Many Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members, and others were fortunate enough to visit, experience and capture footage of Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s newest themed area, Pandora – The World of Avatar, by attending one of the many previews days throughout the month of May. The internet was dripping of ride footage and photos of dining & shopping selections. As an avid visitor, I tried my best to ignore all spoilers as I was determined to be present for the opening day.
Fast forward to May 27th, 2017 and I found myself outside the gates to get into the park shortly after 7 AM with lines to both Pandora rides already filled to capacity. Upon entering the park, I learned a third line had formed reaching about an hour wait just to enter and explore the new restaurant and shops. I was devastated at the thought I may not get an opportunity to experience the immersive Pandora. Lucky for me, Disney organized its Extra Magic Hours in the evening so well that it allowed for Resort Guests to have an opportunity between 11 PM – 1 AM to visit the area and try and ride the newest attractions without waiting 3+ hours. And then it happened… I experienced both rides within that time frame including exploring the area at night! This big kid was one happy camper. So today, I’m taking a look at each attraction as well as the pros and cons attributed to those attractions.
Let me start off by pointing out that this attraction does not have a very interesting queue. I found that it was lacking story a bit and had no next gen interactive qualities. After an hour wait, I reached the loading area for the boats which are smaller in size compared to those of Pirates of the Caribbean or It’s a Small World. Each ride vehicle has two rows that seat 2-3 guests. Upon descent, the ride slowly slips into a Pandora cave filled with bioluminescent plant life and creatures. The caves are absolutely breathtaking. Guests are surrounded by what appears to be a living breathing environment while sacred soothing Na’vi chanting is playing throughout your river journey. The main attraction is by far the made to scale size Na’vi Shaman animatronic whose movements are so fluid and lifelike.
- Beautiful Cave with plenty of Disney Imagineering details
- Tons of special effects and mini animatronic plants
- Best use of projection screens seen thus far which blend seamlessly to surroundings
- Most advanced life like Animatronic to date
- Family Friendly
- Uneventful Queue
- Short Ride time
- Lacks story & variety of scenes throughout ride
Avatar Flight of Passage
Be prepared to be enthralled from start to finish including queue, multiple preshows, and ride. Disney does a fantastic job at creating a story where guests are slowly walking uphill through the trees towards their banshee link experience. The first half of the queue begins outside of the building façade and then proceeds into a prehistoric cave complete with Na’vi cave paintings. The second half has you walking up through the tree surrounded by plants, flowers, and vines until you reach the bioresearch & Avatar lab where we meet this guy.
After reaching the loading zone, guests are lined in a room which includes a preshow and scanning to match you to your avatar. The next room has a secondary preshow intro right before reaching your Banshee ride. Guests are seated individually to a seat similar to that of a motorcycle with restraints rising up behind the back and calves. All I can say is that what was to follow was better that I could have ever expected. This ride combines the Soarin’s large projection screen, 4-D effects, and new ride technology to truly make you feel as if you are flying, diving and skimming the ocean on your banshee. As always, Disney’s magical details even include flaps between your legs which you can feel throughout the ride as if your banshee was breathing below you. Every sweep and dive was perfectly choreographed with air fans, odor releases and movements to bring this experience to life.
- Exciting and entertaining queue
- Great Preshows and interactive fun
- Comfortable ride
- Disney Imagineering Gold
- Unique first of its kind immersive 4D ride
- Fun thrill ride motions
- Esthetically pleasing
- Will give you all the feels
- None – I would be willing to wait 3 hours to ride this any day
Overall I’d say the addition of Pandora to Animal Kingdom has been welcomed with open arms. I was pleasantly surprised with how beautiful the area is complimented by how enjoyable both attractions are. Cannot wait to get back and experience the restaurant and land during the day.
What do you think of these attractions? Do you think they make a good fit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom?
Alexandra Gonzalez operates the online Disney fan site If I Ran Disney World. Check out her site for even more Disney fun!