Pandora – The World of Avatar opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom while we were visiting last week and it was amazing! In this incredibly themed land, eco-tourists join Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE) on an unforgettable expedition through Pandora and its floating mountains, exotic plants, delicious food, and magnificent creatures.
Here are 8 things not to miss on your visit to Pandora:
1.Explore the Valley of Mo’ara
Exploring the lush Pandoran flora and fauna is an attraction in and of itself. Disney Imagineers did a spectacular job at intermingling real and Pandoran plants to create a unique and vibrant landscape. You’ll find floating mountains, exotic plants, waterfalls, pathways, bridges, Na-vi totems, cultural items and so much more. Parts of it reminded me of the Chihuly Exhibit at Atlanta Botanical Gardens! There are also a few interactive elements:
- Be sure to try your hand at the Na-vi drum circle, found towards the center of Pandora.
- Help regrow the Flaska Reclinata with the touch of your hand. One of the rarest and most fascinating plants on Pandora, shown in the first picture below, the Flaska Reclinata re-seeds itself when touched on the purple section right to the left of Honey’s head. Be sure to stand back and see the fruits of your labor!
- Collect the two new Wilderness Explorer badges for Pandora. This program is great for kids and also quite educational. They can now earn a Botany badge for learning about amazing plant adaptations and an Ecology badge for learning about relationships between organisms on Earth and on Pandora.
Tip: The Wilderness Explorer program is free and fun for kids of all ages. It is a fantastic way to build engagement, see things you quite likely would have missed, and learn a whole lot while having fun. You can get started by picking up a handbook at various Troop Leader locations around the park. This is a self-guided, self-paced program and badges can be earned daily from 10 a.m. until dusk, or 45 minutes prior to sunset when Gorilla Falls and Maharajah Jungle Trek close. The handbook makes a unique souvenir to bring home as well. You likely won’t complete the missions in one visit so it is something that can also be built upon over the years.
2. Flight of Passage
After a unanimous family vote we decided that Flight of Passage is the best theme park ride we’ve ever done! Wow! As we learned from the movie, bonding with a mountain banshee is a crucial step in the life of a Na’vi hunter and flying on the back of one of these powerful winged creatures is an important rite of passage. Avatar fan or not, you will be amazed by the exhilarating, 3D expedition of flying on the back of a mountain banshee. It is breathtaking and exciting and truly a magical experience. The queue is richly themed and the entire experience is impressive and immersive.
Tip: At this point in time, you absolutely MUST secure a fast pass for this ride. We saw wait times at 6 hours during our visit, although the most standard we saw was 2 hours. Fast Pass reservations can be made for guests of Disney resort hotels 60 days in advance and for all other guests 30 days in advance. Make the fast pass reservation just as soon as you can! There is a height requirement of 44″. There have also been some reported issues with not everyone “fitting” correctly in the ride contraption. There IS a “bike” outside of the ride and a cast member can ensure you will enter with no problem if you are concerned.
3. Na’vi River Journey
Na’vi River Journey is a classic boat ride that guides travelers down a mysterious river filled with the beauty and magic of Pandora. On your reed boat you will gently coast through a series of spectacular and bioluminescent caves before meeting the Na’vi Shaman of Songs. This is a perfect family attraction, having no scary parts, drops or sudden turns.
Tip: The wait for this ride at this time is also quite long, but seemed to sit around the 2 hour mark. I am certain it will go down. Unfortunately you can only get a fast pass for one of the two rides on one day. If you plan to ride Flight of Passage, definitely use your fast pass for that one. This one could be caught during morning or evening Extra Magic Hours.
4. Dine at Satu’li Canteen – and use the new Mobile Ordering tool
We had “linner” (you know, the meal between lunch and dinner) at the Quonset-hut structure called Satu’li Canteen. Once a RDA mess hall, Satu’li is now a peaceful dining room full of Na’vi art and cultural items. We loved our food so much that it soared to the top of our list of places to eat. This is a quick serve restaurant with international inspired cuisine, vegetarian options and specialty drinks.
Tip: I cannot recommend enough the new Mobile Ordering through the My Disney Experience App. While sitting at the pool that morning, I hopped on the app and ordered our feast. Here’s how:
- Click Order Food on the My Disney Experience app.
- Choose your restaurant (currently at Satu’li Canteen and Pizzafari in Animal Kingdom).
- Click Order Food again.
- Add everything to your cart – food, drinks, dessert, etc.
- Complete all the way through the paying phase. You can only pay via credit card at this time – not dining plan.
- When you arrive in Pandora or are walking off Flight of Passage and ready to dine, go back into the app and click Order Food again.
- You will see My Orders. Open yours and click I’m Here.
- Walk straight past the line all the way out the door to find this sign. It will be on the left side of the general line.
- Grab your food and enjoy your Pandoran feast!!!!!!!!!!
We loved everything we ordered and ate every bite between the four of us. The Cheeseburger Steamed Pods on Bao Buns was a favorite. They tasted just like McDonald’s cheeseburgers, which I am not ashamed to say I enjoy. HA! This is the adult plate. The kid plate comes with one bun, veggie chips and grapes.
There are great bowl options for adults (and kids) and Honey, John and I all ordered those. First you pick your protein from beef, chicken, fish and tofu. Then you select your base from Quinoa and Vegetable Salad, Red & Sweet Potato Hash, Mixed Whole Grain & Rice, and Romaine & Kale Salad. Finally you choose a sauce from Charred Onion Chimichurri, Black Bean Vinaigrette, and Creamy Herb Dressing.
I went with chicken and Honey chose beef. We both did the potato hash and chimichurri sauce.
Between the four of us we also tried the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse for dessert (YUM!), the Pandoran Sunrise juice drink (okay) and the Hawkes’ Grog Ale green beer (yum).
Tip: Satu’li Canteen is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No reservation is needed and I highly recommend the mobile ordering. Many of the banquette seats along the wall had outlets for charging your devices just under the seat. This is a great restaurant to beat the heat and refuel for those long Disney days!
5. Grab a snack at Pongu Pongu
Hike to the corner of Windtraders where you’ll find Pongu Pongu. Meaning “Party Party” in the language of the Na’vi, Pongu Pongu refreshes travelers with frozen drinks (with and without alcohol, beer and a divine and unique sweet snack!
The Pongu Lumpia is one of my new favorite Disney snacks. Inside is cream cheese and pineapple and it is served hot and flaky. Yum!! I shared but I didn’t want to.
Night Blossom “Bioluminescent” frozen drink is a mix of limeade, apple and pear with passion fruit boba balls. It is highly refreshing on a hot day but extremely sweet. I would recommend getting one and sharing it.
6. Visit Windtraders and match with a banshee at the Rookery
Deep in the back of the Valley of Mo’ara you will find Windtraders. This is a beautiful shop filled with unique merchandise you won’t see all over Disney. There are Na’vi cultural artifacts, toy creatures, science kits and ACE apparel and collectibles. Most importantly for my two, there is also the Rookery. This buying experience matches you with a naturalist from Alpha Centauri Expeditions to aid in choosing a banshee. These toys can be held or perched on your shoulder and move their mouth, head and wings through a hand held control. They do have a wire from the back of the banshee to the controller, but my boys were smitten and talked about the banshees from the first day we saw them in the parks. This was their one souvenir ($50 and no discounts) and their report card rewards. I feared they would go on a shelf when we got home, but surprisingly they have both worn them around the house and continued to enjoy them. It is a neat experience and they were both super pleased with their purchase.
7. See the exotic plants come to life with beautiful bioluminescence each night
You have to have to have to be in Pandora as the sun begins to set and the flora and fauna gradually come alive with bioluminescence. It is wonderful and realistic and immersive.
8. Watch the Avatar movie
When you drop in to bed or are giving your family an afternoon break, tune into channel 80 on your Disney resort TV as they are looping Avatar all day! We watched it before we left, but Honey tuned in pretty much every night to catch more bits and pieces. I thought this was a nice touch because I know not everyone is as big of a fan as Honey. I know this runs through the month of June at least.
- From May 27 to July 4, 2017, Animal Kingdom will have extended hours from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM.
- Guests staying at Disney resort hotels will have Pandora only “Extra” Extra Magic Hours from 11:00 PM to 1:00 AM, May 27 to July 4, 2017.
- Make your Fast Pass reservations as early as you possibly can!
We were all so impressed by this new immersive land and all of the unique experiences to be found in Pandora – World of Avatar. I must say, perhaps one of the things it made us MOST excited about was what they must be planning for Star Wars land!!
As an independent consultant with Glass Slipper Concierge, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I offer concierge travel planning for Walt Disney World® Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland® Resort, Adventures by Disney®, Aulani and other delightful destinations.
Start designing your dream vacation today!
DIXIE DELIGHTS DELIVERED