It was an absolute honor to have been asked to participate in the press event this week at Walt Disney World. This press event was for invited travel agencies and media. Disney did a fabulous job of hosting us this week with special surprises, private firework viewing at Magic Kingdom and a closed preview of Pandora-The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom Resort.
Happily Ever After
As a total Wishes fan, I was saddened by the announcement that they were doing away with the fireworks and moving to something new. While I was excited to see, “Happily Ever After” I was not convinced it would do the job for me. I was so wrong. Like Disney always does, they managed to touch my heart, evoke emotions and end with a bang. For those Tink lovers, don’t fear, she is still there. My honest recommendation is to watch it in person, rather than on the video..it does not do it justice.
Enjoy a quick snippet.
Pandora-World of Avatar
After watching James Cameron chat with the crowd about his young childhood dream of Pandora, I can honestly say, I was so inspired to see his dreams come true. There is nothing more powerful then turning your dreams into a reality and I think that is the truly beautiful part of the expansion at Animal Kingdom Park. I am going to tell you that Pandora offers two totally different experiences. The day experience gives you the chance to take in all of the details that have gone into Pandora-World of Avatar. When asked what my favorite part is, I have to go with the story. It absolutely does not matter if you’ve seen the movie or are a fan of the movie, the cast members and details that go into the park, fully immerse you into the Pandora-The World of Avatar.
As expected, Cast Members are the true beauty of the park as they have a full history on all things Pandora from backstory to scientific data about plants and history. Make sure you actually take the time to stop and chat with them..you will see what I mean. Everything there has meaning, stop and pay close attention.
Avatar Flight of Passage was absolutely amazing! I like to describe this as Soarin’ on steroids. This ride takes you on a smooth and magical journey deep in the heart of the Valley of Mo’ara. While Disney did a stellar job in creating all queue elements, you may want to be sure to make a stop at the restroom prior to queuing up. The queue is the longest I have ever roped through. It is very clear that Disney planned ahead in creating this queue and made sure that there was enough indoor space for anyone waiting in line. I would like tp point out that almost the entire queue is air-conditioned…BONUS!
While it is always hard to actually review a ride, I want to make a point of a couple of things;
- The ride seat does not lend itself to all body types. Please be sure to stop by the front of the queue before waiting in line to make sure you will not have any issues.
- I would caution anyone afraid of heights, you take a lot of dips from high places. While this experience is exhilarating, it can also scare those with a fear of heights.
- Disney pulled out all of the good stuff and made this attraction fully immersive. Smells, sights, sounds and you feel. I love the wind in my face as we fly as well as feeling the banshee breath as I hugged his girth between my legs. Absolutely everything about Flight of Passage was stunning!
- If you get motion-sick you may want to skip the ride. Typically, I would tell you to just close your eyes if it bothers you but with the movement of the seat, and room it does not do the trick. Seabands might be a good idea if you have any.
- Height requirement is 44 inches.
Na’vi River Journey glides down a gentle, mysterious river and feel a sense of wonder as the full beauty of Pandora reveals itself. This river ride is such an amazing way for the entire family to enjoy Pandora together. There is not picture or words to describe the beauty of the attraction. However, this can be noted to be a very similar attraction to Small World at Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park.
I really love the attention to detail here. I would like to point out that you will want to make sure you look up down and all-around as you glide down the river. There are no thrilling surprises which makes Na’vi River Journey perfect for travelers of all ages.
Valley of Mo’ara
Upon entering you will soon discover that Disney pulled out all of the cards. No single area of the park was untouched when it comes to story. I want to highly recommend that you interact with the Cast Members in this area. They are a wealth of knowledge and they do not break character. You can ask them questions about any of the plans, wildlife or what it is like to live on Pandora. While the scenery was amazing, this was probably one of the most amazing parts to me. I could not believe how much detail went into the story. Here’s some info to note:
- Exotic plants that come to life with beautiful bioluminescence each night
- A Na’vi-built drum circle, containing instruments playable by all
- Na’vi totems and other cultural items found throughout the land
- Brand-new Wilderness Explorers challenges and badges to collect
- Please make sure you visit at night, as well as during the day. It is not the same experience.
Satu’li Canteen is a nice way to dine in a casual yet healthy location. The food here may appeal to a more mature crowd or those which appreciate wholesome grains, fresh vegetables and hearty proteins.
Pongu Pongu aka Party Party! Head on over here to purchase a refreshing beverage with some fun flavors! Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are served. This stop was a huge hit!
Shopping for Pandora merchandise can only happen at Animal Kingdom and only at the Pandora section of the park. You will not find merchandise anywhere else on Walt Disney World property. With that said, they have some really unique souvenirs. Personally, my guess is the big hit will be the banshee. For $50 you will have the opportunity to adopt a banshee which you can control with a bladder pump. The banshee will fit right on your shoulder and makes for a very cute addition to the family. They will do a cute adoption ceremony for you when you adopt. In addition, your banshee comes with all of the vet fees and shots as well as a carrier. :0) I find the price to be fair and the experience quite neat.
I always love face-painting. I know my kids have always enjoyed partaking and we love seeing them excited about it. Take a look at the various styles and prices below. Don’t forget to come back for your free touch-ups if needed.
My overall review of Pandora-World of Avatar is that it is an absolute must-see area of Animal Kingdom Park. You must visit both day and night and please make sure to have a Fastpass for the Flight of Passage. While this section of the park is not huge, you will need time to explore it. There is so much to see, look up down and all around.
While you are there at night make sure to visit the Tree of Life, see Rivers of Light and enjoy all of the night time festivities throughout Animal Kingdom Park. My observation is that Animal Kingdom Park is the place to go to have a fun time. The entertainment is positively amazing.
Last, folks, watch the movie Avatar. You will truly appreciate all of the details so much more if you do. Grab a bowl of popcorn, snuggle up with your family and enjoy the film.
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