Taking a break from his work as the chief Imagineer developing adventures that will transport fans like us to the fictional world of Pandora at Avatar land now under development at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Joe Rohde has been on his own extended adventure traveling to real (and real remote) places in Mongolia. You can read about his expedition at his personal Website. I had the pleasure of briefly chatting with Rohde at an event to open an expansion at Aulani (I'll share more about that in the days to come), the wonderful Disney resort in Hawaii for which he took the lead in designing.
Rohde said that when Disney broke the news a few days ago and released some info about Avatar land, he was still in Mongolia. Catching a rare cell phone signal in the outer reaches of the country, he started getting tweets, emails, and other electronic missives about the project. Rohde flew directly from Mongolia to Hawaii for the Aulani event. I couldn't resist peppering the weary traveler with a few questions of my own about the secretive Avatar land.
While he didn't divulge much, he did clear up a few misconceptions and provide a few bits of info about the ambitious project. For example, it has been widely rumored that the land's E-Ticket attraction, which will simulate an airborne ride aboard a Pandoran banshee creature, would use a ride system patterned after the popular Soarin' attractions at Epcot and Disney California Adventure. Rohde said that there might be some similarities, but that the Avatar attraction would be "considerably more thrilling" than Soarin' and incorporate some new, groundbreaking features. He also said that even though the movie on which it is based is the most popular 3D film ever produced, his Imagineering team had not yet decided whether to render the media for the attraction in 3D. You can read more about Rohde's comments and get a general overview of the project in my updated preview of Avatar land.
Photo: Disney. Used with permission.