Pandora: World of Avatar OPEN at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom

Think of the worlds that Disney parks have taken us to.

The Asian kingdom of Anandapur in Walt Disney World’s Disney’s Animal Kingdom, with crumbling ruins, a Yeti-dwelling mountain train and Tibetan prayer flags.

The Cadillac Range Mountains and Route 66 Americana retro charm at Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure.

The fairytale-come-to-life realizations of Beast’s Castle, Be Our Guest Restaurant and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

Now, multiply that feeling those previous “lands” gave you by about a million and you will come close to anticipating the experience you will have when you walk the alien moon of Pandora on your next visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World. This brand new land opened May 27 and allows visitors to explore the world created in James Cameron’s 2008 film Avatar (and its upcoming four sequel films which will be released in 2020, 2021, 2024 and 2025).

I had the chance to attend the Pandora: World of Avatar dedication and press preview this week, and I am still processing the complete genius of this new 12-acre section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Every rock, plant, flower, FLOATING MOUNTAIN and detail in Pandora’s Valley of Mo’ara truly makes you feel as if you are on another planet.

The cast members all speak the Na’vi language, and their Disney badges state their home planet of Earth, as opposed to the standard badge locators of city, state, country or college. There are no signs directing you to the attractions because you are on a planet that is not ours. At night, the entire land glows with bioluminescence.

To get into the complete Disney + Cameron imagineering experience, here is the story you enter when you cross the bridge into Pandora: “For the first time ever, Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE) has made it possible to explore Pandora, offering unique expeditions and previously unimaginable possibilities in interplanetary adventure travel.”

On this alien moon is also the Pandora Conservation Initiative (PCI), a collective of scientists, xenobiologists and conservationists. The PCI researches every aspect of this mysterious and alien world and also restores the Pandora ecosystem from the irresponsible mining and environmental damage of the Resources Development Administration, which we learned about in the Avatar film.

Basically, you get to pretend that you are a Richard Branson type who has paid to experience interplanetary tourism, and the blue native people of Avatar happily welcome you (attack free!) to their amazeballs gorgeous world. “It’s set a generation after the world Cameron created,” says Disney Imagineering creative executive Joe Rohde. “We’re at peace and welcomed by the Na’vi to learn from them.” Rohde was the chief creative of the Pandora design and construction, and he and his colleagues truly created an unforgettable and transformative experience.

In the coming days I will be sharing with you in detail the new experiences that Pandora: World of Avatar offers visitors to Walt Disney World. These experiences include….

Valley of Mo’ara: Overhead are the floating mountains that will dazzle you. They do not look like theme park design. You are really on another planet, as far as your brain and eyes are concerned. You will see massive exotic plants with which you can interact. Na’vi drums that children and visitors can play. Na’vi totems and cultural items throughout. The waterfalls, bridges, plantings and every single detail is either completely alien-natural, Na’vi-constructed or Alpha Centauri Expedition-branded. There are no Mickeys. You are 4.4 lightyears away, yo.

Avatar Flight of Passage: You fly on a banshee while your soul is transported to an Na’vi Avatar matched to you. It is so high tech 4D you really believe you are flying. It is the single most beautiful, thrilling and fantastic theme park ride I have ever ridden. My friend Jeannette Kaplun of Hispana Global summed it up best, “It’s like Soarin’ on steroids!” Avatar Flight of Passage feels like falling in love while having your best ever flying dream.

Na’vi River Journey: Board a boat and float through the mystical, sacred Kaspavan river. The animals, bioluminescent plants and Na’vi people reveal themselves in this otherworldly family-friendly ride.

Satu’li Canteen: A truly delicious fast casual restaurant, Satu’li Canteen offered the best quick service meal I’ve ever eaten at Walt Disney World (and I always find great quick WDW food!) The restaurant is designed to be a former mess hall from the human staff that were on Pandora in the Avatar film. Now the Alpha Centauri Expeditions peeps have converted it to a place to feed their tourists from Earth.

Pongu Pongu: Parents and kids alike will flip for the refreshments at this Pandora drink stand. Pongu Pongu means “party party” in Na’vi and serves unicorn-like rainbow slushies, frozen cocktails for boozers (I had a couple of these, they were amazing!) indigenous Na’vi beers and sweet snacks you will not find anywhere on else on Earth (or elsewhere in Walt Disney World).

Windtraders: This gift shop is THE place to find your favorite totem from your time on Pandora. Adopt a baby banshee. Purchase the Na’vi ears and headband combo in place of your usual mouse ears. I found the best goodies to take home to my kids at Windtraders and I will share with you all the awesome that I brought home this time, and what I plan to purchase on our next expedition. (Of course, if you would like to get a head start on Pandora: World of Avatar merch, you can shop select items at home now thanks to Shop Disney Parks!)

Colors of Mo’ara: Have your face painted in designs inspired by the Na’vi, as well as purchase Na’vi native attire and toys at this outdoor outpost.

And for kids (and adults) who love taking the Wilderness Explorers challenges while in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Pandora offers new badges to collect!

I cannot wait to share with you detailed descriptions and images of these aspects of Pandora: World of Avatar in the days ahead. Until then, check out for yourself the amazing Pandora cam that allows you to virtually explore the Pandora world, and Ewa ngahu [EY-wah NGAH-hoo], which means Eywa (God) be with you in Na’vi.

I was invited to attend the Pandora: World of Avatar dedication and press preview as a guest of Walt Disney World Resort. 

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