By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: The Pandora Utility Suit



By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

PANDORA UTILITY SUIT

By Jim Korkis

Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has added a new interactive experience with the introduction of the Pandora Utility Suit.

This human powered suit helps demonstrate how technology is being used to restore the ecosystem on Pandora. The Pandora Utility Suit is inspired by the iconic Amplified Mobility Platform (AMP) suits of power armor from the original film, Avatar (2009).

The first military exoskeletons in the mid-21st century evolved into the Mitsubishi MK-6 Amplified Mobility Platform (or “AMP” suit) that could be used in different environments from arctic to jungle to desert. The human-operated multi-purpose mechanism amplifies strength and mobility while providing protection in toxic environments. It was designed to mimic the form of a human with two legs, two arms and dexterous hands.

In the original film, the suits were used primarily to defend the base and for patrol duties, but also appeared in the battle at the Tree of Souls scene and Colonel Quaritch’s final attack on Jake Sully.

The Pandora Utility Suit is the next evolution of the AMP suit, and was created to assist in the restoration of the environment. It has a streamlined design with no protective cockpit, unlike the AMP suit.

Its sleek structure and technical upgrades make it the perfect tool to collect plant samples, study flora and survive Pandora’s wild terrain. It protects its operator from Pandoran hazards while doing ecological research for the Resources Development Administration and its Pandora Conservation Initiative.

(c) Disney

Perched ten feet high, a human pilot straps into the cockpit of this exo-carrier and controls its powerful, yet agile movements. The giant walking suit was designed with articulated hands and a shoulder span of more than five feet. It also bears claw marks and battle scars from a Thanator – an alpha predator on Pandora that apparently attacked it.

The story of Pandora, like all the lands at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, is routed in the respect and preservation of nature. As the suit traverses the land daily, its pilot interacts with guests, sharing details about the land’s otherworldly landscape, and highlighting the importance of preserving nature.

The Pandora Utility Suit is another example of the collaboration between Disney Parks Live Entertainment, Michael Curry Design Inc. (that previously supplied the 120 towering puppets for Epcot’s Tapestry of Nations parade, and the puppets for DAK’s Finding Nemo – The Musical), WDI and Lightstorm Entertainment (Avatar director James Cameron’s film production company) that first brought Pandora – The World of Avatar to life at the park.

The suit made its official debut on April 22, 2018, the anniversary of the opening Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and appears twice daily, usually in the area outside Satu’li Canteen.

Show Producer for Disney Parks Entertainment Tony Giordano stated: “We knew when the land would be opening there would be some great opportunities for entertainment. Lightstorm suggested a suit that would fix the environment rather than the one in the film that destroyed the environment.

“They drew this amazing drawing of a scientist picking a piece of fruit out of the tree. Our partners at WDI looked at that drawing and made it into a reality. And then the Michael Curry Designs actually built the suit. The final product is a great partnership between those three groups.”

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Thanks, Jim! For more on the transformation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, see this.

And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest,  The Vault of Walt Volume 7: Christmas Edition, and his Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

 

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