Behind The Scenes Of Walt Disney World’s Newest Attraction, Pandora – The World Of Avatar
Have you ever hiked under a floating mountain or floated down a mystical river? Walt Disney World’s Pandora – The World of Avatar challenges everything you thought you knew about possibilities. As the newest land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park and the largest addition in its history, Pandora – The World of Avatar is a whole new world beyond belief, based on the epic film, AVATAR.
Creating magic for thousands of families is an everyday part of life at Walt Disney World and for Djuan Rivers, Vice President of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, being a magician is part of his job.
Rivers, a native of Orlando, began his Disney career in high school as an hourly Cast Member on Main Street, U.S.A. After graduating from Emory University, he returned to Disney and has held various roles around the world – like leading the team at Aulani, a Disney Vacation Club Resort in beautiful Hawaii – and throughout different divisions of the company.
In 2014, Rivers was appointed Vice President of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. “I’m so proud to be a part of this park and joined at a pivotal time when we were transforming the experience into both the day and nighttime,” he shared in a recent interview with BlackDoctor.org. “I have truly enjoyed being a part of this incredible company and working alongside our talented Cast.”
Djuan Rivers takes BlackDoctor.org behind the scenes of Pandora – The World of Avatar to share what makes this new land the perfect adventure for explorers of all ages.
BlackDoctor.org: What was your involvement with the creation of Pandora – The World of Avatar?
Pandora – The World of Avatar represents the largest expansion at Disney’s Animal Kingdom since we opened in 1998 and is the most immersive land Disney Parks has created to date. I led the opening team and overall operations effort, partnering with our Imagineers and many others across the Disney company as well as Lightstorm Entertainment to bring the land to life and create a seamless guest experience. It’s been one of my proudest moments.
The Cast are a big piece of the storytelling at all of our parks, so we made sure they felt knowledgeable about the story of Pandora and its role at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Cast Members were immersed in the Na’vi (characters in the film) culture, by learning about their language, environment and way of life. One example is the way Cast Members welcome guests with the common Na’vi word for hello – Kaltxi (kahl-T’IH).
While guests will enjoy Pandora’s amazing expeditions and stunning floating mountains, one of the many things they will remember when they return home are the Cast Members who helped create magical memories during their Disney vacation.
BlackDoctor.org: What is the story behind Pandora – The World of Avatar? How did the idea come about and why was this attraction created?
Pandora – The World of Avatar found its perfect home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom because it expands on the message of conservation that pulses throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The land and the park itself both celebrate the intrinsic value of nature, the transformation that comes from encountering the natural world, and both the film and the park inspire personal calls to action. AVATAR is the perfect fit for Disney because it shares the same core beliefs of storytelling around family, loyalty, living in harmony and a belief in oneself.