Floating Mountains, Glowing Flora, and Two New Rides Await on Pandora
Pandora: The World of Avatar, now open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, is Disney’s biggest expansion since the addition of New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom. A land inspired by James Cameron’s movie Avatar, Disney’s Pandora is comprised of lush flora, winding streams, and meandering paths. It’s an exotic destination that will keep you busy from sunrise to sunset, and beyond!
The Valley of Mo’ara is the port of entry to Pandora. Beautiful during the day, the valley is even more mesmerizing at night, as a mixture of real and man-made plants creates a host of special effects.
The ultimate discovery, however, is the view of the floating mountains of Pandora. Waterfalls seem to float in midair, and a combination of sparkling creeks and canopied paths creates a soothing atmosphere in what for the foreseeable future will be a very crowded part of the park.
Within the valley, guests are invited to play instruments at the Na’vi-built drum circle. Several times during the day, a show combining tribal drum beating and chanting in the Na’vi language takes place. The show is high energy; towards the end, guests are invited to participate.
Two Super Headliners Beckon Guests Inside Pandora, and You Need a FastPass+ Reservation!
If you ever wondered what it’s like to fly on a banshee, wonder no more. Head right over to Flight of Passage, don your 3-D glasses, and connect to your banshee for a simulated ride over Pandora. Guests must be 44″ tall to ride. The ride is slightly more intense than Soarin’ and definitely a superior experience.
The ride’s queue is absolutely stunning and, though you don’t want to be stuck in it (the queue can absorb 5 to 6 hours of waiting guests), you do want to see it. If the wait is not long, go standby after you’ve experienced the ride with a Fastpass+.
A less exciting but absolutely charming experience awaits you at the family-friendly Na’vi River Journey boat ride. Travel on a sacred river, discover the creatures of the rainforest, and meet the Na’vi Shaman of songs. There is no height restriction for the ride; while it is a dark ride, it is not scary at all.
Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey are both tier one attractions. You, therefore, can only pick one of them to be your tier one FastPass ride. I suggest you go for Flight of Passage. Try to get a FastPass+ as early as possible in the day, and arrive at the park at least 60 minutes prior to opening. Head right away to Pandora, ride Na’vi River Journey standby, and use your FastPass+ reservation for Flight of Passage. If you are not staying on property, then you should avoid days when Animal Kingdom has morning Extra Magic Hours (EMH) for Disney resort guests, as Pandora will already be filled with guests.
Now that you’ve experienced the new rides, it’s time to take in the intricate details of the new land. Here is a photo tour of Pandora!
There is much to see, and you will certainly want to return at nightfall when the exotic, bioluminescent-like plants of Pandora come to life.
If exploring Pandora makes you hungry, the international-inspired Satu’li Canteen is the perfect place to sit down and enjoy a meal. For lunch and dinner, the eatery serves cheeseburgers or vegetable steamed curry pods—bao buns served with a side of root vegetable chips and crunchy vegetable slaw; beef, chicken, and fish Bowls; and a chili-spiced fried tofu bowl.
The Pandora-inspired blueberry cream cheese mousse is quite a sight but was too sweet for my taste. Thankfully, there was also a chocolate cake served on a cookie layer and topped with banana cream.
A different menu is served for breakfast, which includes steamed pods filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, spinach, and Cheddar cheese; oatmeal topped with caramelized brown sugar, bourbon-soaked raisins, Marcona almonds, and goji berries; as well as a vegetable-goat cheese frittata with grilled beef and Chimichuri sauce. Most meals are also available as kid’s meals, with only a few non-Pandora-inspired offerings for children. I really liked having food that you cannot get anywhere else in the parks.
Satu’li Canteen offers Mobile Order, a first for Disney. Using the My Disney Experience app, guests can pre-order and pre-pay for their meals. Once you are ready to eat and near the restaurant, you can tap the “I’m here” button in the app, and the kitchen will begin preparing the meal. When ready, the app will alert guests to pick up the meals at a designated window.
The beverage and snack stand Pongu Pongu serves Pandora-inspired specialty drinks and snacks. Look for a full review of both eateries in a future post. I tried the Night Blossom, a mixture of limeade with apple and pear flavors topped with passion fruit boba balls. I did prefer the Dreamwalker Sangía I had earlier at Satu’li Canteen.
There is, of course, Windtraders, the gift shop of Pandora, where you can find the obligatory T-shirts, plushes, and other collectibles. The big hit, however, is the mechanical banshee pet that you’ll see riding atop the shoulders of many guests. The pet banshee is on a leash that is connected to a small hand unit, allowing you to control your pet by making his head move and his wings flap (not recommended for people with big ears).
Pandora is a beautifully executed new addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. As with all new attractions, lines for the rides will be long for the foreseeable future. Attractions aside, just walking around the immersive theme area is worth your while.
If you enjoyed this post, sign up for our newsletter here. For more information on all there is to see and do at Disney’s Animal Kingdom check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa.