Disney’s newest theme park Pandora – The World of Avatar, opens in Florida this month, and, judging by recently released footage, the park’s animatronic characters will be frighteningly realistic. The video in question shows an animatronic Shaman of Songs who is a part of the park’s Na’vi River Journey, a boat ride that weaves people around and introduces them to characters of the forest planet. As he speaks the Na’vi language and slaps the luminescent fauna around him, the 10-foot robot moves and sways in a very authentic manner. It honestly looks like a real Na’vi, which is a bit confusing because the tribal blue aliens that use their USB-like tails to sync up with dragons and make love aren’t real. At least as far as we know.
Response to the video has been overwhelmingly positive, as viewers have been blown away by how amazing the Shaman looks. The whole thing mirrors another ride that featured groundbreaking animatronics: It’s a Small World. That boat ride through robotic representations of children of the world may seem outdated now, but when it first came to Disneyland it was a massive success. The ride, which debuted at the 1964 World’s Fair before being installed at Disneyworld, was ahead of its time technologically and quickly became a cultural mainstay.
Will the Na’vi have the same staying power? Only time will tell. Pandora is set to open in Disneyworld’s Animal Kingdom on May 27, and its two major attractions will be the Na’vi River Journey and a ride called Avatar Flight of Passage. James Cameron is also making four Avatar sequels in the coming years. So, regardless of reception, that the tall blue aliens won’t be going away anytime soon.