Avatar Disney Opening: Will ‘Pandora’ Attraction Be Popular Eight Years After Movie?

Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger is not worried about the time gap between Avatar and the upcoming Pandora land set to be unveiled next week.

Disney is gearing up to launch Pandora – The World of Avatar, a new land featured in Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom theme park. With the unveiling scheduled for Saturday, May 27, anticipation is rising, with some wondering whether the new attraction will be profitable for Disney. Avatar was released in theaters in 2009, and while it became the highest-grossing movie worldwide of all time, it has been almost eight full years with no sequels, so will the love for the franchise still be relevant?

Avatar didn’t do the business that it did because it had low impact on people. It’s the opposite,” Iger told Yahoo Finance in a new interview. “People love the storytelling, love going to Pandora in their minds or in the movie and kept on coming back to it. So I think it’s the kind of movie that sticks with people for a long time. I’m one of them.”

Pandora – The World of Avatar will include the 3-D experience of flying on a mountain banshee around Pandora, exploring flora and fauna, journeying through a bioluminescent rainforest, and eating native, healthy foods. The opening of Pandora will also help turn the Animal Kingdom from a half-day park into a full-day park.

Joe Rohde, the creative engineer of Animal Kingdom, said in a Disney Parks video that the world of Avatar truly fits in with their vision of Animal Kingdom.

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Pandora - The World of Avatar at nighttime [Image by David Roark/Disney Resorts via Getty Images]

“If you think about the intrinsic value of nature, transformation through adventure, and personal call to action — these are the values of Animal Kingdom,” he said. “But if you say them again, those are the themes of the film Avatar. So Avatar and Animal Kingdom will nest into each other very, very neatly.”

Meanwhile, Iger is very confident that the public will be drawn into Pandora – The World of Avatar, if only because of their love for the film.

“We believe that creating new experiences for guests increases their satisfaction and also increases their desire either to come or to come back. We feel great about how it’s turned out, we’re convinced that the public will agree with us. When you use known intellectual property…it increases people’s interest even more and increases their enjoyment even more…We really want to live up to that state of realism to the detail, to the complete immersion which is part of the signature of that park to the sense that these are events that are really happening to you – that it is your adventure. When we translate that into the world of Avatar it presents a whole new series of technical challenges because of the very nature of that world itself.”

The investment in Pandora – The World of Avatar was estimated to be between $500 million and $1 billion, and Iger believes that the public will see the detail and work they put into the attraction’s intricate designs.

“When you see this land, you immediately conclude just because of its size and all the scale and detail and technology that goes into it, that it’s significant in nature,” he said.

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Jon Landau, Wes Studi, Joel David Moore, Sam Worthington, Stephen Lang, James Cameron, Zoe Saldana, CCH Pounder, Bob Iger, Sigourney Weaver and Laz Alonso at Pandora: World of Avatar [Image by Matt Stroshane/Disney Resorts via Getty Images]

Pandora – The World of Avatar should build buzz for the upcoming Avatar sequels. Avatar 2 is expected to be released in 2020, over 10 years after the original, while the next three sequels will be released in 2021, 2024, and 2025, respectively. Original director James Cameron is at the helm of each of the four sequels, while cast members Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, and Stephen Lang are expected to reprise their roles.

In addition to being a box office record-breaker, Avatar earned acclaim from critics and was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The film took home three awards for its immaculate visual design, winning Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Visual Effects.

[Featured Image by Steven Diaz/Disney Resorts/Getty Images]