7 Tips For Visiting Walt Disney World's Pandora
By Nancy Schretter, Editor
There’s a whole new world at Walt Disney World, and it’s an incredible place. Exploring Pandora – The World of Avatar is an amazing adventure for families. Pandora’s thrilling rides, floating mountains, exotic flowers and plant life, and overall environment are unrivalled. The messages of conservation and environmental stewardship conveyed in James Cameron’s Avatar are beautifully brought to life in this exciting new area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Here are seven tips for getting the most out of your visit to Pandora and making the journey through the Valley of Mo’ara easy and memorable:
- Stay at a Disney Property.Walt Disney World offers accommodations for every type of family vacation budget. Staying on property provides numerous benefits that will enhance your visit to Pandora. Walt Disney World property guests have access to Disney bus transportation from their resort to and from the Animal Kingdom, which is a major advantage for those planning to arrive early and stay late. Disney resort guests can also book a FastPass+ as far out as 60 days from their planned visit, compared with 30 days in advance for those staying at a non-Disney property. FastPass+ allows guests to ride Flight of Passage and the Na’vi River Journey as quickly as possible. Staying at a Disney property also provides guests with access to Extra Magic Hours. This enables you to visit Pandora early or stay late on selected days. Disney typically rotates Extra Magic Hours between its parks. Since many families visit Pandora on peak days, Extra Magic Hours and FastPass+ provide numerous opportunities to enjoy the park with fewer hassles and shorter wait times.
- See Avatar Before Visiting Pandora.The incredible environments and experiences in James Cameron’s Avatar movie are brilliantly recreated at Disney’s Pandora – The World of Avatar. The moon of Pandora is 4.4 light years away from Earth and the setting is extraordinary. By watching the movie in advance, your family will understand more about Pandora, the way of the life of the Na’vi and their values. While understanding the story line is helpful, don’t expect everything to be exactly as it was depicted in the movie. After all, you’ll be visiting Pandora years after the Resource Development Associates (RDA) group was banished. Look for some of the remnants of that earlier time. The Alpha Centauri Expedition (AEC) guides around the park can help you find them.
- Get A FastPass+ for Flight of Passage and the Na’vi River Journey.Pandora’s two main attractions, Flight of Passage and the Na’vi River Journey, are incredible rides. Make sure to reserve ride times using FastPass+ as soon as your booking window opens. The Flight of Passage ride is an exhilarating experience, allowing guests to engage all their senses as they explore Pandora on the back of a flying banshee. Guests swoop and soar, feeling their banshee breathing as they fly with the wind. On Pandora’s popular Na’vi River Journey, families can float along the river through Pandora’s bioluminescent rain forest, marveling at the flora, fauna and the amazing Shaman of Songs. You’ll want to go on both rides more than once. Having FastPass+ access will give you more time to enjoy other aspects of the park, like dining at Satu’li Canteen or having drinks at Pongu Pongu. While FastPass+ may not eliminate lines completely, that’s probably a good thing. Your family will have more time to marvel at the floating Hallelujah Mountains, the flora lining the pathways, the waterfalls cascading off the mountains, the intricate cave markings along the Flight of Passage entry point, and the research facility complete with laboratory experiments and a giant Na’vi avatar floating in a tank.
- Become Fully Immersed in the Experience.While Pandora’s rides are amazing, getting fully involved in the land and its culture brings the experience to a whole new level. Pandora comes to life through Disney’s immersive storytelling and incredible attention to detail. Rub the Flaska Reclinata plant near the entrance to Pandora and watch it release a refreshing mist of spores on family members and others standing nearby. Beat the drums and listen to the drums talk back, or watch the performers play the drums and absorb the sounds of the Na’vi. Above all, augment your experience, by seeking out the Alpha Centauri Expedition (AEC) guides as you explore this 12–acre park. AEC guides can tell stories about Pandora and their experiences, provide directions, or even help with the language of the native Na’vi. They can also provide more information about Pandora’s plant species. Try to figure out what are real exotic plants are mixed in with Pandoran species as you walk along the trails. Kids can also fully participate by taking part in Pandora’s free Wilderness Explorer program and earning badges. Check in at the Wilderness Explorer stations to learn more.
- Order Your Satu’li Canteen Meal Using Disney’s Mobile App.Dining at Pandora’s Satu’li Canteen is a unique experience. As befits the setting, the food at this quick service spot is like nothing else you’ll find at Walt Disney World. The food is fresh, colorful and bursting with flavor. Try the Scrambled Egg Pod with Pandoran Sunrise juice in the morning or relax at lunch or dinner with a Beef, Chicken or Sustainable Fish bowl accompanied by a Banshee Chardonnay or a Mo’ara High Country Ale. Kids have their own meals, too. There’s no need to wait in line to order and pay for this amazing food experience. To minimize your wait time, simply use your smart phone and the Disney App to order and pay remotely, then just check in with the “I’m here” button when you arrive at the Satu’li Canteen.
- Arrive Early and Stay Late.While getting to Pandora as soon as the park opens and staying late will help you beat the crowds, there are additional reasons for lengthening your day in Animal Kingdom. Like any land filled with nature, Pandora looks and sounds different in the morning and at night. This faraway moon is unique, however. In the morning, you’ll hear the sounds of animals waking. In the evenings, Pandora’s walkways and plants glow with colorful bioluminescence, animal sounds echo throughout the park, and waterfalls light up. If you and your family need to rest, head back to the hotel for a swim in the middle of the day and then return to Pandora in the evening to experience the colors and rhythms of the night. Wear white or light colors and you’ll find yourself glowing, too.
- Bring Pandora Home.After being on Pandora 4.4 light years from Earth, you’re likely to find yourself wanting to commemorate your visit. Stopping in at Windtraders, Pandora’s gift shop, will do the trick. Here, families can purchase unique items like their own baby banshee that perches on your shoulder and moves via an easy–to–hide hand device. Baby banshees have their own rookery at Windtraders and are available in ten different color patterns. Guests can also create their own personalized avatar figures at Windtraders with the help of an Alpha Centuri Expedition Scan Technician. Facial imaging is used to create these personalized avatars and they can be customized in multiple ways. Reservations are required. There’s more to bring home from Pandora than souvenirs, however. Families can talk about Pandora’s messages of conservation and environmental stewardship and brainstorm about ways they can help take care of nature and our planet.
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