inspired most ambitious world yet
Walt Disney World has brought James Cameron's blockbuster Avatar to stunningly colourful life in Pandora, the resort's most ambitious world to date.
It was meant to be impressive, and it is. Pandora: The World of Avatar is the new 12 acre land at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando (opening May 27), a massive investment in visual artistry as much as theme park expansion.
A collaboration between Disney's "Imagineers" and Cameron's film making team, this is a faithful recreation of the alien planet, minus the man made war against the Na'vi people, the hostile wildlife and unbreathable atmosphere.
It has been seven years in the making and has tested the creative talents of its designers to the max. Floating mountains? Check. Bioluminescent plant life? Yup. Life size Na'vi animatronics? Absolutely. And a ride on the back of a Mountain Banshee? That's right.
To carry off the effect of visiting the fifth moon of gas giant Polyphemus in the star system of Alpha Centauri, Disney had to envelop guests in the sights and sounds of Pandora. They needed to create new ride systems, life like plants that react to touch, mystical cultural artefacts of the Na'vi people, and an environment that feels suitably alien.
They also had to advance the story beyond the film's conflict between humans and Na'vi, the 10ft tall indigenous folk. This Pandora is set 100 years after the film, as an exercise in inter planetary eco tourism.
The air has become breathable thanks to native flora, and Alpha Centauri Expeditions now bring earth folk to this intensely jungle like landscape in which unseen animals call to each other, strange silhouettes move in the shadows and bizarre other worldly plants are mixed with exotic species from our planet.
Disney's designers studied the jagged peaks of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in China and rare plants in Hawaii for inspiration, brought in new motion sensor technology to make their foliage light up on cue and re worked animal sounds from the film to provide the unearthly soundtrack for the area.
Two contrasting rides are then woven into the fabric of the towering rockwork (the tallest of the floating mountains is 156ft high) purchase pandora online and expansive vegetation to complete the wow factor.
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The Na'vi River Journey is a gentle five minute boat ride through a Pandoran forest, with glimpses of the native fauna amid total immersion in the planet's diamond ring pandora charm bioluminescence, culminating in a meeting with the Shaman of Songs and her plaintive chant of living in harmony with the land a recurring theme, underlined by real world messages about invasive species and threats to natural habitats).
The attraction that will set new standards for theme park thrills, though, is Avatar Flight of Passage, a complex and dynamic simulator experience that mimics a ride where to get pandora charms cheap on the back of a dragon like Banshee. As guests wind through a series of mountain caves essentially a mammoth queueing area packed with scientific research materials, native paintings and abandoned military equipment they encounter a full sized Na'vi animatronic and learn they must be matched to an avatar to be able to ride.
Through a series of sci fi style computer gimmicks, the process is complete, allowing access to an inner sanctum where riders board outlandish bikes to be 'in sync' with their avatar's banshee ride. And off everyone goes, swooping down the mountain, through waterfalls and over the vast terrain of Pandora in vivid 3D glory. The bikes, of course, do not leave the ground, but the illusion is compelling and hugely convincing.
Even the gift shop at the end is heavily themed, as are the toys, apparel and souvenirs you can buy, including a $50 (38.60) banshee that sits on its owner's shoulder and can be made to flap its wings and move like an animatronic parrot. It will probably, ahem, fly off the shelves.
Just to make sure they have not left any theme park stone unturned, the designers have created food and drinks to fit the Pandora motif. It is all perfectly earth acceptable, but the Hawkes Grog Ale is green; Dreamwalker Sangria is blue; the (non alcoholic) Night Blossom is vivid pandora bracelet necklace purple, green and orange (from a mixture of enhanced fruit juices); and the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse is bright blue and yellow.
The tastes are surprisingly good, and there are numerous health conscious choices, too, notably with a strong accent on grains, protein and vegetables (there are no fries to be seen), but, again, the colourful elements are firmly to the fore.
Finally, for those who think Pandora looks good by day, wait until night falls. All those bioluminescent effects come firmly to the fore after dark, including footprints along the paths and masses of artificial flora mixed in with the real vegetation. It's a triumph of the park designers' art and a dazzling panorama regardless of whether you've seen the film or not.
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