TMSM Explains: Experiencing Pandora the World of Avatar As A Park Guest

Over the last two weeks TMSM has shared several articles with you about our experiences in the new land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Pandora The World of Avatar. Prior to yesterday all of those experiences were from during Annual Passholder previews and media events, meaning during very controlled crowd times. Yesterday I attended the first official “Opening Day” of Pandora and wanted to share some experiences and information with you to help make your visit to Pandora easier. Yesterday we arrived at the park at roughly 6am for Extra Magic Hour opening at 7am.If you are a resort guest, make sure you take advantage of Extra Magic hours.  Upon arrival we saw that Cast Members were already letting guests into the park and sending them to two areas. One for non resort guests, and one for resort guests, thankfully Disney was scanning MagicBands to verify resort guest status. We spent the majority of the day in Pandora except for a break for food and drinks at the Nomad Lounge next to Tiffins.

Be patient and more importantly be kind
When a new ride opens in the parks we all know lines will be long because everyone wants to ride it, the same applies with new restaurants. Pandora isn’t just a new dining location or ride, it is an entire new land. The dining locations, rides, even the daily operations are new to everyone. There are kinks to work out, and being rude to Cast Members or other guests won’t make the situation any better. Remember that you aren’t the only one trying to see “all the things” or ride all the rides, so you there will be long waits. Fortunately, it seems Disney was ready for those long lines. Yesterday as we entered the land during Extra Magic Hours, we noticed queue area to get into Pandora had been set up with benches, umbrellas and water. Lines for rides are long, as are the lines to get into Windtraders, but Cast Members are doing their best to inform guests of where to go and are answering questions so don’t be afraid to ask, just remember to use your pleases and thank yous and to not take out your frustrations on them.

Don’t believe the haters and rumor mongers and know your park hours
Yesterday I saw a lot of people posting that Disney wasn’t allowing guests with FastPass+ into Pandora, as well as a lot of people getting mad about these posts because they had FastPass+ options for Pandora. My friends the information that was being shared about FastPass+ yesterday was simply not true, and sadly too many people were taking that information as fact and were getting mad over it.
If you are in the parks, don’t go running to social media with your questions. Walk up and nicely ask a Cast Member for help. While there was a long line to get into Pandora, guest with confirmed FastPass+ were using a different line to enter the land. When we decided it was time to leave Pandora, we asked a Cast Member what we would need to do in four hours when it was time for our FastPass+. They explained we would go to a set area and show them our FP+ information in our My Disney Experience app and have our MagicBands scanned. Four hours later that is exactly what we did with no issues or concerns at the start of our FastPass+ return time. We then went straight to the rides FastPass+ line, scanned our bands and proceeded up the mountain.
Resort guests will also want to remember to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. For a limited time (5/27-7/4/17) resort guests will be able to enjoy Pandora from 11 PM to 1 AM nightly. Meaning on select days resort guests can enter the park as early as 7am and stay until 1am.
Be prepared
Pandora is for lack of a better word unique. The area is nothing like anything I have ever seen in a Disney park. The sidewalks have bioluminescent wildlife “growing” on them. The  crumbling moss covered walls that separate the plants from the sidewalks are not smooth, they really weren’t designed to sit on and the definitely were not designed to stand on so please don’t try and walk on them. The walls also stick out in some places so please makes sure that watch where you walk.
Currently Cast Members are doing their best to inform guests were lines end, yesterday there were lines to get into the new land, lines for each ride and lines for the retail and dining locations. If you aren’t sure where you need to go ask a Cast Member, don’t just jump into in what you think is the end of a line as it may in fact only be the middle. Why is that? Because due to the length of some of these lines the lines actually have “breaks” in them to allow guests to walk from point A to point B through the line areas.

If you are planning on eating at Satu’li Canteen make sure you take some time to review the menu, it isn’t necessarily your standard theme park food, but that isn’t a bad thing. We ended up eating breakfast and dinner in the Canteen and had the food was great. While I am not picky, there were just some things I didn’t want on my food without trying it, so I asked for it to be placed on the side and ended up loving it. Earlier this month we shared the news that you can order your food in advance at this location through the My Disney Experience app, this is another reason to be familiar with the menu as you can only do so much in the order ahead section of the app, if you are picky or have food allergies please don’t use the order ahead option instead order in person. If you opt to use the order ahead option you will also want to pay attention to the fact that there is one line for order ahead and one line for order now when you enter the Canteen.
There is no Mickey Mouse in Pandora, I had read this many times but honestly questioned how feasible that was, and oh my gosh it is one hundred percent true. The merchandise in Pandora is exclusive to that part of the park, and there isn’t a Mickey Mouse item to be seen. Even the bubble wands are Pandora themed, and the merchandise locations have their own Pandora gift bags. You will also notice that the MagicBand touch points and cast member name tags say A.C.E. not Disney. These little nuances add to the story that surround you and really keep you in the “Pandora bubble.”

Know your attractions
Pandora has two rides,Na’vi River Journey  and Avatar Flight of Passage, both have FastPass+ but they are tiered so you can only pick one of the two rides when scheduling your FastPass+ options.Personally, I would use my prescheduled FastPass+ for Avatar Flight of Passage as it seems to have the longest wait times and ride Na’vi River Journey as a stand-by line ride.
The Na’vi River Journey which is a slow and beautiful boat ride through a bioluminescent rainforest can be compared to it’s a small world. The ride has no height requirement and each boat can hold up to eight guests.The queue is very detailed and is truly a part of the ride experience so make sure you take time to look around the queue as you wait. Guests in wheelchairs/ECVs much transfer into the  Na’vi River boats as there are no wheelchair accessible boats.

Avatar Flight of Passage is a 3D simulator ride that has a 44″ height requirement. For those of you who get motion sick easily you may want to consider either taking something before riding or skipping this ride. Personally I took Dramamine and did ok, but I also realized that part of what was making me sick wasn’t eye related (which for me that is usually my problem) but stomach related. While the ride works like Soarin’ with a large screen that guests face, instead of sitting in a chair you basically are riding a bike and moving like in Star Tours. When you sit down you have a curved pad at your chest and stomach area that keeps your body from hitting the small screen in front of you, I found that this pad was actually to source of my stomach issues the second time I rode the ride. There are also handle like grab bar for you to hold like you are holding the reins of a Banshee. Once you have sat down, and your feet are in the proper place, a bar/pad that lets you feel vibrations secures your calves and another bar/pad comes up behind your lower back. There are some bright flashing lights as the ride starts, and the room does move like Soarin’ and Star Tours, and the visual feeling from the “drops” are more extreme than anything I have felt on either of the other two rides. I won’t lie I closed my eyes a few times during those drops, but the graphics and visuals are so amazing it was hard to keep them closed for a long period of time.

Turn off your flash!!!
At night right around dusk the bioluminescent plant life in Pandora starts to come to life. There is no announcement or show, things just start to light up. If you want to watch this take place, I suggest you find an area to about 20 minutes before dusk to stand. Remember to not block the walk ways, and to be respectful of those who may just want to grab a photo, and be that nice guy or gal that offers to take a photo of a family that is struggling to grab a quick selfie in the crowds.. For those of you who don’t want to stand and watch the whole process, please remember to use your manners if you want to get a photo. Nothing is more surprising than someone shoving an arm by your face instead of saying “Do you mind if I sneak in for a quick photo?”

And for the love of all things Walt, if you are trying to take a photo of the bioluminescent plant life TURN OFF YOUR FLASH!! Why? Well first you aren’t going to capture the lights you want photos off with your flash on they will just be drowned out, and secondly the lighting in Pandora is dim at night to let guests enjoy the plant life, this is part of why the sidewalk glows. So when you have your flash on you are blinding (and annoying) people. Not to mention your eyes will have adjusted to the dimness so by using a flash you risk tripping over the “walls” that sort of jut out while your eyes are trying to readjust to the dimness.
Enjoy yourself and let Disney know they did a great job!
Pandora the World of Avatar is breath taking. It is one thousand times more amazing than I thought it would be. And yesterday I realized there are many people that worked on this project that will never hear directly from guests how much we appreciate and enjoy their hard work. So remember to not only take the time to tell the Cast Members you come in contact with that you appreciate them and their hard work, but take a moment to contact Disney and tell them how much you appreciate the hard work of the Imagineers, the construction crews, the artists, the merchandise designers, the culinary experts, the computer coding team etc. that have worked for years to bring this amazing world to life!
If you would like to see more of TMSM’s coverage on Pandora the World of Avatar feel free to check out these articles!


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