Late this spring, Walt Disney World Resort’s Animal Kingdom debuted the visually stunning new world of Pandora, the beautiful land depicted in the visually stunning movie Avatar. In my blog post below (1) I’ll tell you a little bit about the latest thrill ride, and (2) share my tips on how to avoid a long wait!
Consistent with messaging of other attractions in the park and the movie Avatar, there is a heavy focus on the importance of conservation and the beauty of mother nature. Pandora’s story is that you are a visiting eco-tourist, offered the opportunity to join Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE) for the transformational experience of a lifetime, filled with thrilling expeditions, floating mountains, a bioluminescent forest and winged mountain banshees. In partnership with ACE, visitors have the chance to fly through the beautiful Valley of Mo’ara. The two new attractions in this land are the thrill ride Avatar Flight of Passage and the winding river cruise, Na’vi River Journey.
I recently had a chance to visit Pandora and ride Avatar Flight of Passage. On this ride, guests fly on the back of a mountain banshee during an amazing 3D ride above this amazing landscape. As you pass through the phases of the que for this attraction, first you will experience the beautiful floating mountains and lush landscape out doors. Inside, you will pass through ancient caves, a bioluminescent forest, and the science base/lab as shown in the movie. After leaving the lab you will travel down a long corridor and wait through a few video presentation before moving on to the ride. As you enter the staging room you will be given a pair of clear 3-D goggles and be instructed to board a motorcycle type apparatus. Before the ride begins restraints will secure you firmly to your flying banshee from the back. The ride is thrill ride version of the simulation ride Soarin’ at Disney’s Epcot Center, but it is exponentially more amazing. The movie screen for the ride is the 2nd largest screen in the world, so you will feel absolutely immersed in this land. I have been sky diving on a couple of occasions, and this experience really felt like flying to me. It is a must do for anyone. You aren’t permitted to take any videos during the attraction, but if you watch the movie again that will be a pretty good indicator of what is in store. I was able to capture some photos of the que that I’ve included below.
HOW I ONLY WAITED 25 MINUTES
For a limited time, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is open until 11:00 PM , giving guests more time to explore the land of Pandora.
Avatar Flight of Passage is so popular that it’s not uncommon for the line to be several hours long, and I have heard that the que was constructed to accommodate up to 5 hour waits. Note that seating and restraints may prohibit guests of certain body shapes or sizes from riding, there is a. minimum height restriction of 44”, and expectant mothers should not ride this attraction.
The Fast Pass + program will definitely be a great option in the future, but as guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort Hotels can book their Fast Pass + 60 days in advance and there are a limited number on any given day, it is pretty difficult to actually get one in the near future. Guests staying at the hotel can, take advantage of special “Extra Magic Hours” some mornings, and from 11PM to 1AM for a limited time.
So what do you do if you don’t have a Fast Pass +?
SHOW UP BEFORE THE PARK OFFICIALLY OPENS!
Although the parks have official opening times, you can enter the main entry portal of the park in advance of the official opening time and wait to enter your designated land. For example, at the Magic Kingdom you can enter Main Street USA early in the morning and the park greeters will open the gates to Adventureland, Tomorrowland, etc., when the park officially opens.
The day that I visited Pandora, I checked to make sure there were not Extra Magic Hours that morning and verified that the opening time was 8 AM, I arrived around 7:15 AM and parked in the first two rows of the lot.
By the time I walked to the entry, passed through security and entered the park it was about 7:25 AM. I turned left down the path to Pandora and found this crowd already waiting to enter the land.
Although officially the park didn’t’ open until 8:00 AM, they opened the gates to Pandora at 7:30 AM and we were off! As the crowd approached the open pathway, half the crowd turned to left to the Na’vi River Journey and I continued to my right to begin the que for Flight of the Avatar. I slowly walked through 2/3rds of the que and I didn’t’ actually wait in line until I reached the last holding room that is inside the attraction.
In all, I waited about 25 minutes to ride the attraction, walked around Pandora, rode Expedition Everest, and I was home around 9:30 that morning. (We are lucky to live about 20 minutes away from the parks).
I waited to experience the Na’vi River Journey with my toddler Max and his daddy later this year, so I can’t provide a personal account of that attraction yet. From what I have read, in this attraction guests float along through a sacred bioluminescent rainforest in search of the Na’vi Shaman of Songs. I have heard, think Pirates of the Caribbean meets a crazy beautiful bioluminescent rainforest. To learn more about this attraction, click here.
The land offers some great walking paths to get up close and personal with the crazy plants and waterfalls.
You can visit Windtraders to pick up your favorite Pandorian souvenir to take home. For a bite to eat, visit the Satu’li Canteen, a quick service restaurant, offering entrees and drinks below $15 (note, alcoholic beverages are sold here). For offerings on the menu, click here. You can try some some funky fun beverages at Pongu Pongu, including a bioluminescent frozen cocktail! Check out the menu for Pongu Pongu here.
To read more about the new land of Pandora, check the official Walt Disney World Resort Website.