The mystical Pandora: The World of Avatar, a land where visitors will ride banshees and float through the bioluminescent forest of the James Cameron movie, will open Memorial Day weekend at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Bob Iger, Disney’s CEO, announced the May 27 opening date during the company’s shareholders meeting on Tuesday. Disney had said earlier that the Avatar land would open this summer, and guests at Animal Kingdom could see the progress as floating mountains took shape above the trees where Camp Minnie-Mickey once stood.
The new land will have two major attractions:
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▪ Avatar Flight of Passage will be a ride across Pandora on the back of a mountain banshee, in front of huge Soarin’-type projection screens. Joe Rohde, the chief Disney Imagineer on the project, has said the ride will be more thrilling than Soarin’.
▪ The Na’vi River Journey will take guests down a sacred river through a bioluminescent rainforest — the plants will glow in the dark — and end with an encounter with a Na’vi Shaman.
The World of Avatar will also have a themed eatery and bar, as well as a store.
The land was inspired by the 2009 movie “Avatar,” which had the highest box-office gross ever at almost $2.8 billion. Cameron has since announced four sequels, but production has repeatedly been delayed. Latest word is that the first sequel will debut in December 2018.
Iger also announced that Disney World’s other blockbuster project, Star Wars land, will open at Hollywood Studios in 2019.
The opening of Avatar land is one of several theme park attractions that will debut this year. Legoland’s Ninjago World opened in January, Jimmy Fallon’s Race Through New York is set to open April 6, Universal’s Volcano Bay water park will open in late May, and SeaWorld’s 17-year-old Kraken roller coaster will get a virtual reality add-on this summer.