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AVATAR Expansion Announcement

13 Oct

As most of you might already know, Disney unveiled their plan for Animal Kingdom’s AVATAR-themed world late Friday night at Japan’s D23 Expo. (No, not the airbending Avatar cartoon. The Avatar with the tall blue people.)

In a statement on the Disney Parks blog, Tom Staggs, Chairman of Walk Disney Parks and Resorts, said the company will be working closely with James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment to bring Pandora to life.

Newly revealed concept art for AVATAR expansion in WDW Animal Kingdom

Newly revealed concept art for AVATAR expansion in WDW Animal Kingdom

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And speaking of bringing things to life, it was also announced the Tree of Life would be getting a facelift. As a part of the new nighttime “spectacular” planned for Animal Kingdom, the Tree of Life will be getting lights.

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Don’t hold your breath for Wishes-style fireworks, though. I don’t think they’ll be doing those ever due to the animals. There will also be a nighttime version of Kilamanjaro Safaris (I wonder how the animals feel about working later hours…).

In a comment, Staggs said the projected opening will be sometime in 2017. Best of luck to the Imagineers, because the concept art looks amazing!

Personally, this seems like an idea I should hate. What connection did Disney ever really have to Cameron’s AVATAR in the first place? But, looking at the concept art, I know I’ll be so giddy whenever they develop more. I’m sold.

Scariest Disney Attractions

6 Sep

Since I’ve started at Stitch’s Great Escape!, there’s no telling how many small children and parents I’ve escorted out of the chamber right before the show starts. The show could be set to begin and suddenly, up pops little Johnny who makes a bee-line for the door. He’s followed by his exasperated mom who asks for the nearest exit and a non-thrill attraction little Johnny can enjoy. I send them to Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor before heading back inside to start the show.

To avoid situations such as these, I’ve compiled a list of the scariest attractions WDW has to offer. You might scoff at some of these, but please remember everyone has different fears. What seems harmless to one kid might scare the pants off another.

1) Stitch’s Great Escape! – I adore Stitch, and I’m not saying that because I work there. The attraction continues a great story that entertains a wide range of Guests. It remains stationary and includes amazing special effects. However, it gets pitch-black dark. You will not be able to see your hand in front of your face (and you CANNOT pull out your cell phone for light. DO NOT BE THAT PERSON. I WILL escort you out of the chamber). In addition to utter darkness, you’ll be harness into a seat where Stitch can mess with you however he pleases. He’s innocuous compared to when the attraction was still Alien Encounter (and if you’ve seen Alien, you can only imagine how terrifying that monster would be escaped in a dark room…)

2) Tower of Terror – Fun personal story about Tower: I chickened out the first tiem I attempted it. Dad and I were at the elevator doors about to board and I couldn’t do it. The same thing happened to a coworker of mine this week when we tried to get her on the ride for her first time. Luckily, a Cast Member takes you down the real service elevator to the exit. Most Guests think as soon as you load the elevators, you drop. Nope. The suspense builds as your elevator mosesy through darkly lit hotel corridors with trippy Twilight Zone effects.

3) DINOSAUR – Kids love dinosaurs. It’s a phase 99.9 percent of all children go through. There are two kinds of dinosaurs: the adorable ones (Rex from Toy Story, Land Before Time, 2000’s Dinosaur) and the ones that will rip you to shreds (Jurassic Park’s raptors). The dinos featured in Animal Kingdom’s DINOSAUR attraction are the latter. If your kid will have problems with this big guy chasing your time rover around, you might want to opt for Chester and Hester’s Dino Land instead.

4) The Haunted Mansion – Yeah, yeah, I know. The Haunted Mansion is essentially a kid’s parody of a haunted house. But the skeleton that pops out behind the tombstone during the graveyard scene still makes me jump.

5) It’s a Bug’s Life – The only reason I’m putting this one on the list is one scene. Those who’ve seen the Pixar film know about the movie’s villain, despicable Hopper the grasshopper. In the show, Hopper makes an appearance. Upset with Flik for allowing humans to enter into bug territory, Hopper sets to destroy the audience like they do bugs. There’s a very thick smoke effect to replicate bug spray during this segment, followed by large animatronic spiders dangling feet from the heads of audience members.

6) Expedition Everest – Easily the best coaster in all of WDW, it’s also one of the most terrifying attractions. The audio-animatronic Yeti that you encounter when you least expect it can give even the bravest mountain explorer nightmares. It used to be worse: the Yeti was meant to take a swipe at Guests as the train passed underneath him. However, the Yeti got a little too close to the trains for Imagineers’ comfort, so they made him a stationary figure.

Parents, please understand what terrifies your kids before getting in line. Also, read the clearly marked descriptions of an attraction or ask a Cast Member before boarding. It’ll make everyone’s day a little more magical.

Ever get the pants scared off of you by a Disney attraction? Feel free to comment below. Also, comment with any attractions I missed that you find particularly chill-inducing.