Why are people waiting 240 minutes at Walt Disney World? The answer lies in Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom recently unveiled the latest expansion to the Disney theme parks, Pandora: World of Avatar. Pandora is a themed area based on the 2009 film Avatar by James Cameron. The project was under development for six years, and now the wait is finally over. Well, in terms of waiting for Pandora to open. Disney fans are so excited about the new Pandora attractions that they’re waiting in line for over 4 hours! Let’s see why.
What’s in Pandora at Animal Kingdom?
In Pandora, you get to feel like you’re on the ex-planetary moon from the film, with all of the wildlife and plants that exist there. Now that Animal Kingdom is open past dark, the new themed area gives fans nighttime experiences that draw them further into the world of Avatar. Pandora stands in the area that was previously Camp Minnie Mickey and focuses on conservation, celebrating the power of nature over us all.
So what exactly are fans standing in line for at Pandora? Disney has two attractions in the area. The first, Avatar: Flight of Passage, where visitors can “take flight” on the back of a Banshee. Flight of Passage is a simulated reality ride that has you soar across the Pandora landscape and features a storyline about the plot to increase the natural population of the Banshee. The attraction’s queue features a walk into the caverns of Pandora where you see images illustrating the connection of the Banshees and Na’vi, the Pandora inhabitants. Next you’ll be taken to a laboratory where you “link” with your banshee. The attraction is described as “incredibly immersive.”
The second attraction is a 4 ½ minute dark ride called Na’vi River Journey. Guests board a boat to travel the Kasvapan River and see the bioluminescent world of Avatar. You’ll see the native animals and plants of the region. It’s a lush landscape where guests will really feel like they’ve left the world behind. The purpose of the attraction — besides offering a place to cool down on a hot day — is taking guests on a search for the Shaman of Songs. The Shaman of Songs is a 10-foot tall Na’vi woman who is a crucial part of the attraction and is a display of the most-advanced Audio Animatronics Disney has ever developed. Early reviews have named the ride a crowning achievement in Disney attractions — which, if you look at all Disney has done over the years, says a lot!
Exploring Pandora at Animal Kingdom
After the attractions, what else is there to do in Pandora? Just walking around the themed area can be enough, thanks to the extensive work Disney put into their creation. Walking through the Valley of Mo’ara, you’ll see Avatar’s floating mountains, a Na’vi drum circle and exotic plants “come to life at night.” You can have some native cuisine of the moon at Pandora’s Satu’li Canteen. Satu’li Canteen features food inspired by Pandora with whole grains, fresh fruits, and other delicious parts of the Na’vi harvest. As a fast casual restaurant, it’s a place where you can stock up on energy before battling the long wait times of the area.
Pandora also features Pongu Pongu Lounge, a drink stand with bioluminescent frozen cocktails, desserts and Na’vi-themed beers. You’ll probably want to make a pit stop here when the Florida heat starts bearing down on you, that’s for sure! Finally there’s a gift shop, Windtraders. Windtraders features merchandise inspired by Pandora, with plush, Na’vi artifacts, toys, art and more. Why? Because it’s Disney, that’s why, and everyone likes to remember their trip with a souvenir. After all, Pandora will be boosting some pretty intense wait times as it’s only a week old — why not show off to all of your friends that you were one of the first visitors?