No matter how many times you’ve been to Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, the way you’ve toured this park will change with the addition of Disney’s Pandora the World of Avatar. This incredible new land has changed everything about visiting Animal Kingdom but the good news is that we have you covered.
Animal Kingdom used to be a “half-day park” – no more!
Before Avatar, many in the industry referred to Animal Kingdom as a “half-day park,” meaning you’d spend half the day in Animal Kingdom and then either park hop to another theme park or head back to your Orlando hotel. This wasn’t because there’s a lack of things to do here – it’s because the park’s hours were short and it typically closed between 5 and 7 pm.
Those hours are a thing of the past. With numerous nighttime activities, there’s something to do here until close – which often comes as late as midnight these days. In addition to the rides and attractions you can see during the day, nighttime attractions include:
- Rivers of Light. This nighttime show flows down the river that goes throughout the park.
- Tree of Life Awakening. The iconic Tree of Life in the middle of the park now has magical lighting at night – and a special ceremony to light it.
- Sunset safaris. Kilimanjaro Safaris let guests ride right through an African-inspired savannah-like area, and now sunset rides let guests see a whole different set of animals.
- Pandora. We’ll get to Pandora’s two rides below, but when it comes to nighttime attractions, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the bioluminescence flora in Pandora. Essentially, the entire land glows a beautiful blue at night. It must be seen to be believed.
There are a number of advantages to these nighttime attractions – not only will they be fun, but they’ll help spread out the crowds so it’s easier to get around during the day.
Disney’s Pandora the World of Avatar will have two new rides
There are two new rides within Disney’s Pandora the World of Avatar:
- Avatar Flight of Passage. This headlining ride is a one-of-a-kind experience that’s difficult to describe. Essentially, guests load a ride vehicle that’s not unlike a futuristic bicycle and take off to fly on a banshee – which is of course a Na’vi rite of passage. Incorporating a long list of technologies, this ride is a must-see. One word of caution: While most of the rides at Walt Disney World are made to fit guests of all sizes, there have been some complaints that taller and heavier people don’t fit comfortably into the ride vehicles and haven’t been allowed to ride. Disney is working on a solution but in the meantime, they’ve added a ride vehicle in front of the attraction so guests can see if they fit comfortably.
- Na’vi River Journey. This ride is stunning too but in a much different way. While in Flight of Passage you’ll find yourself soaring through the skies, the Na’vi River Journey takes guests on a unique river journey through a bioluminescent experience.
Both of these rides are very popular and will be for the next few years. As a result, you’ll want to either secure a FastPass+ for them or ride them in off-peak hours. Your best chance at short lines is right after the park opens but an hour or so before it closes is likely to be another good option.
Unique dining opportunities at Disney Pandora the World of Avatar
Foodies are rejoicing at the unique restaurants Walt Disney World has brought to this new land. There are several spots for visitors to stop and grab a bite:
- Satu’li Canteen. This is the main dining area in Pandora and features beautiful, natural surroundings. Stop by for breakfast for unique options like pork hash and French Toast topped with blueberry cream cheese, or come for lunch or dinner to get bowl-style dishes you can create with your own favorite ingredients, cheeseburger steamed bao buns and Hawke’s Grog Ale. This was the first spot in all the parks that offered mobile ordering, but many quick-service dining locations have added it as well.
- Pongu Pongu. This is just a beverage window but they have some interesting drinks, both with and without alcohol.
Those are the two main options, though a few food carts are placed here and there throughout the land.
Shopping within Disney Pandora the World of Avatar
There’s just one shopping locale within Pandora, but it’s a unique one. Located right at the exit of Flight of Passage, it offers the Pandora-themed merchandise you’d expect. There’s also a blacklight section in the back with glow-in-the-dark options, but the most popular option in this shop is the Banshee pets, which are controlled with a small remote control.
There’s no question that this is Disney World’s biggest expansion in many years – and from the looks of things so far, it’s their best as well. We hope you enjoy your trip to Orlando and everything Disney Pandora the World of Avatar has to offer.