4. Expansions & Other Future Additions
Since its release in 2009, Avatar has grossed over $2.5 billion worldwide, and as such, remains the second highest-grossing film of all time. So it's no surprise then, that four sequels are due for release over the next 7 years, with each one hitting theaters two years apart, starting in December 2022. What is a surprise, is that there are currently no plans for extensions at Walt Disney World's Pandora - The World of Avatar. While, of course, this doesn't rule out the fact that no such thing will happen over the next few years, it's likely that fans will eventually be looking for a little more, especially when the film's sequels start rolling out and offering up new worlds, all the while pioneering new ground-breaking technology.
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, on the other hand, is due something of an upgrade. While the themed land is fairly new itself, next year, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will be docking with Disney's Hollywood Studios, and interconnecting with the world of Batuu. The resort hotel (of sorts), will offer guests an immersive 2-night experience at the 'Halcyon', a Starcruiser that promises to take you to the faraway galaxy, with opportunities to forge your own unique Star Wars story. With that said, a recent announcement confirmed prices at around $5,000 per night, which has left many fans understandably scoffing. But either way, even if it's not all about size, it looks like Batuu is definitely winning the expansion race.
5. Character Experiences & Sightings
These days, character experiences are something of a sore subject at Walt Disney World, given the ongoing global pandemic, which has resulted in the suspension of character greetings. But when it comes to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, there's still no shortage of familiar faces. Looking at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance alone, you'll see the likes of Kylo Ren, Rey Skywalker, BB-8, General Hux, an entire company of First Order Troopers, and more. You'll even get to see Hondo Ohnaka before you board the Millennium Falcon.
This is where Pandora - The World of Avatar is lacking. While an insightful and engaging experience, the Pandora Rangers, who, in their 10-foot-tall Exo-Carrier Utility Suits, interact with guests, remain temporarily unavailable. Beyond that, there are no other 'character' experiences, which is unfortunate, as the film certainly isn't short on interesting characters. However, it certainly makes up for this with audio-animatronics. There's a frighteningly real Avatar-Na'vi suspended in a tank in the queuing system for Avatar Flight of Passage, while Na'vi River Journey hosts a jaw-dropping audio-animatronic in the form of the Shaman of Song, both of which put the two themed lands at a tie in this category.
So, which is the best faraway galaxy at Walt Disney World? In the world of film and television, it's fair to say that Star Wars always comes out on top (though in Avatar's defense, it's currently only one-film-strong). Where the resort is concerned, however, we think Pandora - The World of Avatar takes the title. After all, with its jaw-dropping aesthetics and bioluminescent features, the themed land feels like it's been cut right out of the tropical exoplanetary moon itself.
And then there are the attractions - while Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance are definitely worth writing home about, Avatar: Flight of Passage and Na'vi River Journey are perhaps two of the most immersive and innovative experiences at Walt Disney World. Let's just hope that Pandora - The World of Avatar continues to grow - and with four films set to release in theaters over the next 7 years, we'd be very surprised if it didn't.