Oh-ho, there is some biiiig news for this Saturday morning as Disney released the renderings of the upcoming and awaited Avatar land!!!
It seems that WDI has decided to play a max the Avatar "vegetation" card - extraterrestrial vegetation in this case - and considering that we are at Animal Kingdom it's probably the best to do indeed. Not a lot of details on the rides but as rumored there is a boat ride which should be particularly magical at night and a "flying" ride where guests will "fly" with the Banshees!
Below, Tom Staggs announcement and after each rendering, in ital, my own feeling about them. Also, click on each artwork to see them in high-res!
"From the moment AVATAR was released, people were captivated by the mythical world of Pandora. When we announced that we’d be working with James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment to bring this world to life in our parks, we felt certain that this partnership and combination of talent and imagination would produce an experience unlike any other ever created.
Our combined team has taken huge steps forward in “imagineering” Pandora as a real place for our guests to see, hear and touch. At the first-ever D23 Expo in Japan, we shared an early glimpse of the plans for AVATAR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park and I wanted to share some of these breathtaking images and a short preview of what’s to come with all of you."
As i said above WDI is playing the extraterrestrial vegetation "card" and it will be interesting to see how they will do to create vegetation from another planet, it might be less simple than it looks. You'll note that the spectacular "floating mountains" will also be there, of course here probably not totally "floating" for gravity reasons, except if they do some like themed balloons.
"As these concept renderings show in epic scale, in the world of AVATAR guests will encounter awe-inspiring floating mountains and wander through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants that are alive with light and sound. Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee".
Above is the expected boat ride which should be particularly spectacular indeed at night with all the bioluminescent plants. Considering that Animal Kingdom is the most "contemplative" of all DIsney Parks - almost as much a "vegetation kingdom" than an "animal" one - i think it's pretty smart from WDI Imagineers to play this vegetation card. Chances are that there will be some thrill moments during the ride, not revealed yet. Also, you'll notice that there is no rooftop on the boat which may look surprising as it is raining quite often in Florida. No rooftop could mean that the ride might be stopped when it will rain. Of course there might be one at the end, but not shown here on the artwork for artistic reasons.
And here is the expected flying simulator ride. Most probably a "Soarin' " kind of ride but all the question is to know how will look the simulator itself. Sure, they can do easily one which will look like the one of Soarin' - and it'll be probably the best for ride capacity - but i have the feeling that James Cameron would prefer a more designed one. Of course the best would be if guests would be seating upon recreated Banshees which could even have some Audio-Animatronics parts for the neck, head and wings, but considering their size it might be difficult to put enough guests on them to have an adequate attraction capacity.
Above, James Cameron with Tom Staggs and WDI Imagineer Joe Rhode in front of an Avatar model.
But there is a "one more thing" as Tom Staggs also announced new nighttime entertainment for Animal Kingdom! :
"And the new AVATAR-inspired land won’t be the only change coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. As part of the largest expansion in the history of the park, we’ll be adding all-new entertainment experiences, including a new nighttime spectacular where live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery all combine to bring a show to Discovery River that will delight our guests and truly cap off their day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The park will introduce more nighttime entertainment as well, including live performers on Discovery Island (pictured above) and a new nighttime version of the Kilimanjaro Safaris".
You'll note on the above rendering the glowing effect on the Tree of Life which might be a way to introduce the Avatar bioluminescent vegetation effects which for sure will amaze AK guests when the Avatar land will finally open in 2017.
Artworks and picture: copyright Disney