Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park is packed with things to see and experience. Like Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal parks, it is a meticulously crafted land based on a single intellectual property—in this case, James Cameron's “Avatar” movies. And like Cars Land and the Harry Potter worlds, Pandora is hugely popular and highly immersive.
To best enjoy your visit, it would make sense to learn about Pandora's features and determine how you might want to experience them before you go. Let's count down the best things to do and see at the land, including some under-the-radar attractions to discover.
Shop for Unique Pandora Gifts
At Windtraders, the whole family can shop for interesting gifts in honor of Pandora and its curious plants and animals. Grab some nature-related toys from banshees to science kits, along with Na’vi cultural artifacts, art, clothing, and other collectibles for a fun reminder of your Pandora visit. Anyone entering the store must have proof of paid park admission for Pandora on the same date.
Feel the Rhythm of the Drums
The Pandora drum ceremony is temporarily on hold as of mid-December 2020.
Guests of all ages can enjoy a traditional Na'vi Drum Ceremony known as Swotu Wayä, performed by three Pandora artists. You will have a chance to see huge drums, vividly colored shells, hanging orbs, and other Na’vi items. Check the website before you go, as the performance does not always take place daily and the schedule varies.
Ride a Banshee on Avatar Flight of Passage
Avatar Flight of Passage is the highlight of Pandora. This thrilling 3D ride (that even the wimpiest visitors can still handle) takes the “flying theater” concept Disney pioneered for Soarin' to the next level. Set many years after the human-Na'vi conflict at the center of the Avatar movies, the people of Earth are now welcome to visit Pandora and learn about the customs of its indigenous people. That includes flying on the back of a winged mountain banshee, a rite of passage for Na'vi teens.
As in the movie, guests “link” with an avatar for the experience. Those 44 inches (112 centimeters) or taller board unique ride vehicles that not only simulate flying but allow passengers to feel the banshees’ diaphragms expand and contract as they breathe. The utterly convincing and transporting E-Ticket attraction is one of Walt Disney World's best rides.
Because it is so popular, Avatar Flight of Passage’s standby lines can be very long. It is virtually a necessity to make an advance reservation using Disney World's FastPass+ system. This is one of the resort’s most in-demand experiences, so the ride’s FastPass+ reservations should be booked at the earliest possible time.
See a Pandoran Shaman on the Na’vi River Journey
Pandora's second attraction is the total opposite of Avatar Flight of Passage. Instead of thrills, Na’vi River Journey is a gentle, almost meditative boat ride through a bioluminescent Pandoran jungle with caves. Passengers of all ages can see Na’vi tribespeople and creatures such as viper wolves. The attraction features the Shaman of Songs, a 10-foot-tall character that is disarmingly lifelike and among Disney Imagineering’s best animatronics. As with Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey is quite popular (although not as high-demand as the flying Banshee ride), and FastPass+ reservations should be made as far in advance as possible.
Be Amazed by the Floating Mountains
Guests enter Pandora, make their way along its winding path, turn a corner, and are rewarded with the wondrous sight of its floating mountains in the Valley of Mo’ara. A prominent feature of the Avatar movies, the filmmakers have the benefit of computer-generated imagery to create the otherworldly elements. At Walt Disney World, however, the floating mountains are a feat of ingenuity and engineering. From a distance, you can appreciate their scale and majesty. To get to Avatar Flight of Passage, guests have to walk under the floating mountains, and up close you can marvel at their cascading waterfalls, the plants that grow on them, and other attributes.
Take in the Immersive Valley of Mo'ara
It would be a mistake to race through Pandora's two attractions and not take the time to explore and appreciate its incredible detail. Listen for the animals that are scampering in the brush alongside the trails and hear their peculiar mating calls. Wonder at the strange things growing in the land, which are a combination of real plants melded with items crafted by the Imagineers. The immersive land has been carefully designed to cast visitors as active participants in the story and to place them in the center of the action. Embrace the opportunity.
Marvel at the Bioluminescent Plants
Pandora takes on an entirely different vibe at night. As in the movies, bioluminescent plants shimmer and create an enchanting atmosphere. There are a wide variety of flowers, trees, and other flora that bathe visitors in an ethereal glow. Even the ground sparkles. It would be a mistake to only go to the land at night as you would miss a lot of the detail that is only visible during the day. But don't miss visiting Pandora at night either. Plan your day(s) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park so that you can see the land both before and after dusk.
Delight in the Local Food
Burgers and fries wouldn’t cut it with the nature-loving Na’vi people. The Satu’li Canteen features health-conscious bowls for carnivores and vegans alike, along with bao buns (steamed cheeseburger pods). The yummy dishes seem exotic. Presented as shiny blue, yellow, and white concentric orbs, a blueberry cream cheese mousse dessert is especially alien in appearance.
The Pongu Pongu stand is great for otherworldly drinks. A non-alcoholic Night Blossom, an apple and desert pear limeade, mysteriously glows in harmony with the bioluminescent plants.
Also, Tiffins in Discovery Island nearby is a high-end international place noted among Walt Disney World’s best table-service restaurants. The Nomad Lounge next door offers small plate items and an extensive wine and beer list representing Africa, Asia, and South America.
Interact With a Pandoran Plant
The Avatar films show that all living things are interconnected on Pandora. Deforestation conducted by an evil Earth-based mining company, for example, directly threatens the Na’vi people. When visitors enter Disney’s Valley of Mo’ara, one of the first things they encounter is a giant pod-like plant. To demonstrate the interconnectivity of the land, guests can interact with the plant by touching it. The plant responds by glowing and emitting a puff of vapor.
Meet a Pandora Ranger
As of early December 2020, this attraction is temporarily unavailable.
The amplified mobility platform military suits of armor that characters wore in “Avatar" inspired Disney to develop the Exo-Carrier Utility Suit that Pandora Rangers wear and demonstrate in the land. Designed for more peaceful means, the suits are nonetheless quite impressive. Standing some 10 feet (3 meters) tall, the fully-functioning suit is a sight to behold as its human pilot, a Pandoran Conservation Initiative scientist, maneuvers it. The Pandora Ranger discusses conservation and the imaginary landscape seen in Pandora with guests.