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Animatronic 'Avatar' shaman leaps into uncanny valley

Disney's preview of a startlingly lifelike blue Na'vi alien for an upcoming "Avatar" attraction will have you questioning your reality.

The long-awaited sequel to director James Cameron's 2009 sci-fi blockbuster "Avatar" may not make it out until 2018, but fans can get their blue-alien fix at Disney's The World of Avatar expansion at Walt Disney World in Florida a lot sooner. Disney dropped a sneak peek at what appears to be an uncannily realistic Na'vi animatronic in a first-look video on Sunday.

The footage shows the Shaman of Songs, part of the attraction's Na'vi River Journey experience, greeting future guests. According to Disney, "Na'vi River Journey will send guests down a sacred river hidden within a bioluminescent rainforest. Their journey will end in an unforgettable encounter with a Na'vi Shaman, a figure who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora."

Disney superfans were the first to see the video during a special D23 fan club event.

The video has YouTube commentators questioning whether it depicts an audio-animatronic or a CGI creation, but the Disney at Work site suggests it's a real animatronic. Earlier this year, Disney's Joe Rohde hosted a brief preview of a Na'vi animatronic for the "Avatar" experience.

If the final Na'vi is as good as the preview hints, then "Avatar" fans can look forward to having their blue, bioluminescent dreams come true when the attraction opens in mid-2017.