In 2011, the year after The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened at Universal Studios, Disney announced their Avatar project. Pandora-The World of Avatar is missing something that the Wizarding World had at its outset: a large, devoted fanbase. Having been almost eight years since the film’s release, and its sequels suffering a string of delays, there is some skepticism to be had in regards to how much enthusiasm the public will have for the new area. The Orlando Sentinel has reported on what Disney’s expectations are in appealing to those who are unfamiliar with, or lack passion for, the film franchise.
“We’ve been really quite scrupulous about the fact you don’t need to know a thing in order to experience and enter the land,” Explained Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde, “It is … meant to be understood emotionally, reacted to, navigated through and appreciated by a person who has absolutely no access to the pre-existing story.” The setting of Pandora-The World of Avatar is a decade after the original film took place.
Rohde expects the emotional impact and cultural depth of Pandora to resonate with guests. He said in regards to Pandora’s 156-foot floating mountains, “You have these spectacular … objects all around you that, if you think for a moment, are just spectacular tour de forces and deliberately made to evoke emotion, to make you feel awe.”
He also thinks the Avatar inspired land will be a natural complement to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, with their shared message of conservation. This theme is represented throughout Pandora, with references to restoration of animal life, plant life, and clean water. Scattered equipment will also serve as a visual representation of the mistreatment of the natural habitat. Rohde said the land, “is a place that has been damaged by irresponsible misuse, harvesting natural resources. It is in a state of recovery.” As for its place in Animal Kingdom he said, “Avatar a really, really interesting choice to be in … Animal Kingdom, because the underlying myth is a conservation myth. It is myth about nature and our place in the world and the actions we choose to take on behalf of nature.”
The Orlando Sentinel also spoke with Disney fans who were unfamiliar with the film Avatar to gauge their levels of anticipation. A 30-year-old mother and frequent Disney visitor from Houston, Jessica Fraser, was positive about the new land saying, “This is a completely make-believe world they’re bringing to life, which is what Disney does best.” Karen Gibson, a 54-year-old Plant City resident and annual passholder was less enthused, having paid little attention to the new development.
Disney has recently stepped up their marketing of Pandora. Not only did they have an ad during the Oscar, but they also featured Avatar in four ABC television programs: The View, Nightline, Good Morning America, and The Chew. The ABC features all happened on the same day; ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. They also created visitpandora.com, a website in the form of an online travel brochure.
Source: The Orlando Sentinel
Image: The Walt Disney Co.