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Avatar Experience Coming to Disneyland | Details & Info

There have been a ton of new projects announced for the Disney parks in recent weeks, but perhaps none more interesting than the Avatar experience coming to Disneyland.

Avatar attraction Disneyland Concept Art

During a Walt Disney Company earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that a new Avatar Experience is coming to the Disneyland Resort as part of the Disneyland Forward project that has been in the works for a few years.

In this post, we are going to share everything we know so far about the Avatar experience, where it is going to be located in Disneyland, what will be included and when it is expected to open.

Walt Disney Imagineering did an incredible job with Pandora: The World of Avatar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and it is arguably the most immersive land they have ever created. You can understand why we are thrilled to find out that something similar could be coming to Disneyland.

Of course, details are scarce right now about what exactly will be included in this project, and it’s important to remember that nothing Disney has shared with us so far is written in stone. Even the concept art is just that, “concept”, and things may look much differently over the coming months and years as work begins.

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February at Walt Disney World

A few years back, the Disneyland Forward project coming to the Disneyland Resort was announced as a way to add additional attractions, dining, shopping and experiences to a land-challenged theme park resort. As of this writing, we haven’t gotten the full details of what’s actually included in Disneyland Forward, but we do know that more info is coming shortly.

It’s of note that Bob Iger recently talked about Disneyland Forward and said that the project is in the final stages of approval before it goes before the Anaheim City Counsel later this month. Before we explain what this Avatar experience could be, it’s important to know that if the Disneyland Forward plans are not approved, then this new experience/attraction will not be getting built.

However, the fact that Disney has already shared the concept art with the public means that they are pretty confident it will get approved and construction will begin soon. Now, on to the announcement…

Bob Iger shared a first-look blue sky concept art for the Avatar Experience and what guest may be able to see up close in the near future.

Pandora: the World of Avatar in Disney World

Here is what Iger said: “You’ve heard me mention before our intention to bring Avatar to Disneyland and our Imagineers have been hard at work dreaming up what guests might expect. And today I’m excited to give you a first look at the creative inspiration for this possible new destination.

James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water, which will be one of the most successful films of the quarter, became the fourth biggest film of all time globally with close to $2.2 billion earned in the box office to date. The global polarity of this film will result in the creation of more opportunities for fans to engage with the franchise.

They have been doing well at Walt Disney World’s Pandora: World of Avatar, as well as in theaters globally and on Disney+, the first film is delivering very strong numbers. Today I am thrilled to announce that we will be bringing an exciting Avatar experience to Disneyland. We will be sharing more details on that very soon.

Avatar represents yet another core franchise for the company and as you have seen, time and time again, we have a unique way of leveraging creative success.

water at night in Pandora: The World of Avatar

So what exactly is this “Avatar Experience”? And why are they calling it an experience and not an attraction or a land?

I don’t know exactly why Iger keeps referring to it as an “experience”, but one look at the new concept art would suggest that it is in fact a land. To me it looks pretty big, and there is at least one attraction in the middle and what looks like a restaurant as well.

I think what happened is that the project has evolved with time and maybe in the beginning something smaller was planned. However, with Disney now feeling the pressure that Universal has been applying over the past year+, it may have now upgraded to a full-fledged land.

What Will the Avatar Land Include?

If we take a closer look at the concept art Disney shared, we get a better idea of what we can expect, and if my estimations are correct, it’s going to be epic!

Avatar attraction Disneyland Concept Art ride vehicle

It’s pretty obvious that this new “land” is going to have at least one E-Ticket attraction, and a water-based one at that. It also takes up a pretty big footprint of space.

There is a big body of water in the foreground that the ride vehicles are moving through, but even in the background, you see the boats coming out of what looks like an indoor show building (more on that in a moment).

While we don’t have a full-sized floating mountains like at the Animal Kingdom, this area looks more like the second Avatar film, “Avatar: The Way of Water.” Even in the far background, it looks like you can see the ocean, and he roofs of the buildings to the left are very similar to the new tribe of Na’vi that was introduced in that movie.

To the very far left, it looks like the entrance to a restaurant of sorts. Perhaps Disneyland will get its own version of the Satu’li Canteen? It makes sense if this is a full land we will get at least one restaurant here, the only question is if it will be quick service or sit-down.

Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure Shanghai Disneyland

Now back to the attraction. The ride vehicles look very familiar, perhaps the same as the ones from the blockbuster attraction in Shanghai Disneyland, Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure.

Yes, I think we are getting an Avatar-themed version of this ride in Disneyland. The length of the vehicles looks the same. They both have what looks like 5 seats across the vehicle, and even the seats from what I can tell look the same.

Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure ride vehicles in Shanghai Disneyland

This would be an absolute show-stopper and it would make sense to use this unique ride system to explore the underwater world of the Avatar sequels. Just imagine going underwater and coming face to face with the Tulkun! I am fully onboard for this one.

I also am dreaming of seeing what Disney Imagineers can do with this land at night. The nighttime potential a land like this would have is off the charts. Cars Land is already tough to top at California Adventure, but the bioluminescent lights of Pandora may be the only thing that could beat it.


Next, we need to know the location. If the Disneyland Forward project get approved, it will go somewhere in the newly marked space across Disneyland Drive from Disney California Adventure and Disneyland Park, also located right near the Disneyland Hotel and Pixar Place Hotel.

If it goes here, it would be the full-fledged Avatar Land we see in the new concept art.

Disneyland Resort Expansion project map

If Disneyland Forward is not approved and it ends up being on a much smaller scale, things change a bit. Even though it’s probably not thematically correct, it seems likely that this new Avatar Land/Experience will go in Disney California Adventure. Stage 17 is now gone in Hollywood Land, which is a huge space that could definitely hold an Avatar-based ride.

My only question is if Disneyland Forward is approved and this new land finds itself on the other side of Disneyland Drive, how are they going to get people from Disneyland Park and California Adventure over there without breaking the theme park atmosphere.

The way it looks from the proposed map is that the top section of this new area will belong to Disneyland Park, while the lower section will be connected to California Adventure. The only way this could work thematically for me is if there were some kind of underground tunnel that takes you there, without having to dodge cars while running across the street.

Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure Shanghai Disneyland

I’ll have to dig deeper into the plans so far for Disneyland Forward and see if there is anything mentioned about how to connect these theme park areas. If they are connected, it also makes it much easier for gets to get back to their room who are staying at these two hotels.

Lastly, we checked the needed space for an Avatar ride similar to the Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure ride in Shanghai Disneyland. Pirates uses a space of 3.5 acres, which includes the ride, queue and gift shop.

Even if they decided to put this near the entrance to Stage 17 and the Hollywood Backlot, there is over 7 acres there they could easily utilize for this. So it may be possible to stick a whole land over there if need be.

Opening Date

water in Pandora: The World of Avatar

Lastly, the big question is: “When will the new Avatar Land/Experience open?” Unfortunately, Disney hasn’t commented on this at all, and we are still years away from it becoming a reality.

First, you need to keep in mind that a final version of the project may not even be approved yet, and things are still hanging on the Disneyland Forward proposal. Disney is notoriously slow at building new attractions and lands, especially ones that look this in-depth and thematically rich.

Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom took 5 years to build from the original announcement, which seems to be about the standard nowadays for new lands. Of course, this likely will not be on the same scale as the WDW version, but I think anything less than 3 years is really wishful thinking.

Floating Mountains Pandora: The World of Avatar Animal Kingdom

My initial guess is that if construction starts by the end of 2024, we may be fortunate enough have it completed by 2027, but 2028 or later is likely if it becomes the full land. It’s just too early to really tell.

Hopefully, by the time the D23 Disney Fan Event comes in August, we will have many more details about the project, and we will know the size and scope, and when construction is expected to begin. Once that happens we can make a much more educated guess to when it may open.

That wraps up our look at the potential Avatar Land and Experience. I’m sure we’ll be finding out more info in the coming months so stay tuned for more!

If you are going to Disney World soon, make sure to read our Disney World Planning Guide for all the tips and info you will need to cover everything! Also, check out our Disney World Crowd Calendar so you know when the best time to visit is!

Your Thoughts

I want to know what you think about the proposed Avatar expansion coming to Disneyland Resort…

  • What would you like to see included here?
  • What are your favorite attraction ideas for the land?

Let us know in the comments section below!

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