Think you know everything there is to know about the new Pandora — The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? I certainly thought I knew more than most after writing about this new land for years. Somehow, though, I missed the announcement of a new mobile interaction that allows each guest visiting Pandora to help determine how Disney will donate money to protect or restore animal habitats.
Here’s how it works: when you step into Pandora, you must have the My Disney Experience app open on your mobile device to participate in the new Connect to Protect adventure. One of Pandora’s ecological specialists, Fitsimti “Fits” Buckley, then will send you an instant message via Facebook Messenger. If you agree to an invitation to take on a mission in Pandora, Fits will direct you around Pandora, helping you find exotic flora and fauna and sharing messages about conservation.
There are several different missions, and guests do not choose which ones they will be offered. One of the missions leads guests to the beautiful Flaska reclinata at the entrance to Pandora. This large plant can “re-seed” itself on Pandora through guests’ touch.
The idea is that these missions lead guests to make a personal connection with the natural world and then they are inspired to take action in their own lives to make a difference when they leave the theme park. That call to action and message of stewardship are hallmarks of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the movie AVATAR, as well.
Plus, “After completing one or more missions, you will unlock a $10 contribution from Disney Parks, through the Disney Conservation Fund, or a $5 contribution just for discussing conservation. You will then get to choose how that contribution will help protect or restore habitats important to one of 10 threatened categories of animals: apes, elephants, butterflies, coral reefs, cranes, monkeys, rhinos, sea turtles, sharks & rays, and tigers,” according to the Disney Parks Blog.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and the Disney Conservation Fund have made a commitment to donate up to $1 million with this initiative.