Much attention has been paid of late to 2019’s Star Wars Land, and how it promises to revolutionize the theme park experience with built-in hotels and ongoing, all-encompassing narratives, but it’s increasingly looking like Disney will beat itself to the punch with Pandora: The World of Avatar, which opens at Animal Kingdom next month.
Pandora’s theming advancements look to be smaller and subtler than either Star Wars Land’s or The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have an outsized impact on all developments moving forward – including Universal’s own next-generation projects, which Super Nintendo World seems to be at the heart of.
The costumes that team members will brandish in Avatar Land, which were just revealed at a press event this morning, are a perfect example of this methodology. The designs themselves, while solid, are very much in keeping with the rest of Animal Kingdom’s MO; what sets them apart, however, are the little touches.
Gone are any traces of The Walt Disney Company; in its place are mentions of Alpha Centauri Expeditions, the “eco tour group” that furnishes transportation from Earth to Pandora, and the Pandora Conservation Initiative, the program that has both humans and Na’vi working together to clean up the mess that their silly war left on the moon three decades earlier. As such, the “earning my ears” tag that new employees wear will be replaced by a “guide in training” ribbon, since, after all, there is no Mickey Mouse in the Alpha Centauri system (not yet, at any rate, but Disney Planet should be just around the corner).
When combined with the previously-disclosed rumor that Avatar Land won’t sport the Mickey ears symbol that doubles as a MagicBand sensor (they’ll probably be replaced with the now-familiar ACE logo) or won’t feature much in the way of the typical theme park signage (expect to see Na’vi totem poles and the like pointing the way to the attractions and restaurant), guests won’t be blamed if they forget that they’re in Animal Kingdom, specifically, or Disney World, generally. It’s taking all those Diagon Alley cues that Disney has obviously been influenced by and running even farther with them, helping to quite possibly make Pandora the most immersive theme park land of them all.
For now, at least – with the likes of Star Wars and Nintendo looming just over the horizon, and with the theming war between Universal and Disney heating up to the hottest it’s ever been in their 30-year history, Orlando visitors are in for experiences that may truly be out of this world.
(Featured image credit: Paul Brinkmann)