I’m back from the Pandora - The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom and want to pass along a few observations. I went to Pandora having only seen Avatar once, years ago, and only vaguely remembering that it had blue people in it so I was pleased to find that the land was visually beautiful whether one is a fan of the movie or not. The "floating mountains" and landscaping are impressive and I loved all of the water falls. The whole area have a very tropical look and they've created Pandoran plants that are pretty by day and glow by night. I was one of those curmudgeons who wasn't excited about them adding an artificial world to a park (my second favorite park) that celebrates the cultures and wonders of my real world but I'll admit that I was impressed. In a way, it reminded me to be amazed by my own world - maybe we don't have flying dragons (bummer!) but you and I live on a planet with incredible mountains and waterfalls and even have bioluminescent animals (check out this Ted talk to learn more)
Pandora has two rides and I was amazed by Avatar Flight of Passage. Most of Universal’s recent new attractions have been 3-D, screen based – some, like the Harry Potter rides, are very well done but others feel like they simply re-purposed previous rides with this formula: 1) hand guests a pair of 3-D glasses and set them in front of a screen, 2) shake the ride vehicle while surrounding them with loud noises and random scenes. While each of the rides may be fun on their own, it can feel repetitive so I was a little worried when I heard the Flight of Passage was going to be a 3-D screen ride but Disney really brought something new and exciting to the table. It was visually stunning and technically impressive. The ride vehicle (photo below) is unique in that you straddle it like a motorcycle and gentle restraints then come up against the back of your calves and the small of your back. I wear glasses and I found that I had to adjust my 3D glasses during the ride as they would slip down on my nose; I am also hearing that children are having to adjust their 3D glasses during the ride. The ride is exhilarating and exciting but not scary. If you've ridden Soarin' at Epcot, you'll find that the ride is similar as you soar and whoosh over incredible landscapes and scenes.
Na’vi River Journey is a sweet little ride and the movement of the singing shaman animatronic is so fluid that it is amazing. I love Disney’s commitment to producing experiences that can be enjoyed by guests of all ages. There are no drops or rapids so it is fine for toddlers, pregnant ladies and most anyone else. Though it is a “nighttime” scene, it isn’t ever completely dark. The boats have 2 rows that seat up to three (3) people per row, or possible four (4) if one is a baby on an adult's lap. Honestly, it is a little too short a ride for the long lines that opening brings but worthwhile if you have a FastPass+ reservation or lines are moderate.
I had apprehensions about the Wilderness Explorer stops in the area; thinking that it might be confusing to kids if they were learning real earth science facts in other areas along with Pandoran “facts” but they actually did a great job of handling that…”we’re learning about Pandora by making comparisons to what we know about Earth” and then they gave little lessons about earth’s ecology. The Wilderness Explorer uniforms seem a bit out of place in the setting but it is consistent with the park on the whole and with long lines at the headlining attractions, I’m glad there are other experiences for guests.
Satu’li Canteen is delicious! They do bowls where you pick your base (pilaf, sweet potato, salad mix, etc) and then you pick your protein (salmon, chicken, beef, or tofu) and you pick your sauce. I ate at 1AM and the food was still fresh and tasty. They also do a vegetable curry pod and a cheeseburger pod (photo attached) that have an other-worldly look. I liked the taste of the vegetable curry pod but wasn’t crazy about the cheeseburger pod just because it had a fairly strong mustard flavor. I only tried the chocolate dessert which was tasty; the blueberry cheesecake dessert is getting all of the rave reviews but I didn’t get a chance to sampleYou can pre-order your meal using the MyDisneyExperience app(not yet available with Disney Dining plan) - click here to learn more. Indoor and outdoor seating; they also serve breakfast.
Click here or on the photo below to find out about special hours at Disney's Animal Kingdom because of the opening of Pandora - World of Avatar. You'll find information about hours for the general public and Extra Magic Hours for Disney World hotels guests.
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