How to Conquer Pandora: The World of Avatar
If you have not heard of the newest expansion to Walt Disney World, you might just be living under a rock. It is a summer of new and exciting additions in Disney Parks, starting with Pandora- The World of Avatar. Many may be scratching their heads and wondering what in the world that has to do with Disney? Great question. Disney does not own the rights to Avatar, rather they partnered with James Cameron to accomplish this feat. It was truly in response to Universal opening Harry Potter World. While it may not have the Disney name attached, Pandora fits perfectly into Animal Kingdom and the mission of the park. I had the opportunity to visit Pandora one week after its official opening. This guide will help you conquer everything you would like to see and experience!
There are two distinct feels to this land, whether you go during the daytime or after dark. Both are incredibly unique and need to be experienced! Daytime allows you to see all the details, capture incredible pictures, and feel the massive mountains floating above your head. As the sun falls, the area comes to life (quite literally). There are areas that react to your touch, your steps, and your movements. You can feel and hear the animals moving around the forest. It is a sight to behold, one that you can hardly describe unless you visit. There are many details that help you be enveloped in the Na'vi culture. One of my favorites was the drum circle that involves the crowd they hold several times a day. It is small things like this that make you truly feel 4.4 light years away.
There are two main attractions; Na’vi River Journey and Avatar Flight of Passage. Currently, these attractions boast wait times of several hours. I have seen Flight of Passage reach almost 7 hours of a wait time. Here are my thoughts on the attractions..
Na’vi River Journey | This is a typical “dark ride” via boat; it is only a few minutes long. The queue line of this ride is beautiful and there is a lot to take in. The ride itself is “eye candy” and hosts the most realistic animatronic that Disney has produced to date. It is a pretty standard ride, I would not wait more than 20-30 minutes for it after my initial ride.
Avatar Flight of Passage | I have tried to explain this attraction to so many people, but words always seem to fail me. There is nothing like this ever created before. Think Soarin’.. but individualized. From the queue line to the very end of the exit, the theming is indescribable. I would happily wait 2 hours or more for this ride, and that is saying something because I refuse to wait more than 20-30 mins for anything. As I exited the ride, my heart was pounding and my breathing was rapid. There is a height requirement and restrictions for the seat. They have a bike outside for you to test if you are worried that you will not be able to ride it.
There are two places to get food in the land; Satu’li Canteen and Pongu Pongu. One is a quick service open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while the other is a bar open during lunch and dinner time. Satu’li Canteen has very fresh and incredibly delicious food. We ate breakfast here and were very happy with it. I suggest getting the Pandoran Sunrise, the base of the drink is Powerade and will replenish those necessary electrolytes. Pongu Pongu has 4 drinks, 1 of those is non-alcoholic. They also have a small snack, Pongu Lumpia. Do yourself a favor and get the lumpia, it is a unique and delicious bite in the parks. I also thoroughly enjoyed the Night Blossom, which is the non-alcoholic option. Be sure to try the Mobile Ordering for Satu’li to eliminate the need to wait in line!
Disney liked having two options for everything in Pandora I have decided, including merchandise! The main merchandise shop is Windtraders, located next to Satu’li Canteen. The merchandise is very unique and has some awesome souvenirs including your own Avatar figurine created in your own image (roughly $100) or a banshee you can adopt (roughly $50). Be sure to check the shop early if you want those items. Located at the entrance of Pandora you will find Colors of Mo’ara where you can get your face painted in intricate designs inspired by the Na’vi and Pandora.
Tips to Conquer
Here is what you really want to know I’m sure. Let me first give you a rundown of how we approached things. The day we visited Pandora, Animal Kingdom has Extra Magic Hours from 7am-8am. We were to the park by 6:30am and were able to enter the park and lineup right at the bridge leading into Pandora. There were maybe 100 people in front of us, but about 200 more people showed up immediately after we did. They moved us further into the land at about 6:45am and then allowed people to begin lining up for attractions at 6:50am. Most people went directly for Flight of Passage, instead we went to Na’vi River Journey. We did this only because we had a FastPass for Flight of Passage later in the day. We walked directly onto the ride with no wait. After exiting, I took advantage of a rare opportunity. Since everyone is in line for either attraction, the land was empty. I took about a billion pictures because of this!
As we walked through admiring everything, we noticed that at 7:00am, Flight of Passage was at a 90 minute wait already. Whew! We moved towards Windtraders which was quite literally deserted. Unfortunately they were out of the Passholder Exclusive pin already, but I did get a pin to commemorate my first trip to Pandora. I will be getting a lot more merchandise in August. Since we had not eaten breakfast at this point, we headed to Satu’li Canteen. Again, completely deserted so no lines! Our food was already digesting 20 minutes after entering the restaurant. We walked around a bit more and snapped pictures. It was 7:30am at this point, so we decided to take advantage of the other rides in Animal Kingdom open during this time with no wait.
Our FastPass was for late afternoon, so we headed back into Pandora around 3:00. We grabbed a Night Blossom and Pongu Lumpia while waiting for our window to open. When it did, we walked right onto the ride as the posted wait time was around 3 hours. After the ride, we then moved onto our next attraction. We did come back to Pandora after Rivers of Light to experience the bioluminescence. The longest line we waited in was Pongu Pongu at about 15 minutes. Here are some bullet point tips on conquering Pandora!
If you do not have FastPasses for either attraction, be there 45 minutes prior to the park opening. Ride Flight of Passage first and then Na’vi River Journey directly after. This will be your shortest wait times possible without having FastPasses.
During the FastPass selection, it is a tiered system. This means you can either pick one or the other. If Flight of Passage is available as a FastPass, get it.
Use Mobile Ordering for Satu’li Canteen available on the Disney World app.
Go at park opening. Go at park opening. Go at park opening. In fact, be there 45 minutes prior to park opening.
Take the time to walk around and take it all in. There are so many incredible small details that you can easily miss.
Take advantage of the PhotoPass all around.
Visit Windtraders in the early morning. If you don’t want to carry your merchandise around all day, have it sent to the front of the park or to your Disney Resort.
If you do wait in line for Flight of Passage, don’t fret. The queue is incredibly detailed and you will not find yourself too bored. There is also a bathroom hallway through that you can use as well as drinking fountains.
Hopefully your experience on Pandora can be as great as ours! If you have any specific questions, drop them in the comments below and I will be sure to answer them!