Kaltxì, interplanetary adventurers! No doubt you've hopped here for the latest intel on visiting Pandora — The World of Avatar. Departures from Disney's Animal Kingdom are well underway. We've spent a good amount of time hopping around Pandora and can say the land is toadally cool. It is truly an amazing experience. The crowds have been amazing as well ... as in long standby wait times. Not to worry, we're here to help with our Avatar FastPass + strategies and tips!
If you're looking for the full scoop on everything you will find inside the new Avatar land, hop over to our guide to Pandora.
Now onto Our BEST Pandora World of Avatar FastPass+ Strategies and Tips!
1. Use FastPass+ for the Avatar Rides
Both of Pandora's rides—Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey—are available for FastPass+. Due to the high interest, guests are only allowed to reserve ONE of these two attractions per day. They will then have the option to select two other FastPass+ reservations.
For FastPass+, the priority is Avatar Flight of Passage. This one is much tougher to get. (Bear in mind if you get a FastPass+ reservation for it, you will skip the cool queue elements.) For your other two FastPass+ picks, we recommend Kilimanjaro Safaris or Kali River Rapids.
2. Visit Pandora—The World of Avatar during Morning Extra Magic Hours
This strategy requires rising at hours you wouldn't normally while on vacation (as well as tons of caffeine). However, these inconveniences can pay off big time. Extra Magic Hours at Disney's Animal Kingdom allow Disney World Resort guests to enter the park one hour before official opening (check the Crowd Calendar for your specific dates). Hours are normally 8 a.m to 9 a.m.
We visited Pandora—The World of Avatar on June 3, one week after its grand opening. Extra Magic Hours were from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. As heavy advocates of arriving at the park before the gates open, we hopped off the parking lot tram at 6:30 a.m.
The above photo was taken at 6:50 a.m. on the main entrance bridge to Pandora. We were led into the land shortly after—gasping at the floating mountains—while following the masses en route to the entrance to Avatar Flight of Passage. From there, we traveled into the extensive queue and, for the most part, NEVER STOPPED until we reached the point where riders are grouped for boarding into either the upper or lower link chambers.
After experiencing that attraction, we hopped over to the queue for Na'vi River Journey. We weaved our way through the queue at a leisurely pace, not as brisk as the walk through Flight of Passage. A short 15 to 20 minutes later, we made our way into the boarding area and sailed down the river.
What was our total time to experience both attractions without using FastPass+? ONE HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES. By the time we emerged from Na'vi River Journey, the latecomers and non-resort hotel guests had arrived, bumping wait times on both rides. We'd seen BOTH in less than 90 minutes.
The morning Extra Magic Hour is a great idea for those of you who are unable to secure a Fastpass+ reservation for either attraction. Once the extra Extra Magic Hours end July 4, the a.m. Extra Magic Hours become your best chance to see the rides with shorter waits.
Already grab a Fastpass+? Great! Consider arriving for the morning Extra Magic Hours, experience the Avatar rides and visit the rest of Animal Kingdom. Or if you have a later Fastpass, head back to the hotel and take a nap.
3. Use the Nighttime Extra Magic Hours if You're Staying On-Site Between May 27 and July 4
If you are staying on-site at a Disney World hotel (or the Swan or Dolphin) during these dates, you can experience these rides during evening Extra Magic Hours. You will still encounter higher waits, but less so than during regular hours. You could still make Avatar Flight of Passage your first FastPass+ priority and then ride again in the evening if you wanted to experience it twice.
One thing of note from the first few days of Pandora's opening: Disney closed the standby lines for Na'vi River Journey and Flight of Passage around 8:30 or 9:00 p.m., depending on the wait time. Guests currently in line got to experience the attraction. At 11:00 p.m., both attractions were re-opened for Extra Magic Hours until 1:00 a.m.
5. Make Your Avatar FastPass+ Reservations Early, Especially If You're Staying Off Site or Can't Go During EMH
If you're staying off site or can't use the Extra Magic Hours, make sure to book reservations when your window opens at the 30-day mark. If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying. If this fails, plan to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom on a day when morning Extra Magic Hours are not being held. Arrive at least 45 minutes before the park opens. When it does, make Flight of Passage your first stop and then Na’Vi River Journey.
6. Consider a Second Day at Disney's Animal Kingdom
It’s safe to say with the additions of Pandora and Rivers of Light that Disney’s Animal Kingdom has become a “full-day” park. But it’s still too early to tell for sure if it’s a two-day park. But for guests determined to experience the new Pandora attractions, especially during the busy summer months, visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom over two days is another option. This makes even more sense for those with Park Hopper tickets. You would aim to make Flight of Passage your priority FastPass+ reservation the first day and then Na’vi River Journey the priority FastPass+ reservation the second day.
7. Use a Park Plan
8. Get Familiar with the Environment
First things first. We all know the reason anyone visits Pandora. It’s not for the killer rides or the unique snacks. It’s for the prime photo-op in front of the famous floating mountains. Want to know the best place? Right past Nomad Lounge after you go through the entrance. Hop right at the fork in the path. This is the most awesome location in Pandora to get a full shot of the mountains in all of their glory. The best part? A Disney PhotoPass photographer is usually on duty to get that special shot for you. Don’t forget to request a magic shot, where a certain Pandoran creature may be found soaring high above.
Just beyond this photo-op is a set of stairs leading to a small bridge that will give you a closer look at the mountains as well as the aquatic and plant life below you. Check out the Sagittari in the small pond. Another great photo spot is directly in front of Pongu Pongu Lounge, where you can get another great mountain shot as well as a selfie with an Amplified Mobility Platform, as seen in the movie!
One time-saving Disney Avatar tip you'll want to remember is that there are two entrances into Pandora. The main entrance—most convenient for those of you “rope-dropping”— is right past Tiffins and Nomad Lounge. The second available pathway into Pandora is off of Harambe Bridge near Festival of the Lion King in Africa. Both of these locations are entrances and exits. For less traffic, I recommend heading toward the path less followed at Harambe Bridge. This path will lead you straight to the dining area and closer to Avatar Flight of Passage … the perfect combo.
As for what time of day to visit Avatar land, it’s important to see the best of both worlds. Go right before dusk, so you can see the beauty of Pandora in the sunlight as well as the magic of the bioluminescent plants shining at night.
9. Speak the Native Language
Whenever you run into a cast member… or excuse me, an Alpha Centauri Expeditions team member … be sure to ask how to speak Na’vi! You’ll notice right away that some foreign words are being used throughout the land. You are free to learn with help from the ACE team or a Na'vi translation device you can buy. Here are a few words to help you get started.
- Kaltxí means “Hello”
- Oeru syaw … means “My name is …”
- Oel ngati kameie means “I see you” (The proper way to greet a banshee!)
10. Know Where to Sit on the Avatar Rides
Even as a frog who spends every day splashin’ in a pond, I was blown away by the visual effects and cool natural aspects of the movie "Avatar." All of this greatness comes to life in Na’vi River Journey. On your way onto this slow boat ride, take note of the unique queue. When you enter the covered area, you’ll notice that the ceiling is woven by the Na’vi themselves. There is a center portion that is woven blue and leads you to the entrance, with neat displays along the way. This is representative of the journey you are about to take on the ride as you travel to meet the Shaman. You’ll find similar handmade, woven Na’vi art throughout Pandora.
I recommend snagging a front row spot so you can have an unobstructed view of every creature, bioluminescent plant and special effect that consumes this ride. There are two rows per boat, and two boats loading at a time … which means rows one or three are your best options when they are loading. It’s worth asking the last ACE Team Member (the one who asks how many are in your party) if you can have a front row. Each row of the boat holds three to four people, depending on how fully grown your frog squad is!
The part of Pandora I was most blown away by was Avatar Flight of Passage. The amazement starts long before you get on the ride. The Flight of Passage queue … wow, there is a lot to take in! The first portion has a very natural Na’vi vibe as you walk through caves covered in their paintings. There is even a hand-woven banshee outside! But as you go further, you’ll be in ACE territory. After all, flying on a banshee is all part of an experiment … so you’ll walk through a lab straight out of the movie. All of those experiments are REAL. Toadally. Take your time to gaze at all of the experiments and test tubes, and especially the Avatar itself, floating in a tube ready for transport. You’ll spot a banshee skull too … I never knew how big those things were! Even the handrails are ACE-branded. Quick tip: There’s a water bottle refill station toward the middle of the queue. You know we frogs love to stay hydrated and eco-friendly.
THIS PART CONTAINS SPOILERS. The great part about Avatar Flight of Passage is that there’s not a bad seat. There is just one row—so no pressure to get in a certain position. Once you’ve been counted off and let through to the ride portion, be ready to wait. But don’t worry, it’s fun! You’ll get a couple how-to videos on the fascinating process of linking to an Avatar to experience your banshee flight, be matched to a Na’vi, and get a little bit of background on the experience. The seat for this ride is very much like a motorcycle (I imagine, anyway … Mommy Frog won’t let me ride one!) so it’s like you are really riding a banshee. If you aren’t too distracted by the mesmerizing views of Pandora as you’re soaring around, you’ll even notice that you can feel the banshee breathing below you. CRAZY … and so cool. Be sure to look in every direction rather than just straight forward to truly take in the environment. OK, SPOILERS DONE.
11. Go Standby the First Time
ACE has been thoughtful enough to install Disney's FastPass+ system in Pandora to help with lines. Anyhoo, as mentioned above using FastPass+ can definitely help alleviate some of the waits for these new rides. But take an Avatar tip from us and do the standby line for your very first experience on Flight of Passage. As we said, the queue is super cool and it sets up the story that you'll be experiencing. The FastPass+ queue—some of which is pictured above—isn't all that interesting and skips most of the cool stuff. That's a bummer. Scoop out a short wait—usually during the first hour the park is open—and make your way inside to Avatar Flight of Passage.
12. Sample Pandora's Sweet Treats
If you’re looking for a unique snack in Animal Kingdom, that is reason enough to make a pit stop in Pandora. Pongu Pongu Lounge is home to what is sure to be a modern Disney favorite like the Dole Whip or coveted Violet Lemonade … it is the Night Blossom. This frozen beverage is the most Instagram-worthy drink you’ll ever lay eyes on. Even better, it tastes just as good as it looks. Layers of apple and pear flavors are topped with Boba balls (Pandora’s signature garnish) to make a perfectly sweet and sour drink. Our tip? Split one of these among one or two of your frog pals. It is very sweet and might give you a bit of a brain freeze and/or sugar rush if consumed alone!
Our next new favorite calls Pongu Pongu home as well. If you’ve ever had Pluto’s Cheese Blintzes at Chef Mickey’s … Pandora’s Pineapple Lumpia are the new and improved version, assuming you’re a pineapple fan. The golden crisp outside contains the sweet combination of cream cheese and pineapple. The pineapple isn’t overwhelming and is perfectly balanced with the other flavors. Yum!
Psst … take notice of all of the details that encompass Pongu Pongu. There are ACE team member tags hanging from the front of the shop, lost radios and more handmade Na’vi crafts.
13. Take a Selfie on the #mosswall
Throughout Pandora, you'll find native Na'vi pottery, amazingly woven totems and other artifacts. It's an amazing way for the Na'vi to show us their culture and rituals. And what ritual have human travelers brought to share on Pandora? The #mosswall selfie!
All over Pandora, you'll find stone walls that have been overtaken with moss. Early visitors started taking selfies against these walls and posting on Instagram with #mosswall. One particular wall, located just in front of Windtraders, became the central hub for this photo op.
Sure enough, the hashtag made it's way across the internet, and the #mosswall craze caught on. So much that there's now a Disney PhotoPass cast member at that spot for photos with the famous #mosswall. Formal or selfie, take a few moments and add your legacy to the #mosswall phenomenon.
14. Use the Mobile Ordering
You know the MyDisneyExperience app is your hub for Fastpass+. But now it's your key to unlocking the joy of mobile food ordering.
Satu'li Canteen inside Pandora is the first Disney World restaurant to feature mobile ordering. My frog family tried it on our visit to Pandora and were leaping with joy over how easy it was. Here’s how it works:
- Within the app, use the search tool to get to Satu’li Canteen. Select “Order Food.” (This is pretty self-explanatory so far, right?)
- Select the item(s) you would like to order. With certain meals, there will be customization options … such as what base and sauce you’d like in your Chopped Wood-Grilled Chicken Bowl. You can add or remove ingredients as well, like if you want to skip the Boba balls. Once you’ve made your selections, click “+Add.”
- If you want to order food for your tadpoles as well, click the back arrow and select your next item. They may be interested in the Cheeseburger Steamed Pods – Bao Buns. This is much simpler, as you only have the option is doubling up on a certain side, rather than getting both the Vegetable slaw and chips.
- Click “Review Order” to make sure all of the details are correct, then click “Purchase.” You can place your order however early you desire on the day of your visit, and pick up whenever you’d like!
- When you’re frog family is ready for these Pandoran delicacies, head to the restaurant, go back into the app and click “I’m here” when you arrive. You may be tempted to complete this step early, but don’t! The team will get your food out immediately at the special mobile pick-up line. Voila!
The only current restrictions are that you cannot request special dietary needs or use dining plan credits via mobile ordering in the app.
15. Shop Like a Na’vi
Windtraders is the no. 1 shopping destination in Pandora. Located right between Pongu Pongu and at the exit of Flight of Passage, you could spend hours in here admiring the detail of the Na’vi goods. This spot has a fascinating combination of natural Na’vi souvenirs such as plants, jewelry and banshees, and more ACE-inspired gear such as glow-in-the-dark apparel.
Lily and Mom’s favorite was the light-up clutch wallet that showcases a landscape of Pandora. I have to admit, it was super cool looking. But my favorite were the Na’vi figures, customized to match YOU! A scan of your face is completed, and then you can choose features in clothing to represent you, in Avatar form. How cool? I can’t decide which I want more … the custom figure or my own personal banshee! You can pick your banshee, name it, hold it on your shoulder, and watch it interact with yourself and others. These prized banshees have flown off of shelves, so they may or may not be available when you visit.
There are also tons of Na’vi-style apparel, including ears, tails, hair braids, and glow-in-the-dark shirts, hoodies and backpacks. You can practically transform into an Avatar character yourself. If you want to go the extra mile, you can also get your face painted at Colors of Mo’ara, where there are some of the greatest face painting options on Disney property.
Don’t worry, Windtraders stocks all of your classic souvenirs as well. Picture frames, stationery, toys and more will amaze you with their quality look and nod to Na’vi culture.
16. Discover the Details
When you're inside Sau'tuli Canteen, take a break from your Cheeseburger Pods and take a look at some unique details from the Canteen's "past." One side of the wall features a photo of the Sau'tuli Caneen when it was an RDA mess hall. The photo features soldiers holding trays of food. Nearby, you'll see a framed photo of Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE) Founder Mashall Laam. Next to the photo is a letter from Lamm printed on ACE letterhead. The letter details the day that ACE was granted permission to begin sending Earth visitors to Pandora. These little touches—stuff most guests don't event notice—make it feel "lived in" and add a deep dimension to the storytelling.
Find the Handprints
A friendly ACE Team member clued us into a hidden gem that most people pass by. Flight of Passage features four Link Chambers—A, B,C and D. Before being grouped for your link chamber, ask the ACE Team Member if you could use Chamber A or B. Don't worry, there is no difference in the experience using any of the chambers.
After your ride on Flight of Passage, you'll head down a staircase and head down a large cement-walled hallway. On the right side of this hallway, you'll see three red handprints with initials underneath.
These handprints belong to the three creative minds behind the creation of Pandora—The World of Avatar. JC = James Cameron, writer/director of "Avatar," JL = John Landau, producer of "Avatar," and JR= Joe Rohde, executive designer and vice president, creative with Walt Disney Imagineering. It was so cool to see this neat easter egg planted by three great creatives.
Whew! We know that's a lot to take in. So what questions do you have about Pandora? Do you plan on using FastPass+ for Pandora or take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours? Share your questions or plans in comments below!