I got the chance on Sunday of opening weekend to visit the new world of Pandora inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. There has been a lot of news about Pandora and how amazing it is. There has also been news that it is crazy crowded and will have huge wait times. I went and I survived without really having to wait at all. In this post, I’ll give you my advice, tips, and reviews to visiting the amazing world of Pandora.
Getting into Pandora
We went on opening Sunday in the evening after dinner before dusk. After getting into the Animal Kingdom, we waited 10 minutes to get in the Pandora section. Yes, we had to wait to even enter the section of the park. We had fast passes for the Na’vi River Journey ride, so we didn’t wait in a line there. If you have a fast pass and the line to enter Pandora is long, wait till your fast pass time to enter. You can skip the line and get right in the Pandora section without waiting if you show the cast member at the front of the line your fast pass and time.
Eventually, there will be two areas to enter Pandora. Right now you can only access it by a bridge to the left of the Tree of Life. Then you can exit Pandora either through a bridge walkway over to the Africa section (this will later also be an entrance) or back across the same bridge towards the Tree of Life.
What to Expect
I heard about the waits early in the day of the opening weekend, but I never saw the 5 hour lines. The ride waits were 120 min (River Journey) and 165 min (Flight of Passage) when we were there around 7:30 pm. Both rides had 200+ min waits earlier in the day. I believe the wait went up again a little later in the evening, but we were watching River of Lights by then. Seeing Pandora at dusk gave us the chance to see it change from day to night and that was incredible! I highly recommend going later in the day and skipping this as an early morning attraction.
We went back at 11 pm for extra magic hours and it took us less than 30 minutes to ride the river journey again. Avatar Flight of Passage wait never went under 165 minutes and eventually, they just shut down the queue. I would estimate that at least through 2017 and spring of 2018 the lines will remain long throughout this section of the park. When school goes back in session in the fall of 2017 the wait times will likely be cut in half, but seeing how popular this area was on an opening weekend, I don’t think Flight of Passage will go below 60 minutes on a normal weekend. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but I believe it’ll be more luck than anything if it does.
Na’vi River Journey
The Na’vi River Journey was one of the most breathtaking rides I’ve ever been on. The animatronics, lighting, design, imaging that looked holographic and everything on this ride was perfection. You ride a boat down the Na’vi River and get to see the land of Avatar and from a first person perspective. It is an unbelievably beautiful ride. Let’s say that again, this ride is gorgeous! It’s also not a short ride. At over 4 minutes you won’t feel ripped off if you wait awhile. The ride is a slow boat ride perfect for children of all ages and pregnant people like me! The wait times for this ride weren’t as bad as Flight of Passage and since it’s not a thrill ride, I wouldn’t expect it to be super high on a normal day.
Flight of Passage
I am pregnant and could not ride Flight of Passage, so I didn’t attempt to. However, I heard the queue line is very interactive and the ride itself are absolutely incredible! I talked to multiple people coming off this ride that said it was the best ride they’d ever been on and they’d wait over 2 hours to do it again. Many of those people proceeded to get right back in the over 250+ minute wait to do just that. On this ride, you get to fly over Pandora on your on your own banshee and supposedly you can even feel it breathe. The secures for this ride are very different and it is not suitable for every body type or age. Check the Disney website for more information. I personally don’t think 4 hours is a wait I’d do no matter what, but 60 minutes would be an acceptable wait for this ride to me.
Food and Drinks
The non-alcoholic slushy, Night Blossom, was delicious from Pongu Pongu. My friends loved the margarita! The boba balls on top of both frozen drinks were delicious and gave the drinks a fun look. Of course, we all opted for the glowing seed addition to our drinks! There are more nonalcoholic drink options inside the QS restaurant, but alcohol is limited to beer and a small selection of wine beside the margarita at Pongu Pongu.
The QS restaurant, Satu’li Canteen, looked very good too and didn’t have much of a wait. The menu was out of this world combos and looked extremely interesting. I didn’t eat there, so I don’t want to comment too much on the food. I will say the menu was diverse and the desserts looked delicious. Mobile ordering is also offered here through the MyDisney app. Just order on the app and come pick it up!
The merchandise store inside Pandora had a wait was ridiculously long! I mean people literally waited hours to get in for limited edition shirts, their own little remote control banshee, and Avatar outfits. Skip it unless you really want something. Many people were purchasing small banshees that are remote control and sit on your shoulder. Others were opting for costume pieces like Avatar tails and ears. Currently, people coming off Flight of Passage are rerouted to outside the store so waiting is your only option to make a purchase besides a few small stands. Later when the crowd dies down you will be able to go into the store directly from that ride.
Overview of Pandora
Pandora as a whole is worth a visit. Upon entering Pandora your entire view is different than anywhere else on Disney property. The floating islands, plants, smells and everything in this section truly makes you feel like you are in another world. There is a lot to explore and see without even riding a ride in Pandora. While the section is relatively small there’s so much to look at! At night the bioluminescent start to light up and much of the area interacts as you walk by. It is extremely dark and the only lights are worked into the scenery as glowing plants. Even the footpath lights up as you walk. Truly this place is one of a kind and unlike anything I’ve ever seen from a theme park.
I wouldn’t wait 120+ minutes personally for a ride or to get in a store, but it’s defiantly worth going to see this new section of Animal Kingdom. Get a fast pass for the rides if you don’t want to wait. Currently, you can’t get fast passes for both rides, so you will need to choose one. For older children and young adults I suggest Flight of Passage and for families with small children or people with disabilities, I suggest Na’vi River Journey.
Please also note when you see posts about how crazy it was in Pandora during the opening weekend overall it was packed weekend at Disney World! Almost every ride all weekend had crazy long wait times. Many of the big rides over 120 minutes. I’m an annual pass holder and I had never seen a wait longer than 30 minutes for rides like Figment and Living with the Land. It wasn’t just Animal Kingdom and Pandora that had crazy lines. Good luck, have fun and make sure to comment your thoughts of Pandora!
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