The phenomenal Disney Imagineers have created a new fantasy landscape that you’ll want to add to your bucket list of places to explore.
Photo by Steven Diaz/Disney
Welcome to the magical realm of Disney’s newest themed area, Pandora — The World of Avatar. Located inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, you’ll forget all about the real world when you enter this mystical land filled with cascading waterfalls and floating mountains inhabited by vibrantly colored flying banshees. The banshees reside alongside the Na’vi people (extraterrestrial humanoids) in the enchanted Valley of Mo’ara. Slide into your seat for this simulated ride and you’re off to a new world: a mystical bioluminescent forest that becomes more enchanted as evening appears. This technologically ambitious project resonates with memories of the movie Avatar and the area is aglow in a celebration of the power of nature. Mickey and Minnie may choose to visit on their own but Pandora isn’t their home; it’s the home of the Na’vi and no cast of Disney characters can be found here.
It’s stimulation for the senses on every front and the pinnacle is the exhilarating ride, Avatar Flight of Passage, a breathtaking 3-D adventure on the back of a banshee, which is matched to you in an entrance chamber during stage one of this journey. Your virtual flight on a banshee, soaring over out-of-this-world and in-your-face scenery is a stunning visual experience and a thrill seeker’s dream. This is the ultimate rite of passage found in a globetrotting daredevil’s wildest imagination — but even better because it is Disney and the crème de la crème of fascination and thrill. I’ve experienced this amazing flight three times so far, and am anxiously awaiting my fourth trip! Travelgirl tip: Try to get a FastPass, as we have seen wait times as long as three hours.
A perfect complement to the Avatar Flight of Passage is The Na’vi River Journey, a second Pandora ride that offers a serene float down a mysterious river. Relax and let your imagination do the soaring this time as you soak up the magic vibes of the Na’vi River and the delights along its banks. This expedition is available to children of all ages who will be mesmerized coasting through caves filled with glowing plants and animals who move freely along the walls. This family adventure is Disney at its best; a river of wonder, to engage your spirit with awe!
Aside from the rides, the focal point of Pandora is the mesmerizing Valley of Mo’ara. Awash in colorful fauna and floating mountains, the Valley of Mo’ara affords discovery of a new world. Try your skills at the Na’vi drum circle; the area is interactive and some of the plants are the instruments you play. Trees play a magical role too; watch out for shooting water! It’s one surprise after another in this colorful fantasyland.
Adventure stirs the appetite, so you’ll want to make time to dine at Pandora Satu’li Canteen, which sports a menu that would make any banshee proud. The art and culture of the Na’vi abound at this eatery. Plan for the unusual and enjoy a slow roasted sliced beef bowl, a sustainable fish bowl, chili-spiced crispy fruit tofu bowl or, my favorite, the cheeseburger steamed pods on bao buns. It’s out of this world! Children’s meal options include the Taylu, an all-beef hot dog wrapped in dough, and a fabulous cheese quesadilla. If you’d like to make an adult beverage part of your Pandora experience, I recommend the Dreamwalker Sangria and the Banshee Pinot Noir. There’s a bounty of beer to choose from as well. Travelgirl Tip: Dine early or late; the lines are long at lunchtime.
Bonus treats: Have your face painted by the Na’vi and be sure to stop by Windtraders so you can bring a bit of Pandora home. Shop for your own banshee who will sit atop your shoulder, choose some savvy apparel to wear at home and around the park and let Disney take your photo and create an Avatar figurine that looks exactly like you. Travelgirl Tip: Head to Windtraders first if you want your own Avatar figurine; it takes a few hours to get this done.
Disney’s newest addition is absolutely sensational. Stay tuned, next summer Toy Story at Disney will come alive. For more information on Pandora, go to: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/animal-kingdom/pandora-world-of-avatar
Travelgirl Tip: Book your room early. If you stay on a Disney property you can book dining 180 days in advance and for FastPasses, 60 days. Be sure to tell them Travelgirl sent you.