anonymous

        I agree with you on the majority of your points, except on the Chester & Hester area–it’s not ugly at all and I hate that people don’t understand or get the concept behind it.

        1. Jeff Lynch

          Chester/Hester’s concept was “let’s just buy off the shelf carnival rides because they are cheap and put minimal dinosaur theming on them”. Then they themed the ground to look like an old parking lot and said “oh, this is a roadside attraction that popped up when dinosaur bones were discovered nearby”. Disney went really cheap with this area…and it’s ugly.

    2. Don

      Yes the story of Avatar is unoriginal and the plot is stolen from many movies but that makes it a perfect fit for Disney Because Walt himself also never produced an original feature film.

  9. Pat

    I can hardly wait to experience it. I loved the movie and think this will be an awesome addition to WDW. The movie’s message fits exactly with WDW’s love of the land and education efforts. What is wrong with people? Seems some enjoy being negative and tearing things down and some people just want to jump on the wagon and agree. I am visiting WDW for the fifth time next month and it would be a great trip to plan again in 3 years to include the Avatar experience.

  10. MongolsB

    Disney can’t sustain such synergistic expansions, and expect a solid fan foundation to take root. Sure Universal has awesome rides, and attractions. But for how long? Will there be a Universal version of “D23” in the future? No, because new, bigger, better movies will come along. Especially with crap like Transformers, and Despicable Me. Do we even need imagineers anymore, or can we just use film makers, and standard engineering for the future?

    1. Tori

      I agree. I don’t think anybody will ever be able to continue like Disney. With the Imagineering thing though, I think we will always need Imagineers. For example, they were the ones that put together EPCOT. EPCOT is not movie based like the other parks. Disney needed people with imagination for the future to put that together. Along with other rides all around the Disney parks. For Pandora, I think that it will just be film makers and engineers, but for the future, I think we will always need some kind of Imagineering.

      1. Anonymous

        The Pandora project WILL be Imagineers! >:(

  11. ANDREW J

    Look, I trust these guys especially Joe Rohde! If you keep saying it will be bad, than it will! Walt would have embraced new ideas and concepts! Take away the story and you have an incredible world!

    1. ImTempest

      I’m with you. I didn’t particularly care for the storyline, but the Avatar visuals were excellent. As a bonus, it looks like I’m going to also get a couple of cool rides out of it. For me, that’s a win/win.

  12. michael mallozzi

    It will be a hot topic when the new movies come out which is when it is scheduled to be open, and with the fanatic fans for Avatar it will be a success.

  13. chris

    here is what your missing they are not building avatar land but the world of Pandora from what i understand the land will have almost nothing to do with the movies except for the natives the animals and the land its self and that seems like a decent fit to a park devoted to animals also people complained about animal kingdom not getting any rides and here Disney is spending between 500mil to a billion dollars on a land with 2-3 rides plus more and ur still moaning

  14. John Hernandez

    While I am not even slightly interested in the “Avatar” Theme, I am excited that this Park will look spectacular at night! They really needed to do something with Animal Kingdom!

  15. Dale Boch

    Why are so many people worked up over this new addition to DAK? Opinions are like rear ends, everyone’s got one and they all produce the same result. Last I checked, unless you are a major shareholder Disney can do what they want with regard to expansions/changes. So chill out and let’s see what they do. If it sucks after it is built, you are more than welcome to express your opinion. Who knows, it could blow away even the most skeptic people.

  16. Timy Imagineer

    “Mr Rohde, as long as you are here…could you take a peek at the Yeti…we have had some problems for….years.”

    Upon hearing the request, Joe Rohde twirled his moustache maniacally and laughed. “It was designed that way,” he cackled. “A hundred million dollar ride to find a yeti was always supposed to end with a furry statue and twenty-five bucks in strobe lights. That was the PLAAAAAANNNNNNN!” And with a puff of smoke, he was gone, and a very confused Tom Staggs said, “Er, thanks to, er, our friends in Imagineering for stopping by.”

    1. chris

      from what i heard Disney wont fix the yeti until they have more rides BC they have to close Everest for at least a couple of months and if they did that now it will be a big blow towards attendance

  17. Emmanuel

    Not looking foward to this AT ALL!!! I’ve always been excited about all new Disney attractions, but not the least intrested in this cheesy movie. Feels like a desperate move from Disney to take some attention away from potter.
    Definitely won’t be rushing to buy a ticket to see these smurf wannabes and walk around glowing plants.

  18. Joan Jordan

    I think it’s wonderful that Disney will have an Avatar area in the park. Avatar is one of my favorite movies. It is nice to know that some people dream of a world that believes in peace and lives in harmony with nature. I can’t wait to see what Disney will do. I want to be one of the first to visit the Avatar area so I can be apart of the beauty this movie has created.

  19. Eric

    I wonder what kinds of animals will be at Avatar land.

  20. theultimatedisneygeek

    Oh gosh, here we go. I really think that this is a terrible idea. I know that Disney will do well with things like the environment of the planet and characters, but how are they really going to put in the violent nature of the movie?
    That and the name really needs to be changed. Avatarland…really?

  21. Rolyataylor2

    To bad its not Legend of Zelda rather then Avatar 😛

    I personally did not enjoy the Avatar Movies, I love animals but hate the new age/hippie mentality. But I guess as long as James Cameron is footing the bill for the section I cant complain about new and expanded Disney Imagineered Content.

    Heck maybe James Cameron is only renting the space and when that runs out it will get turned into Beastly Kingdom.

    1. chris

      that’s always made me wonder video games have been around for about the same amount of time as star wars and i still have not seen any major park pick them up and if you think about it mickey is the most memorable mascot but the second most is Mario

  22. Rusty

    It’s a basis, well-agreed fact that DAK needs something more. Even if you love it “as is,” it’s hard to complain if something totally new is being added and not replacing something you love like they have done in other parks (FOTLK is being moved across the park, not replaced and meet-and-greets can happen anywhere). In this case, the new attractions appear to be pretty incredible. Would I like it better if it was “original” and not necessarily tied to Avatar? Probably. But having it tied to Avatar does not make it any less cool. Would I rather they prioritize Star Wars “land” at DHS. Absolutely. But again, it’s something new and they are obviously devoted to making it crazy good at this point, so I’ll just be happy about that and hope for the best.

  23. Eric

    I would love if Disney’s Animal Kingdom would someday be include Pokemon.

  24. Brandy

    Oh no, Dances with Smurfs land begins! Look not only did I think that was one of the worst movies I have ever seen, what on earth is that doing at AK? First off, the film came out in 2009 and doesn’t seem to have a raging fan base amongst Disney fans. Second, the movie was very violent and rated PG13 so it is an “old dated film” for teens and little kids likely have not seen it due to the non age appropriate content. And per IMDB the next one comes out in 2016. Which leaves me wondering who is the target audience for this. Do you really want your kid to have a meet and greet with a 11foot tall mostly naked dude in a blue spandex body stocking? Me neither. If AK is doing fantasy I would have SO much preferred a mythical beasts area, with timeless classic creatures rather than the smurfs on growth hormones. Ick.

    1. Teddy Leo

      As a teenager I do. I need some stuff do do that is for my age. Im pumped for this land. Also Marvel and star wars can’t wait to see what they do

  25. Sean

    All I am seeing is that Disney is a sucker for money. they want a theme park or land to try and beat Universal Orlando since USO have Harry Potter. Disney puts out money so they can have deals with other studios to bring Avatar to Disney like Universal Orlando made a deal with Warner Bros to bring Harry Potter to Orlando.

    1. Anonymous

      If that’s all you’re seeing, then consider yourself blind.

  26. Maryann

    Anyone hear anything about a new night or evening safari coming to Animal Kingdom Park??

  27. Erika

    I’m actually really excited about this. It’s different, and everyone knows Animal Kingdom needs something to spice it up a bit. Sorry if this offends anyone, but Animal Kingdom is boring. This might be the one thing that brings customers back to Animal Kingdom. Yes, it might be a knockoff of Harry Potter, but who cares? Disney is SMART if they are bringing Avatar to life to have competition with Universal. It’s business. Plus, how cool is this going to be at night?

  28. Life change

    I love all Disney parks as well as both Universal Studios parks. I’m super excited for this and any expansion they decide to do because it means more rides and more fun.

    The problem, I think, is not this project or any for that matter. The issue here is our perspective on life and our world view. Be happy. Don’t allow outside circumstances to dictate how you feel. Don’t be bitter or worry. It would make a world of a difference if you changed who you are on the inside first…. Then everything will bring excitement to your life. People tend to be negative and always complain or blame others.

    If instead of spending a great deal of time, giving your opinion of how to fix other people or things, you should spend that time on working on yourself. Then and only then, your time will be better spent.

    I would rather wait to see what they create before I judge it so critically. You don’t know if you would like it until you try it.

    I’m sure this post will probably upset some people but if it does, read it again because you’re the one who needs to read it.

    STOP COMPLAINING…. You will never have this moment ever again. Be happy, hug your loved ones and enjoy life.

  29. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message
    home a little bit, but other than that, this is great blog.

    A great read. I’ll definitely be back.

  30. Thanks for finally talking about >Avatar land
    construction begins at Walt Disney World, bringing the world of Pandora to Disney

  31. In fact when someone doesn’t know afterward its up to other users
    that they will assist, so here it happens.

  32. I tend not to create many remarks, however i did some searching and
    wound up here Avatar land construction begins at Walt
    Disney World, bringing the world of Pandora to Disney

  33. buffy

    I can’t wait to experience this! Everyone that is complaining can stay at home! I will be booking a trip just to experience this!

  34. Irina

    I love Avatar, this is a great idea,can’t wait.


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