I Was Wrong About Pandora.

Pandora waterfall
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.

Visuals

Pandora details
Small but mighty, this newly-opened land is full of lush, alien-looking flora and majestic floating mountains. The level of detail is impeccable.

Plants of Pandora
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.

Pandora at night

Attractions

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.

Na'vi in the labFlight of Passage queue Banshee cave; flight of Passage queue

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.

Floating mountains

Food

Pongu Pongu

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!

Night Blossom from Pongu Pongu
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.

Lumpia from Pongu Pongu
Find Pongu Pongu under the big robot.

Satu’li Canteen

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.

Satu'li Canteen Cheeseburger Pods
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).

Bowl from Satu'li Canteen
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.

Merchandise

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.

Annual Passholder Magic Band
The shop’s most popular feature is the Banshee Rookery, where you can adopt your very own baby Ikran. 

Baby banshee photo courtesy Alberto Y.

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.

Cliffs of Mo'ara
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!