Pandora World of Avatar - Floating Islands

Episode 26 – Leslie’s First Time in Pandora (& First-Timer Tips)


Pandora – The World of Avatar has been open for over a year in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but it’s still a new land for many Disney guests. Attraction lines, particularly for the very popular Flight of Passage, remain long. Leslie finally paid Pandora a visit earlier this summer, and returns with her first-timer impressions with additional expert tips from Joe who has now seen the land several times.

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Visiting Pandora - The World of Avatar for the first time? Get tips and tricks for this still-new and still-crowded land in Disney's Animal Kingdom. #pandora #animalkingdom #flightofpassage #disneyworld

Finally Visiting Pandora: First Timer-Impressions

If you listened to our Animal Kingdom 101 episode, you’ll know that Leslie is a bit of an Animal Kingdom skeptic. She contended that it wasn’t her least favorite park and didn’t really offer a full day of entertainment.

Enter Pandora. Although Joe attended the grand opening of Pandora in May 2017, Leslie had not been able to visit this new land until this past summer. Suffice it to say that Pandora was a game changer. So much so that Joe wanted to call this episode “Leslie Eats Crow.”

What makes Pandora so amazing? The theming is just completely immersive, setting a new standard even for Disney. And Flight of Passage is rightfully deserving of every rave review it has received. There is simply no thrill ride like it anywhere else.

Pandora World of Avatar - Waterfalls and animals

Tips for First Time-Visitors to Pandora in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

So if you are are first-time visitor to Pandora too, how can you make the most of your time in Pandora and dodge the still-present crowds? Here are Leslie & Joe’s best tips from several collective visits to the land.

1. Get a Fastpass for Flight of Passage

Even over a year after opening, the standby lines for Flight of Passage are always packed. Wait times of 1.5 hours or more are not uncommon. So it probably goes without saying that a Fastpass for Flight of Passage is pretty essential. Make this your first priority for a day at Animal Kingdom no matter what.

If you do use Fastpass, also be aware that you will still have pretty substantial wait times for Flight of Passage. The queue is more significant than on some other rides and then there are pre-ride shows in a few separate rooms that take time. Even with a Fastpass, it often took more than 30 minutes before guests were done with the attraction. Since Leslie’s family was also using Rider Switch, getting two parties on and off took over an hour. Plan accordingly if you have dining reservations or other plans in the park!

2. Visit During Both Day and at Night

The theming of the land is so impressive that it really has to be seen in both day and night. The two times offer totally different experiences to guests.

Pandora World of Avatar - Floating Islands

In the day, the floating mountains loom large. After dark, the entire land comes alive with bioluminescent plants. Unlike in other Disney park lands where guests make a mad dash to the attractions, you are going to want to make time just to stroll and explore Pandora. The land’s decor is an attraction unto itself.

3. Dine at Satu’li Canteen (Your Kids will Like It!)

The quick service restaurant in Pandora, Satu’li Canteen, has gotten high marks for its unique menu. Leslie is a mom of two incredibly picky eaters, so she feared that it might be a major miss with the kids.

Pandora - Satuli Canteen Food Kids will Eat
Hot dogs and quesadillas at Satu’li Canteen! Your kids will eat this.

Satuli Canteen turned out to be a hit for both the taste buds of adventurous parents and their picky children. The pastry-wrapped hot dog or the cheese quesadilla were not that exotic after all. For adults, the bowls that allow guests to pick a protein (chicken/beef/tofu), carb (rice & beans/sweet potato hash), and dressing offer a healthier alternative to theme park fried cuisine. Joe also highly recommends the blue cheesecake for dessert.

To save time in line, use Disney’s mobile ordering at Satuli Canteen. Just be aware that there can be WiFi signal strength issues in Satuli Canteen and that corner of Pandora, so order outside of the building if you suspect you may have issues.

4. Take Advantage of Photopass

Probably because of the myriad of stunning backdrops, Disney staffs Pandora pretty heavily with Photopass photographers. If you have purchased Memory Maker, this is the land to take advantage. The family photo opportunities are plentiful.

Pandora World of Avatar - Photopass at Night
Photopass shot at night – uncooperative preschooler not included.

Because Pandora has such low-lighting at night, you’ll find that most smartphone cameras simply can’t do the the job. Luckily, the Photopass photographers have full lighting setups at night. Their DSLRs can take much better photos than most guests can (even though the quality of Disney photographers do vary).

5. Don’t Skip Na’vi River Journey

Na’vi River Journey, the other attraction in Pandora, has gotten fairly mixed reviews. But it’s important to keep those in perspective. With competition like Flight of Passage, it isn’t exactly a fair fight. Even though guest priority should be to ride Flight of Passage, it is a mistake to overlook and skip Na’vi River Journey.

It’s a visually stunning ride that is perfect in speed for the whole family, especially younger kids who might find Flight of Passage too thrilling. The Audio-Animatronic shaman at the end of the ride is the culmination of decades of Disney technology and development.

Guests can only pick one Fastpass for the two Pandora rides (they are in the same Fastpass tier). So if you have a Fastpass for Flight of Passage, that means using the standby line for Na’vi River Journey. The easiest way to miss some of the crowds is to rope drop the attraction or go during Extra Magic Hours.

Episode Description

Leslie and Joe give their impressions and best tips for Pandora: The World of Avatar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Leslie, a newbie to Pandora on her most recent visit, discusses what wowed her and whether the land changes her overall impression of Animal Kingdom as a park. Find how to beat the still-present crowds for the very popular Flight of Passage attraction, whether your kids will actually eat the more exotic menu of Satu’li Canteen, and how to navigate this immersive land.

If you like what you hear, please share the podcast with others you think might enjoy it. Also, we’d appreciate if you subscribed on iTunesStitcherSpotify, TuneIn, PlayerFM, or Google Play (please leave a positive review if you’re enjoying the show), liked our Facebook page, or followed us on Twitter!

You can also e-mail us at disneydeciphered AT gmail DOT com. Connect with Leslie @TripswithTykes on social media and Joe @asthejoeflies.

Episode Notes

Joe’s review of Pandora

1:10 – How long spent in Pandora

3:00 – First impressions of Pandora

5:19 – Satu’li Canteen

8:52 – Na’vi River Journey

10:52 – Flight of Passage Rider Switch

13:50 – Flight of Passage ride impressions

17:43 – Pandora at night

19:20 – Leslie loves AK now

20:28 – Disney dos and don’ts

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