Disney opened its impressive, immersive Pandora: The World of Avatar park last year, allowing visitors to go to go and experience the world of James Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar. Disney announced that it’s making a rather cool addition to the the park: a towering, walking mech suit that will be piloted by actors.
The 12-acre park features its own story set a generation after the film, in a place called the Valley of Mo’ara, where tourists are brought to the planet via a company called Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE). They get to explore the planet’s ecosystem and even take control of an Avatar to fly a wild Banshee. Now, they’ll get to encounter an actor operating the giant robotic suit, known as the Pandora Utility Suit, who will “tell the story of Pandora and their experience and what it’s like to be on this planet,” according to Show Director Tony Giordano. They look impressive, topping out at 10 feet in height, and feature articulated hands and movable limbs
The Disney Parks Blog showed off a behind-the-scenes video of the suit in action, and Giordano says that it “was like Christmas when I saw the suit walk towards me, and [heard] the guy talking to me, telling me about Pandora.” Last year, Bryan Bishop wrote that theme parks like Disney’s Pandora park are the next step in immersive entertainment, allowing visitors to viscerally experience the worlds that they’re a fan of. These suits — real walking mechs — look as though they’re really something out of James Cameron’s fictional world, and should really drive home the feeling of being on Pandora.
The suits are a bit different from the Amplified Mobility Platform (AMP) mech suits seen in the film: “these are actually suits that have been developed by scientists to go out into the wilderness to explore the plant life and the animals,” explains Executive Producer Laura Offerdahl.
According to Disney, once the suit is deployed to the park on April 22nd, it’ll traverse “the land daily, its pilot will interact with guests, share details about the land’s otherworldly landscape, and highlight the importance of preserving nature.” Let’s hope it doesn’t fall on someone.