When I heard that Walt Disney World was opening a land based on Avatar, I was like, “Huh?” It’s not even a Disney movie, plus it came out eons ago. But when you think about the otherworldly aspect of the film, the deep story, the fact that follow-up films are in the works, and that it’s the second most successful movie EVER (Gone With the Wind still holds the title of number one), then it all makes sense. Especially when most who see the flick think, “I wanna go to Pandora, and I want to go now.” Well, thanks to Disney World, you can. I flew (not on a banshee, but on an airplane), to hot and humid Orlando, Florida for an epic and star-studded sneak peek (Sigourney Weaver and Zoe Saldana in the house!) at your next Disney MUST DO. Here’s why you should immediately take a trip to Pandora.
1. Pandora is SO PRETTY. Located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the brand new and fully immersive land is drop dead gorgeous. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never even seen Avatar; on its own, the place is stunning, in an “Am I dreaming or is this for real” kind of stunning. Along with all the fanciful and exotic plants, the vegetation all has a handcrafted touched. The beautifully woven sculptures made of natural materials will inspire you to get weaving ASAP (it’s like macramé on steroids). Oh, and there are floating mountains — massive floating mountains — that really transport you from reality once you step into the heart of Pandora.
2. The long line for Flight of Passage is so worth it. Warning: You will have to wait in line for a long, long, long time to ride the Flight of Passage. A rough estimate of the queue area clocks in at about a half mile (so get that Fastpass), but again, WORTH IT. The ride is like an incredibly gifted blue hued love child of Star Tours and Soarin’ but with more thrills and even grander vistas. Passengers climb onto bike-ish vehicles (AKA your banshee), don 3D glasses, and then soar around the Valley of Mo’ara. There are dips, drops, turns, and thrills that are so realistic that it’s hard not to get lost in the moment and think you’re really flying. They even added deets like the sensation of the banshee breathing between your thighs (crazy!). When we got off the ride, my sister-in-law was in tears — streams of tears brought on by pure joy. Srsly, she was so incredibly moved by the experience.
3. The river ride is totally chill. On the opposite end of the thrill meter is the Na’vi River Journey, a slow and peaceful Tunnel of Love-like attraction. Guests board rustic reed boats and glide through an iridescent environment full of exotic vegetation and curious creatures. The star of the show is the Na’vi Shaman of Songs, an animatronic wonder, who serenades you as you complete your journey. (Photo via Disney)
4. Dining Na’vi style is truly innovative. See that pork bun looking thing above? That’s a cheeseburger, yes, a cheeseburger offered at the Satu’li Canteen (once you get past the visual of it, their “pod” really does taste like a cheeseburger). The Imagineers of all-things-food came up with such twists for a totally unique dining experience. They’ve got some way healthy (and delicious) options too, like their customizable bowls (a la Chipotle) with a base of quinoa and vegetable salad, red and sweet potato hash, mixed whole-grain and rice, or romaine and kale salad. Then you can add in grilled chicken, tender beef, sustainable fish, or a chili-spiced fried tofu. For the sweet tooth (and it’s Disney, so you’ve gotta get your sugar fix), they offer up otherworldly inspired desserts like the blue orbed blueberry cream cheese mousse. Make sure to swing by Pongu Pongu and grab a drinky-drink (spiked or virgin) like the Night Blossom (limeade with apple and desert pear flavors topped with passion fruit boba), the Mo’ara Margarita (Sauza Commemorativo Añejo Tequila with strawberry and blood orange flavors topped with strawberry boba), or Hawkes’ Grog Ale (a green-hued beer). (Photo via Disney)
5. Visiting at night is a completely different experience. If you’re visiting Pandora, keep this in mind — you must go during the day and at night. When the sun sets, the park has a totally different vibe. The bioluminescent plants awake into vivid neons, the ground glows, and the area becomes even more mysterious and fantastic. Trust me: The nighttime is the right time and is not to be missed.
6. You will want to buy all the things. You can’t go on a journey like this and NOT bring home a few Na’vi cultural artifacts (or two, or three). A few of the hot items include the super cool tiny mechanical banshee pet (that will flap their wings as it sits on your shoulder) and the custom Na’vi action figure (which you can make to look like yourself). Or get all DIY like I did, and make a Windtrader necklace (I’m lovin’ mine).
Are you planning on heading to Pandora? Tell us over @BritandCo.