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Disney to open ‘Avatar’ park in the summer of 2017

NEW Pandora World of Avatar artwork with Na’vi River Journey at Walt Disney World
Seven years is an eternity in the entertainment business, and that’s just how long it’s been since James Cameron’s Avatar arrived on the scene and did some rather boffo box office (as in biggest box office in movie history). But a lot has changed since then, movies come and go, and the public consciousness is fleeting. Still, Cameron is pressing on with four planned sequels, and now we have more news of Disney involvement. Pandora — The World of Avatar is opening next summer at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida. No specific date has been announced yet.

According to, Pandora has been in the works for over five years, and it took three years just to ramp up construction. When your project concerns a Disney theme park, it’s understood that you are getting into a massive undertaking.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek spilled the news at D23’s Destination D, also sharing concept artwork and park details. For example, the main restaurant will be called “Satu’li Canteen, with a focus on Na’vi art and cultural items,” and there’s also something called Pongu Pongu, which is a “special drink location.” Just roll with it for now; it’s Disney.

“Even if you haven’t see the movie, you’ll still get it,” Chapek said in the Los Angeles Times. We would expect nothing less from the people behind the Magic Kingdom. This is the bridge that will connect Animal Kingdom to the Avatar area:

David Roark/Walt Disney Co.
David Roark/Walt Disney Co.

Will people flock to this new effort? Disney has been doing big business thanks to the Marvel and Star Wars acquisitions, and the Avatar franchise has sort of faded into the background. However, with the amount of money and considerable egos involved, we should see a resurgence of the franchise very soon. The four sequels begin filming concurrently early in 2017, with the first of the lot scheduled for a Christmas 2018 release at the earliest. So there will be at least a year-and-a-half lag between park opening and film release. Disney is big on park synergy, but we doubt that Cameron and his team can move any quicker on a project of this scale.

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