Avatar’s Avatar at Disney Animal Kingdom

Avatar at Disney Animal Kingdom

We have an interesting insight into a major component of Pandora-The World of Avatar, opening soon at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. There are two major attractions in this entirely new land. One of them is the Na’vi River Journey. We learned something very interesting about this ride. But we should offer you first a spoiler alert. This is about a very special avatar at Disney Animal Kingdom. You may want to jump below if you don’t want to find out about some of the behind-the-scenes magic coming to this new attraction.

Avatar at Disney Animal Kingdom
The Na’vi River Journey.

If you’re not familiar with this new major attraction opening at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you will climb aboard a reed boat and drift downstream through the Valley of Mo’ara. You will be immersed in a sacred bioluminescent rain forest, searching for the Na’vi Shaman of Songs. As you approach, you will hear the song of this Shaman. The climax will be when you meet face to face, and will witness the Shaman’s intense connection to the life force of Pandora. It will send positive energy into the forest through the power of her music.

Needless to say, this encounter with the Shaman is huge–as is the Shaman herself! It is the highlight of the entire ride experience. Therefore, having this experience is critical to the story of your voyage down this river. This is an advanced audio animatronic character–so real–you will think she is human. Just take a look:

The character appears so real that Disney poked fun at the animatronic acting like an actress delivering the lines. This is how authentic the detail is to this figure, and how very central it will be to the entire attraction. It’s important that guests not only experience the Shaman, but that the Shaman’s performance–or lack thereof–doesn’t prevent the attraction from running, therefore creating a disappointing river journey.

On that note, for those of you who like me are gaming deficient, what is an Avatar? There are a couple of definitions but one meaning is an icon or figure representing a particular person in computer games, internet forums, etc. You see this with Disney’s Infinity Gaming System, where you choose a Disney/Pixar/Marvel/Lucas character to represent you in the game experience.

Avatar at Disney Animal Kingdom
Characters in the Disney Infinity Gaming System

In the other new attraction going into Pandora-The World of Avatar, you will be scanned and matched to your very own avatar. In doing so, it will make you feel like you are flying on your very own Banshee, appealing to your senses during this experience. So in that sense, you will have your own avatar at Disney Animal Kingdom.

Avatar at Disney Animal Kingdom
Riding a Banshee in Flights of Passage.

But is this the only avatar in Pandora-The World of Avatar at Disney Animal Kingdom?

Would it surprise you that the Shaman in the Na’vi River Journey has an avatar? Yes, the avatar has an avatar. What do I mean? The animatronic for this is so critical that imagineers have spent serious money not only to create it, but to replace it when it doesn’t function correctly. In this new attraction, should the animatronic experience some failure, they are capable of pulling the figure back, throwing down a screen in front of it, and then displaying the character in the form of…you guessed it…an avatar. This way, the ride will not be dependent on whether the character is up and running. If for some reason the animatronic goes down…the show still goes on. So, the Shaman has it’s own avatar at Disney Animal Kingdom.

End of Spoiler Alert

What Are Your Avatars?

The truth is that great organizations like Disney think about backups all the time. It wouldn’t surprise you that there are understudies for major roles in attractions like Finding Nemo The Musical. There are backups or understudies found throughout Disney–and not just actors as substitute for other actors. At The Tower of Terror, some 80 computer systems serve the attraction, many of them providing backup systems to check and double check what the ride system is doing at any moment. Even the flowers at Disney have understudies so that no flower is left wilting in public, as we noted in this earlier blog.

Avatar at Disney Animal Kingdom
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney at Work Souvenirs

While Pandora-The World of Avatar at Disney Animal Kingdom will have its own gift shop, we offer a few souvenirs that you can take back to your own operation:

  • Do you have an Avatar? Do you have a backup or understudy?
  • Can you consistently look like the show is ready to go?
  • Is your business setting complete, or is there something missing?
  • Do you have enough to switch out those working closest to the customer in order to provide a break?
  • What do you need to have on hand to make sure that the products and services you offer are ready to go?

If you want to know more about how organizations need to back up their customer service, visit our World Class Benchmarking site for additional articles. And for more insights on customer service at Disney, check out The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney, available on Amazon. Disney at Work serves to provide you not only interesting insights into all things Disney, but takeaways that you can apply to your own organization.

Avatar at Disney Animal Kingdom
2nd Edition of The Wonderful World of Customer Service by J. Jeff Kober.

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