If you’re up for an epic vacation experience that will take your family on a far-away journey, then plan an awe-inspiring adventure to Pandora – The World of Avatar, the newest attraction in Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort.
We visited during Pandora’s opening weekend this summer. It was amazing to see how much the attraction is so much like James Cameron’s record-breaking box office hit, AVATAR.
You’ll experience this new world as if you’re one of the Na’vi, the mythical indigenous people of Pandora who have a deep connection to the imaginary planet’s life force.
As we walked through Pandora’s magical Valley of Mo’ara, we were immersed in a mystical world of massive floating mountains, bioluminescent rainforests and breathtaking new experiences.
Although there’s so much to see and do at Pandora, here are our four family favorites:
#1 Fly on a Banshee
Avatar Flight of Passage is the thrilling centerpiece on Pandora – The World of Avatar. Unless you’ve actually been on this ride, it’s difficult to explain this realistic encounter to someone who hasn’t.
Imagine straddling the back of a wing-flapping banshee, darting and swirling through the canyon updrafts free as the wind. That’s exactly what it feels like!
This 3-D expedition transports you through a sweeping simulated flight over Pandora’s colorful landscape. You’ll soar around mountains, plunge through ancient caverns and skim across roaring oceans.
Be sure to hold on tight for one unforgettable ride!
#2 Meet a Na’vi Shaman
After the excitement of flying on a banshee, we welcomed the tranquility of riding along in the reed boats of the family-friendly Na’vi River Journey. This riverscape pulses with sensational sights and sounds that fill your senses.
We were mesmerized by the bioluminescent rainforest and the jungle comes alive with exotic glowing plants and traversed by Pandoran creatures.
The journey builds to an encounter with the remarkable Shaman of Songs. Like most of Pandora’s mythical indigenous people, she’s nearly 10-feet tall.
#3 Explore the Culinary World of Pandora
Not only can you explore like a Na’vi and talk like a Na’vi – we discovered you can eat like a Na’vi too on Pandora – The World of Avatar.
We loved dining Na’vi-style at the Satu’li Canteen. It’s the fast-casual restaurant in the new land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Satu’li (Sa-too-lee) was the perfect place to find healthy choices at the park, which were inspired by the healthful bounty on Pandora. Entrees feature bowls that allow you to customize your meal with grains, fresh vegetables and hearty proteins.
For the little ones, there’s an option of grilled chicken or beef, fish or tofu with greens or rice; a hot dog wrapped in Parker House dough; cheese quesadilla, or a steamed “pod” (cheeseburger bao bun).
#4 Treat Yourself to an Immersive Shopping Experience
We found the most unique merchandise nestled under a thatched room covered in Na’vi totems. It’s called Windtraders and it’s definitely the place for a truly out-of-this world shopping experience.
This one-of-a-kind retail location is where shopping becomes an interactive because it looks like an abandoned structure that has been largely overtaken by sprawling roots from some of Pandora’s exotic plants.
The cool thing is that many of these imposing root structures also happen to showcase Pandora merchandise, creating a truly nature-inspired experience.
You can even buy your very own banshee to care for in the Banshee Rookery. A naturalist helps each guest find the banshee that’s just right for them.
We found an array of other beautifully crafted merchandise and jewelry that made us feel one with Pandora.
However, my absolute favorite was the chance to become an avatar myself through the ACE Avatar Maker. That’s because this immersive experience lets you take home a replica avatar figure of yourself!
You start off stepping into a futuristic transformation booth. Using a digital process, a custom action figure is created that features a facial likeness of yourself.
Then presto! You get a 10-inch figure that looks like you in avatar form. How cool is that?
We discovered a stop inside Windtraders was the perfect way to feel connected to Pandora and take some of the other-worldly souvenirs back to Dallas to remember our amazing adventure for years to come.
Disclaimer: Walt Disney World sponsored this experience at Pandora – The World of Avatar . The thoughts and opinions are my own.