Imagine straddling the back of a wing-flapping banshee, darting and swirling through the canyon updrafts, free as a bird. Below you is the alien planet of Pandora – vast and surreal.
If it sounds as if it's like something from a movie, that's because it is. It's also about to become a reality thanks to Disney World.
A 12-acre new land is set to open in Animal Kingdom on Saturday inspired by Avatar, James Cameron's 2009 movie.
Speaking at the opening Cameron said the land was his "dream come true" sharing how he first sketched plans for the land years ago, not realising how the movie would grip moviegoers.
Disney CEO Bob Iger said he had watched Avatar and "wanted to visit there", now standing in front the Floating Mountain it was as if he was really in Pandora.
The main attraction, Flight of Passage, is a 3D simulator, which transports you into a sweeping, simulated flight over Pandora's colourful landscape.
The aim is for guests to feel as if they're soaring over floating mountains, plunging through ancient caverns and skimming across roaring oceans on the back of a banshee - a blue winged predator. There's also a realistic encounter with the Great Leonopteryx that boasts a 45-foot wingspan.
Guests get linked up to the network, becoming their own Avatar .
Then visitors don 3D glasses, straddling something like a stationary motorcycle. You're strapped in, the lights go out and a screen lights up. It's much more than a simple viewing experience. You're immersed into a different world, Pandora - the land of the Na'vi. There's huge moons, waterfalls, and plenty of weird and wonderful wildlife.
The ride takes you on a journey, as air and mist, recreate the feeling of flying through the forest. You can feel the banshee breathing underneath you. Even the smell gets you into the moment as a woodsy aroma fills your nostrils. It's a multi-sensory experience.
“In Flight of Passage, the sensation of flying is really visceral, really believable,” said Joe Rohde, the man behind the design and production. “Not only do you have the more obvious aspects of flying – the swooping and curving – but we’ve put in crosswind, air density and banking.”
The adventure transports explorers through the alien world of Pandora, offering lifelike encounters – splashing whale-like creatures, blowing wind, roaring banshees, and a encounter with a flying predator. It all takes about four minutes accompanied by a musical score recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra.
“All of the mechanics behind it, all of the engineering, all the stuff that goes into the imagery is amazing,” said James Cameron, the director of Avatar. “You know, riding the Ikran is a thrill. You’re going to plunge. You’re going to dive. You’re going to swoop. It’s like dreaming with your eyes open.”
James Cameron added it was a "very surreal day."
"I think back to when I was 19 years old and had a dream - literally a dream - of a bioluminescent forest with glowing trees and little spinning, glowing fan lizards. I woke up very excited and I sketched and painted it, and I remembered those images years later when I started writing the script for Avatar.
"We made the movie and now here we are, years later - and literally a dream has come true, all around me. It's an amazing experience.
"Joe Rohde and his team have exceeded my wildest dreams in bringing Pandora to life."
The actual land itself blends with Animal Kingdom, but at night it comes alive. It transforms into a luminescent sea of colour, with glowing lights, artificial plants and lights dotted everywhere, even the floor.
The tall blue aliens from Avatar, Na'vi, crop up around the land. They greet you as you enter the other main attraction, Na'vi River Journey, an indoor ride in the dark.
The ride includes animatronics in such detail they seem real, one of which is the Na’vi shaman.
Arguably the rides aren't the stars of the show, but the actual landscape itself. You can hear the birds chirp, there's also a 135ft mountaintop, which dominates the skyline. Floating mountains look like they're suspended in air. Everything is about tricking your mind - the land appears so much larger than it is.
Guests don't have to have watched the movie to appreciate the land, as doesn't weave into the narrative from the film. Instead it's set in the future - at the end of the planned movies.
The new land has taken about five years to build costing an estimated $500m. While Avatar wasn't a Disney movie, the company bought the rights allowing the park to create the new land. The movie came out in 2009, with a sequel slated for 2020.
Lands based on Star Wars are due to open in Disney World and in the California park in 2019.
Seven nights in Orlando with Virgin Holidays including scheduled Virgin Atlantic flights from Gatwick to Orlando, room only accommodation at Disney’s All Star Music Resort with car hire costs from from £925pp. Price based on two adults and two children travelling on August 31 and sharing a standard music room with Disney’s Ultimate Tickets; Manchester departure on August 30 from £885pp. Book here .