Over the past few weeks I’ve been adding some #ThrowbackThursday and #FlashbackFriday pictures to the Disney Over 50 Facebook and Instagram accounts. I love looking back. Many of the pictures that I’ve added are from rides or attractions that no longer exist. Some aren’t missed, like The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Others, like The Great Movie Ride, people do truly seem to miss. There has been a lot of change at Walt Disney World in the 13 years that my family and I have lived here. Some changes have been hits, while others have missed the mark. I thought it might be fun to write a short series on these hits and misses.
My hits thus far are Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Epcot International Festival of the Arts, World Celebration, Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana (all at Epcot), Flotillas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the Magic Kingdom’s TRON Lightcycle / Run. I gave Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway both a little bit of hit and a little bit of miss. Full misses are Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, Epcot’s defunct nighttime show Harmonious (even though I loved it), Disney Genie+, and Good-to-Go Days for Annual Passholders. I don’t care that Walt Disney World is adding more days, it’s a terrible system.
I thought I’d jump back over to the hits and also jump back in time a little bit today. I’m talking about Pandora – The World of Avatar. It opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2017, and it has been must-visit ever since.
I’ll start with the two rides that you can experience in Pandora. Avatar Flight of Passage is easily one of the best rides at Walt Disney World. You really feel as if you are flying on the back of a banshee! Even though there is only one scenario, there are three different levels, and you’ll see different things, depending on where you sit. Individual Lightning Lane is for sale for Avatar Flight of Passage but if you don’t buy it, don’t worry. The queue is possibly the best at Walt Disney World.
The other ride in Pandora – The World of Avatar is Na’vi River Journey. This is a family boat ride, and it allows little ones who aren’t tall enough to ride Flight of Passage to still enjoy the land. The Wait Time is often high, so if you purchase Disney Genie+ you should try to use it here. While Na’vi River Journey isn’t must-do every trip like Avatar Flight of Passage, you still need to experience it at least once. The special effects are incredible.
Pandora – The World of Avatar is home to my favorite quick service restaurant at Walt Disney World; Satu’li Canteen. It features different bowls, where you’ll choose a base, a protein, and a sauce. It’s far from your typical theme park food, and it’s delicious! Use Mobile Order to save time, and expect your food to be ready soon. It never takes long.
Pongu Pongu is the other dining option. It’s a stand that sells a few breakfast items and snacks. You can also get some “local” specialty drinks, with or without alcohol.
I’ll often refer to Pandora – The World of Avatar as an attraction in its own right. Every inch is themed to make you feel as if you’ve left Earth behind. There are even floating mountains! But one of the things that I really love about Pandora – The World of Avatar is that you don’t have to be a fan of the movies to enjoy it. You’ll still want to explore.
One final tip about Pandora – The World of Avatar. Walk through it during the day, and then return after dark. This isn’t always possible during the summer if the park closes early, but if you can, you need to do it. Walk through near closing if possible so that the crowd level has gone down and you can hear the land as well as see it.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom used to be a half day park. Guests would show up early, hit all the rides, and then Park Hop elsewhere. With Pandora – The World of Avatar, people are staying from open until close. The land helps people to get all that they can out of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. That, right there, makes Pandora – The World of Avatar a hit.