Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened on April 22nd, 1998 and is based on natural themed environments as well as animal conservation. The animal conservation piece is something that has been around since Walt Disney himself. The Disney Conservation Fund was established in 1995 in efforts to protect and support nature around the world. Disney works to protect the environment in all of its theme parks, however it is most prevalent in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Avatar debuted in 2009 and has made just under $2.8 billion worldwide. In the movie, directed by James Cameron, one of the major underlying messages is conservation and protecting the environment. Avatar is set, of course, on Pandora, a moon orbiting a planet in the Alpha Centauri system. The movie goes on to show the destruction humans are causing the environment on Pandora by mining for valuable minerals. That message of protecting the environment goes hand in hand with the message Animal Kingdom has had since day one.
Fast forwarding to 2011, Disney announced a partnership with James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment to bring Avatar to the Disney parks. Construction began in January of 2014 on what was dubbed Avatarland at the time. Since the partnership was announced, people have questioned and argued that Pandora and Avatar should not be in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. In the original plans for the park, Disney planned to have an area based on mythical creatures called Beastly Kingdom. Having Pandora, which is based on fictional creatures and beings like the Na’vi, is no different than Beastly Kingdom.
The highly anticipated land, Pandora: The World of Avatar, will open May 27th. Pandora in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is set decades after the Avatar movie and its sequels. In this new land, Alpha Centauri Expeditions or ACE is a travel company that is taking you to Pandora after the Na’vi and humans have gained peace, after years of war and destruction of their environment. ACE is all about working with guests on the point that they are there for scientific research and conservation. Another example of this connection with Animal Kingdom and Pandora’s conservation efforts is Connect to Protect, a new interactive way to explore Pandora. Using My Disney Experience and Connect to Protect, guests will be guided through Pandora, showing the plants and other features while in the land. By completing missions through Connect to Protect you can unlock contributions to the Disney Conservation fund.
Another way for this conservation connection is connecting with a Banshee at the Rookery inside Windtraders. Guests will meet a naturalist from ACE that will assist guests in connecting with a Banshee. These Banshees are part of the continued commitment with ACE and park guests to the environment. When guests purchase a Banshee they take a pledge to respect and protect the environment of both Pandora and Earth.
What are your thoughts on Pandora in Animal Kingdom? Will you be visiting Pandora this summer?