This post is long overdue, but I couldn’t decide whether to post it or not since it was pre-roadtrip. I took 2 last minute weekend trips to Disney right before we left so I could experience Pandora – aka, Avatar Land – at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. For those who don’t know, Animal Kingdom is like home to me. While it is probably the most underrated park at Disney, I grew up there and practically lived there my last year of college. I worked as a Photopass Photographer at Animal Kingdom during the Disney College Program before I made my way over to Disney Event Group and Disney Fine Art Photography. I can just walk circles around Animal Kingdom all day and be happy, but now, more and more people have decided to experience the joy of this park as well. With the addition of Avatar Land (officially known as Pandora), guests are flocking to Animal Kingdom to experience one of the coolest areas ever created by Disney.
Who could not love the beauty of the Tree of Life? I just love this Tree and all of its carved animal glory.
When you walk into Pandora for the first time, it is absolutely breathtaking. I arrived slightly after sunrise and this view (below) was just gorgeous. Disney put so much detail into the design and it will stop you in your tracks. Would you even believe there’s a ride inside that mountain? Not only a ride, but one of the best rides I’ve ever experienced. Flight of Passage is a one-of-a-kind ride experience with brand new technology and ride seating. This ride feels so real – you honestly feel like you’re really flying on a banshee. While the line for this ride is still crazy long, it is well worth it. Seriously, bring a book to read in line or games to play with friends because you must wait in line for this ride – even if the wait is 3 hours long. I promise – IT. WILL. BE. WORTH. IT.
Check out one of the many floating mountains (below). The details are extraordinary and I could just stare at these pieces all day while finding new amazements each moment.
One of the must-try items in Pandora is The Night Blossom drink. This drink is so delicious and super refreshing on a hot summer day. It’s a slow-sip, sugary, frozen drink with boba balls on top and it is perfect to grab right before you get in line for Flight of Passage. You’ve got a long journey ahead in that line and this drink is sure to keep you going!
The cool story of this trip is really when I met some new friends. While standing in line for Flight of Passage, I was making conversation with various people in line when I started talking to the people behind me. I jumped in the conversation to drop some Disney knowledge and it turns out, they knew a lot about Disney, too. It turns out, I met some pretty awesome people and ended up hanging out with this family for the rest of the night. It was my first time being “family-napped” as we called it by the end of the night. Turns out, they recently moved to the Jacksonville area, the daughter plays softball (ironically for a Coach Kayla), and my dad helped them find a travel team for her when they first arrived in the city. Talk about a small world!
We had the best time standing in line together for the next few hours as we talked all things Disney (both Disney World and Disneyland!). They even gave lots of recommendations on places to stay while we’re camping out West. We ended up riding Na’vi River Journey in Pandora, getting another round of Night Blossom drinks, and heading over to watch the new-ish Rivers of Light nighttime show since none of us had seen it before. After that, we realized we had a few minutes left before the park closed and we raced through the Expedition Everest line twice before leaving the park and saying our goodbyes.
If you guys are reading, Hi Jaime, Jeromey, Braxton, and Adilee! I seriously had the best time with you guys and hope to meet up again one day! Hope you’re enjoying your Annual Passes!
Officially coming in as one of the favorite quick-service restaurants on Disney property is the brand new Satu’li Canteen in Pandora. Check out this divine dish below! You build your own meal, which is super great for picky eaters like myself. You pick your base, your sauce, and your protein. I picked the grilled chicken with rice and it comes with a crunchy vegetable slaw on top. It was so good, I went back for dinner and got the exact same thing! BONUS: Self-serve fountain drinks – this is like finding gold at Disney and always brings a restaurant up a few notches in my book. It is practically impossible to resist a Disney Coke (or two, or three, or however many you want because it is SELF-SERVICE!).
This picture (below) is dark and not great, but I love it. It is the true definition of happiness for me. Visiting Animal Kingdom, wearing my Animal Kingdom hat and a safari vest, just walking through the areas I know better than anywhere else in this world.