Back in September of 2011 when Disney announced that they would be building Pandora The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I wasn’t pleased. While I still don’t feel it 100% belongs in Animal Kingdom, now that I have seen the movie and experienced the Pandora and her rides, I am hooked. I was sure I wouldn’t even get to experience Pandora until September. I missed out on the Passholder preview and I wasn’t invited on any of the media or travel agent previews, which is fine, everyone deserves a turn. The on May 25th, my birthday, 2 days before Pandora The World of Avatar opened to the public I was blessed. A friend of mine offered to bring me to Pandora for a few hours with his media guest pass!! I was absolutely giddy. This was an amazing birthday gift!
Pandora The World of Avatar
Pandora the World of Avatar is like no other land at Walt Disney World. As you enter you are transported to the world of the Na’vi people who, in partnership with Alpha Centauri Expeditions, welcome you. You enter into the beautiful Valley of Mo’ara. You are surrounded by beautiful, otherworldly plants, native craftsmanship and the awe-inspiring floating mountains. Everywhere you look there is something more beautiful. My mouth was agape as I took in the beauty of Pandora. I have heard and seen pictures of how beautiful Pandora is at night and I cannot wait to see it glowing some evening this fall.
Na’vi River Journey
We wandered through the queue of the Na’vi River Journey ride. This beautiful, peaceful family boat ride takes you through a Pandoran rainforest that glows with a mesmerizing bioluminescence. On your journey you will encounter exotic creatures and plants that bring this alluring world to life. The exquisite Shaman of Songs will keep you guessing if it is and animatronic or a human, it is that amazing.
Avatar Flight of Passage
The thrill ride in Pandora the World of Avatar is Avatar Flight of Passage aka the “banshee ride”. Anyone who has watched the movie has thought about what it would be like to climb on the back of a mountain banshee and fly through Pandora. Thanks to Disney, you can, and it is amazing!
You may have seen that during the Passholder preview many people were having trouble because they don’t fit on the ride. This isn’t just a weight issue but a height issue and a where you carry your weight issue as well. I was afraid I wouldn’t fit. I tried the demo seat before I got in the queue line. The cast member couldn’t get the seat to lock in, but said I was very close and it really depended on how I sat. He said I was close enough he would suggest I get in line and try. For me, that was fine because there was no wait to ride during this media preview. IF there was a 3-5 hour wait, as there was on May 27, opening day, I wouldn’t want to wait and not be sure I could ride.
The queue for Avatar Flight of Passage is looong and very detailed, especially when you get inside the building. I could have stayed in the lab area of the queue for hours looking at everything. Finally, you arrive and are put in groups of 16 riders. You are matched with an Avatar and you will be riding that Avatar’s banshee. When you enter the simulator room the seats are in 2 sections of 8 with a partial wall dividing them. Our party of 3 “Pooh-sized” riders straddled our seats and waited for the cast member to check the latches. My other 2 friends had ridden previously and told the cast member to “just push, it will click”. She pushed and they both locked in. My friend said, “You didn’t push Cindy’s” and the cast member said “she clicked in without pushing”. I FIT!!!!
The ride starts and you feel your Avatar link to the banshee then you are flying through Pandora, through arches, diving under mountains, and over rivers-I really don’t have words to describe the feelings this ride evokes. It is the closest you will feel to flying on your own. While you are riding you can feel your banshee breathing, its muscles moving as you soar and dive through the breathtaking Pandoran scenery. It is an overwhelming sensory experience.
Avatar Flight of Passage is an intense ride, not for the weak of stomach or those who don’t tolerate simulators well. Unfortunately, my husband will never be able to ride this amazing ride.
Elsewhere in Pandora the World of Avatar
Pandora also has a gift shop, Windtraders, conveniently located at the exit of Avatar Flight of Passage. Pongu Pongu is the lounge offering alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage to thirsty travelers. Satu’li Canteen is the quick service restaurant in Pandora serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This restaurant offers mobile ordering via the My Disney Experience app. When you order it gives you a window of time in which you can pick up your order. Currently it is only accepting credit cards for mobile ordering but Disney Dining Plan credits should be available to use with mobile ordering soon.
Plan your Visit to Pandora
If you are thinking of planning your own trip to Pandora, I am here to help. As a travel agent with Destinations to Travel, and Earmarked Disney Agency, my services and knowledge are FREE to my customers. It only takes a $200 deposit to start planning your magical Walt Disney World vacation. Please Email Me so we can get started.