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Passholder Preview for Pandora – The World of Avatar

Paula K

I was lucky enough to attend the noon Passholder Preview for Pandora – The World of Avatar. I had heard a few wonderful things about the new land and I have to admit that I was a little bit nervous because I didn’t want my expectations to be too high. All I can say is that I wasn’t disappointed in the least. The new land is visually stunning, I’m really looking forward to seeing the difference after dark. Here’s a quick rundown on my experience.

Rides

There are two new rides in Pandora. The one that everyone is talking about is Avatar Flight of Passage. It’s a 3D motion simulator ride that I’ve heard several people describe as a “combination of Soarin’ and Star Tours on steroids”. I think that’s about as close a description as possible if you’re looking to compare it to other rides. You’ll link your mind with an Avatar and then ride on the back of a banshee. Eight people ride across, each on their own motorcycle-type vehicle. If your kids are tall enough and are nervous you will be right next to each other, so you can hold your child’s hand. The seat itself is a little bit awkward, you lean forward and you’re locked in from behind. They’re not the most comfortable seats ever, but they do put you into the right position so that you can best feel as if you are flying. I could do without the lights flashing in my eyes at the beginning and the end, but overall I think that it is a fantastic ride. If I hadn’t checked my watch I would have thought that it lasted only about 60 seconds, but it’s actually over four minutes. I was able to ride twice. I liked it the first time, but I loved it the second time. For me, it was better without the unknown factored in.

The second new ride is Na’vi River Journey. It’s a slow moving boat ride that is relaxing and beautiful. If I had to describe this one, I’d say that it’s a cross between It’s a Small World and Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros. It’s not really like either of those two rides, but it’s a gentle boat ride that uses screens to help create the journey. I like this one a lot, because it’s stunning. You do truly feel as if you’re riding through another world. The Na’vi Shaman of Songs at the end is an extremely well done Audio-Animatronic that I personally thought was a little bit on the creepy side, but that’s just my opinion.

Food

The main dining option is Satu’li Canteen. It’s quick service, and there will eventually be the option of ordering from the My Disney Experience App. The Cast Members here (and in all of Pandora) were extremely frien

dly. One of the main menu options at Satu’li Canteen allows you to create your own bowl. You’ll pick a protein, a base, and a sauce. It comes with slaw on top. I opted for the Chili-spiced Crispy-fried Tofu, Red and Sweet Potato Hash, and Cream Herb Dressing. It was delicious, but I do wish that the heat could have been turned down a notch or two. If you have special dietary requests, ask to see the allergy-friendly menu; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Next door to Satu’li Canteen is a beverage spot called Pongu Pongu. I didn’t order anything here, but I did take a peek at the menu. It includes both alcoholic and non-alcoholic specialties, plus some interesting ale choices. Also served are snacks called Pongu Lumpia, which are pineapple cream cheese spring rolls.

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Shopping

There is one main store at Pandora. Flight of Passage empties into Windtraders, and there is also another entrance. I didn’t spend much time in the store because my time was running short. It features souvenirs that you’ll find in most stores such as T-shirts and mugs, plus a couple of unusual selections. You can have an Avatar likeness of yourself made, accessories are also available for an additional cost. You can also purchase a banshee that will sit on your shoulder. Several Cast Members had them, and chances are that this is going to become quite popular. There were other unique items as well, including drums and Avatar tails. There is also an outdoor kiosk that sells some merchandise, in case you don’t feel like waiting in line at Windtraders.

Atmosphere

In my opinion, the atmosphere is the best part of Pandora – The World of Avatar. I honestly forgot that I was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom while I was there, since the rest of the park is not visible from the new world. From the floating mountains to the unusual plant “life” to the waterfalls, it’s an incredible experience. Kids will love playing in the circle of drums, and parents might want to join in. The whole area is breathtakingly beautiful, and I haven’t even seen it at night yet. It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen Avatar or not (I haven’t), you will want to stop by. Thank you, Disney, for giving Passholders a chance to take a sneak peek. I enjoyed every second of the preview.

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.