Special ticketed events and experiences allow theme park guests to go beyond what can normally be offered to the tens of thousands of patrons that visit each day. Being a huge fan of Pandora: The World of Avatar, and having past experience with Disney Operations and the Pandora team, I wanted to see if I could think up a special tour of my own.
Now the Na'vi language and culture is a key element of the Pandora themed land in Disney's Animal Kingdom park. This rich history and diverse landscape is what makes the entire area feel so real. Even the Cast Members are part of the story as they are taught the language, the plant life, the history and more. Even with the extensive work of Disney's Communications Team, the Imagineers and Cast Members working in the park, some of the story is lost or missed out. Guests are so focused on the shortest queue or the nearest bathroom that they don't notice a crashed helicopter, nature retaking the land, the skeleton of a direhorse or countless other storytelling elements.
But, what about the guests that wanted to learn more. The guests that want to know the rich backstory of every plant and creature. That is where Eywa'eveng - A Discovery Tour of Pandora comes in.
Not familiar with Na'vi? Well, all the cool kids are learning the Na'vi language these days. Eywa'eveng simply translates to Pandora, it is read as Eveng (child) of Eywa (The god/life force of the Na'vi people). So, Pandora is the child of Eywa. We are learning already!
Alright, you say, we have a rich Na'vi culture, a working language and a big theme park land, but how do you make it a tour people pay for? Easy, you offer a land free of guests, you include food samplings, you showcase the depth of storytelling that the Imagineers laid forth and you guarantee fast ride access. Lets go into the details of this proposed tour.
You start your morning at the entrance to Disney's Animal Kingdom, two hours before park open, (yes this tour would require hour adjustments on Extra Magic Hour days). You will be checked in and given a lanyard like the one shown above. You are met by a Guest Relations Cast Member(s) who takes you to a general meeting area at the bridge to Pandora: The World of Avatar.
Once everyone is assembled the official tour guides walk over from Pandora across the bridge. These tour guides will be wearing modified Na'vi River Journey and Flight of Passage Cast Member costumes. What differentiates these costumes is the addition of accessories. These guides will be wearing backpacks, hiking books, binoculars, special radios and more. There will also be a tour leader who will be dressed much like the PCI Utility Suit drivers that you see walking around the Pongu Pongo bar every hour or so during normal park hours. They won't be in the Utility Suit, but they will wear the rest of the gear associated, like the speaker system, head gear and unique outfit. You can sometimes see them like this in the park if there are extra drivers or bad weather conditions for the Utility Suit.
From here Guest Relations will leave as you prepare to step onto a new planet, (well technically a moon). You will walk across the bridge and enter the Valley of Mo'ara, the protected wildlife area of Pandora that is recovering from the past devastation of human wars against the Na'vi. You are told to listen, listen for the lack of music and the overwhelming sound of nature. You are no longer on Earth, you have stepped into a new realm.
In front of you is the flaska reclinata, the first stop on your journey to discover new flora and fauna. You are taught about that plant and how it connects to all other plants in Pandora. You interact with it and are then taken down the stream to see where new sproutlings are forming. Here you see a helicopter that crashed into the forest and witness how nature is taking back the land. You will see direhorse hoof prints and strange plants as you continue your walk to the view that sells Pandora.
The floating mountains of Pandora, a legend back on Earth, but a reality in the Valley of Mo'ara. Guests will be given time to take photos and get their own photos taken with this incredible backdrop.
From here you and your tour group will be leading right past the sagittarius (blue snails) for a secondary view of the mountains. Here you will be told about the science behind the unobtanium mineral and how it causes the mountains to take to the skies. A quick walk leads you down a path towards the Satu'li Canteen where you pass the goblin thistle, vein pods and dapophets. You reach the Canteen and are presented with a table full of delicious goodies. Each guest will be able to sample some of the food and drink offerings available in Pandora. Exempting food allergies, guests will be offered a pongo lumpia, the blueberry cream cheese mousse and the Pandora sunrise drink.
You will be informed that on Pandora the focus is on being one with nature and that importance goes all the way to the reusable utensils. This begins a conversation on how the Na'vi have lived with the land since their very beginning and how we humans are learning how to do the same on Pandora and back on Earth. With such an importance on nature, it is time for some nature related gifts.
You and your fellow guests will all be given a bag themed to Pandora Ecotours. Inside, you will find a pair of the yellow Avatar themed binoculars that are available in Windtraders. You will also find a steel Pandora Ecotours mug and a translator device to help understand the Navi language. The binoculars will be used to study the mountains details and other small elements from afar. The mug is used to encourage guests to own reusable drink containers and steer clear of one-time-use items like straws. The translator device, with its Na'vi language trading cards, will be useful throughout the tour as guests learn more words and phrases.
This bag, to the best of my knowledge, has only been given out to Animal Kingdom Cast Members. With a large stock already existing, this would be an easy and exclusive item to give to guests. Inside could also be a ticket for 20% off merchandise in Windtraders after the tour.
From the food samplings and gifts back to the heart of the land. You and your fellow guests will be lead to the floating mountains of Pandora. You will take a side path near the Wilderness Explorers area where you will twist and wind around the fallen trees and ever-growing vines that reach up to the mountains. You will hear the insects of the land and get detailed looks at smaller plant life.
Then, the wow moment, you step under the floating mountains. You will be encouraged to look up, listening quietly to the land breathing as you watch the swaying of the vines. In this area you will also be shown the lo'a (totem) of the banshee, the skeleton of the direhorse and examine the nearby plants.
From here you will be taken down to the ceremony drum area where Swotu Wayä occurs. Guests will be encouraged the play the drums and learn the importance of continuing the Na'vi songs. This private showing of Swotu Wayä will end with the sounds of the horns from the Na'vi coming from the nearby highlands.
Next, you have a part of the tour that is based solely on operations and maintenance, riding the Na'vi River Journey and Avatar Flight of Passage. Having worked in attractions I know that random situations can happen to rides that are out of everyone's control. That being said, I will talk about how the tour could go one of two ways.
Option 1, the attractions are ready for guests on time like an average day in the parks. Most attractions are up and ready to go at least twenty-to-thirty minutes before park open. Avatar Flight of Passage does a great job of this actually, with it being open so early sometimes that guests are allowed into the land before actual park opening.
If this is the case, guests will be lead first to the Na'vi River Journey where the queue's backstory will be explained. Guests will be told about Alpha Centauri Expeditions and how they teamed up with the Pandora Conservation Initiative to create this visit to Pandora. Guests will be separated into their individual parties within the tour group with each being given their own boat(s). This way each guest is guaranteed a ride without having to worry about someone they don't know talking or otherwise disturbing the experience.
Once you have experienced the Na'vi River Journey the tour guides will give a brief overview of what you just experienced, from the plant and animal life to seeing the Shaman of Songs with your own eyes. The guides will give a brief translation of the song you heard so you can better appreciate the attraction and its importance to understanding the Na'vi and their culture.
Next, you and the rest of your group will be lead to the entrance of Avatar Flight of Passage. You will be taken through the queue, stopping for a photo-op near the waterfall bridge. You will look at the other lo'as (totems) on the outdoor walkway and learn about the major importance of the banshees, or as the Na'vi call them, ikrans.
Speaking of banshees/ikrans, you will enter a cave filled with paintings by the the Na'vi. You will see the infamous orange Toruk sprawling across the cavern walls. You will be lead from this place to where the rock was cut by a drilling machine. The queue continues into a small sampling of the bioluminescent life that thrives in Pandora. At the end of the room is a lab, another milestone in your journey to learn more about this land.
An Avatar! Thought to only be real on screen is right before your very eyes. You will be given time to take photos and explore everything in the lab. You will see the skeleton of a banshee and learn how the ecosystem of Pandora is supported from the fan lizard to the ikran. You will be lead from the lab into the last section of the queue where you can see how your height compares to that of a Na'vi or their human-driven counterparts an Avatar.
Since guests must be 44" tall to ride the attraction guests will be double checked. First, outside the attraction as a warning that while the tour is open to all, the ride is restrictive to certain body shapes and sizes. Guests are also encouraged to try out the test seat to make sure the restraints will properly fit. The second check is inside at the end of the queue. This is simply for safety and will be done by an attractions Cast Member. Once everyone is verified the group will be split into three groups. Again, ride operations can never be guaranteed, and the attraction can hold a max of 48 guests in one section at a time. In the off chance that a seat or section is out, guests will be taken through in separate waves to ensure individual groups are together and given a great experience. "Once we do that, you’ll be able to link to that avatar, and, uh, fly." - Dr. Stevens
After your journey, you are lead back into the land having experienced a flight like no other. But, what if one or both of the attractions are down that morning?
Option 2, thanks to the power of My Disney Experience and FastPass+ the problem can be solved swiftly. If just one of the attractions is down the tour will continue with the other attraction in hopes that the first will be fixed in the mean-time. If it does not the guests will be given a one-time use multi-experience FastPass that is good for that attraction. The same applies if neither of the attractions are working at that time in the morning. Either way, guests will be taken through the queues and given the backstory of each attraction. The tour guide will fully explain the FastPass+ multi-experience procedures and how to not accidentally use them on another attraction. Either way, guests will either be able to use their Fastpasses on both Pandora attractions or be taken onto the rides during their tour.
In the course of two hours you will learn about the vast plant and animal life in the Valley of Mo'ara on Pandora. You will taste strange and delicious flavors from the Satu'li Canteen. You will receive a themed bag with keepsakes inside. You will get a private showing of Swotu Wayä and learn about the backstory of both attractions. And, whether during the tour or after, you will FastPass your way through both attractions for an expedited way to experience the land's ride offerings.
Eywa'eveng - A Discovery Tour of Pandora will offer a new way for guests to learn the incredible story of Pandora and the World of Avatar that has been brought to life by James Cameron, the Avatar film team and the Walt Disney Imagineers. It will be able to make good use of the overstock of Pandora themed bags and offer merchandise that fits in the story of the tour and land. It will invite guests to learn more and explore with culinary tastings and facts about the heavily themed land. And, for a grand finale, it will feature quick access onto the two incredible attractions. This will allow guests to buy their way in without having to worry about the queues and it will keep the tour sales coming with a cheaper option to bypass the line than VIP Tour Guides.
Why this lanyard? The colors represented here are heavily used throughout the Cast Member costumes for both of the Pandora attractions. The colors focus on greens and blues which takes inspiration from nature. These colors are seen throughout the film from the luscious green forests to the blue Na'vi. The blue underline for Eywa'eveng is a subtle hint to the blue focused Pandora, helping guests to learn before the tour even begins. Yes, Eywa'eveng is done in a modified Papyrus font. This is the toned down Papyrus font that was used in marketing materials and harkens back to the original font used in the first Avatar film. The green wording is meant to be easily legible but also to hide in comparison to the two important words above and below it. The Pandora logo is left as is, with the only change being the alteration of its color to fit the lanyard.
Fan of the photos in this project? They were all taken/edited by me, Tharin White, and you can see many more on my Daily Photography Account.
Thank you so much for reading about this proposed Pandora The World of Avatar tour. I hope, if anything, it inspires you to dive deeper into the heart of this land the next time you make the 4.4 lightyear journey to Pandora.