When Pandora – The World of Avatar opens in Disney’s Animal Kingdom on May 27, it will employ 700 Disney Cast Members. According to Disney via The Orlando Sentinel, the Cast Members will be divided into three groups.
- The first cast member group will assume the role of employees for Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE), which is a tourism company from Earth and the exclusive provider for trips to Pandora. They will work at Wind Traders store, the Satu’li Canteen cafeteria and on the Na’vi River Journey ride.
- The second group will be the Pandora Conservation Initiative (PCI), which will have a special role getting you to ride a banshee at the Flight of Passage ride, and will also work at Wind Traders.
- The third and final group is something Florida residents know very well — people who came to visit and ended up staying. Called the ex-pats (for expatriates), these Pandora cast members will act like Earth tourists who loved Pandora so much they decided to move there permanently. They will work in two areas: Pongu Pongu, which means “Party Party” in Na’vi, and the face painters.
The RDA Mining company — the villains of the 2009 film Avatar — are long gone at this point. The Na’vi and Earth colonists seem to be living in harmony in Animal Kingdom. Some pieces of RDA remain, however, such as rusted out versions of the mechs they piloted.
The Pandora expansion is an economic boon to the Orlando area, even if many of the jobs are lower-paying. It’s the largest in Disney history (so far) and comes right after the announcement that Disney will be hiring another 1,000 workers, likely for Star Wars Land and its ever-expanding transportation system.