When I was invited by Disney to take a sneak peek of Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort, I jumped on the plane so fast it would’ve made your head spin! This was a solo trip for me and I stayed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, which was a first for me and I loved it! We ate at Jiko, The Cooking Place, and Boma – Flavors of Africa…all three delicious. I even saw giraffes from my window while staying at the Jambo House. Incredible!
We started our first day heading straight to Pandora – The World of Avatar which opens at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on May 27th. We were the very first non-Disney employees to get a sneak peek of this new land and that pretty much set the course as to how exciting this day was going to be. When we first walked in, my jaw hit the ground. It was literally like walking into a different world. You almost want to turn around to make sure you are still on this planet. The sounds, the colors, the beauty. All of it is just so breathtaking. After walking around for a while, jaws wide open, taking it all in…I remembered, “oh yah, there are attractions here too!” The first attraction we came upon was the Na’vi River Journey. It is a gentle and peaceful boat ride down a river of caves, bioluminescent plants, incredible sights and magical creatures when all of a sudden you hear her and see her… the Na’vi Shaman of Songs. I actually thought she was real until I realized no, she is in fact, an audio-animatronic. Maybe one of the BEST audio-animatronics I’ve ever seen too! Warning…this ride is so visually stunning, it may bring you to tears.
After taking our Na’vi River Journey, we had lunch at Sutu’li Canteen. WOW! As someone who is quite a picky eater, I can honestly say I tried almost everything on the menu and it’s ALL delicious and amazing. They have an awesome menu for both adults and kids. Offerings include creating your own Satu’li bowl which have so many choices, but my favorite is the steamed cheeseburger pods. Yep, that’s right. It’s a steamed pod and inside is cheeseburger filling and it tastes JUST like a round cheeseburger ball of goodness. I could have eaten five. I didn’t, but I could have. There’s also a vegetable curry pod too. And if you always debate whether or not to splurge on dessert, this would be the place to dive right in. Just remember these words, blueberry cream cheese cake. You’re welcome. Plus, four beer offerings, three wine offerings and a Pandora Sunrise which is non-alcoholic and super refreshing! Make sure and grab the kids a souvenir Na’vi flute cup. The flute actually comes off for the kids to play!
Right in the middle of our lunch Jon Landau, the producer of Avatar, Titanic, and Honey I Shrunk the Kids to name a few, walked out to surprise and delight all of us and let me just say, we were ALL surprised and delighted to meet an Academy Award winner. He and the creator of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Joe Rohde shared with us how much passion and love they, along with director James Cameron, put into bringing Pandora – the World of Avatar to life.
After lunch, my inner Disney shopper girl wanted to check out the gift shop Windtraders and yep, I wanted to buy EVERY single thing in the store, (but couldn’t because Pandora wasn’t “officially” open yet.) My three favorite things…the floating mountain coffee mug (of course to use on my Coffee Convo Wednesday show), the personal banshee they match specifically for you and the plush baby Na’vi dolls. I know both my 11yo AND four-year-old daughters would ask for these in a heartbeat!
Once I was done drooling over all of the new Pandora merchandise, we headed to Avatar Flight of Passage. A thrilling 3-D attraction where you ride on the back of a mountain banshee and explore the world of Pandora. This attraction is definitely for the more adventurous guest. There is a high requirement of 44 inches and it does give a warning to those who are prone to motion sickness and/or have a fear of heights. Funny enough…I am exactly both of those but was not missing the opportunity to have this first-time experience so I was IN! I don’t want to give too much away so I will just tell you it is one of the most exhilarating attractions I’ve ever been on at ANY of the Walt Disney World theme parks and I’ve been to three!
If you want to hear a little more detail, please check out this week’s Coffee Convo Wednesday show. (You can forward right to the third topic)
If you’d like to take a peek inside the actual attraction including the pre-show awesomeness, check out The Dis’s video footage. So fun! Since we were in this group together, you can even see me for a split second at the very end. Ha! These were the poor people riding next to me having to listen to my ridiculous sounds of absolute joy during the entire experience. Refer to my Coffee Convo Wednesday above for said ridiculous sounds of absolute joy. 😉
When I got off Flight of Passage, it was a feeling like no other. My eyes were filled with tears, my legs were a little wobbly. I felt like I was truly flying. Truly! As someone who is so super afraid of flying that I would never even consider flying in a small plane, skydiving, hang gliding or anything related to flying…this was and is, the closest I will ever get and it was AAAAAMAZING!
As if the Pandora day couldn’t get any better, we came back at night to see Pandora in all of its bioluminescent glory. WOW! The ground is lit up, the colors of the plants, the animals…it really is an entirely different experience at night! I can definitely say it would be hard to choose which is better. Pandora – the World of Avatar by day…or by night so I say seem them both.
Disclosure: I was invited by Disney to visit Pandora – the World of Avatar as part of a media preview. Travel accommodations, meals, and theme park admission were provided. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.