Avatar’s premiere in 2009 was largely hailed as a cinematic breakthrough. The Academy Award-winning film employed some of the most cutting edge visual effects to date, giving viewers a wholly immersive look at the cosmic, far-away fictional land of Pandora. Conceived by James Cameron (Titanic), the movie took over a decade to make it to screen: he wrote the script in 1994, but kept it on the backburner until technology could catch up with his vision.
Eight years after it was finally released, Disney will once again bring Pandora to life, this time as a tangible destination in Disney World, Florida’s Animal Kingdom. The attraction is titled Pandora: The World of Avatar, and already received an ambitious first look back in April. The final product promises to be a hyper-realistic dive into Cameron’s imaginative fantasy world, complete with the opportunity to soar over the planet on the back of a Banshee and experience a musical journey into Pandora’s bioluminescent forest.
Now, Disney has granted a behind the scenes look at what went into making the attraction a reality via a newly-released video. In it, Cameron, Avatar producer Jon Landau, and Joe Rohde, the Senior VP Creative of Walt Disney Imagineering, discuss the massive effort and innovation behind the project.
“I don’t even know if I can express how it feels to see something that I imagined in 1995 suddenly made physically real,” Cameron says, with respect to the Avatar them park attraction. Rohde has added:
“We’re using absolute cutting edge technology, stuff that’s never been applied before. I was very skeptical that it was even physically possible to build the world of Pandora. This was a crazy thing to do…Virtually everything in the world is a custom designed, complex, programmed piece of show equipment…This is a huge ensemble job. Digital design artists, structural engineers, robotics technicians. That’s a stunning amount of innovation to make one believable world.”
The attraction joins a number of new developments for Disney, including takes on beloved franchises like Finding Dory and Star Wars Land, but Landau says people will be immersed in the world of Avatar to a degree unparalleled by any other theme park. Outside of its state-of-the-art appeal, interest will also be elevated by the upcoming Avatar sequels: As Cameron announced in April, four new Avatar are movies are planned for release in the next six years, beginning with Avatar 2 in 2018.
Disney has always been a leader in family entertainment, but Pandora: The World of Avatar seems poised to serve as a groundbreaking endeavor for both the company and Cameron’s team. It won’t officially open until 2017, but thus far appears to be a compelling attraction for both kids and adults alike. Avatar was a creative force in its own right, and it will be fascinating to see how that’s translated to the real world.
Avatar 2 is expected to reach theaters in December 2018, followed by Avatar 3 in December 2020, Avatar 4 in December 2022, and Avatar 5 in December 2023.
Source: Disney Parks
- Avatar 2 (2020) release date: Dec 18, 2020