I visited Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom a few weeks after it opened and I have lots of tips to share with you today!
I kept hearing good things about Disney’s newest “land” so I booked a rather last-minute trip to spend a few days checking it out. I was so glad I went because Pandora really lived up to the hype!
Tip #1: Use FastPass for Nav’i River Journey but NOT Flight of Passage!
There are two rides in Pandora. The Nav’i River Journey is a slow-moving, family-friendly boat ride. Flight of Passage is the “fly on the back of a banshee” thrill ride.
Read on to learn about each attraction and why I think you should NOT use FastPass for both, even if you can get them!
I thought Nav’i River Journey was beautiful and very relaxing. I would suggest using a FastPass for this attraction since the queue is nothing special. I rode it with a 20-minute wait, even though the posted wait time was 35 minutes.
I personally wouldn’t wait more than 30 minutes for this attraction. It was pretty and had an amazing audio- animatronic Nav’i, but I think you can still have an excellent experience of Pandora and miss this ride.
I did see someone transfer from a wheelchair and successfully get into the boat, which some folks have been concerned about. I also saw several babies on the ride, so it really can be enjoyed by the whole family!
Flight of Passage is drawing 3+ hour waits most days, but I strongly suggest NOT using FastPass for this attraction. I know – this is probably not what you were expecting to hear!
The reason I suggest not using a FastPass is that the standby queue (or regular line in which you wait) is just as amazing as the attraction itself and should not be missed!
The queue first winds up a “mountain” through some gorgeous landscapes and offers amazing photo opportunities. The queue then snakes inside the mountain, through a cave with Navi artifacts and some bioluminescent plants growing on the side of the mountain.
Then you will walk through the labs of the scientists working on the Avatar program. The attention to detail in here is ridiculously cool (so cool I forgot to take pictures). This stuff is why I love Disney and keep coming back.
You’ll also get to walk past “Hank in the Tank”, the term used by cast members to describe the full-size Avatar floating around in a tank in the lab!
If you use a FastPass for this attraction, you will miss all of these elements in the queue and will join the line after this point. You will still get to experience the two pre-shows during which the back story of the attraction is explained. But I think the whole ride experience includes the queue and it shouldn’t be missed!
The ride itself is really fun and pretty intense. It definitely produces the “how in the world did they DO that?” response that Imagineers aim for!
If you are worried about being able to fit on the unusual motorcycle-style ride vehicle, try out the sample seat in front of the attraction.
I also suggest scooting ALL the way forward in the seat when you are on the ride so the backrest is more comfortable. I was never uncomfortable at any point during the ride.
Tip #2: The Pandora Environment is the Main Attraction
For me, the experience of walking around and exploring the intricate world that the Imagineers have created was the best part of my visit to Pandora.
The rides are great, but they don’t top just wandering around and taking in the floating mountains, waterfalls, and plant life for me. Videos and pictures DO NOT do this place justice, it really has to be seen to be believed!
I suggest planning to spend at LEAST one hour just hanging out in Pandora, aside from eating and riding the attractions. You will need all of that time to wander around, take pictures, play the drums, and explore.
If you have Memory Maker (or are an Annual Passholder, like me), be sure to get your picture with the PhotoPass person in front of the floating mountains. They will do a magic shot with a flying banshee and ours turned out so cool!
If your kiddos are collecting Wilderness Explorers badges, be sure to visit the stations in Pandora.
Also, if you open the My Disney Experiences app while inside Pandora, you will be asked if you’d like to participate in “Connect to Protect” in the Facebook Messenger app. If you click yes, you will be sent to the app where you can interact with Pandora Conservation Institute scientist “Fits Buckley”.
You’ll unlock a $5 contribution to the Disney Conservation Fund by talking to Fits, or $10 by completing a mission in the app. I love this interactive element that has real-world results! You can find more details over at the Disney Parks Blog.
So basically be sure to allow plenty of time to soak up the environment in Pandora.
If you are able to return at night, you will be treated to bioluminescent plants, live performances in the drum circle, and glowing sidewalks. If you can only visit once I suggest going during the day, but if you have time return at night for a totally different experience!
Lots of folks have asked me about Flight of Passage, the headliner attraction, so I’ll go there next!
Tip #3: Arrive VERY Early or Visit in the Afternoon
Knowing that lines get really long Flight of Passage, how can you experience it without a FastPass with the minimal wait?
The only morning I had to visit happened to have morning Extra Magic Hours and the park opened at 7 am for Disney resort guests. Normally the park has been opening at 8 am.
I arrived at the park at 6:40 am (ouch, I know) and was able to ride with hardly any wait. We were let into the park at 6:45 and were held at the entrance to Pandora until 7 am. I was off Flight of Passage at 7:45 and in total waited about 15 minutes.
I would not suggest visiting on a day with morning Extra Magic Hours unless you are able to get there by 6:40 am. Flight of Passage had a 1.5-hour wait time at 7:45 am and there was a 2.5-hour wait by 8:45!
If the park opens at 8 am, I would suggest arriving around 7 am if you want to ride without much wait. I read over at EasyWDW that guests are being let into the park as early as 7:30 am.
If you just can’t do mornings, I suggest visiting in mid-afternoon to early evening when lines have been the shortest (60 to 90 minutes). Most folks think they need to ride it in the morning so there are often shorter waits in the afternoon when people are doing other things at Animal Kingdom.
Tip #4: Eat at Satu’li Canteen and Drink at Pongu Pongu (Not Vice Versa)
The main dining location in Pandora is counter-service Satu’li Canteen. It has great theming (as the former RDA mess hall) and I had only heard good things about the food.
I ate breakfast at Satu’li Canteen after riding both attractions and had this delicious Cinnamon French Toast for $7.99. I loved both the blueberry and passion fruit sauces. It wasn’t overly sweet and the sausages were amazing (I devoured them both).
Here’s the rest of the breakfast menu (Note – breakfast service will only be available during peak season here starting September 17th, 2017):
Here’s a link to the lunch and dinner menu which features customizable bowls and “pods”. The food seems to fit perfectly in the setting.
Pongu Pongu (“party party” in the Nav’i language) is a drink and snack stand located outside of Satuli Canteen. You can get both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks here, as well as a snack called “Pongu Lumpia”.
I had heard good things about the Pongu Lumpia, which are billed as pineapple cream cheese spring rolls. I personally thought they were disgusting and couldn’t even finish them! I was expecting a cream cheese filling but got more of a runny, super-sugary icing loaded with pineapples instead.
I saw lots of folks enjoying brightly colored drinks, so I’d suggest sticking with the beverages at Pongu Pongu and the food at Satuli Canteen.
I hope these tips help you get the most from your visit to Pandora: World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I think Disney hit it out of the park with this land, and it has me even more excited for Star Wars land which is coming to Hollywood Studios in 2019.
Any questions about visiting Pandora? Please leave a comment below or send me a message on The Frugal South’s Facebook page! Want help planning your trip? I suggest getting a free quote from the expert Disney agents at Destinations in Florida who can help with all of the details of the trip at no extra cost to you!