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Pandora unveiled: First images of Walt Disney World's Avatar attraction

By Karla Cripps, CNN
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Mon October 14, 2013
Due to open in 2017, Walt Disney World Resort's Avatar-themed land is being developed as part of massive expansion plans at the Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Florida. This artist rendering shows a jungle of bioluminescent plants, alive with light and sound, that guests will experience at night. Due to open in 2017, Walt Disney World Resort's Avatar-themed land is being developed as part of massive expansion plans at the Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Florida. This artist rendering shows a jungle of bioluminescent plants, alive with light and sound, that guests will experience at night.
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Disney brings Pandora to life
Master your own banshee
First look at Disney's Avatar-themed land
Creating the Avatar experience
Expanding the Animal Kingdom
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Avatar-themed attraction set to open at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom in 2017
  • Design renderings depict guests experiencing Pandora's floating mountains and bioluminescent plants
  • Three sequels to the "Avatar" movie are planned for release in 2016, 2017 and 2018

(CNN) -- When James Cameron's box office smasher "Avatar" first hit theaters in 2009, fans couldn't stop raving about the special effects used to bring Pandora, the beautiful home of the blue-skinned Na'vi, to the big screen.

Disney, which has stepped up to give visitors a real-life version of Pandora, just announced that Avatar land -- yet to receive an official name -- will open in 2017 at Walt Disney World Resort's Animal Kingdom.

Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs unveiled the first images of the park during the D23 Expo at Tokyo Disney Resort over the weekend.

"As these concept renderings show in epic scale, in the world of Avatar guests will encounter awe-inspiring floating mountains and wander through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants that are alive with light and sound," said Staggs in a blog post.

James Cameron's scientific discovery
No instant access for disabled at Disney

"Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a banshee."

The Avatar-themed land is being developed by Walt Disney Imagineering alongside filmmaker Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment. Disney first announced plans for the attraction back in September 2011.

"As I walked through the park, I kept imagining Pandora coming to life all around me and found my mind racing with all the possibilities of what we will be able to create in the years ahead," said Cameron during his site visit in October that year.

"Disney's Animal Kingdom is truly a remarkable place and I can't think of a better home for our first Avatar experience."

As part of the largest expansion in the history of the Animal Kingdom park, which opened at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida in 1998, Disney will also be adding new entertainment experiences including a night show with music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery, said Staggs.

More Avatar movies to come

"Avatar" is the world's highest grossing movie of all time, bringing in more than $2.7 billion worldwide.

In July, Fox announced the studio will release three sequels. Production will begin in 2014, with the movies due for release in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

When the first "Avatar" was released, many fans reportedly experienced depression because they longed to enjoy the beauty of Pandora themselves.

Should a similar phenomenon occur following the next three releases, they'll have a place to go to sate their cravings.

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