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Nine Months Later: Pandora – The World of Avatar at Walt Disney World

It’s been almost nine months since Walt Disney World invited guests to take a journey across the universe and visit The Valley of Mo’ara. When the new area first opened, it was met with long lines and little patience from some guests. What are things like nine months later? Surely things have calmed down by now. On Saturday, February 10, my adult daughter and I headed to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to see what, if anything, had changed.

We didn’t arrive when the park first opened because that is still a bit of a madhouse. There was also an Extra Magic Hour first thing, so we wouldn’t have been able to enter anyway. We arrived at the park a little after 10:00 and proceeded immediately to Pandora – The World of Avatar. The entire park was pretty busy already, possibly because of the extra hour in the morning. As we entered the nine month old land we proceeded immediately to Avatar Flight of Passage. The posted Wait Time was already 180 minutes. We checked back several times during the day and it fluctuated slightly, but the shortest wait that we saw was 165 minutes, and that was at the end of the night.

We then walked over to Na’vi River Journey. That had a Wait Time of 105 minutes. It’s a beautiful ride, but since we’re local and it’s not an impossible FastPass+ selection to get, we decided to skip it. If you’ve never ridden it before then it might be worth it, and the line did get shorter towards the end of the night. Right before the park closed it was down to 30 minutes.

One of the crazy things about Pandora when it first opened was the line to get into Windtraders. I stopped by the store a couple of days after Pandora opened and there was a two hour wait just to enter it! Fortunately, that is no longer the case. On February 10 Windtraders was just like most Walt Disney World stores, with lots of people but still maneuverable. I like this store because it stays true to the theme of the entire land. The only Mickeys that you’ll see are the hidden kind. There was no line of people wanting to turn themselves into Avatar figurines. Unlike when the land first opened, there were plenty of interactive banshees for sale.

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We made sure that we stopped in Satu’li Canteen. Mobile Ordering is available, but my daughter has an allergy so we like to talk directly to the Cast Members. The line was fairly long, but it moved quickly. There were tables available both indoors and outdoors. We both ordered the Create Your Own Satu’li Bowl. On the Walt Disney World website it looks kind of complicated, but it’s really easy. You’ll pick a base, a protein, and a sauce, and then it’s made for you. As a vegetarian I always get the tofu option. I’m not a huge fan of spicy foods, but this one is worth it. In my opinion, Satu’li Canteen is one of the best counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World. By the time we left the line was quite a bit longer, in fact it was out the door, so if you’re planning to go you should either use mobile ordering or eat at an off time.

Pandora – The World of Avatar is all about atmosphere, and that still does not disappoint. The land is beautiful down to the smallest detail. You need to visit twice. During the day the plants, waterfalls, and floating mountains will make you feel as if you really are visiting a foreign world. After dark the area comes alive with bioluminescent colors. Words and pictures cannot describe it, Pandora at night must be experienced. We stayed until closing, so we were able to walk through after the crowds died down a bit.

Of course, the main reason why crowds are flocking to Pandora is Avatar Flight of Passage. Nine months later this ride still blows me away. One thing that I like about it is that it is unique each time that you ride. It’s not a different film like you’ll find with Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. What is different on Flight of Passage is your perspective and line of view. I was lucky enough to be able to ride several times in one day before Pandora opened to the public, and where you sit makes a huge difference. There is so much going on with the ride, you could experience it 100 times and see something new each time. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s my favorite ride at Walt Disney World (I’m an obsessed Star Wars fan), but I do think that it’s the most advanced. I can full well understand why people will wait three hours in order to experience Avatar Flight of Passage for the first time.

To wrap things up, nine months after Pandora – The World of Avatar opened, it’s still an exciting destination. Some of the lines have died down, just not for the land’s two rides. With Toy Story Land opening this summer and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in 2019, there’s a good chance that Pandora will be packed for the foreseeable future. Plan your day, bring your patience, and take advantage of FastPass+ if you can, because Pandora is definitely worth part of your vacation.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.