A concept originally announced what feels like eons ago, Pandora is the new Avatar themed land in Animal Kingdom. It officially opens to the public on May 27th, but we were able to get sneak peek this past week during a Passholder Preview. And it is truly out of this world!
Where is this thing? The land itself is located on the westside of Animal Kingdom before you enter Africa. We were not able to find any actual maps of the land as they likely wont be available until this weekend. But if you keep to the left you can't miss it.
Pandora, itself, is small on signage. There are very minimal signs for the main two attractions, the Flight of Passage and the Na'vi River Journey. I found the area slightly difficult to navigate. You just have to follow the crowd to the lines if you are looking for the rides and look for the restaurant if you trying to exit back into the Animal Kingdom. The lack of signage is intentional to create the more natural atmosphere of Pandora, but, it can be a bit confusing.
While we were not allowed to photograph any of the actual rides, I do feel they bear mentioning as Flight of Passage has been met with some criticism.
The Flight of Passage, which is arguably the biggest draw to Pandora, is limited in who can ride and even some of those who can ride, are finding it constraining and potentially uncomfortable. Once through the queue, you board your own individual Banshee (if you haven't seen Avatar, think flying dragon thing). Similar to the motorbike, you straddle it and lean forward to hold onto handle bars. The "bike" then raises a lower back bar and leg restraints. This is primarily where the complaints come in. Many have said that the leg constraints are uncomfortable and I myself heard a child say the back bar was too tight. So there are some kinks to work out...However, I found the ride to not be uncomfortable at all!
Once on your banshee you put on your glasses and are then treated to a 3D ride unlike anything I have ever been on. While visually this ride relies on simulation for the thrill, the addition of the "motorbike" allows you to feel physically what its like to ride the Banshees. If you have trouble with simulation rides, just know that this one is intense. But if you are up for it, you are in for an amazing ride that catapults you into the future of thrill attractions.
The second main attraction of Pandora is the Na'vi River Journey. Similar to Pirates of the Caribbean, you board a boat and journey through the Na'vi River exploring the fauna and natural landscape. It is beautiful and peaceful. While not a thrill ride, this is one that should not be missed and can be enjoyed by everyone.
If you are coming to Disney this summer, be prepared for some long lines for Pandora. The capacities on the rides are low and the demand is high. If you have not already gotten fast passes for these, get them as soon as you can!
And even if you aren't up for waiting in the lines for the rides, the land itself is worth exploring. From the glowing "algae" on the walkways, to the floating islands, to picking a pet banshee in the gift shop, just hiking around this new land is worth the time!
Also, check out our review of the quick-service restaurant in Pandora, Santu'li Canteen!
Tara is a Disney-obsessed Mom of two active boys!