Pandora: The World of Avatar Grand Opening
Kaltxi, happy Wednesday, friends! I just got back from an awesome weekend at Walt Disney World with my mom and meeting up with some friends where we all got to experience the grand opening of Pandora: The World of Avatar! Pandora is incredible, and if you're going to take a trip to Walt Disney World it's so worth the trip to Animal Kingdom to go see. As someone who never thought Animal Kingdom was a full-day park, or even a park I would skip some trips, Pandora makes it worth going to Animal Kingdom for more than a few hours. Now, I did go on opening day, so the crowds were HUGE! But as the summer dies down and the major hype begins to fade this is going to be a really fun area to be around. If you read my post about the Annual Passholder Preview I got of Pandora, you'll know a lot about the rides, and my opinions of the land haven't changed (except for actually wanting to spend time there, I definitely want to do more of that!). So if you're wanting to know more about Flight of Passage and Na'vi River Journey, go check out that post.
I was very lucky to NOT have to wait more than 10 minutes to actually get into Pandora when we decided to go to Animal Kingdom on opening day. When the day started with Extra Magic Hours at 7:00 AM, the line to get into Pandora was huge and wrapped down past the Tree of Life. It ended up being like this for most of the day, so my mom and I decided to start our day at Epcot enjoying the last weekend of Flower and Garden Festival. And I'm so glad we made that choice! Many times during our adventures around World Showcase we checked social media to see lines to get into Pandora (not just onto rides) of more than 3 hours! Friends, that's a long time to wait just to get into a new land! But, when we went to go, we were #BLESSED with Disney magic and didn't have to wait at all! We must have hit it just right when people from the morning surge were getting tired of waiting for things or finishing up so they were leaving, and people who wanted to come at night weren't all there yet. This was about 5:30 PM, so if you're going to explore Pandora this summer, and want to go at night, that might be a good time to head over.
We knew once we got inside Pandora it would be wise to not leave until we were completely finished with everything we wanted to do. After taking about a million photos because Pandora is BEAUTIFUL we stopped in for some dinner at Satu'li Canteen. This is the quick service restaurant inside of Pandora, and friends I would highly suggest eating here! The food was delicious, and even on opening day it only took about 15 minutes from standing in line to order to sitting to eat. That's quicker than many other quick services at Walt Disney World! I also love that they have the option for mobile ordering here! This is the first restaurant at Walt Disney World to offer mobile ordering, and it's set to debut across more of quick service restaurants in the coming weeks and months! We got one adult meal and one kids meal. The thing I love most about Satu'li Canteen is that you can really customize your food and your dish each time so it's not always the same, even though technically you're getting the same protein. When you order a "bowl" of any kind at Satu'li Canteen you choose your base from quinoa, red and sweet potato hash, rice, or salad. Then you pick your protein from sliced beef, grilled chicken, fish, or tofu. Then you choose what sauce you want on top from charred onion chimichurri, black bean vinaigrette, or a creamy herb dressing. There are tons of ways to mix this up, so the option are really endless. We got the red and sweet potato base, sliced beef, and onion chimichurri! Friends, this was one of the best quick service meals I've had in a very long time. We also had the kids fish with salad, which was good, but I much preferred the adult meal.
After dinner, we met back up with my friend Chase (@imagineerinsta) and new friends Maggie and Jacob to hang for the night. We all had hung out at Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom the day before and made plans to get together for Pandora. Can I just tell you guys how fun it is to have friends who love Disney as much or more than you do! Hanging out and talking about life, Disney, and whatever else came up with these three was what made this night even more special than it already was.
We got to watch as Pandora lit up around us, and it was so pretty! The land truly did glow. Everything from the ground, to the plants, to the giant floating mountains were all glowing in radiant bioluminescence. As we were watching Pandora come to life, we were also waiting for the most HYPE show Disney has ever put in front of guests. At the drum circle in Pandora there is a show with 3 drummers who get the crowd really into the show, dancing, and keeping the best beat, and honestly just being awesome. We all were talking to a manager who "highly encouraged" us to stick around for the show, and after seeing Joe Rhode was in town we all thought the genius behind Pandora was dropping off of the floating mountains on a banshee, but it never happened, and Joe never showed up. But still, the drum show is a major win for Pandora!
After hearing that they were closing down queues for more guests to enter at 9:45, and they wouldn't re-open for guests until 11:00 pm, when extra magic hours started, we thought it would be a good idea to get in line for Na'vi River Journey. We sat around chatting for most of the hour, and actually got let into the main queue about 15 minutes early which was great! By the time we raced through the winding queue, and got on and off the ride it was 11:00! The four of us were hoping to get on Flight of Passage but that line was super long at 11:00, and there was no way were were going to make it to Rivers of Light. Obviously we HAD to get some pictures of the total bioluminescence of Pandora, and I'm basically obsessed with this!
When you exit Pandora, you will most likely exit so you end up by Festival of the Lion King. The traffic pattern inside of Pandora is good if managers and cast members can keep up with the high demands, and let guests know where they entered Pandora at the beginning of their journey is not going to be where they exit. We found that the bridge back to Africa was very boring, and needed something. You did see lights in the trees from Pandora, but they looked like those Christmas projectors that you set in your yard and point on your house and it puts green and red laser dots all over your house. I thought it would be fun to have facts about Pandora on signs along this bridge like they do in the parking lot of Animal Kingdom, like it took 67 Imagineers, 12 tons of coffee each morning, and 467 pounds of paint to build Pandora: The World of Avatar. (I totally made that fact up. Please don't spread it around as truth.)
On Grand Opening night the queue to just get in to Pandora for the night time Extra Magic Hours was insane. It started by Tiffins and Nomad Lounge, and went down through Africa and Harambe Market, through the queue of Festival of the Lion King. I've never seen a line so long for anything in my life and we were all so glad we stayed inside Pandora to ride Na'vi River Journey instead of leaving after the drum show.
We ended our Grand Opening night at Pandora by seeing Rivers of Light. If you guys don't know, the first and only time I've seen Rivers of Light before this past weekend I thought the show was just okay. It wasn't something I would wait around for and I definitely thought there was room for improvement. After seeing it Saturday night I am converted. Rivers of Light is actually really good, and worth the wait to see it. There were some enhancements to the show, which made it way better, and we were sitting in a WAY better seat than I had on the night I saw it the first time.
I want to give a MAJOR shoutout to all of the Cast Members who did their very best to make our trip to Pandora amazing! You guys really did an incredible job, even with the stress of all that comes with opening day. I was so impressed with everyone's attitude towards each other, and that all of the events, small and large, were so well executed.
Being part of an opening day celebration at Disney was something I never thought I would be part of. But now that I have, I can't wait for the next one! From seeing the floating mountains again, to meeting new friends, this weekend was beyond belief!
If you're planning on taking an expedition to Pandora: The World of Avatar soon, let me know in the comments!
Be Magical Today!