First Look Inside Pandora: World of Avatar

Walt Disney World Tickets , Orlando , New Attractions
First Look Inside Pandora: World of Avatar
By ATD’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
If there is one iconic image in Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom it’s the immense floating mountains you see in the distance as you walk in. Hidden animals call to one another and receive mysterious responses in return. And then you ride on the back of a Mountain Banshee. And you’re completely blown away.

Just like the movie it’s based on, Pandora, World of Avatar is visually stunning. Unlike the movie, it is set in the future, when peace has returned to Pandora after a war with the Resources Development Administration [RDA], and there is a spirit of co-existence.

Mark LeVine, Lead Writer for Pandora, told us about the Imagineer’s thinking when we attended Pandora’s media preview: “We didn’t want it to be about the characters in the film. It’s about you going on your own adventures and having your own experiences, so we set ourselves a generation past the film. Then we thought about who is going to host you, and we came up with Alpha Centauri Expeditions. The RDA from the movie is in the past.”

 

Pandora The World of Avatar Walt Disney World

 

Does it matter if you’ve never seen the movie, or if you saw it but couldn’t name a single character all these years later? Nope. In fact, we think it helps not to know the story’s finer points.  It’s easier to accept some of the logistical dilemmas and just be in Pandora.  And that’s the point; you’re meant to soak it in and allow yourself to believe you’re on another planet.

Cross the bridge and you enter the Valley of Mo’ara, where the Floating Mountains dominate the landscape. It’s also a place of great spiritual expression, and your introduction to the planet’s dynamic interactive plants. Prepare to be bowled over! 

 

Pandora- The World of Avatar Walt Disney World

 

The amount of native art throughout the land is impressive, from simple handprint designs placed in caves by the Na’Vi to the icons that act as signs indicating the area’s attractions. Imagineers took their inspiration from native-style artwork from several cultures, and from some of Earth’s more exotic locations.

 

Pandora- The World of Avatar Walt Disney World

 

The signature ride is Avatar: Flight of Passage, and one of the most astonishing things you’ll see in the entire land is found in the attraction’s queue. Enclosed in a chamber is an Avatar, floating in a chemical suspension. As it twitches and turns, this incredible animatronic is utterly convincing, and it’s a prelude to the realism of your upcoming adventure.

 

Pandora- The World of Avatar at Walt Disney World

 

Before you take flight on your Banshee, though, you must be matched with an avatar, and a specialised scanning system is in place to perform the function so that you can link minds and tame the great beast. And then…one of the most incredible attractions at Walt Disney World begins. You will believe you have just flown over Pandora in harmony with a Banshee. You can even feel it breathing as you fly.

Mark told us, “To fly on a Banshee, and to make that such a personal and immense experience – because Pandora’s a big place – we pushed our technology in that regard” And push it they did. The sense of realism is simply immense, not only in the visuals, but also in the smells. Yes, the smells.

 

Pandora- The World of Avatar at Walt Disney World

 

The tamerbut equally eye-catching attraction here, Na’Vi River Journey, is an expedition filled with the flora and fauna of Pandora, from plants that shimmer in the moonlight to animals that react as your boat passes by. Some even hop among the leaves above you. The only sounds you hear are the sounds of nature and the Na’vi’s joyful singing, and that’s the clue to where your mind is meant to be focused: it’s as much an expedition inward – a gentle inducement of a sentimental reaction and a re-connection to the natural world – as it is a pretty boat ride past Pandora’s splendid scenery.

The highlight of your journey is an encounter with the Na’vi Shaman of Songs, and, she is Disney’s most lifelike audio-animatronic. It’s almost mesmerising to watch the graceful curve of her fingers and sweep of her hands.

 

Pandora- The World of Avatar at Walt Disney World

 

As fantastical as Pandora is during the day, it’s even more magical at night, when footprints and leaf-prints light up the pathways and the gentle sounds you hear in daylight are replaced by those of predatory nocturnal animals. A deep sense of mystery surrounds you, and that sentiment is entirely intentional.

“It’s an unbelievable transition into night,” Mark said. “The bioluminescence isn’t just beautiful; it really speaks to the connectedness of nature, which is central to Pandora.”

Naturally, there is a gift shop, but the big bonus here is that it’s geared entirely around Pandora items rather than a broad spectrum of Disney-related merchandise. It may also be one of Disney’s most heavily themed shops. Can’t get enough of bioluminescence? Take home a glow-in-the-dark tee-shirt. Eager to get your Na’vi on all the time? Purchase a tail or a hair braid. You can even purchase a chunk of floating Unobtanium.

But the Must-Have souvenir is your own personal banshee. It sits on your shoulder and interacts with all the people who come up to you and ask, “Where did you get that?!”

 

Pandora- The World of Avatar at Walt Disney World

 

What do explorers visiting the valley eat? Satu’li Canteen is the counter service dining outlet, featuring familiar dishes with a Pandoran twist, such as Steamed ‘Pods’ (Bao buns) and Create-Your-Own Satu’li Bowl (protein, vegetable, and rice or quinoa). Artistic desserts, speciality drinks and a souvenir cup round out the offerings, and the cup has a neat twist, too. You can remove the pan flute attached to it and play a little tune!

With all the anticipation around the opening of Pandora, has it lived up to the hype? We give it a resounding “Yes,” and we are certain you will too.

 

Pandora- The World of Avatar at Walt Disney World

 

It could be argued Pandora should have been in Hollywood Studios, or a more contemporary movie property should have been chosen, but the fact is, the Imagineers have been given near free-rein in creating a convincing atmosphere and, in the spirit of Animal Kingdom, they took that freedom and went wild! 

Want to know more about Pandora? Join us on the Attraction Tickets Direct’s discussion forums!

 

If you want to be one of the first to visit Pandora, click here to view our Walt Disney World Resort tickets.

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Walt Disney World Tickets , Orlando , New Attractions