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Pandora- World of Avatar

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My name is Trenton Perry and I had the distinct pleasure of visiting Pandora, the World of Avatar, on it’s opening day at Walt Disney World, Orlando Florida; May 27th, 2017. Named of course after the wildly popular Disney movie, Avatar, I can confidently say to you all that Pandora lived up to its’ hype!  The most recent addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Pandora commanded every guests’ undivided attention for the entire weekend during my stay. The line to get into the experience could have covered the length of a football field, and then some. Guests stood outside in the burning Florida sun for at least 4 hours, where temperatures ranged from 93-98 degrees. Our crew was fortunate enough to have a VIP tour guide with us (shout-out to my boy Gray), so getting into Pandora was not much of a problem, or wait. People, the Pandora views are outstanding!

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The entire place echo’s with sounds of life-like Pandora creatures emanating from the trees, and the Pandora plants that surround you, would make Avatar filmmaker James Cameron proud. You can hear the screech of Banshee’s, sounding out every so often, from the beautiful Hallelujah Mountains which appear suspended just like in the film, in the center of the area. Many native Pandora plants, and even a few Pandora creatures are set up strategically for patrons to admire while they wait for their opportunity to go on the two rides featured there. I do strongly recommend that if you wish to go on both of these rides within a couple of hours, you should do so with a “fast pass.”  Again, having a VIP tour guide with us was quite fortuitous for my family and me, as the average guest wait in the standby line was at least 220 minutes for each ride. I’ll do the math for you guys; that’s almost four hours of waiting to go on a five and a half minute ride.  Seem worth it? I’ve been to Disney World a good number of times now, and there is not a single ride in that entire theme park (let alone any park) that I would wait more than an hour and some change for. Honestly, the efficiency rate of your vacation will not be great if you choose to do so. So my quick two cents on the matter is that if you go to Disney World, schedule and strategize your fast passes accordingly! Moving forward, Pandora might truly best be admired to its’ fullest when the sun goes down. Just like in the movie, everything in this new world comes to life! The plants and trees are lit up like a Disney fireworks display, while even the ground you walk on glows with fluorescent colors of green and blue. The sounds of Pandora creatures intensify the atmosphere around you, which makes you really feel like you are a star in the film Avatar.

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I already mentioned that waiting four hours for a five and a half minute ride may not be worth it in my opinion. However, I must admit that the two rides which are part of the Pandora experience are spectacular!   Let me tell you a little about each of them.

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First, let’s start with the more calm and relaxing ride, ‘Na’vi River Journey’. This is a ride similar to those like “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “It’s A Small World”. In simple terms, it is a deeper look into the night life of Pandora.  It is stunningly beautiful. On this ride, you’ll see incredible effects and animatronics unparalleled in the world of so-called “non-thrill rides”.  Riders embark on a boat which surprisingly offers comfortable leg room, an important feature that my 6’10” brother-in-law certainly appreciated!   Once onboard, you make your way down a stream where you are greeted by many different creatures, plants, and even the Na’vi, the indigenous people who live on Pandora. The most impressive part of the ride is definitely the shaman who you meet at the end of the ride. Movie fans know her as Mo’at, mother of the main female character of the movie, Neytiri. People, she looks real! Disney World has taken animatronics to a whole new level.  The Imagineers at Disney have outdone themselves, and I am sure that spells even better rides and upgrades in the future. You see Mo’at sitting down, singing along with the catchy Pandora music in the background. She sits, as if mediating, and lets her arms bend and sway around her, engaging in what looks like a ceremonial dance. The fluidity of her movements as well as her facial expressions are incredible. She blinks and moves her mouth like a real Na’vi being, and can, for just a moment, be mistaken as one. The ride is not a thrill in the sense of taking your literal breath away like a rollercoaster, however it is a ride that takes you into the heart of what Pandora is, and does so with grace and beauty.

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Secondly, I’m very excited to talk about the most thrilling ride in Disney World! That’s right, I said the most thrilling ride in the entire theme park: Avatar’s Flight of Passage! With the same concept as the ride ‘Soarin’, located in Epcot, Flight of Passage is a new generation of the simulator rides. This is the chance for you to link yourself to an Avatar, and fly atop an Ikran, or Banshee, through the beautiful skies of Pandora!

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Again, get a fast pass, because chances are, you’ll be waiting a good while to mount your flying creature. However, do not fret too much, if you happen to make the standby line with 100 minutes up on the board. Flight of Passage’s standby line offers guests things that the fast pass line does not. Yes, the line is tremendously long, however you’re able to check out the wall art, technological features, and more that the ride has to offer. I mean c’mon guys, we all saw, first hand, how difficult it was for Jake Sully to reach his Banshee. Why should it be any different for us, right? Near the end of the ride are shadows of main character’s Jake and Neytiri that one can use to compare themselves to the size of the Na’vi!  Having been able to walk through both the standby line and fast pass lines, in a short amount of time, I still believe that the latter is the much better option. However, you will still be able to enjoy yourself during the long wait. Once chosen to link yourself to an Avatar, you’re taken into a couple of different rooms that show just how advanced the technology of the ride is. During this process, you watch an instructional video on how to ride your Ikran. Although I feel the scripted video could have been better, especially the actor’s that were chosen to be in it, it is still very cool, as well as interesting. After all of that, the thrill begins! Each rider has an individual bike that they hop on to simulate your Banshee. Along with 4D glasses, once the link begins and the screen appears in front of you, people I’m not exaggerating when I say you will be flying through the skies of Pandora! You’ll smell the Pandora air, feel the mist of Pandora water hit your face as you fly over the ocean, and even feel your Banshee breathing under your legs! It’s an experience like no other, and is a ride you cannot miss if you ever visit Walt Disney World.

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In most cases, after a thrilling ride you end up in the ride’s merchandise store, when exiting. This will be the case in a few months, I figure. However with there being as long a line to get into the front of the store as there is to get into the actual ride, Disney cast members wouldn’t let anyone cut the line. “Windtraders” as the shop is called, has things inside that are new frontiers in the world of Disney stores. For one, a guest can buy their own mini Ikran that they can rest atop their shoulder like a pirate would a parrot. With it, comes a little remote control that can open your Ikran’s mouth, make it screech, and also flap its wings. The thing that interested the guests of Pandora the most, from the store, however, was the chance to create your own Avatar doll. You are given the opportunity to transform your face into an Avatar, and put that face on your Avatar doll. The entire Pandora, the World of Avatar is spectacular!  The only thing I missed out on was the restaurant that stood right next to the store. So, unfortunately, I can’t give you much information about the food that is served there. However, what I did catch a glimpse of, was a colorful, glowing, frozen drink that a lot of older guests seemed to be enjoying.  It looked like an alcoholic beverage, but I could be mistaken. In any case, it is a drink that is only offered at Pandora!

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I spent five days in Walt Disney World, and the highlight was my time in the World of Avatar! If you’re thinking of a vacation destination for your family this summer, you have my vote for Disney World in Orlando, and Pandora- World of Avatar. Run, don’t walk!

 

TP

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Hey there, my name is Trenton Perry! I’m a Detroit born, Tennessee raised, Christian-Catholic, twenty-two year old college basketball player for Cumberland University, in Lebanon, TN. I’m a Marketing major, and spent my first three years of college playing for Eastern Michigan University before transferring back to Tennessee to finish my collegiate career in my fifth year (currently in my fourth year). I love sports, laughter, doing things with my family, and dream to pursue a career in Coaching, Writing, or Sports Broadcasting after my time as a basketball player has concluded. I live to entertain and inspire myself, and those around me, on a day to day basis.
I hope you enjoy!

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