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Visitors to Disney World’s new Pandora-World of Avatar land are in for a cinematic experience!

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In this April 29, 2017 photo, Joe Rohde, design and production leader for Pandora-World of Avatar land attraction, explains about the caverns and the meaning of the cave drawings of the Na'vi, the native inhabitants of the planet Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. VOA
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It’s not a movie set, but visitors to Disney World’s new Pandora-World of Avatar land are in for a cinematic experience.

The 12-acre land, inspired by the “Avatar” movie, opens in Florida in late May at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. It cost a half-billion dollars to build.

The marquee attraction is Flight of Passage, where a 3-D simulator plunges riders into a cinematic world. You feel like you’re riding on the back of a banshee, a bluish, gigantic, winged predator that resembles something out of the Jurassic era. Wearing 3-D glasses and straddling what resembles a stationary motorcycle, you’re strapped in, then the lights go out, a screen in front lights up and you’re swooped into a world of blue, gigantic aliens called Na’vi, with moon-filled skies, plunging waterfalls, jumping marine animals and towering ocean waves.

The ride provides an enchanting and intoxicating five minutes that touches all the senses. Blasts of air and spritzes of mist hit your face, and as you fly through a lush forest, a woodsy aroma wafts through your nostrils. A visitor could go on the ride 20 times and not catch half the visual details.

Disney designers are quick to say the new land is the star of the action, not the backdrop. “The character is being portrayed and played by the place itself and that’s different than a set,” said Joe Rohde, the design and production leader of Pandora — World of Avatar.

In this April 29, 2017 photo, park guests see a Na'vi in a science lab while in the queue for the Avatar Flight of Passage ride at Pandora-World of Avatar land attraction in Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
In this April 29, 2017 photo, park guests see a Na’vi in a science lab while in the queue for the Avatar Flight of Passage ride at Pandora-World of Avatar land attraction in Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. VOA

Flight of Passage is ride’s highlight

Other aspects of Pandora can’t quite compete with the excitement and immersion of Flight of Passage. Much of Pandora, at least during the daytime, is hard to distinguish from the rest of Animal Kingdom, Disney’s almost 20-year-old zoological-themed park with lush landscaping, an emphasis on conservation and a Noah’s ark range of animals.

At night, though, Pandora transforms into a sea of color with glowing lights on artificial plants and even in the pavement.

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The enormous blue Na’vi aliens from the “Avatar” movie appear sparingly, really just on Flight of Passage and a second attraction called Na’vi River Journey. Before going on Flight of Passage, visitors walk through a tunnel in a faux mountain until they stumble upon a laboratory that includes a Na’vi floating in a tank.

“It’s not as simple as a guy in a costume painted blue walking around out here,” Rohde said of the aliens. “We know they are culturally present around us but we will meet them when we go on an excursion.”

In this Saturday, April 29, 2017 photo, landscaping consisting of real Earth plant species mixed with sculpted Pandora flora surrounds a pond at the Pandora-World of Avatar land attraction in Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World. (VOA)

Indoor river ride

The other main attraction, Na’vi River Journey, is an indoor river ride in the dark, lit up by glowing creatures and plants. The ride culminates with a Na’vi animatronic woman beating on drums as a chorus of voices reaches a crescendo. Images of the Na’vi riding horse-like creatures appear behind lush foliage, glimpsed in the distance from the river.

Disney has been building attractions themed on movies since Disneyland opened in 1955 with rides inspired by Snow White, Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland. Often, as with Pandora, the attractions open years after the movies debut. “Avatar” came out in 2009. Director James Cameron’s sequel isn’t due out until 2020. Lands based on “Star Wars” are scheduled to open in Disney parks in California and Florida in 2019.

Pandora-World of Avatar isn’t tied to a narrative from the film but rather tells a story set in the future, after humans degraded the jungle through industrial folly and a resurgence of nature overtakes the human-built environment. That theme is a recurring architectural motif, for example with a beverage stand and cantina made to look like they were built for industry by humans but then overrun by plant life.

A mix of real and artificial plants

Throughout Pandora, real plants intermingle with artificial plants that resemble alien pods or Dale Chihuly glass sculptures. It’s difficult to distinguish what is real.

“We were trying to get as close as possible to fool the eye,” said Zsolt Hormay, a Disney creative executive.

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At the entrance, visitors hear a cacophony of bird chirps and animal cries. A circle of drums connected to faux tree roots allows visitors to drum and then get a response of drumming or pulsing lights.

The focal points are a 135-foot (41-meter) mountaintop where Flight of Passage is located as well as “floating mountains” that appear to be suspended in air but are actually made of concrete. Engineers use tricks to make the park appear bigger than it is. The artificial foliage gets smaller as it goes higher on the mountain to give it the illusion of distance.

A look at some of the menu items available at the Satu'li Canteen restaurant at Pandora-World of Avatar.
A look at some of the menu items available at the Satu’li Canteen restaurant at Pandora-World of Avatar. VOA

New way to order food

Disney also is testing out a new way to order food at Pandora. Before going to the park, visitors can pull up a menu on the My Disney Experience mobile app, order lunch and go about visiting the park. When it’s time to eat hours later, they can go to the canteen, tap on an app a button that notifies the cooks they are present. Several minutes later their food will be ready in a special line.

Jon Landau, the executive producer of the original movie, says he hopes Pandora does for visitors what the film did for movie-goers.

“I hope when people come to Pandora and their eyes will be open and they will look at the world a little differently when they go back across the bridge,” Landau said.

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)