If you remember back to when Disney’s Animal Kingdom first opened its doors, the park was missing a few key things: signs and maps.  Lead Imagineer Joe Rohde wanted guests to explore the park as if they were exploring the land for real in life. But this frustrated guests and many could not find their way around or the attractions they were looking for.  Eventually, signs were added, but only general ones.  Not for the attractions, but just the lands.  And then, of course, maps.  So the concept didn’t quite work out as well as Joe Rohde had hoped.

Well now, it looks like Joe Rohde is getting his wish once again for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  According to reports, neither of the two attractions in Pandora – The World of Avatar will have much as far as signage goes.  This is due to a major theme and design decision as it would detract from the natural look of the environment.   Instead, Na’vi totem poles will be used to convey to guests which attraction is which.   Apparently there is still no word on whether or not wait times will be displayed, but I would hope so for guests’ sake.  And don’t expect to find any Mickey icon readers for the MagicBands.  These simply just would not make sense on Pandora.  So most likely there will be unique custom designs or ACE crew members with iPads assisting the guests.

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We’ve also learned a little bit more about what we will be seeing in the Na’vi River Journey.  The attraction will only feature one audio-animatronic Na’vi creature: the Shaman character we’ve already been introduced to.  She will be seated along the riverbank.  However, we will also get to see additional AAs of Pandora wildlife with a combination of state of the start projections.

One thing that surprised me, but at the same time didn’t, was the revelation that the Wilderness Explorers attraction will be worked into the land.  By doing this, it will add two more pages for guest to obtain while in Pandora.  This is an excellent activity for families and I’m glad Disney decided to incorporate it into the new land.

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Lastly, one of my biggest questions has finally been answered.  Avatar merchandise and products will only be sold in Pandora and not anywhere else in the park.  This is something Universal started with for Harry Potter, but as since expanded outward to the big merchandise stores at the front of each of their parks.

A unique feature regarding the merchandise is there will be specific daytime and nighttime items, such as flip flops, staffs, and spears which interact with their surroundings at night.  The stores will also only be using merchandise bags and recepts with the ACE (Alpha Centauri Expeditions) brand label.  Goodbye Disney Parks logo!

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Inside the store, guests will be able to find the ever growing in popularity D-Tech station featuring “Avatar Me.”   Reportedly, this will be similar to when guests could turn themselves into a Jedi, stormtrooper, or carbon freeze in the Star Wars stores, only now it will be themed to Avatar.

And probably one of the cuter items I’ve read about, the “Banshee Connect” service where guests will be matched to a tiny plush version of one of the flying creature seen in the film and attraction.

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Lastly, the stores will include a bead station where guests will be able to make their own necklaces and/or bracelets.  It will also showcase Na’vi artifacts for sale, which will be actual hand painted props.  Pretty neat stuff!

Looks like we have a lot to look forward to from Pandora – The World of Avatar!  Love or hate the film, the new land sounds like it will truly be immersive.

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