Disney Offically Breaks Ground on Animal Kingdom’s AVATAR-inspired land

Last week, Disney officially broke ground on  the largest Animal Kingdom expansion in the Park’s history, an AVATAR-insprired land, with a ceremony which included large blue Na’vi-inspired shovels.

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Check out the video:

Still not excited about the AVATARland expansion – read below:

If untitledyou have ever felt that Disney’s Animal Kingdom was incomplete, or “missing” something, it’s probably because the original plans for the park included plans for another land called “Beastly Kingdom”.  The park concept was to have lands for all animals – those that exist in reality today (Safari), those that did exist but are now extinct (Dinoland) and those that only exist in fantasy. When the park opened in April 1998, given budget constraints and concerns over conservation, “Beastly Kingdom” was put on hold and a placeholder “Camp Minnie-Mickey” was put in its place.   If you look closely around the park today however there are several places where you can find leftover elements from the plans for this “Beastly Kingdom”.   Most prominently, a silhouette of a dragon appears in the park’s logo.   Also the next time you are standing in line waiting to enter the park notice the three large heads over the entrance of the park/ticket booths, the Elephant, the Triceratops and the Dragon.

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Disney seemed to put a placeholder for these mythical creatures in place when they constructed Expedition Everest which has been home to the Yeti since 2006.  Over the years concepts and rumors regarding a larger Fantasy inspired expansion have come and gone.  In September 2011 though, an announcement was made that Disney was working with James Cameron on Avatarland which would consist of elements of both his original movie and the subsequent two.   Nearly two years later the plans for that land seem to be moving forward as recently Disney has released some concept art and rough timelines for completion (early 2017). 

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In the world of AVATAR you will encounter awe-inspiring floating mountains and wander through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants found on Pandora (the planet from the film).

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Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee (a mythical winged creature that lives on Pandora)

One of the other major drawbacks to Animal Kingdom since its opening has been the limited park hours.  Since the park was only open during daylight hours and had no nighttime entertainment many guests would refer to this park a “half-day park”.  Along with this expansion of the new AVATAR-inspired land, for the first time ever, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will also offer a new nighttime spectacular where live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery all combine to bring a show to Discovery River.  The Park will introduce more nighttime entertainment as well, including live performers on Discovery Island® and a new nighttime version of the Kilimanjaro Safaris®.    With these changes on the horizon DWDads are looking forward to spending alot more time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. dtnemail-Avatar_4-92a23

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AVATARLAND to Bring Big Changes to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

If untitledyou have ever felt that Disney’s Animal Kingdom was incomplete, or “missing” something, it’s probably because the original plans for the park included plans for another land called “Beastly Kingdom”.  The park concept was to have lands for all animals – those that exist in reality today (Safari), those that did exist but are now extinct (Dinoland) and those that only exist in fantasy. When the park opened in April 1998, given budget constraints and concerns over conservation, “Beastly Kingdom” was put on hold and a placeholder “Camp Minnie-Mickey” was put in its place.   If you look closely around the park today however there are several places where you can find leftover elements from the plans for this “Beastly Kingdom”.   Most prominently, a silhouette of a dragon appears in the park’s logo.   Also the next time you are standing in line waiting to enter the park notice the three large heads over the entrance of the park/ticket booths, the Elephant, the Triceratops and the Dragon.

346036092_f2946f4ce4_z disneysignanimal08 4976254805_3bde565104_z

Disney seemed to put a placeholder for these mythical creatures in place when they constructed Expedition Everest which has been home to the Yeti since 2006.  Over the years concepts and rumors regarding a larger Fantasy inspired expansion have come and gone.  In September 2011 though, an announcement was made that Disney was working with James Cameron on Avatarland which would consist of elements of both his original movie and the subsequent two.   Nearly two years later the plans for that land seem to be moving forward as recently Disney has released some concept art and rough timelines for completion (early 2017). 

dtnemail-1Avatar_1-13876

dtnemail-Avatar_2-05dd5
In the world of AVATAR you will encounter awe-inspiring floating mountains and wander through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants found on Pandora (the planet from the film).

dtnemail-1Avatar_3-736fc

Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee (a mythical winged creature that lives on Pandora)

One of the other major drawbacks to Animal Kingdom since its opening has been the limited park hours.  Since the park was only open during daylight hours and had no nighttime entertainment many guests would refer to this park a “half-day park”.  Along with this expansion of the new AVATAR-inspired land, for the first time ever, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will also offer a new nighttime spectacular where live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery all combine to bring a show to Discovery River.  The Park will introduce more nighttime entertainment as well, including live performers on Discovery Island® and a new nighttime version of the Kilimanjaro Safaris®.    With these changes on the horizon DWDads are looking forward to spending alot more time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. dtnemail-Avatar_4-92a23

Disney PhotoPass 101

I was looking through pictures from our family Disney trip in 1992 recently and I noticed something very interesting.  My mother isn’t in many of the pictures from our trip, and there are not many pictures of the whole group of us.  Disney has tried to solve this issue by offering the Photopass program.   Throughout the Disney parks, there are dozens of professional photographers at the best locations who are waiting to capture your family photo.  These locations are usually character spots or great photo opportunities near the most iconic Disney Parks symbols.  The process is simple: the photographer takes your picture and then scans a Photopass card.  This card can be reused throughout your vacation by giving it to each Photopass photographer you come in contact with, but if you don’t have one on you, just ask for another one, as multiple cards can be added to your account.  On our last 5 day trip as a family of 4 we had over 500 pictures after adding various borders and Disney logos.

Photopass card

[HINT – When you receive your card, make sure to take a photo with your camera/phone of the back of the card as a backup in case you lose it. The numbers on the back are what you need to be enter into the site to load your pictures.]

Magic Shots

Some of you might be saying, “Couldn’t I just hand my own camera to the photographer to take our picture?” and the answer is “Yes, of course!”.  In fact, we have done this often, mainly due to the fact that the PhotoCD isn’t immediately available, and we like to share our photos with friends/family through social media and Photopass photographers are happy to oblige.  One of the main differences between your camera and the Photopass cameras are “Magic Shots”.   These photos are taken in specific poses and later a surprise (usually a character) is added directly to the photo.  It is a very cool feature that adds to your experience,

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Three examples of magic shots Chip, Stitch and Tinkerbell 
(Borders can be added to any picture online before ordering as well)

We have taken advantage of the PhotoCD through Disney in every one of our trips since it was offered.  Although it is an added expense, it takes the pressure off of taking out your camera and asking someone to take a photo of the whole family.   We still used our DSLR camera and iPhones for candids in places that there were not photographers, but some of our best shots were done by the professionals.

Pricing

PhotoCD 

Regularly $169 – Special offer – $119 (SAVE $50) http://www.disneyphotopass.com/specialoffers/wdwphotocdlearnmore.htm

The PhotoCD only includes the pictures taken after you have signed up for the offer.  So if you pre-order the CD it will create a credit for the CD in your Photopass account.  Once you have added all of your photos and editied them  with borders and other character enhancements, you will be able to download the pictures immediately using this credit for free, or ask for CDs to be mailed to you standard shipping for $4.95 extra.  If for some reason you change your mind for any reason at all, you can get a full refund within 90 days of your pre-order.  So this package is worth pre-ordering and you can decide later.

NOTE : You must register the serial number(s) of your PhotoPass(es) online within 30 days or they expire. Your photos are taken off the website exactly 30 days after you register.

PhotoPass+

Regularly $199 – Special offer – $149 (SAVE $50) http://www.disneyphotopass.com/specialoffers/wdwppp.htm

PhotoPass+ has all of the benefits of PhotoCD, with the added benefit of all of the pictures from attractions: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, Test Track (w/o PP+), Expedition Everest and Dinosaur.  The other benefit are the photos from select dining locations: 1900 Park Fare, Chef Mickey’s, ‘Ohana (breakfast), Tusker House (breakfast), Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue.   Cinderella’s Royal Table and Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall are also included although hard copy are already included in your meal cost, you can  add the photos to your PhotoCD.

Note: You must pre-order this at LEAST 14 days prior to your vaction as you will be getting a package in the mail with a voucher that you will need to use on your trip.