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REVIEW: Disney’s new Pandora – The World of Avatar lets visitors dream with their eyes open

Pandora – The World of AVATAR brings exciting new experiences to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. New attractions include the family-friendly Na’vi River Journey. The adventure begins as guests sail in reed boats down a mysterious, sacred river hidden within the bioluminescent rainforest. The full beauty of Pandora reveals itself as the boats pass by exotic glowing plants and amazing creatures. The journey culminates in an encounter with a Na’vi shaman, who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora and sends positive energy out into the forest through her music. (Steven Diaz, photographer)
Pandora – The World of AVATAR brings exciting new experiences to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. New attractions include the family-friendly Na’vi River Journey. The adventure begins as guests sail in reed boats down a mysterious, sacred river hidden within the bioluminescent rainforest. The full beauty of Pandora reveals itself as the boats pass by exotic glowing plants and amazing creatures. The journey culminates in an encounter with a Na’vi shaman, who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora and sends positive energy out into the forest through her music. (Steven Diaz, photographer)

Summertime is synonymous with long road trips. But how would you like to travel on a vacation that takes you 4.4 light years away from Earth?

Well, I had an opportunity to do just that when I visited the mythical planet of Pandora – The World of Avatar.  It’s the newest attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park in Orlando, inspired by the blockbuster movie AVATAR by filmmaker James Cameron.

 As one of the lucky few who attended the preview dedication ceremony for media, I had an exclusive look at the star-studded unveiling of this fantasy world – that’s just out of this world.

Many of the stars from the AVATAR movie were on hand for the ceremony including Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, C.C.H. Pounder, Laz Alonso and Walt Disney World President Bob Iger. 

They greeted the audience from the presentation stage, which was a tapestry of sights and sounds as drummers pounded out traditional rhythms and colorfully dressed performers led a procession full of Pandora pageantry.

All this was set against the breathtaking, otherworldly beauty of Pandora – a new land where everything from the AVATAR movie actually comes to life!

As soon as I crossed over the entry bridge, the surreal and jaw-dropping landscape of the exotic Valley of the Mo’ara came into view.

That’s when I realized that the Pandora experience is truly like dreaming with your eyes wide open!

Quite simply, it’s a world beyond belief.

I was completely mesmerized by Pandora’s massive mountains floating in the sky above me and overwhelmingly awestruck while walking through the lush alien rainforests with its bioluminescent flora and iridescent ecosystem.

However, nothing could prepare me for the high-speed adrenaline rush of soaring above an alien moon on the back of a great winged banshee!

Avatar Flight of Passage sent me swooping and soaring on a simulated flight above the awe-inspiring world of Pandora atop a flying banshee just like in the film.

It’s a complete multi-sensory, wind-in-your-face experience that is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.

You feel like you’ve been turned into one of the Na’vi, the indigenous blue people in the film, as you fly through rushing waterfalls, vast seas and dense jungles that make you feel like you’re right there.

After the thrill of riding atop banshee, taking a relaxing ride in an eight-person reed boat of the Na’vi River Journey was a great way to unwind.

I just floated along and enjoyed looking at the canopy of glowing plants and the sounds of the Pandoran creatures roaming the underbrush.

The ride reminds you of the nighttime scenes in AVATAR as you take a mystical journey and encounter the Na’vi Shaman of Songs, who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora and sends positive energy out into the forest through her music.

It’s also a great way to send a message to parkgoers that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is extending its day-into-nighttime adventures, thanks to the opening of Pandora – The World of Avatar.

Pandora is just the latest attraction at Animal Kingdom that offers incredible after-dark experiences.

You can also enjoy other nighttime attractions like the majestic Rivers of Light show, sunset safaris, live entertainment street parties and vivid, animated imagery bathing the Tree of Life.

Pandora, and these other amazing Animal Kingdom experiences, will encourage you to have your own set of unique adventures, while reconnecting you to the value of nature and the transformative power of adventure and conservation.

Walt Disney World provided travel experiences for this review.  The thoughts and opinions are Carla’s own. 

Related Photos
(L-R) Jon Landau, Wes Studi, Joel David Moore, Sam Worthington, Stephen Lang, James Cameron, Zoe Saldana, CCH Pounder, Bob Iger, Sigourney Weaver and Laz Alonso pose during the dedication of the new land, Pandora – The World of Avatar, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Walt Disney Pandora – The World of Avatar brings a variety of exciting experiences to the park, including the family friendly attraction Na’vi River Journey, the exhilarating 3-D attraction Avatar Flight of Passage, as well as dining and merchandise locations. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

(L-R) Jon Landau, Wes Studi, Joel David Moore, Sam Worthington, Stephen Lang, James Cameron, Zoe Saldana, CCH Pounder, Bob Iger, Sigourney Weaver and Laz Alonso pose during the dedication of the new land, Pandora – The World of Avatar, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Walt Disney Pandora – The World...

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-32493297c7dc0623a8f1ef6819f803e7.jpg" alt="Photo - (L-R) Jon Landau, Wes Studi, Joel David Moore, Sam Worthington, Stephen Lang, James Cameron, Zoe Saldana, CCH Pounder, Bob Iger, Sigourney Weaver and Laz Alonso pose during the dedication of the new land, Pandora – The World of Avatar, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Walt Disney Pandora – The World of Avatar brings a variety of exciting experiences to the park, including the family friendly attraction Na’vi River Journey, the exhilarating 3-D attraction Avatar Flight of Passage, as well as dining and merchandise locations. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)" title="(L-R) Jon Landau, Wes Studi, Joel David Moore, Sam Worthington, Stephen Lang, James Cameron, Zoe Saldana, CCH Pounder, Bob Iger, Sigourney Weaver and Laz Alonso pose during the dedication of the new land, Pandora – The World of Avatar, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Walt Disney Pandora – The World of Avatar brings a variety of exciting experiences to the park, including the family friendly attraction Na’vi River Journey, the exhilarating 3-D attraction Avatar Flight of Passage, as well as dining and merchandise locations. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)"><figcaption>(L-R) Jon Landau, Wes Studi, Joel David Moore, Sam Worthington, Stephen Lang, James Cameron, Zoe Saldana, CCH Pounder, Bob Iger, Sigourney Weaver and Laz Alonso pose during the dedication of the new land, Pandora – The World of Avatar, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Walt Disney Pandora – The World of Avatar brings a variety of exciting experiences to the park, including the family friendly attraction Na’vi River Journey, the exhilarating 3-D attraction Avatar Flight of Passage, as well as dining and merchandise locations. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-a4457f1748aae84e8eee482e20d5baa9.jpg" alt="Photo - Disney's Animal Kingdom welcomed the first guests to Pandora - The World of Avatar May 27. For the very first time, guests were able to walk beneath floating mountains, soar on the back of banshees and sail on a river through a bioluminescent forest for an unforgettable encounter with the Na'vi Shaman of Songs. (Steven Diaz, photographer) " title="Disney's Animal Kingdom welcomed the first guests to Pandora - The World of Avatar May 27. For the very first time, guests were able to walk beneath floating mountains, soar on the back of banshees and sail on a river through a bioluminescent forest for an unforgettable encounter with the Na'vi Shaman of Songs. (Steven Diaz, photographer) "><figcaption>Disney's Animal Kingdom welcomed the first guests to Pandora - The World of Avatar May 27. For the very first time, guests were able to walk beneath floating mountains, soar on the back of banshees and sail on a river through a bioluminescent forest for an unforgettable encounter with the Na'vi Shaman of Songs. (Steven Diaz, photographer) </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-38230ba0c60296719d945c53aada5a4f.jpg" alt="Photo - Pandora – The World of AVATAR brings exciting new experiences to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. New attractions include the family-friendly Na’vi River Journey. The adventure begins as guests sail in reed boats down a mysterious, sacred river hidden within the bioluminescent rainforest. The full beauty of Pandora reveals itself as the boats pass by exotic glowing plants and amazing creatures. The journey culminates in an encounter with a Na’vi shaman, who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora and sends positive energy out into the forest through her music. (Steven Diaz, photographer)" title="Pandora – The World of AVATAR brings exciting new experiences to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. New attractions include the family-friendly Na’vi River Journey. The adventure begins as guests sail in reed boats down a mysterious, sacred river hidden within the bioluminescent rainforest. The full beauty of Pandora reveals itself as the boats pass by exotic glowing plants and amazing creatures. The journey culminates in an encounter with a Na’vi shaman, who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora and sends positive energy out into the forest through her music. (Steven Diaz, photographer)"><figcaption>Pandora – The World of AVATAR brings exciting new experiences to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. New attractions include the family-friendly Na’vi River Journey. The adventure begins as guests sail in reed boats down a mysterious, sacred river hidden within the bioluminescent rainforest. The full beauty of Pandora reveals itself as the boats pass by exotic glowing plants and amazing creatures. The journey culminates in an encounter with a Na’vi shaman, who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora and sends positive energy out into the forest through her music. (Steven Diaz, photographer)</figcaption></figure>
Carla Meadows

Carla Meadows is a Oklahoma City native, wife and mother of two tweens and a loveable Golden Retriever who blogs about building intentional family moments through the wonders of travel at home and across the U.S. Read more ›

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