Iconic Imagineer Joe Rohde Shares Secrets of Disney World’s Pandora

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Joe Rohde

Pandora: The World of Avatar opened in 2017 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort outside Orlando, Florida.

Related: This Element of Pandora Is Actually Just a Massive Illusion

The land contains a quick-service restaurant, a walk-up bar, and two rides. Na’vi River Journey is a slow-moving boat ride featuring a massive animatronic Shaman of Songs, wooing Guests with a combination of gorgeous visuals and auditory details.

pandora at night
Credit: Disney

Avatar Flight of Passage allows Guests to board a banshee in an important Na’vi right of passage, combining 3-D elements and physical effects that leave fans of a similar ride, Soarin’ Around the World at EPCOT, stunned.

The ride regularly boasted three to four hour wait times in the year after it opened but has been experiencing some technical issues as of late. The projectors that make Pandora come to life have shifted, making for a blurry effect even when Guests wear the provided 3D glasses.

Pandora - The World of Avatar
Credit: Disney

Despite its flaws, Avatar Flight of Passage still hits nearly two-hour waits on busy Park days, making it one of the most popular attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Today, Retired Imagineer and Disney Legend Joe Rohde shared some secrets about Flight of Passage’s queue on Twitter. Not only did Rohde help design Pandora, inspired by James Cameron’s Avatar (2009), but he also imagined and designed the concept of Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

Joe Rohde explorer outfit
Credit: D23

A Disney fan, @Jamboeveryone on Twitter, shared a photo of some detailed drawings on the ceiling in the Flight of Passage queue, which Rohde quoted, writing:

Most of those are supposed to represent constellations as they might be seen from Pandora

He later provided more details, writing:

Since Pandora is a moon among other moons of Polyphemus, the apparent movement of celestial objects would be especially eccentric. We imagined them as mythical personalities. As a family of sorts. Polyphemus as one eyed maternal giant.

A Disney fan pointed out that the one-eyed maternal giant appeared to be BB-8, a beloved Star Wars droid. The fan even said a Cast Member had pointed it out to them on a previous visit to Flight of Passage. But Rohde was quick to correct the mistake, simply writing:

No. It’s Polyphemus

More on Avatar Flight of Passage

Flight of Passage
Credit: Disney

Avatar Flight of Passage is still the newest ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, making it one of the Park’s most technologically advanced and popular attractions. From Disney:

Climb atop a winged mountain banshee for a breathtaking 3D flight over Pandora’s otherworldly landscape.

Amazing Aerial Adventures Await

Board your own mountain banshee and embark on a thrilling expedition, where interstellar explorers like you get an up-close look at this moon’s incredible landscape.

Bonding with a banshee is a crucial step in the life of a Na’vi hunter on Pandora—and flying on the back of one of these powerful creatures is an important rite of passage.

Now, as a visitor to Pandora, you finally have the chance to test yourself like a Na’vi!

Credit: Disney

Have you ever noticed the details in the Flight of Passage queue? 

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