Summertime, like many parts of the year in Florida, can be hot. Like, miserably, sweating-from-places-you-didn’t-even-know-could-sweat hot. And humid. Oh man, it’s humid. If you’re not used to it, you might feel like you’re walking around in a sauna. In hell. A really pretty, fun version of hell.
But guess what? Even though it’s hot, you can still have a totally amazing vacation by being prepared and taking care of yourself.
1. Get used to walking before you go.
I know this is not an option for some, but it’ll help. Promise. You’re gonna be dang tired if you go from 2,000 steps a day at home to 20,000 steps a day at Disney World. Going from 10,000 or more steps a day to 20,000 steps is less of a punch in the face. You’ll be less tired, less cranky, and able to get more done.
You probably already don’t drink enough water, and you’re going to be sweating like mad in the Florida heat. There’s no need to bring in heavy bottled water or spend $4 per bottle of Dasani, either. Any quick service restaurant or counter that has fountain drinks will give you a cup of water at no charge. (Note: if the outlet/cart only has bottled beverages, they won’t be able to give you water.) My favorite method? Packing an empty water bottle to keep the weight of your park bag reasonable. I use a Bobble bottle with a filter and fill it at water fountains throughout the park.
3. Protect yourself from the sun.
The last thing you want on your vacation is a fierce sunburn, and I’m guessing you’d like to avoid damage to your skin and premature signs of aging, too. You need SPF on any exposed skin: face, lips, ears, arms, legs, even the tops of your feet. I use a tinted moisturizer with SPF 50 for my face, an SPF 15 lip balm, then a Coola spray sunscreen for the rest of my body. Also essential? A breathable hat! I have a wide-brimmed, packable, squishable safari-type hat. It helps shade from the sun and keep me a little cooler, plus I can just smoosh it up and throw it in my backpack when it gets dark. Sunglasses are another big one – I literally never make a daytime park trip without mine. And I know you know this, but… you still need to protect yourself from rays even when it’s cloudy.
4. Seek shade.
There are a bunch of good ways to do this! Meals are an awesome opportunity to get into the air conditioning. You can make Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) for a number of table service meals, or you can visit some of the larger quickservice outlets that offer ample indoor seating. Dark rides are another good one: the dim lighting and chilled air on Haunted Mansion feels pret-ty dang good on a sweltering day! Or pop into pretty much any shop for some shade. Cool off and browse the cute stuff at the same time!
5. Rest when you need to.
Seriously. Listen to your body. You don’t even have to miss out on the fun. Attractions like Philharmagic and the People Mover are perfect for getting off your feet while still enjoying the magic.
6. It’s probably gonna rain.
Acceptance helps. Daily afternoon thunderstorms are simply a part of Florida summers! Get a rain poncho. You can either bring one of these with you or purchase in-park for around $10 (they’re not on display, so you’ll have to ask at the counter). Five years on, our Disney ponchos are still going strong! It’s money well-spent if you’re able to continue throughout the park instead of hover under an overhang, too. Most park operations continue as normal during the rain, but outdoor attractions will temporarily close if there’s lightning in the area. Keep in mind: parades and outdoor shows may also be adjusted, delayed, or canceled.
7. Get plenty of sleep.
When you’re tired, it’s easier to get cranky and forget to hydrate and rest.
There you have it: hydrate, rest, and take time to cool off. It’s gonna be hot, but taking good care of yourself will go a long way in helping you have a great time.
*obviously I’m not a medical professional, so seek guidance from yours should you have any concerns
Once upon a time, the land on which Pandora sits was intended to be dedicated to mythical creatures. 🦄🐲
Such a land is exactly my cup of tea. A land devoted to a James Cameron movie sounded, frankly, boring and self-congratulatory af. Yes, okay, the movie was visually pleasing, but that’s about it. I couldn’t imagine what Disney was going to do with “Avatarland” and how it would be special in any way. Would I visit and probably find some things to enjoy? Sure. But was I anxiously, excitedly waiting for opening day? Not really.
Well, I was really wrong.
Pandora, the Land of Avatar, is stunning, and you don’t have to care a lick about the film or subject matter in order to enjoy it.
Small but mighty, this newly-opened land is full of lush, alien-looking flora and majestic floating mountains. The level of detail is impeccable.
Amidst the vegetation, you’ll see a few earthling-made ruins. One of my favorite details was, oddly enough, the bathroom exterior doors. They look futuristic yet distressed in a post-apocalyptic kind of way.
And, at nighttime, everything glows.
Flight of Passage
In a word: whoa. The queue is massive and oh-so-detailed. We waited in line for just over three hours, and the experience was totally worth it. Never thought I’d say that about a ride, but here we are.
I’ve never experienced a ride like this. It’s a little like Soarin’ and a little like Star Tours, but more intense than both of those and more of a thrill ride than I expected. It also felt way more advanced than anything else on Disney property.
I still cannot wrap my head around the technology. “Impressive” doesn’t begin to do it justice – it was like being in a different world. Instead of being in a big room with dozens of other guests, you’re in a small room with only 14 others. You also get your very own seat – others have compared it to a motorbike (you can test out one of the seats just outside of the ride if you’re concerned about ergonomics or comfort). In addition to feeling your banshee breathe beneath you, you’ll feel the breezes and mists of Mo’ara.
Now, I hate drops and there are definitely a few drops and swoops. But I’ll ride it again. It’s just too cool not to.
If you can get a FastPass for this one, do. Even if you can’t, I still think it’s worth the wait. Just come prepared (hit the restrooms, grab a small snack if needed, and bring a spare phone charger).
Na’vi River Journey
The river journey is a dark ride with no drops or splashes. The boats have two rows of four, so they’re considerably smaller than the boats you’re used to from Pirates, Small World, and Frozen. They’re also pretty comfortable and quite a bit nicer than the older ride boats.
As you probably gathered from the title, you’ll float down the river and experience the plants and animals of Mo’ara. The visuals are beautiful, and the level of detail is, once again, amazing. The entire ride reminds me of the scene from the movie with the glowing anemones/wisps/dandelion fluff things. Eventually, you’ll find the Na’vi Shaman, who is stunningly life-like.
In all, Na’vi River Journey is beautiful and makes for a great opportunity to sit and cool off, but it’s nowhere near as mind-blowing as Flight of Passage.
One change I would make: narration! Tell us about all of the gorgeous plants, animals, and people we’re encountering!
Advertised wait time was 65 minutes, and we were through in a little less than that. The line did move continuously, so the wait didn’t feel super long. I don’t know if this is worth waiting multiple hours for, but I’m fine with right around one hour. Save your FastPass+ for Flight of Passage.
You’ve almost certainly seen photos of this stand’s most festive looking beverage: the non-alcoholic Night Blossom. With flavors of lime, apple, and pear, this purple and green slush looks as pretty as it tastes. It’s also topped with passion fruit boba, which adds an extra pop of fun and flavor (literally). It’s similar in flavor to Epcot Flower & Garden Festival’s beloved Violet Lemonade, too, so bonus!
In addition to the Night Blossom, Pongu Pongu offers a strawberry margarita and a few themed beer selections.
Food-wise, the stand offers lumpia. Instead of the traditional savory recipe, this lumpia is super sweet and filled with cream cheese and pineapple. Tasty but OH SO SWEET.
Find Pongu Pongu under the big robot.
Satu’li Canteen is Pandora’s quickservice outlet. The decor is a combination of modern industrial and rusty ruins, much like the restroom doors I like so much.
There are huge indoor and outdoor seating areas, which I appreciate SO much. How un-fun is it to walk around with a tray full of food and not be able to find a table? I also noticed a sign stating that seating was for Satu’li Canteen diners only, which I appreciated even more. The only thing worse than walking around with a tray full of food and not being able to find a table is finding HEAPS of tables that are occupied by people sitting and playing on their phones, not even dining at that outlet. 😡
The menu is really different from the standard theme park fare, and I’m super excited about that! You can choose from two types of entrees for lunch and dinner: pods or bowls.
The Cheeseburger Pods, though an unusual concept, taste just like a McDonald’s cheeseburger. So weird, yet so good! This was Mr. EC’s pick, but I’d certainly be open to ordering my own in the future.
In addition to being delicious, the bowls are a great opportunity to get some healthier-ish food in the parks. I can’t tell you how often I’d love some fresh greens but can really only get an iceberg salad or something fried or on a bun (which, don’t get me wrong, sometimes I totally love). With the bowls, base options include quinoa with vegetables, sweet and red potatoes, rice, or kale and spinach. Protein options are beef, chicken, fish, or tofu. There were four sauces available, but I can only remember black bean and onion flavors.
My bowl had the quinoa and veggie base (quinoa, little bits of sweet potato and broccoli, and a few good handfuls of greens and kale), chicken (nicely seasoned, chargrilled thigh meat), crunchy slaw, and the black bean sauce (which was basically a kickin’ vinaigrette). All bowls are topped with crunchy slaw and boba (which I think is coconut flavored).
Word of warning: the black bean sauce doesn’t necessarily taste oniony or garlicky, but I’m told I had fire breath after our meal. So, if you’re on a date or something, bring a mint. 😂
Satu’li Canteen also serves breakfast, so I’ll update once I have an opportunity to try it.
Windtraders is Pandora’s main shop, and it’s full of things I don’t necessarily need but still really want: bubble wands, Pandoran animals, heaps of Na’vi gear, bubble wands, and sooo much glow gear.
The shop’s most popular feature is the Banshee Rookery, where you can adopt your very own baby Ikran.
photo credit: Alberto Y.
Or maybe you want to have your face scanned and have a Na’vi action figure created in your likeness? Because you totally can!
I first visited Windtraders not really caring about the Na’vi, but I left wanting to BE a Na’vi (and needing all of the appropriate gear).
Should You Go?
Yes, you should, even if you don’t care about the movie or the characters. Go to see the sights, experience the rides, and try the treats. It really is like nothing else.
I was totally wrong about Pandora, and I’m so glad.
Have you visited? Leave a comment below and tell me what you thought! Have any questions about Pandora or anything you’d like me to check on? Let me know!