Frog Editor's Note - While expeditions to Pandora—The World of Avatar officially begin May 27, sneak peeks and previews are currently taking place. Many things change during this time, so we'll be frequently updating this post with the latest information. We're hopping down shortly after this new land opens, and will give you some insider tips soon after that!
Kaltxì interplanetary adventurers! There's no doubt that you're here because you're preparing to travel across the stars to visit Pandora The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Our frog family is well traveled, but—to be honest—we're rookies when it comes to visiting new worlds (mostly due to Leap's previous bad experiences with hypersleep, but that's another story). However, we've conquered our fears and have hopped together to give you our visitor's guide to Pandora. This post will give you an overview, tips and answer common questions. Visits to Pandora officially begin May 27. Oel ngati kameie!
Visitor's Guide to Pandora The World of Avatar
Pandora—The World of Avatar is inspired by the 2009 film "AVATAR" by director James Cameron. In the film, soldiers from Earth travel to Pandora and are linked into "Avatars," large creatures that resemble the planet's native inhabitants, the Na'vi. As Disney tells it, guests will visit Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom with the help of ACE, Alpha Centauri Expeditions. This group acts as your host and tour guide on the planet. ACE has created experiences that will let you fly on the back of a banshee and sample local food and drink. Check out the ACE website at Visit Pandora to learn more about this company's backstory. Pandora will feature three attractions( two rides and a walk through), two dining options, and one gift shop ... because who doesn't need Na'vi plush?
How Does Pandora Tie into Disney's Animal Kingdom?
Animal Kingdom was designed to showcase and illustrate man's relationship with nature. The theme of the film "AVATAR" also focused on man's relationship with nature. In many ways, Pandora is another way to view man's relationship with nature. Whoa, that's deep man.
Where Is Pandora Located within Disney's Animal Kingdom?
Good question. Upon entering Animal Kingdom and heading into Discovery Island, you'll want to bear (ANIMAL JOKE) left at the Tree of Life. Hang another left at Pizzafari and follow the path toward Pandora. For people who are familiar with the park, Pandora is where Camp Minnie-Minnie was located. While the above location is the main entryway into Pandora, it's not the only way in. There is a second entrance located just past Festival of the Lion King in the Africa section. This alternate entrance will take you along the park's river, which should give you a pleasant approach to Pandora.
Pandora Attractions and Entertainment
Flight of Passage - Flight of Passage is a motion theater ride where visitors straddle ride seats that allow them to share the experience of their avatar riding on the back of a flying Mountain Banshee on the world of Pandora. From what we understand, this is kind of like watching Soarin' while seated on a bicycle. Guests will be "linked" to their own avatar in a pre-show area before boarding the attraction. This ride will have a Single Rider option.
Na'vi River Journey - Guests will board eight-passenger reed boats for a four-and-a-half-minute voyage through the bioluminescent forest of Pandora, culminating in an encounter with the nearly 10-foot-tall Na'vi Shaman of Songs. Tad has footage of this family-friendly boat ride with magical elements posted on our YouTube channel.
Valley of Mo'ara - Much has been said of the majestic floating mountains and Pandoran flora that pop up in pictures. Valley of Mo'ara is a walking experience, with different pathways that wander through the alien plant life and allow you to travel under the floating mountains. It appears that you'll travel through the Valley of Mo'ara to reach Flight of Passage.
Accessibility and Other Information
It's always possible Disney could change accessibility and rider requirements during testing of Avatar Flight of Passage and the Na'Vi River Journey. As of now, this is what we know:
Avatar Flight of Passage will have a height restriction of 44in (112cm) or taller. Rider switch will be offered. Guests must transfer from wheelchairs/EVC's to the ride vehicle. As for restrictions, Disney has this posted on the Flight of Passage website:
- WARNING! For safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride.
Na'vi River Journey has no height restrictions or similar warnings. Guests must transfer from wheelchairs/EVC's to the ride vehicle. Rider switch will be offered.
Sati'li Canteen - Pandora's main dining area will serve dishes inspired by its nature-friendly surroundings. Proteins, veggies and grains are served bowl-style. Bio Buns filled with cheeseburger or vegetable curry, as well as a kid-friendly menu are available. Desserts and themed beverages will also be served. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
This counter-service restaurant will be the first dining location at Disney World where guests will have the option of utilizing mobile ordering. Guests will select their meals through the My Disney Experience app and pick up their meal at a designated window.
Pongu Pongu - Otherworldly and refreshing drinks are on tap at Pongu Pongu. This beverage stop will serve eclectic alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, such as the Pandalorian Sunrise. Two varieties of Banshee wine, as well as two kinds of Pandora-brewed craft beer—suds on Pandora you guys!—will be served. Pongu Pongu is described as a lounge, and is attached to Windtraders (see below), but we believe it's more of a walk-up window. Pongu Pongu will also serve a signature dessert—Lumpia. It is described as an egg role filled with pineapple cream cheese.
Windtraders - The lone gift shop at Pandora—The World of Avatar will be (conveniently) located at the exit of Flight of Passage. While the shop will sell various theme park traditional souvenirs—hats, pins, plush—it will also offer unique Pandora items. The one we're most interested in seeing is the banshee pet. These small mechanical puppets are said to be "linked" to you and you may control them with a small remote. You may also build your own 10-inch Na'Vi figure and create your own Pandora necklace.
Colors of Mo'ara - This small station will be available for guests who want to add some Na'Vi inspired face-painting to their look.
One set of restrooms will be located just beyond the main entrance to Pandora, and another set will be near Satu'li Canteen. As parents, we know this is VITAL information.
YOU WILL WANT TO SEE THIS PLACE AT NIGHT. That's the message we're getting from the advance images and marketing from Pandora—The World of Avatar. Images of the bioluminescent plants and flora are just beginning to make their way online. This new land was designed with the lighting in mind, as imagineers try to give us the same nighttime experience on Pandora as we've seen in the film. Disney is even placing a temporary premium on this nighttime experience. From May 27 through July 4, Disney resort hotel guests will have Extra Magic Hours access from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. every night. We're big fans of staying on-site at Disney World. For those of you staying on-property during this time frame, those Extra Magic Hours are your best bet for seeing Pandora at night.
We're reading reports about a nighttime drum circle ceremony that will kick-off the lighting of Pandora each night. This sounds similar to the "Sh-Boom" lighting moment that takes place inside Cars Land in Disney California Adventure.
I'm Interested in Speaking The Na'Vi Language. Can I Practice At Pandora?
Yes! Your ACE hosts will be able to teach you key Na'Vi words and phrases. Windtraders will be selling a Na'Vi translator to help you further perfect your language. Here's a head start ... Irayo means thanks!
Do the Attractions Have Fastpass+?
Yes. We have a separate post full of tips and strategies for using FastPass+ in Pandora.
Do I Need To See The Movie First?
Nope. Newcomers to Pandora—The World of Avatar will be given the backstory and information needed to understand what's going on through the attractions as well as chatting with ACE hosts (cast members).
How Crowded Will This New Land Be?
It's safe to say that this new land will be very busy. Families and locals alike will want to see the latest and greatest. With the opening coinciding with the end of the school year, families will be making their way to Disney World for summertime fun. This starts the busy summer months, with heavy crowds the norm. We don't have an indication if they will temporarily close off entry to Pandora on a daily basis due to capacity, but it's a possibility.
Will You Have an Updated Undercover Tourist Park Plan?
Pre-Opening Pandora Sightseeing Strategies
As always, FastPass+ is your best option for securing a spot on Flight of Passage or Na'vi River Journey. Yet, it's important to think of Pandora as a land to be experienced rather than two attractions to check off on your to-do list. Disney has designed a lush land that asks guests to observe the natural beauty and appreciate our relationship with nature. We can picture ourselves slowly wandering through the Valley of Mo'ara and appreciating the view. Keep that in mind as you prepare to visit Pandora.
Consider an early start at Disney's Animal Kingdom essential to seeing Pandora. Arrive at least a half-hour before gates open. (You won't be alone. Trust us.) Follow the masses to Pandora and hit the ride you don't have a FastPass+ reservation for, first. Once that's done, hop to other popular park rides. Return when it's time to use your FastPass and then linger around the land. Alternately if Pandora is your priority over other park rides, hang out in the land after your first ride before the big crowds show up—usually two hours after the gates have opened. Use Fastpass+ for the remaining rides that interest you most. Use our app to keep track of wait times.
Consider an early dinner at 4:00 or 4:30 p.m. Refueled and refreshed, start making your way toward Pandora, perhaps fitting in a viewing of Festival of the Lion King. Once sunset starts, then make your way pack into Pandora. You should arrive just in time to see the bioluminescent flora and lighting brighten up the Valley of Mo'ara.
As we mentioned before, guests staying on-site at a Disney Resort will have special nighttime access to Pandora from May 27 through July 4. While the land won't be empty, you'll have a great opportunity to see the land with less of a crowd during these nighttime Extra Magic Hours. If you can get in the two big attractions first thing in the morning, then this extra time will let you leisurely take in the spectacle of Pandora The World of Avatar.
Are you preparing to visit Pandora—The World of Avatar? What are you looking forward to the most? Will you be visiting during the Extra Magic Hours that are available exclusively to Disney World Resort hotel guests? Let us know in the comments below!