Disney's Latest Expansion, Pandora—The World of Avatar, Opens on May 27

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Disney's Latest Expansion, Pandora—The World of Avatar, Opens on May 27

It’s taken almost six years, but we’ll soon finally be able to visit the alien moon from James Cameron’s Avatar. Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed the opening date for Walt Disney World’s latest project, Pandora—The World of Avatar, on a quarterly earnings call earlier today. The addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open to the public on Saturday, May 27, 2017—just in time for Memorial Day.

The first major addition to Walt Disney World since 2014 will add two new rides to Animal Kingdom. Avatar: Flight of Passage will simulate riding one of the movie’s flying mountain banshees in an attraction that will be similar to the popular Soarin’ ride. Na’vi River Journey is a Pirates of the Caribbean-style boat ride that recreates the scenic landscapes of Pandora, complete with audio-animatronics and a minor plunge or two. There’ll also be a variety of restaurants and stores, of course, and it’ll be all situated in a detailed recreation of the world from the movie. Think floating rocks and bioluminescent plants and the like. I was at Animal Kingdom literally yesterday, and the imposing rockwork of Pandora is impossible to miss right by the entrance to the park. From a theming perspective, at least, it’s already shaping up to be a memorable environment.

Pandora  was first announced in September 2011, when the phenomenal success of Cameron’s movie was fresh in our pop cultural memory. A theme park world based on the movie might not seem as relevant in 2017 as it did back then, but a movie that was so ubiquitous so recently must still take up a solid amount of psychic real estate, even if you never really hear anybody talk about it anymore. It’s still the highest grossing film of all time (if you don’t adjust for inflation), and Cameron is scheduled to start production soon on a series of four sequels that will be released between 2018 and 2023, so even if the Avatar craze was the 2009 version of the pet rock, there’ll be ample opportunities for America to obtain a new fixation with those blue-skinned aliens in the years ahead.

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