Disney CEO Bob Iger and the cast of the new Avatar film seem to think the new experience coming to the Disneyland Resort will recapture the magic of Pandora at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Park. But when working with a smaller surface area, just how close can Disney Imagineers get?
Last month, Bob Iger made a press release that an all-new Avatar experience would soon arrive at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park, possibly even becoming the first land in a third gate through the DisneylandForward project. Moreover, the Disney executive promised it will “be as amazing as those found at Walt Disney World Resort,” adding that anyone who has visited Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will have every idea of what Walt Disney Imagineering is capable of.
However, theme park fans have become much harder to please, and perhaps within good reason, as Disney Park prices continue to soar and magical experiences become more in demand. From valid concerns over ride vehicle accessibility in TRON Lightcycle / Run, which opens next month in the Magic Kingdom, to complaints over sponsorship signs, not to mention conservative backlash to more inclusive storylines, Disney has a lot to contend with when hitting the drawing board for its next big project.
Even so, WDI has had plans to bring the bioluminescent exoplanetary moon to Southern California since 2017, allowing West Coast Guests to experience the vibrant Na’vi culture and blockbuster hit storylines. Avatar producer and COO of Lightstorm Entertainment, Jon Landau, said the company behind the franchise was excited about the new possibilities for this space as the next chapter in themed experiences for Guests through this partnership with Disney Imagineers, who are some of the best in the business.
Moreover, the cast of the franchise’s latest film, Avatar: The Way of Water (2022), now the third highest-grossing film of all time, seem to believe in the experience’s potential. For instance, Jack Champion, who plays Spider, told D23 he felt the Disneyland Resort offering would allow Guests to become immersed in the world of Pandora on a level similar to his own involvement in the film itself!
In addition, Baily Bass (Tsireya) said: “I am over the moon about the Avatar expansion,” knowing that anything the team creates will be “awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, and magical,” while Trinity Jo-Li Bliss (Tuk) added that Animal Kingdom’s Valley of Moara is her favorite stop on a Disney World trip, and she is eager to share the same experiences with her friends at Disneyland.
Certainly, Disney will have no shortage of fresh content to pull from to ensure every Avatar experience across its Parks is engaging, unique, and fun, as three more sequels are already on the way. Indeed, the new space can work within its own parameters, offering not a copy of the same exact caliber as Orlando’s but perhaps something original and more suited to its own home Park, further expanding what we know about Pandora.