Hello, and welcome to Dateline Disney World! You may have seen the great articles earlier this week on MiceChat, Pandora has opened to AP previews at Animal Kingdom. This land is one of the largest additions to Walt Disney World in quite some time, so I’d like to add my take on the land today. Lots of photos, and potentially some spoilers ahead, so consider yourself warned! Now, let’s see what’s new and blue . . .

Welcome to the Valley of Mo’Ara!

The plant life in Pandora is a character of its own.

There is obviously a ton of detail in this land.
One of the restrooms looks like a broken down building formally run by RDA, the mining organization from the movie.

These little guys squirt water when you get too close.

Yup, you can buy ears and get your face painted like the Navi.
Ruining the magic here, but these lights are what will create the bioluminescent environments at night.

There are two ways in and out of Pandora.
This path, which is currently closed, will lead out to where the Festival of the Lion King theater is in Harambe.
ACE – Alpha Centauri Expeditions.
Detail everywhere.
Time to head into the Flight of Passage queue – spoilers ahead!
Once indoors, you start in this cave, with wall sketches from the Navi.

We then transition into a base that has been overgrown by bioluminescent plants.

Some seriously cool stuff in this part of the queue.

We then move into a laboratory for the Mountain Banshee Project.

Lots of fun little things to keep you occupied while in this room.
This wind turbine moves and creates an awesome effect.

Oh yeah, there’s a 9 foot Avatar in a tank that moves also.

This effect is shockingly realistic.

After this, you move to a colder room with some zig zags, and then it is time to get assigned a section before riding the ride.

I don’t want to spoil the actual attraction for anyone, but if you are a fan of Soarin’ at Epcot and have wanted a more intense version, this is the one for you. The visuals are stellar, probably the highest resolution I have seen on a screen based attraction yet. There are some genuinely thrilling parts, and it is, in my opinion, a true E-Ticket. That being said, there are some downfalls. It is not accessible to all guests, as the ride vehicle is restricting. Also, if you are a fan of animatronics and not screens, this may not be the attraction for you. Also, the queue is rumored to hold over 4 hours worth of people, so if it stretches outside, use the restroom before queueing up!

Time for some beauty shots!

These mountains truly have an epic sense of scale and are very fun to take photos of.

Moss growing over an old military base.
An old mech unit outside the Pongu Pongu drink location.
Satu’li Canteen is the only restaurant in the land.
It serves up some interesting items.
Pongu Pongu serves beer, mixed drinks, and some snacks.

Windtraders is the main gift shop in the land.
Avatar merchandise.

Baby Navi.
You can buy the poster art here.
There are tons of banshees for sale, including one that is essentially a puppet that sits on your shoulder for $50.
You can also make your own Avatar, a la freezing yourself in carbonite back in the day during Star Wars Weekends.

Yes, Universal and HHN fans, they sell the tails.

This concluded my first experience in Pandora.
I was lucky enough to attend the Disney Parks Blog meet up Monday morning, and caught some sunrise light on the mountains.

We will probably never see Pandora this empty again!

For resort guests, there will be morning EMH twice a week, opening the land at 7am, where you will possibly be able to get views like this.

Time to check out the Navi River Journey.
The queue is made of hand woven ropes.

Very pretty.
An ode to the Shaman, who we will see later on the ride.
The boats are very small, and only hold from 4-6 people from the multiple times I rode. It also appears that there is no handicapped accessible boat, which, if true, is a big misstep by Disney.
The inside of the ride is gorgeous.

The blending of real scenes and sets is something we are used to seeing at Universal, but is a technique that I am a fan of, so I think it works.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Disney fans that dislike screens in favor of animatronics will enjoy this attraction.
There is, however, one AA at the end of this ride. And she is something else. I’ve never seen fluid motion like this on any AA before.

Time for some tighter detail shots.

This banshee is outside the marquee for Flight of Passage, there is no official attraction sign with the name of the ride.

Same thing here, with the marquee for the River Journey.
Notice that there are no Mickey logos on the FP+ touchpoints. Only ACE logos.
Yes, you can get a creepy face paint to look like the Navi.

That was a lot of photos! Pandora is a very interesting land. The mountains are outrageously photogenic, and there is detail everywhere. It also has the same effect as a land like Diagon Alley, where no matter where you look, you really can’t see any other part of the park. At times, it doesn’t even feel like you are in Animal Kingdom. That said, I noticed no benches at all in the land for people to sit, and some of the walkways are pretty thin, which could be painful during busy times of the year.

As far as the attractions go, Flight of Passage is deserving of all the hype. It has an extremely detailed queue, multiple pre-show rooms, and a ride experience that delivers thrills and a very satisfying experience. The River Journey on the other hand feels a little bit short, and only has one animatronic (but it is one of the best AAs Disney has ever created). The jury is out on what regular guests will think.

Since this land was announced in September 2011, it has been surrounded by controversy. People asked, “Who cares about Avatar?” This question has persisted over the last 5 1/2 years leading up to the opening of this land. And realistically, as someone who isn’t a big fan of the movie at all, it didn’t matter much to me. Obviously, if the IP was something I cared more about, I would enjoy it more. But, anything built to this scale, with this amount of detail, and with excellent attractions, food, and environments to back it up, is hard to complain too much about. If this is any indication as to what Disney might be cooking up for Star Wars Land, I’m ready for 2019!

More News from Disney World

  • The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is hosting “Plain White Ts” this Friday and Saturday, May 19th and 20th. Part of the Garden Rocks series, the American Gardens Theatre will host performances at 5:30pm, 6:45pm and 8pm.
  • Tickets have gone on sale for both Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! Both events will feature special Parades, Stage shows and Firework displays. Tickets are always popular, so you can start planning now.
  • Starting next Friday May 26, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will debut a special “Cars 3preview. This limited time sneak peek of the upcoming film will be a part of the One Man’s Dream attraction. Production artwork and character maquettes will be on display as well.

 

What do you all think? Now that you’ve seen the photos, are you motivated to visit Pandora this year? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

 

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