Pandora: The World of Avatar - my thoughts
Updated: Aug 23, 2019
Kaltxi, and welcome back to my blog! Just a couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to head to Walt Disney World solo on my inaugural #NathanGoesSolo trip, and with that I got my first look at Pandora: The World of Avatar over at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Following my experience 4.4 light years from earth, I wanted to share a few of my thoughts and observations about this exciting new land!
Having only seen Avatar once or twice, I wasn't sure what to expect and how much I'd need to know about the film to understand the land. I vaguely remembered blue people and flying creatures, but that was about it. I was very pleased to see that, despite my ropy knowledge of the film, the land was visually stunning for both fans of the movie or not. The landscaping is immersive and impressive, especially the "floating mountains" which stand so high above you. The level of detail is also second-to-none with Pandoran plants everywhere looking fantastic in the daytime and glowing by night! (I'll get into my nighttime experience a little later)
Pandora is home to two attractions - one that I ABSOLUTELY LOVED and the other that left me a little underwhelmed. Lets start with the great - Flight of Passage - which is now my absolute favourite ride i've ever been on. At first I was a little apprehensive that Disney were "doing a Universal" with a 3D screen-based ride, but thankfully I was quickly proved wrong. They really brought something never-seen-before to the table and that is what made the ride so amazing. The ride vehicle is unique, you straddle it like a bike before restraints are activated behind your back and legs. This is where the real immersion begins, before you've even started the ride you can already feel the Banshee you are sitting on breathing beneath you. Then the ride begins... I'm not going to ruin anything (words wouldn't do it justice anyway), but prepare for an exhilarating and exciting flight over incredible landscapes and scenes, and even come face-to-face with some other Pandoran creatures! If you've ridden Soarin', expect a more intense version of that. The ride was visually stunning and technically impressive, but you'll have to go out to Disney and ride for yourself to find out why!
Now we come onto Na'vi River Journey, the biggest let-down in the land in my opinion. Now I am in no way saying it isn't impressive, it just didn't impress me as much as I thought it would, and should. River Journey is one for all the family, from young children to grandparents. The boat ride starts off travelling through the beautiful Pandoran bio-luminescence before guests meet the Shaman of Songs - a stunningly fluid audio-animatronic. The ride is rather short, especially for the long lines it seems to create. Unless you have a FastPass or the wait time is less than 40-50 minutes, I'd suggest giving it a miss and riding later. I wouldn't queue hours for it, that is for sure.
Besides the rides, Pandora also offers some entertainment, including the 'Swotu Wayä' drum show, where performers demonstrate the instruments embedded into the land. Through demonstration and audience participation, the drum show calls in the banshees from high up in the rookeries. A great interactive show which shouldn't be missed. Disney have also just recently introduced the Pandora Utility Suit, a walkaround meet that explains a bit about Pandora and the world A.C.E. are doing on the planet. I'm definitely looking forward to checking out the new offering on my next trip.
Snacks and drinks are available at Pongu Pongu, which means Party Party in Na'vi. I tried the Night Blossom drink from that location and really enjoyed it. The sweet fruit flavors were combined well in a frozen beverage, topped with Passion Fruit bobas - small little balls that popped in your mouth giving a burst of fruity flavor. I'll definitely be picking up another Night Blossom on my next trip to Pandora!
The land also offers a quick service dining location, Satu'li Canteen. The restaurant itself is unlike most others at Disney World, offering a wide selection of alternative themed dishes - you won't find your burgers and chicken nuggets here! Options include bowls (where you pick a base, protein and sauce), and 'pods' (vegetable curry and cheeseburger flavors). I chose the chicken and rice bowl which was rather enjoyable, if a little plain as I don't like any of the sauces offered. Satu'li is a great alternative and one I recommend everyone check out when visiting Pandora. I don't think it lives up to the rave reviews its got though, but that could be because i'm a fussy eater and wasn't adventurous with my meal choice! Satu'li Canteen features Disney's new Mobile Order service, which allows you to pre-order your meal using the My Disney Experience app and bypass the queue once arriving at the restaurant - this was a great feature and one I used a lot across property.
Overall I was insanely impressed with Pandora, its immersion and level of detail gives me great hope for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge when that opens in 2019. If Disney's Imagineers can do what they've done with a small-ish franchise like Avatar, what they can do with Star Wars is endless. You can check out a bit more of Pandora in my Animal Kingdom vlogs, currently being shared over on my YouTube channel. I'd really appreciate if you'd subscribe, like and comment!