Rafiki’s Planet Watch To Become The Planet Pandora?

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Since the announcement of the AVATAR-land coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, there has been speculation as to where the it would go. Would Camp Minnie-Mickey finally be bulldozed, making use of the land once meant for Beastly Kingdom? Was the expansion plot behind Asia where the Nav’i would call home? We may finally have an answer…

The area marked in blue is what is now being rumored as the plot for the AVATAR-land expansion. If you know Animal Kingdom well, you will realize that a now-open guest area is included in the zone: Rafiki’s Planet Watch. It was recently announced that Jiminy Cricket and Pocohontas will no longer be conducting meet-and-greets in this location by December and it is being rumored that the entirety of Rafiki’s Planet Watch (Conservation Station, Affection Section, Habitat Habit!, and the Wildlife Express Train) will be closed  in January 2012.

This is just a rumor right now, but interestingly enough, this plan would save Camp Minnie-Mickey once again and make the AVATAR-land accessible only via Asia or Africa. It is possible that the track of the Wildlife Express Train will be recycled for some sort of transport into the world of AVATAR, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that idea. While we wait for confirmation on this breaking story, it sure is fun to imagine the possibilities. Stay tuned…

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About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]


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  • The problem I have with this rumor is that everything we have heard says the expansion will be 12 acres, even James Cameron has said this. The area highlighted in this picture is over 40 acres.

    • There may be space for expansion since the AVATAR franchise will be continuing on with more films and such, there also is the possibility that they now have a better idea of the size and scope of the project.

      • ahh.. its a shame they have to close the Planet Watch :(  although i do like the possibility of turning the train into a transport to avatar land.. especially if they went for broke and and made it like the hydrolators on steroids lol imagine boarding what looks like a space ship instead of a train.. fake windows inside could make it seem like your flying through space as your train is moving along the tracks.. then the doors open as you arrive on planet pandora.  Now of course a year after it opens they will offer a green version that just sits at the dock and never moves ;)

  • If true it would be very interesting to see how the train is used….  Does it stay, does it move does it take you to somwthing beyond the proposed new land.  (Not sure what's to the left of the track near the top of the blue area)

  • The only problem I see is how will they handle crowd flow to the new land if it's built in this location. Such a high-profile development is sure to generate huge crowds, and there are simply no walkways to that area, either from Africa itself or the pathway from Africa to Asia, that could handle those huge crowds as well as the crowd flow that currently exists. That little train won't do the job. There would be a need for larger restrooms and more refreshment stands in that area as well. 

    The only reason I can think of for putting Pandora on the Conservation Station land north of Asia rather than the Camp Minnie-Mickey site is to help spread the crowds across the park after this development presumably allows expansion to night hours, to ensure southern half of the park (i.e. Pandora and Dinoland) isn't mobbed while the animal-heavy northern half is empty. But even that reason is dubious at best, as it makes sense to keep nighttime crowds away from the Asian and African animal sections. 

  • This just keeps getting worse! Let's hope they are just trying to misdirect us and Pandora will go where camp minnie mickey is. That spot would be terrible and ruin the park!

  • I do not like the idea at all! I know Planet Watch is not high intensity nor is it high demand but I love it myself. It is also the home to much of the behind the scenes work at the Animal Kingdom. If I remember correctly the meals for the animals are prepared in this area. It is definitely the area where a lot of the vet work goes on. You can even see work going on from time to time. 

  • My 6 year old really enjoys Planet Watch. I'd like to see it stay. And I'm not sure I see them plowing under the education element of AK. They'll loose some credibility in the "we care" departmant. Also would Joe Rohde really be okay with loosing such a core piece of the park's original vision of education? 

    Of course it doesn't help that I REALLY don't like the addition of AVATAR to the parks. Maybe a ride but a whole "land"…  Seems like a major gamble.

  • I really do not want to see Avatar added to the park, even if it is semi-popular now, in five years or so… no one will care. I don't even care about the movie currently and would much rather it stay very, very far away from Disney World.

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