This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at 6 Disney references in James Cameron’s AVATAR! Longtime readers of the SATURDAY SIX know we are pretty much obsessed when it comes to Hollywood movies or TV shows having references to our beloved theme parks. We’ve done articles on shows such as Roseanne and Boy Meets World going to Walt Disney World. We looked at movies such as Sharknado 3 and Ace Ventura Pet Dectective Jr. (yes, it actually exists) that were filmed at the Universal Orlando Resort. Remember when The Simpsons made all those jokes about theme parks over the years? We do. Let’s be honest, which blog series in the entire internet is brave enough to watch the ENTIRETY of Hulk Hogan’s Thunder in Paradise series just to find out which scenes were shot at WDW? Only us.
What many humans would have logically concluded as a monumental waste of time was instead training for our greatest achievement, discovering all the Disney references in James Cameron’s Avatar.
Avatar was a worldwide phenomenon making over $2.7 BILLION at the box office. To put that number in perspective, Star Wars: The Force Awakens barely crossed the $2 Billion mark and we all remember what a hit that was. However, when Disney announced it was building an entire land around the film Avatar, many people thought they were crazy. The movie just didn’t have the memorable characters that franchises like Star Wars, Harry Potter, or the animated Pixar film Cars. Turns out Disney was crazy… like a fox! While all of us were marveling over the gorgeous 3D landscape of Pandora on the big screen Disney had tossed in a whole bunch of Easter Eggs into Avatar that have gone undiscovered until now. Today we’re going to take a look at some of the Disney references, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…
# 6 – Lapu Lapu
For those that remember (ah, who are we kidding?), after the wheelchair bound Jake is transferred into his N’avi “Avatar,” he immediately begins to run and test out his new body. Jake ran into the Avatar for the character played by Sigourney Weaver, and she threw him a piece of fruit that was indigenous to Pandora’s eco system. Turns out, that wasn’t just a normal fruit, that was actually the pineapple based Lapu Lapu from Disney’s Tambu Lounge! Like Jake, we the audience were so blow away by the new world we had entered that we didn’t see this small – but important – detail.
# 5 – Stacey J and “Must Do Disney”
Believe it or not, the first Disney Easter Egg in Avatar came even earlier in the film. Before Jake is shown the wonders of Pandora, we get a glimpse of his life on an over populated Earth that can best be described as if Las Vegas and Times Square had a baby. Jake goes into his tiny apartment and watches some TV before falling asleep. For theme park fans like us, there was a great reference on Jake’s TV. He was watching Stacey J Aswad on the Must Do Disney loop.
# 4 – Tree of Life
This is one of those blink and you miss it cameos like Goofy, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse’s quick appearance in The Little Mermaid. When the character played by Giovanni Ribisi is showing Jake a topographical map of Pandora through some sort of hologram map, he zooms through a whole bunch of stuff. If you can get your DVD player to pause at the exact right moment, you’ll see one of the things he zoomed by was none other than the Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life. How is that for synergy!
# 3 – Trixie from Toy Story
Not all of Avater‘s Easter Eggs were for fanboys like us. Disney knew the film had a lot of adult themes and many of the creatures in the film were pretty terrifying. Hard to sell plush for an animal that gives kids nightmares. That’s why when Jake discovers some of the intimidating creatures in the forrest, one of them is actually Trixie from Toy Story 3. We adults are too engrossed in the gripping story to catch it, but kids know, and that’s what matters. Having Trixie there puts the little ones at ease during the film, and also makes it just a little bit easier to sell a Point of Sale Trixie Tsum Tsums at the new Windtraders gift shop in Pandora: The World of Avatar.
# 2 – The Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line
Last year Buzzfeed put out a controversial article titled “Do You Remember Anything At All About Avatar?” We here at SATURDAY SIX felt a little insulted by that article because we remember everything about Avatar, who doesn’t?! That’s why Disney has invested so much money into building an entire land around it, DUH! That said, when we re-watched the film recently we did forget the scene in which Jake holds up a book. In fact, with a gun to our head we wouldn’t been able to remember the name of said book. However, that’s where Disney’s true genius lies. The book was the Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line. This blew our mind. Why? Because after we originally saw Avatar, WE TOOK A DISNEY CRUISE. We had no idea why at the time, we just knew we wanted to take one. Turns out it the idea was subconsciously put into our brains thanks to Avatar!
# 1 – GLOW CUBES
One of the most memorable moments in Avatar is when Jake discovers the mystical floating Woodsprites. Jake is told that these Woodsprites are the “seeds from the Tree of Souls” and are very spiritual. We the audience are transfixed as the Woodsprites float down from the sky like jellyfish and end up landing on Jake. This was a wonderful scene in the movie, and we the audience are so caught up in the moment we didn’t realize these incredible “spirits” were actually made out of the ubiquitous glow cubes found at bars across Disney property. Guests will soon be able to have their own spiritual moment at the Satu’il Canteen in Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (for a small $3.49 upcharge, of course.)
So there you have it: 6 Disney References in Avatar you might have missed! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).
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Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, master photo manipulator Matt Cleary, and blogger to the stars Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with goofballs co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde , while fellow Potterheads may enjoy Meg’s work on the Central Florida Slug Club.
FINAL PLUG! Did you know The 2017 Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando has a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX in it? Finally, someone came up with an actual reason to read a book. ORDER this baby now and support SIX NATION (boy do we need a better name than that.)