After six years of developing and building, the public was finally allowed into Pandora, the Avatar-themed addition to Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. The opening weekend included lines as long as four hours for one new attraction in particular—a 3-D flight simulator called Avatar Flight of Passage.
A week later, we took a visit to Pandora. While the first week’s hourlong lines just to get into the park had thinned, Pandora was unsurprisingly filled with people excited to see the new venture between Disney’s Imagineering and James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment.
Our day in Pandora started at the Satu’li Canteen for a light lunch of organic and environmentally friendly food. Following lunch, we waited about 90 minutes for the Na’vi River Journey, a boat ride through the Kasvapan River of Pandora. A ride meant for families and children who can’t enjoy the more exciting Flight of Passage, it’s a beautifully made attraction that doesn’t have many “thrills” but showcases Disney’s timeless audio-animatronics and newer technology such as 3-D holograms.
Wanting to see the park at night, we came back during Animal Kingdom’s “Extra Magic Hours” and lined up immediately for the Flight of Passage to go on a flying adventure and see what it’d be like to ride a mountain Banshee. We waited about two hours for the ride, walking through one of the most well decorated queues in all of Walt Disney World, including a Na’vi cave, abandoned RDA (Resources Development Administration) facilities and an Alpha Centauri Expeditions research facility. The ride itself is probably the most interesting and fun. Without giving too much away, we can say, despite waiting two hours, once the five-minute ride was finished, we didn’t mind the wait at all
Can’t make it to Orlando, or want a preview before committing? Follow along our photographic journey.
Adam McCullough is a live music photographer based in the New York City area who travels the country capturing festivals, concerts and the road along the way.
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The day starts with a healthy meal: a child's sized portion of the Cheeseburger Pod and Panko Crusted Sustainable Fish from the new Satu'li Canteen at Pandora.
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The seating area inside the Satu'li Canteen, a former RDA mess hall now run by Alpha Centauri Expeditions.
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The centerpiece of the new Avatar park, the floating mountains of the Valley of Mo'ara.
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A cross bridge made of plants from the Valley of Mo'ara brings guests to the queue for the Na'vi River Journey.
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A dome made of giant leaves and branches provides shade for guests in line for the Na'vi River Journey.
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Guests pass a shrine as they enter the loading area for the Na'vi River Journey boats.
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An audio-animatronic Na'vi tribe member inside the ride.
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Floating down the Na'vi river under a forest of bioluminescence plants.
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An amazing audio-animatronic Na'vi Shaman of Songs serenades guests in the final scene of the Na'vi River Journey.
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Multiple waterfalls splash down the floating mountains in the Valley of Mo'ara creating beautiful bioluminescence gardens.