Thursday Thoughts: Planning for Pandora – The World of Avatar

Last month, I shared a glimpse into Disney’s new “land” at Animal Kingdom: Pandora – The World of Avatar. This new area opened to the public this past weekend, with lines just to get into the area (not even for a ride) that stretched for hours. The lines for the new rides – Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey – each were well over 3 hours at times on Saturday. And while the “newness” of this area will wear off a bit in the coming weeks (combined with more typical park attendance, as opposed to a busy holiday weekend), suffice it to say that planning your time at Animal Kingdom is going to change dramatically with this new area to explore.

With this in mind, I thought I would share this week, a few quick thoughts about what I am recommending to those visiting Animal Kingdom in the coming months. 

Get There Early

I’ve said many times, that one of the best ways to insure that you make the most of your park time, is to go early. At no time has this been more important than now, with a brand new area like Pandora. Crowds are going to rapidly build every day once the park opens, so plan your park days to make sure you are getting to Animal Kingdom before the official park opening and head to Pandora immediately at rope drop. (Don’t worry about where it is located, you can probably just follow everyone else.) Even better, take advantage of any Early Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom. If you sleep in every other day of your trip, make sure to plan for an early morning on your Animal Kingdom day.

Plan For a Full Day at Animal Kingdom….or More

In the past, many people found Animal Kingdom to be a “half day park”. Whether that was fair or not, is pretty subjective and I am not going to get into that here. 🙂 The point is that now, no matter what you thought in the past, Animal Kingdom is going to take some time to really explore, and realistically will take a full day or more…partly because it is going to be more crowded, and partly because there is just so much more to see and do! Those who have visited Pandora during one of the preview events have shared that they spent hours just checking out the area, without even doing a ride….with no crowds. Clearly now, with more people and the likelihood of waiting in lines for at least one of the rides, this is not going to be an “in and out” area.

The other thing to consider is that you will want to experience Pandora both during the day and then again at night, because during the nighttime is when the true beauty of this area, in its bio-luminescent glory, will emerge. And of course, Animal Kingdom also now has the lovely Rivers of Light evening show that you will want to experience as well.

So to review:

  • You need to get there early to try to get a head start on the crowds.
  • And you need to be there at night to see Pandora again, along with Rivers of Light.
  • And you need to expect to spend (for now at least) probably several hours at minimum in Pandora, before you even venture to check out Kilimanjaro Safari, Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, Festival of the Lion King etc. etc.

Which brings me to:

FastPass, FastPass, FastPass

Seriously, these attractions in Pandora need to be top priorities for Animal Kingdom for the foreseeable future. The thing is that while there are two rides in Pandora, you can only schedule a FP for one at a time. Which is why, again, it is super important to arrive here EARLY. You will want to FastPass one ride and then go to the other as soon as the park opens to wait in that line.

Of the two rides in this area, the Na’vi River Journey and Flight of Passage, the Flight of Passage ride is likely to have the longer of the lines, so I would suggest getting your FastPass for this one if possible. If not, consider the Single Rider line as a way to minimize your time waiting in line. Either way, do everything you possibly can to get a FastPass for one of these two. (FastPasses reservations open 60 days before your arrival for Disney resort Guests and 30 days before for non-resort Guests.)

Now if you will return a second day, then you have a bit more leeway with this as you can FP one ride for one day and potentially FP the other Pandora ride the second one – or plan your second morning/day doing some of the non-Pandora areas.

There is one more tip I want to share:

Pack Your Patience

It’s going to be busy and yes it’s nearly summer so it’s going to be hot. Plan carefully, plan ahead and expect things to take a long time. But with realistic expectations, patience and a healthy sense of humor (it ALWAYS helps!) you will still have a magical time experiencing Disney’s newest magical land! 🙂

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