This past weekend I took a quick trip down to Disney. We were only there for about 48 hours – I have to say, it’s pretty depressing to get your Magical Express return trip information about 6 hours after you made it to your hotel room! But we had some Southwest credit to use, so a Disney trip seemed like the perfect solution. My main goal for the trip was to see Pandora in Animal Kingdom, since I hadn’t had a chance to visit yet.
Animal Kingdom is my favorite park, so I was excited to see what else they had added to it. And I thought they did a really wonderful job. It’s a beautiful area that I think fits in well to the park. Even with the tons of people it somehow still felt almost peaceful and relaxing. The two rides are very well done and the food was great. Even though we only visited briefly, I picked up on some tips that I think might be helpful if you’re heading there soon.
Fastpass Flight of Passage if you can
Right now you can either get a fastpass+ for Flight of Passage or River Journey. Flight of Passage is infinitely more popular and the waits will always be longer, so get this if you can. That being said, they’re going really fast. You’ll need to be booking at your 60 day mark (assuming you’re a resort guest) as soon as it opens to get an ideal time. For next month I forgot to book my fastpasses that morning until about 10am. I still got one for Flight of Passage, but it’s not until 7pm at night. If you can’t get the fastpass and really want to do the ride, I’ll share some tips below. If you miss out on Flight of Passage, definitely grab one for River Journey – the waits are shorter but still long, and the queue for that ride is very uninteresting so it doesn’t matter if you pass by.
From what I saw, the best time to get to Pandora is as soon as you possibly can – that’s when the park opens or during extra magic hours if they’re offered. I went on an extra magic hour morning – we were tired and didn’t arrive as early as I was hoping, but we were waiting in line at the turnstiles by about 7:45am. We didn’t scan our tickets until 8:20, and then I was in Pandora around 8:30. I went right to the line for Flight of Passage. It looked ridiculously long because they weren’t letting people in the full queue yet. But it moved quickly and I only ended up waiting about an hour. Once you get inside there are some very cool things to look at in the queue as well. If you have a Flight of Passage fastpass you could rope drop River Journey instead, but you very well may want to do Flight of Passage twice.
Don’t skip Na’vi River Journey
It’s easy to focus on the big e-ticket attraction in the park. And I’ve heard some people are let down by Na’vi River Journey, but we both really enjoyed it (enough that we rode it twice in one weekend). It captures more of that relaxing and peaceful atmosphere. The details are really well done and it’s just a very pleasant experience that really does make you feel like you’re in a different world.
Visit in both the daytime and the evening
The area looks totally different during the day and at night. If you are able to, take a trip to Pandora both in the daylight and once the sun sets. It’s a natural wonder during the day, but at night the “bioluminescent” qualities of the flora and fauna come out, and it’s a different but still stunning experience.
Eat lunch or dinner there
Satuli Canteen was an absolutely delicious quick service option. Have a meal there. We didn’t get to try breakfast, but lunch was really good. They have “bowls” that you can customize, with options like salad, rice, or sweet potato hash topped with various different proteins and dressings. There’s also “pods” which are steamed buns filled with either a cheeseburger filling or a red vegetable curry filling. Everything we tried was delicious, and I’ll be writing a full food review soon.
Go for the fancy drinks
Whether you like beer, mixed drinks, or non-alcoholic beverages, Pandora has a lot of really fun drinks. I tried one of the two beers made for the land, a green “grog” which was very refreshing and pleasant. Later on we got two of their frozen drinks. One was a strawberry/blood orange margarita and the other was a non-alcoholic “Night Blossom” made up of limeade, apple, and desert pear flavors. They were both really good but we actually liked the Night Blossom best. Especially if it’s a hot day, you don’t want to miss out on getting one of these.
Take advantage of Photopass
At least now while the land is still crowded, there were several photopass photographers in different spots around the park. I saw at least 3 during our time in Pandora. The area really does make a stunning backdrop, so find one (or all!) of these photographers and get your picture taken!
I’m really happy with Pandora and this addition to the Animal Kingdom. It’s definitely a place I could find myself spending a lot of time (especially once the crowds die down a bit). I think they did a great job with it and I’m happy to see my favorite park getting a little more love!
If you’ve been to Pandora, what did you think of it? If you haven’t visited yet, what are you most looking forward to?