Pandora: The World of Avatar review

Pandora” by Steve Wise licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Animal Kingdom recently received a big upgrade recently, and what’s got everyone buzzing is what this article is all about.  Because in this Pandora The World of Avatar review, I’m going to cover everything that this new theming area has to offer (and why you need to strongly consider booking a trip to Disney World just to see it in person).

In this article, I’m going to cover Pandora The World of Avatar rides, restaurants, and I’ll even break down what this unique area looks like when its lit up at night.

So without further ado, let’s get right into it by discussing the visual beauty of Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

1) The Elegance of Pandora

If I could describe Pandora: The World of Avatar in one word, it would be breathtaking. I honestly have no words to describe how beautiful Disney’s Pandora place is.

I instantly felt transported to another world. The number of details that Imagineers put into this land is just incredible. Everywhere you look is a visual treat; the whole land really envelopes you into a sense of disbelief.

All of the alien plants look so real. The mountains are so enormous and just put you in a sense of bewilderment at how they managed to make them appear as if they’re floating (just like in the film).

As you walk about the land, all of your senses are stimulated. You are emotionally caught up in the beauty, you can taste the cuisine and culture of the Pandoran food, you can touch the Pandoran plants and make music, you can hear the animals and insects come alive at night, and you can smell the sweet aroma in the caves of Mo’ara as you soar through Pandora on your Banshee.

As you venture throughout the land, you will stumble across various alien plants, the 2 rides they currently have in operation (Na’vi River Journey and Flight of Passage), the gift shop (Wind Traders), the quick-service restaurant (Satu’li Canteen), and a drink/snack stand (Pongu Pongu).

Overall, Disney did a tremendous job on designing the majesty and splendor of Pandora.

2) The Culinary Adventure

When I found out that Pandora was going to have food, I was overjoyed as I absolutely love food!

Who doesn’t, right? 

So far, Pandora has two food options; the first is a quick-service restaurant called Satu’li Canteen, while the other is a not a restaurant per say, but a drink/snack stand called Pongu Pongu, as mentioned above.

Satu’li Canteen serves unique create-your-own style meals. The way that works is you choose one protein (chopped Wood Grilled Chicken, Slow Roasted Sliced Grilled Beef, Sustainable Fish, or Chili Spiced Crispy Fried Tofu), 1 base (Red and Sweet Potato Hash, Mixed Whole Grains and Rice, Rice and Beans, or Hearty Salad), and then finally one sauce (Charred Green Onion Vinaigrette, Black Bean Vinaigrette, and Creamy Herb Sauce.) I myself got the Chopped Wood Grilled Chicken Bowl with Mixed Whole Grains and Rice with the Creamy Herb sauce.

The meal itself was quite large, almost the size of a table service meal at the parks. The chicken was very moist and tender, and the creaminess of the herb sauce complimented the chicken very nicely. The meal was very filling, and it also felt very healthy. I would highly recommend getting it.

As for presentation wise, the meal definitely had an ‘alienesque’ vibe to it, as it came with some ‘crunchy slaw’ and Boba balls on top of the dish.

I was personally not a fan of the Boba balls on my meal, as they burst open when you bite into them. You unfortunately cannot order the meal without them. The best thing to do is to just push them aside on your plate if you dislike them—just make sure no one sees you doing it so you can avoid your someone shooting you the shameful side eye. 

If you do not want to have to create your own meal, you do have two other options; a Vegetable Steamed Curry Bao Bun and the Cheeseburger Bao Bun. For kids, they can get a smaller version of the bowls, a smaller version of the steamed Bao Buns, a cheese quesadilla, or a hot dog.

As far desert, well, it was pretty amazing. There are two options: the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse and the Chocolate Cake. I personally did not try the Chocolate Cake, but the Blueberry Mousse was very good. It was rich and quite tasty. It has the texture of pudding and jello combined.

Sprinkled throughout Satu’li Canteen you can find some cool looking Na’vi artifacts, too. There is plenty of seating inside, but if you did want to sit outside there is an option to so, as well. As for the restaurant as a whole, the atmosphere and decor are really great, and I would give it 5 out of 5 stars, as it is definitely worth the money.

I know the restaurant is quite new, but Satu’li Canteen might just be one of the best Disney restaurants in all of the four major Disney World theme parks.

Pongu Pongu, on the other hand, is very interesting and different. In the Na’vi language, Pongu Pongu means Party Party! Here, you can expect to find 5 very unique drinks (Night Blossom, Rum Blossom, Mo’ara Margarita, Hawkes’ Grog Ale, and the Mo’ara High Country Ale), and 3 unique snacks (colossal Pretzel, Pongu Lumpia, and the Viper Claw).

For the drinks, the only one I had was the Night Blossom. The Night Blossom is a frozen slushy beverage that has Minute Maid Limeade, Pear, and Apple with Passion Fruit Boba on top. The drink has a mix of sweet and sour with a bit of the sweet empowering the drink as a whole. If you wanted, there is the option to get a souvenir cup version of the drink, but personally, it’s really not worth the money. Overall, the drink was good, and I would give Pongu Pongu 4.5 stars.

3) Pandora The World of Avatar rides

Besides eating, you have two rides that you can go on when you’re visiting Animal Kingdom’s Pandora. These rides are the Na’vi River Journey and Flight of Passage.

Na’vi River Journey is the lesser of the two rides but nonetheless very beautiful. It is a boat ride similar to the likes of Living With the Land, only the difference is you are going through a Na’vi bioluminescent forest instead of a greenhouse.

The ride lasts about 5 minutes, but is a nice attraction.  It has visually stunning effects, and even has an amazing surprise waiting for you at the ride’s end.  Overall, it’a not the best thing I’ve ever experienced, but it’s a solid attraction.  It is very tame and relaxing, and there is no height requirement.

Flight of Passage, on the other hand is a unique ride. There is so much I could say about the ride, but I need to tell you about something else first—the queue.

Right off the bat, I will say that there is nothing in any other queue across all of Disney World that can compare to the queue that Flight of Passage is.  If you had to compare it to something, it is similar to the likes of how detailed and amazing the queue is for the Indiana Jones Adventure ride at Disneyland, but even comparing it to that somehow feels like an injustice.   

In total, you go through about 5 different rooms before getting to the first pre-show room. After that pre-show concludes, you do another pre-show—and then you can finally get onto the ride.

Each room has so much detail and storytelling happening all around you. There are details on everything, even down to the tiniest of things, like making pipes look as if they have been there and rusted for years. The queue is so immersive and so detailed that it is quite literally worth just spending a good hour or more in it just to soak it all in.

If I had to pick a ride that I could go on as many times as I want, it would be Flight of Passage. You get onto a vehicle that resembles getting onto a motorcycle, and you simulate the sensation of flying on a banshee (or in the Na’vi language, an Ikran). All I can say without ruining the ride is that it was very, very impressive. The graphics were absolutely stunning and the whole ride appeals to all of your senses. You really get the sensation that this ride was inspired by the Soarin’ attraction at Epcot (and Disnelyand).

I don’t know how Disney pulled it off, but they really made the ride feel like you are flying on a Banshee! When I got out, I was so emotionally overwhelmed that I just wanted to hop right back in line and do it all over again!

Flight of Passage is probably one of the best Disney World rides available. Other things you can expect to do in Pandora are exploring the land as a whole seeing everything it has to offer, going to the gift shop and adopting a banshee, getting your face painted to look like a Na’vi, participating in the two Wilderness Explorer stations and even watch the Swotu Wayä Na’vi Drum Ceremony!

4) Tips for Visiting Pandora The World of Avatar

Flight of Passage has a height requirement of 44 inches, while Na’vi River Journey has no height requirement. That being said, everyone can enjoy and love Na’vi River Journey while I feel like only those who are feeling quite adventurous can take on Flight of Passage.

Flight of Passage also may be a little bit intense for some kids, but if they can handle the bigger thrill rides at Disney, they can handle this attraction. As for getting fast passes, you should get a Avatar: Flight of Passage fastpass for sure.  Conversely, I think you can and wait in standby for Na’vi River Journey.

If you go at Rope Drop, meaning right when the park opens, Na’vi River is usually about a 30-40 minute wait, so if you go early you have a great chance of riding it. Keep in mind that when reserving Fastpasses if are staying on Disney property, you can reserve them 60 days ahead of time, and if you are not staying on property you can reserve them 30 days ahead of time.

Before heading onto Flight of Passage, there is a ride vehicle outside for you to try out and see if 1) you fit into the ride vehicle or 2) if you feel comfortable inside it before riding. Both rides do offer Rider Switch, as well.

When eating at Satu’li Canteen you can use your Disney Dining Plan and the meals count as 1 quick-service meal while Pongu Pongu items count as a snack credit. Pandora has two landscapes: one in the day and an entirely different one at night. At night every single plant comes awakens with flickering bioluminescent light. It is just as incredible as the landscape in the morning is and you can even hear more of the animals around you than you could in the day.

As a pro tip, if you do not want to wait in line to order your food at Satu’li Canteen, you can order it ahead within the My Disney Experience mobile app.It does not cost anything extra to use, but keep in mind it is only accepting payment by using your dining plan or a credit/debit card. You cannot use any discounts or use Disney Gift Cards to mobile order. You simply order on your phone, tap the button that says, “I’m here!” (when you get there of course) and then your food will immediately be prepared for you to pick up with no wait!

5) The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

As great Pandora is, there are a few minor things that should be mentioned that are some cons to the overall Land as a whole. The first thing is if you are tall or Pooh-sized, there is a chance that you will not be able to ride Flight of Passage. This is due to restraints that is on the ride, as there are leg and back restraints.

I would not recommend skipping the queue. What you can do is Rope Drop the ride early on in the morning to get a glimpse at the queue and to ride it, and then also get a Fastpass for it to go back again if you really enjoyed it.

If for some reason you cannot get a Fastpass to ride Flight of Passage and you need to go in the standby queue, be prepared to wait over an hour. Wait times for this ride are very long, and if you are not careful will sometimes reach over 2 hours.

Now personally, as great of a ride as this may be, I’m not a huge advocate for waiting in line two hours for a 5 minute attraction.  This is not 1994 anymore, where that kind of thing is commonplace.  So, be wise with how you spend your time at both Pandora The World of Avatar, and Disney World as a whole. 

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