Disney's Avatar land to open in May, Star Wars lands in 2019

Pandora -- The World of Avatar will feature the Na'vi River Journey, a canoe ride through a bioluminescent rainforest.
Pandora -- The World of Avatar will feature the Na'vi River Journey, a canoe ride through a bioluminescent rainforest. Photo Credit: Disney

The ambitious Avatar-themed land will open at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom on May 27, and Star Wars-themed lands will open at Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 2019, Disney CEO Bob Iger said during the company's fiscal first-quarter earnings call on Tuesday.

The Avatar-themed land is "the biggest new land that we've opened in Florida in a very long time and I think that's good for the whole business down there," said Iger, adding that this addition to the Animal Kingdom park is expected to transform it "into a much fuller experience and that gives it a lot of potential."

Inspired by James Cameron's 2009 film "Avatar," the 12-acre land, called Pandora -- The World of Avatar, will include a high-tech ride called Mountain Banshee, on which guests will experience a simulated flight over jungles, mountains and oceans. There will also be a family-friendly Na'vi River Journey attraction on which guests will sail down a river within a "glowing rainforest," and have an encounter with a Na'vi shaman. The themed land will also feature dining venues Satu'li Canteen and Pongu Pongu, as well as shops.

The expansion completes the transformation of Disney's Animal Kingdom into a day-night theme park, according to Disney.

As for the highly anticipated Star Wars-themed lands, they will be the largest-ever single-themed land expansions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World when they open in 2019, according to Disney. At each theme park, guests will be transported to what Disney described as a "never-before-seen planet ... where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life." One of the signature attractions will allow guests to take the controls of the Millennium Falcon.

Disney's Parks and Resorts division reported strong first-quarter results, not least due to the successful opening of Shanghai Disneyland. Revenue for the division increased 6%, to $4.6 billion, and segment operating income increased 13%, to $1.1 billion.

"One of our biggest success stories in 2016 came from Parks and Resorts with the opening of Shanghai Disneyland," said Iger. "With the year's two peak seasons now behind us, we have welcomed more than 7 million guests to date. We're thrilled with this performance and could potentially exceed 10 million in total attendance by the resort's first anniversary."

He added that the park's growing popularity, high levels of guest satisfaction and the huge attendance during Chinese New Year have increased Disney's confidence that the resort could reach breakeven in this fiscal year.


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