Pandora: The World of Avatar is a stunning new land located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. A truly immersive experience, entering Pandora takes you away from Orlando and onto a foreign, one-of-a-kind planet. The entire land is so immersive that it is the only place on Walt Disney World property that cast member name tags do not say the word “Disney” – instead, they identify cast members as guides working for Alpha Centauri Expeditions.
Mouselet #1 visited Pandora this summer and had an absolutely amazing time. The theming was the most elaborate of any land in Disney, and I truly felt like I was on another planet. Disclaimer: I had only seen part of the Avatar movie before heading to Pandora, and I didn’t love it. I want everyone to know that right from the start, because I know many Disney fans have mixed feelings about Avatar. Some love it, some don’t. Even if you have never seen the movie, you will love Pandora.
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Pandora: The World of Avatar is themed after the planet that “Avatar” is set on. It is accessible by two bridges – one is off of a path that comes from the Tree of Life, and the other loops around from the back of the park. If you’ve been to Animal Kingdom in the past, you may recognize the area as the former Camp Minnie Mickey! Today, the entire area has been transformed to represent another world. Here’s the story of the land: the indigenous Na’vi people, in partnership with Alpha Centauri Expeditions, have allowed humans to visit Pandora. The sign seen here lets you know know that you’ve officially entered the planet!
Pandora: The World of Avatar is filled with exotic plants, lush greenery, floating mountains, and flowing rivers. The floating mountains (seen below) are from the iconic battle scene in Avatar. They are without a doubt the most iconic and impressive part of the land, soaring high above Animal Kingdom. One of the mountains even has a waterfall flowing from its peak! If the name isn’t obvious, the floating mountains in the movie Avatar are completely unconnected with the land. Obviously, this would be impossible to recreate, but the mountains in Pandora in Animal Kingdom really look like they are floating!
The plants are all based off of the exotic life in Pandora and add to the feeling of being on another planet. Throughout the land, there are winding paths that you can explore, each filled with unique and growing wildlife. A brook runs through the center of the land, which is filled with additional natural elements. There are even interactive experiences, artwork, and artifacts left by the Na’vi people, including instruments and tokens to Eywa.
One of our favorite parts of Pandora was the complete transformation from daytime to nighttime. At night, Pandora is bioluminscent, meaning that everything glows! It is so worth it to head to this land at both times of day – that is without a doubt one of our biggest recommendations. Seeing it during the daytime is definitely a must-do, because it allows you to see all of the details that make Pandora so immersive and unique. However, it is not to be missed after dark! From the plants to the mountains and even the ground, the land lights up in a way that’s never been seen before. It is stunning and it’s at this time that you truly feel like you’re exploring another planet! In this photo, you can see Mouselet #1’s feet contrasted with the glowing ground. It’s incredible how much it comes to life!
There are two attractions in Pandora: The World of Avatar: the Na’vi River Journey and Flight of Passage.
Na’vi River Journey
The first, “less popular” ride is the Na’vi River Journey (I put less popular in quotes because this ride still tends to have extremely long wait times). This attraction is a peaceful boat ride that is suitable for all ages. It coasts through a series of caves and showcases the magnificent bioluminescence of Pandora. The attraction features the Na’vi Shaman of Songs and her beautiful music.
I was unable to get a Fastpass, so I waited approximately 60 minutes to ride the Na’vi River Journey. The queue is mostly outdoors and showcases some Na’vi artifacts, but isn’t as impressive as some other queues (such as Flight of Passage). The ride was very well done – the audio-animatronics were by far the most lifelike I’d ever seen, and it showcased some beautiful wildlife. However, note that the ride is quite short – all-in-all, it was probably over in four minutes or less. I definitely enjoyed the attraction and am glad that I experienced it, but I wouldn’t wait an hour for it again!
Flight of Passage
I can honestly say that Flight of Passage was the best attraction that I have ever been on. Once again, I was unable to get a Fastpass (if you snag one, consider yourself one of the lucky few!), so I had to brave standby. The wait time was about 190 minutes when I got in line, which at the time, I considered to be low – it was over 6 hours earlier in the day! We got lucky and ended up waiting about 45 minutes (the sign must have been wrong), but even if the line had been 190 minutes, every second would have been worth the wait! Luckily, the queue of this line is highly immersive and keeps you entertained. You go through a number of different scenes from the movie and when you begin to near the entrance to the ride, you enter the lab where you get to see an Avatar! The Imagineers truly outdid themselves with this – it is one of the most spectacular things that I have ever seen in Disney.!
On this ride you board a banshee, which is the dragon-like creature that the Na’vi warriors ride in Pandora. Flight of Passage is a 3D augmented reality flying simulator, and is a one-of-a-kind ride. The storyline of this ride is that the humans and Na’vi are attempting to restore the banshee population to natural levels. Alpha Centauri Expeditions has reactivated the discontinued avatar program to conduct research, and allows guests to sync with an avatar to fly on a banshee to partake in the Na’vi’s tribal coming-of-age tradition. If you haven’t seen the movie, humans sync with an avatar and are able to travel as that avatar across Pandora. You literally get to fly throughout the planet and the entire experience is unbelievably lifelike! It’s somewhat similar to Soarin’, but far more immersive and realistic. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Walt Disney World!
Food and Drinks
Another amazing part of Pandora is the food and beverages. I had lunch at the Satu’li Canteen, Pandora’s quick service restaurant, where the food is all themed after items you would find on the planet. It’s incredibly unique and is definitely “out of this world!” The menu for Satu’li Canteen features create-your-own bowls, where you choose a protein, base and sauce, as well as vegetable curry or cheeseburger steamed bao buns, or “pods.” I had a steamed cheeseburger pod and it was amazing – it definitely tasted better than any quick service meal I have ever had in Disney! For dessert, or “ber’ri” in the Na’vi language, there are two options – the chocolate cake and the blueberry cream cheese mousse. I tried the chocolate cake and was again blown away! It was delicious and great to photograph!
The drinks in Pandora are also delicious. They have a variety of smoothies and alcoholic drinks, including green beer! I tried the Night Blossom cocktail and loved it – it’s super sweet and perfect for sharing. We’ll be making a feature post about all the food and drinks you can try in Pandora, since they are so unique!
Overall, I would rate Pandora: The World of Avatar an 11/10 (yes, its that amazing). I encourage everyone to watch the movie before visiting the land, because I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed it. However, even if you choose not to watch the film, you will love this land. Let us know your thoughts by commenting below!