Former WDW Castmember reviews Pandora and Animal Kingdom



©L.C Visit the World of Pandora
This week we have former WDW Cast Member called L.C who was able to tell us all about Animal Kingdom and in particular the new world of Pandora. In the blog post below he details what the rides are like, wait times, where to eat and how to plan a day trip to Animal Kingdom. As reported during  L.C’s previous blog posts, he worked at both Epcot and Blizzard Beach during an internship with WDW. One of the perks of the job was to visit the WDW parks as often as he liked, so he is a good source of information regarding how to get the best out of the parks. Below is L.C’s post about Animal Kingdom.

Pandora
Within the World of Pandora there are two main attractions which I was fortunate to experience during a cast preview whilst  working at Walt Disney World. These being Na'vi River Journey and Flight of Passage. Both are incredibly well designed and feature the latest technological advancements in attractions within the Walt Disney World Resort. 

©L.C


Na'vi River Journey
Na'vi River Journey can be best described as being a boat ride similar to that of Pirates of the Caribbean or Frozen Ever After Ride in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot. The attraction itself is quite short for the wait times its currently seeing but it is visually stunning and worth the wait. Its set during the night on Pandora and dark lit in order to display the bioluminensence that the planet's ecosystem displays under the cover of darkness. Visually it is incredible to experience and features flora and fauna that is portrayed within the movie which creates a very immersive attraction. This is suitable for all ages in the boat with no sudden drops or thrills. However, I will note that the attraction is dark and there is a variety of noises from the animals that are moving around which could be distressing if young children are not comfortable within that sort of environment. 


©L.C Pandora


Flight of Passage
Flight of Passage has a height requirement of 44 inches and is targeted to an older audience. I definitely believe it is the more enjoyable of the two and is well worth the current long wait times. It is a 4D simulator similar to that of Soarin' at Epcot which focuses on the Avatar program featured within the movie this world is based on. The concept is that you, the guests, are given a suitable avatar of the Na'vi in order to experience a native rite of passage. The Na'vi (the native people of Pandora) fly on these winged creatures called Banshee or Ikran and by connecting to your given Avatar you are able to experience this yourselves. Basically the attraction is set on what can be best described as a bicycle seat as well as the use of 3D glasses to experience the simulation. This attraction features a fly over of the world of Pandora and gives the guests an immersive experience of that they see in the Avatar movie. From flying round the floating mountains, diving and swooping through the forest and traveling through the many nooks and crannies of the planet; the experience feels out of this world and the simulator creates a memorable and stunning experience. So I would highly recommend any fans of Soarin' at either California Adventure in Anaheim or Epcot in Florida to try it out since it is done on a level which is incomparable to it's similar counterpart.

Food options
Pandora itself focuses mainly on the two attractions within its area but there is a quick service restaurant towards the back heading towards Africa as well as a shop and bar section for guests to try and buy Pandoran food or merchandise. However the design of the land is mainly the sight itself that entices people to see it for themselves. The designers did an incredible job with the environment and makes it incredibly picturesque. There is a vast array of flora and the iconic floating mountains above you that really makes the environment feel out of this world. At certain times there will be a musical drum group that will appear towards the Na'vi River Journey entrance which demonstrates the music on Pandora and they can teach you words spoken by the Na'vi as well. Even if you haven't seen Avatar or not fussed with going on either of the attractions, the decor and style alone is well worth just seeing.

The quick service restaurant is quite unique and different to what you find at most of the other locations in Disney World and tries to emphasise environment and healthy eating.  Typically you would find barbecue and salad type dishes at this location so if you wanted more variety within Animal Kingdom its best to look at other locations. However if you are looking at trying some Pandoran delicacies that would be the best bet to go for their unique drinks and desserts; especially at the drinks and snacks stand. Out of other options, I've heard great things for the Yak and Yeti restaurant over in the Asia section if you're looking for a sit down meal which focuses on Asian cuisine and from what I hear some very good curries. Otherwise quick service areas such as Harambe Market in Africa or Restaurantosaurus over in Dinoland USA will give you a more of a typical range from burgers and salads and more recognizable kids meals for those fussier eaters.

How busy is the park? Fast Passes?
The park was incredibly busy upon opening. From what I can recall (since I was working that day) the park had reached full capacity quite early on in the day and both rides were spanning from a 200 to 250 min wait time. I believe James Cameron himself and some other big names were there for the actual opening to the public but I’m not too sure on the specifics myself.

There aren't currently fastpasses available from what I last heard or at least they are very difficult to obtain. Due to its quite recent opening, fastpasses are limited and most paper ones you receive will specify that those two attractions are not valid for it's use. I would still recommend checking the MyDisneyExperience app to check and see if a spot has opened up that you can quickly take since they can rarely appear. Single rider I believe may be available for Flight of Passage but the couple of times I finished working at WDW they weren't' opening it up due to how long the wait times were.  

I would recommend going there first, before the midday crowd, and even possibly returning last if you visit the other attractions at Animal Kingdom such as the Africa and Asia exhibits during the middle of the day. g One of the incredible things about this new land is that it is designed to be seen at night as well. The environment lights up at night and is definitely worth seeing (even if its to try and see if the wait times have dropped). Typically Animal Kingdom has been a park where you can do most within half of the day due to its limited attractions. I would suggest using the MyDisneyExperience app to continually check and see if the wait times have reduced to decide whether or not the park is less crowded to make the most out of Pandora. Regardless I feel that you should visit Pandora both during the day and night to get the full experience.

Planning your day at Animal Kingdom
Outside of Pandora I would highly recommend Expedition Everest and Dinosaur within Animal Kingdom. Both are more designed for thrill seekers since the former is a fast rollercoaster with some sudden drops and backwards moments and Dinosaur is a moving vehicle with bumps and fast turns. However for those with younger kids it would be worth while to do Kilimanjaro Safaris maybe once or twice. This attraction allows the kids to see some African animals within the park in their own environment and the night safaris also gives the chance to see some of the nocturnal animals moving around. Otherwise there are some fun walks to take the younger ages to see some more animals in both Asia and Africa as well as some fun activities such as the Wilderness Explorers or Rafikis Planet Watch. However, I would highly recommend the Festival of the Lion King show for all ages whilst in Animal Kingdom as it is well regarded as the best show in the Walt Disney World Resort for a good reason.

©L.C
Animal Kingdom does indeed have longer hours now with Pandora creating new night experiences for the park. I believe some of the trails, such as Gorilla Falls, may close in the evening for the animals so you would do better to make the most out of your day to experience those early. The attractions are open later to accommodate this later finish and there are always fun bands and performances going on around the park to enjoy.

Although night time does mean some lesser options in the park to enjoy, there seems to always be a lot going on at Animal Kingdom. Many people leave the park in evening thinking they have seen everything, but actually they are missing out on some good times to do the rides (as they continue until the park closes) and there are other performances near closing time
Thanks to L.C for letting me interview him about his Animal Kingdom experiences. I hope you as readers found it interesting and useful for any future trips. L.C’s other reviews are here:  

And you can read about other Disney Parks below:

Until next week,
K.J


Focused on the Magic

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