Pandora: World of Avatar Photos, Videos, & Reviews

Brian G.

Editor-in-Chief
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 21, 2008
20,360
Orlando, FL

Since more and more people are going to be riding soon - here's the thread. Remember: SPOILERS BE HERE.

Also, please keep small talk to a minimal as this thread is only for photos and reviews.
 
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darkridelover

Premium Member
May 5, 2012
1,596
Can someone get a picture of a certain tree for me? When you enter the Fastpass only line of Flight of Passage 5 feet after the entrance look immediately on your right there will be an exotic looking tree. If you look down it has an interesting looking "appendage" growing out of it near the base of the tree. It made me and my friends giggle but I didn't get a pic. Can someone get one for me? We have nicknamed it already.
 
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GAcoaster

V.I.P.
Nov 30, 2012
3,729
Orlando
It's interesting to note that all of the bloggers who were invited to the Pandora preview the other day now have their videos showing up on Facebook and Twitter as sponsored content. I would guess Disney is picking up the tab for that as viral social media marketing.
 

violarum

Premium Member
Oct 5, 2009
1,847
Hogsmeade
Can someone get a picture of a certain tree for me? When you enter the Fastpass only line of Flight of Passage 5 feet after the entrance look immediately on your right there will be an exotic looking tree. If you look down it has an interesting looking "appendage" growing out of it near the base of the tree. It made me and my friends giggle but I didn't get a pic. Can someone get one for me? We have nicknamed it already.
If only I could tell the story behind this... wooden member... Perhaps one day lmfao.

I'm so glad people are generally loving the land. I know its critiques are many and I have shared skepticism with most people since the announcement of this project, but after having experienced it (except for the rides... hopefully soon!!!) I can say I'm a big fan of the thematic land as a whole.

Also, pay attention to the instruments used in the upcoming opening ceremony. I wonder who painted and aged them? ;)
 

SeventyOne

V.I.P.
Jul 1, 2010
2,720
Orlando
71's In Depth Pandora Review
[obviously spoilers ahead]

CM friend got me into preview. Definitely were people, but probably not as crowded as it will be initially this Summer, so keep in mind things might look different once there’s stroller parking and such. Describing things roughly the order I took them in, no candy-coating. Pixie Dusters proceed at your own risk.

Planetscape

The land itself is breathtakingly beautiful. It looks “real”—truly organic. I didn’t get a sense these are fake mountains or plastic plants, it feels like a living, breathing place. You would not know you’re walking distance to the neon strip of 192. Not necessarily alien—I’ll touch more on that later—but very much a natural landscape. The mountains didn’t seem to float from any angle, but still impressive just as mountains.

That said, not a lot of interactivity. A photo op with a plant that shoots steam, an (upcharge) face painting booth and, my favorite thing in the land, a drum circle—think the extended queue to Haunted Mansion but themed to drums in stumps. Everything is beautiful to look out, but just wandering and taking in the sights is anathema to the commando mentality Disney has created in guests with FastPass. Most people are going to snap a pic on their way to the rides.

(But for real, that drum circle is a ton of fun. Don’t skip it.)

Learned none of the lighting, but for the photosensitive stuff on the ground that looks like pollen, will be turned on until opening weekend. So even if you arrive for last time slot previews, don’t expect a sneak peek.

It’s a Small Pandora After All

Beautiful, if a/c-less, queue (but my first tinges of cultural appropriation guilt came here). Loads quickly, despite the smaller boats, didn't back up like Pirates or Small World. Then again, queue looks like it could hold 2 to 3 hours easily—that would be insane, might complicate matters.

Elephant in the Room: the screenz work perfectly, better than any other attraction in the 407 (including Kong). Rode twice, and if I hadn’t read different before, I’d swear the first Na’vi warrior we see is actually a robot. The 6-legged sabertooth and the shadows of frogs jumping on lilypads overhead are very convincing as well. Not sure it comes across as well on video, but in person, the effects are great.

Obviously witch doctor robot also a thing of beauty. Fluid movement, incredibly life-like. Let’s hope it never has to go into Disco Yeti B-mode, tho, because it will look like a DJ at a rave.

The physical effects are alright. Reminded me of ET Adventure. Neon colored drug trip aesthetic. Not really my thing, but fairly well done, tho unlike outside, clearly plastic plants.

Two issues here:

(1) There is literally no story. No explanation of what we are seeing. No hint of a plot, no building toward a climax nor climax. Just nature sounds the first half, Native America… I mean Pandoran chanting the second half. It’s pretty but just so much fluff without some semblance of a storyline to put the images into context.

(2) Your DS or DD’s mileage may vary, but a lot of little kids are going to have the piss scared out of them by this ride. Most inadvertently terrifying experience since Stitch’s Great Escape. Mostly dark, and no songs or Thurl Ravenscroft narration to reassure young riders. Instead, the 6-legged sabertooth stares right at you and snarls. Much like Mansion, I wouldn’t take a first grader or younger without prepping them first.

Pongu Pongu—The “Tiki Bar”

Except it’s not really a bar. Staffed by outdoor concessions, not bartenders, who are only authorized to pull the handle on beer or pre-mixed frozen drinks; for a mixed drink head back to Nomad. No stools, just a walk-up window. And even by the loose Florida definition of the term, nothing “tiki” here. Just a knock-off AT-ST, no hula skirt or lei. A war machine seems an odd choice to decorate a bar called “Party Party,” but hey, need something to convince people this is technically sci-fi. Beer wasn’t in stock here, only in restaurant … and we are … MOVING ON.

My Indian name is “Redecorates Quonset Hut” …

Cantina was operating strictly as a QSR, not fast casual. With thick trays that are a lot heavier than your local Mickey Ds, as an aside. Won’t be an issue if they start delivering to tables, but looks designed to be strictly self-serve. BTW, real plates, real silverware. Always a nice touch.

Food was delicious. Easily a top 3 QSR on property—could possibly even surpass Sunshine Seasons or Maru. I had a chicken bowl over a red/sweet potato hash with a chimichurra-style sauce. As I sat in the bar 6 hours later, I would have gladly returned and tried another combo for dinner—it was that good. Maybe $2 more than I’d expect to pay in the real world, which is great theme park value as well, given the generous portion. The blueberry ball was delicious—not quite cheesecake, too dense for mousse, the blueberry flavor was strong but natural. (Full disclosure, I practically grew up on my great uncle’s blueberry farm, so I consider myself a connoisseur.) Looked just like the online pictures as well, a culinary work of art.

Home run—let whoever oversaw this menu take a run at revamping MK’s QSRs please.

Two specialty beers from Terrapin. The green one tasted like Sam Adams Light (but does make for a cool photo op on Untapped). The brown one tasted bitter like an IPA but without the accompanying hoppy flavor I’d expect. I’d choose the former over the latter, but a lot better choices—and air conditioned barstools--to be found at Nomad if I’m being honest.

The décor. This is what really did it for me, and extended to the whole area once I left. Blatantly rips off Native American culture. The designs, the flute music—this is as if Black Market Minerals created an in-store café like Ikea. I’m far from an SJW, but once I noticed it here, things like the Pandoran “dreamcatchers” for sale jumped out at me all over the land.

Game of Thrones author George RR Martin has said he deliberately avoids making fictional cultures one-for-one pastiches of real world cultures. The Dothraki, for example, are a mixture of the Mongols, the Huns, the Sioux, the Chyenne, and just some made-up fantasy stuff. In contrast, Na’vi culture is pretty much straight up Native American, or at least the popular hippie interpretation of that culture. This world doesn’t feel alien so much as like the Native American village proposed for Disney’s America, with some incongruous sci-fi military elements scattered about. Which maybe would have been a better fit in DAK, with buffalo and other animals of the Plains, perhaps a ride based on a mythical creature mixed in. As is, the cultural appropriation doesn’t sit well with me. Treatment of Native Americans still a scar on our national psyche, feel like it should be handled a bit more delicately.

Soarin’ Over Pandora

Two of the three of us too fat to ride (never had a problem anywhere else at WDW, tho do use the big boy seats at Hulk/Dragons/Kraken). Groundlings tell me Imagineering aware of the issue, already working on a way to remove the leg restraints. Also told ride system overheating, running at roughly 10% of anticipated capacity. If not fixed by Memorial Day, going to need to stay open until 1 a.m. just so people in line by noon can ride.

My one friend who did got on shrugged his shoulders after, just said “Soarin’ over alien world.”

Didn’t get to see queue. Heard after tours were available but no one made that clear.

The gift shop has that same Black Market Minerals vibe. Only thing selling seems to be the $50 dragons, but they were going like hot cakes, had a crowd around the display. Rest was a ghost town. In September, Disney Outlet will have 90% of the merch on display.

Final Thoughts

This really is the first Universal land at WDW. Highly detailed, beautiful to look at, bound to a single IP … with too few rides--that also exclude a number of guests--and too little for kids to do. It’s the original Lost Continent without the mythical resonance, down to the rockwork and waterfalls.

I get why the bloggers and foamers will like it—it lends itself to wandering around and forgetting the real world exists for an hour. That’s exactly what they use Disney for. Also, it’s something new, something different, which theme park regulars are starved for—my main argument of why HHN is such a successful event. I don’t see the commando guests doing much besides riding the rides then bee-lining for Everest or Kilimanjaro for their next FastPass. The idea that this will be a nighttime attraction in and of itself is a pipe dream. Tho I might make a special trip just to eat there. And play some drums.
 

SeventyOne

V.I.P.
Jul 1, 2010
2,720
Orlando
Did they give you more than 1 try to fit or anything or do they hit the button and if the restraint fails to lock that's it?
Restraint fails, they come over and ask you to scoot forward if you can. Strangely, do this one at a time. Could slow load times down quite a bit.

BTW, I failed to mention the cringe-inducing intro videos because I'm trying my best to forget them.
 

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
18,130
Pittsburgh area
first that I read that the boat ride may be "scary" for young kids. Hmmm
People were saying Kong would be scary for kids. Haven't seen one scared yet in all my rides. Those things get overblown for the most part, me thinks. Always an exception, though, I would guess.
 

maxairmike

Veteran Member
Jul 18, 2012
1,366
In the thick of it
So I got lucky and was able to visit the land this afternoon, and blown away is about the best I can put it to words. I said to my co-worker as we came around that slight bend and the floating mountains came into full view that it felt like walking into an alien Animal Kingdom. From the bridge into the land to every space you can see the details are abundant and overwhelming. The boat ride exceeded my expectations (they were probably a bit low, admittedly), and the Navi shaman isn't creepy at all in person, she is amazingly realistic in her movements (really fluid). I rode it 3 times and enjoyed it each time. I did find the first (projected) AA creepy, though.

Flight of Passage is just an amazing experience from the queue to the end of the ride. The only weak point is the pre-show videos. Also, now I know where all the unused orange smell from Soarin' went to! :lol: I had the non-alcoholic drink from Pongu Pongu, and it was...not good, IMO. It was sickly sweet and very sour. I've put away some pretty rich and sweet drinks and desserts, but this was just too much. Was not enamored with the food choices at Satu'li, so I passed on eating in the land.

Overall I think WDI hit a grand slam visually...on what they built. I will say it could definitely do with another major attraction (and probably an additional minor one), but what they built is pretty much perfection as it stands right now, for me. I'm digging into all the pictures I took today and can't wait to go back to see this land at night to be wowed again.
 

Eckert

Veteran Member
Feb 25, 2008
1,096
Orlando, FL
I had the honor of riding FOP twice yesterday (on two different sides, two different levels) and I absolutely loved it. Easily the best theater based ride in the world. There's not a bad seat in the house and it's thrilling enough to be appropriate for many audiences. If Soarin' is a 2/10 on the intensity scale, I'd say this is a 6. The movements aren't wild, even the "freefalls", but all the sensory effects really overload you and help convince you that so much more is going on.

When the ride ends, you can tell that people genuinely enjoyed the experience. It's a beautiful ride. Make your Ferngully and Pocahontas jokes, but this ride delivers perfectly on two of the biggest draws of Avatar: discovering a fantastic world and the freedom and thrill of finally being able to fly.