Well, we all had a feeling the tiering system was coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and turns out, it was. With the roll out of FastPass+ for the attractions that will be found in Pandora – The World of Avatar, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will officially become a park that offers the tiered FastPass+ system.
Here are the FastPass+ options that you have to choose from going forward:
Annual Passholders can now made reservations to get an early peek of Pandora – The World of Avatar! This preview opportunity is only available for a limited time beginning May 13.
AP Holders will be able to ride both the attractions, Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. They will also be able to purchase cuisine from Satu’li Canteen and make purchases at Windtraders. Do keep in mind that because this is a preview, some areas may not be open to Guests and attractions may go down at any time.
Guests will only have a two hour window with which to preview this new land.
Here is what you need to know about registering for this event:
Well, there’s one more reason to stay at an on-site Walt Disney World hotel this summer. You see, for a limited time, only May 27 through July 4, Guests who are staying staying at one of the Walt Disney World hotels can explore Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom beyond regular Park hours, courtesy of nightly Extra Magic Hours.
These Evening Extra Magic Hours will certainly be right for the night owls, as they will take place from 11:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. Only Pandora – The World of Avatar will be open; no other attractions in the park will be open to Guests. Do keep in mind that in order to visit during these extra hours, valid theme park admission and a Resort ID will be required. During this extra time in the park, Resort Guests will be able to experience both the Na’vi River Journey and Avatar Flight of Passage attractions.
Disney’s collaboration with James Cameron, Pandora – World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom park is the biggest expansion we’ve seen at Walt Disney World since New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. It was first announced in 2011 (yeah, it blew our minds that it’s been nearly 6 years too).
Want more Pandora, and then some? Listen to The Disney Dish Podcast with Jim Hill, produced by TouringPlans. Find episode 123 on iTunes or on all fine podcast apps.
We also recommend this video from Brian McNichols on Pandora touring strategies. It was made before we knew details about how FastPass+ will work with the new attractions, but the advice is still sound.
Check out our Pandora page for the latest news on Animal Kingdom’s newest land and attractions.
When will Pandora open?
The official opening date is May 27, 2017. However, media is invited on the 22nd, and the land should be in soft open. When an attraction is in soft open, it’s accessible to guests, but can be closed at any time for testing. This lets Disney work out the kinks of something new before its grand opening. Disney Vacation Club owners, Annual Passholders, and Cast Members can expect their own previews of Pandora, possible as early as the last week of April. We will post more information to the blog when we hear it.
One of the most common questions that people have been asking since the announcement of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is what kind of food do the Na’vi eat? With today’s sneak peek, we have an idea of what the Satu’li Canteen in Pandora – The World of Avatar will offer.
As previously stated, the fast-casual dining experience will be offering dishes filled with wholesome grains, fresh vegetables, and hearty proteins. Dishes will be familiar flavors with unique twists. Here, Guests will be able to do a create your own bowl option that allows for maximum customization. Guests will start with a base of either quinoa and vegetable salad; mixed whole-grain rice; red-and sweet potato hash; or romaine and kale salad. They will then be able to add whichever protein option they would like – either slow-roasted beef, sustainable fish, wood-grilled chicken, or chili-spiced fried tofu. The bowl will then be topped with charred onion chimichurri, black bean vinaigrette, or a cream herb dressing.
Wow! Yesterday was a flurry of new information all about Pandora – World of Avatar courtesy of a plethora of ABC shows -“The Chew”, “Good Morning America“, “The View“, and “Nightline.” The goal of these spots were clearly to get excitement ramped up and it most certainly worked!
So if you’re looking forward to the official opening of this new land as much as I am, here’s what you should know courtesy of recent news developments. (If you want to avoid minor spoilers about the land, stop reading now. This is your only warning!)
According to James Cameron. The story is that we are found in a generation of Pandora after all the movies when the warfare between the humans and Na’vi is over. The Na’vi have welcomed us to Pandora to help us understand nature and ourselves better. Essentially, we are welcome because we are here to learn and educate ourselves.
There are two Pandoras that Guests will get to experience. Day and night. Trust me, you will want to see this place lit up at night!
Guests walk through an opening and will be immersed in the Valley of Mo’ara. Here, Guests can walk right under the enormous floating mountains. The land is lush and is a mixture of earth plants and Pandorian foliage that all helps to gives the idea that it’s a real ecosystem. Of course, these plants will come to life with beautiful bioluminescence each night.
The Valley of Mo’ara will also include a Na’vi-built drum circle that will contain instruments that are playable by all, Na’vi totems and other cultural items found. For those who are Wilderness Explorers fans, there will be brand new challenges and badges to collect in Pandora too! Guests who visit may even come across tour guides from Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE), scientists from the Pandora Conservation Initiative (PCI), or even an eclectic expat or two!
I’m back with more results from our recent Disney World dining survey. Today we’re looking at your top-rated Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios restaurants. (Here are the best Magic Kingdom restaurants, and here are Epcot’s best restaurants.) Like those earlier posts, today’s analysis is based on more than 122,000 Disney World dining surveys we received in 2016.
The Best Animal Kingdom Restaurants
Let’s start with the park’s quick-service restaurants. As before, restaurants in green are significantly better than average, while restaurants in red are significantly worse than average:
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s RIVERS OF LIGHT! On March 2nd, 2016 Disney whetted all of our appetites when it announced on the Parks Blog that Rivers of Light – the first ever nighttime spectacular at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, would debut on Earth Day (April 22nd). April came and went with no show, but we were told we would get an update “in May.” May came and went with no show and no update. It wasn’t until late November when – seemingly out of nowhere – there were cast member previews for Rivers of Light. While no official announcement was made, that’s a pretty good sign that the show would be opening soon for the general public.
Turns out that was also wishful thinking, as both December and January passed with no word on when we would finally see this highly anticipated show. Then in early February – again, almost out of nowhere – Disney announced that the debut performance for the public would take place on February 17th.
Disney’s Rivers of Light. (photo by Brandon Glover)
When February 17th arrived, anticipation was at an all time high. Standby guests were lined up all the way back to Flame Tree Barbecue, and even those with FP+ were getting into the theater over an hour early to secure a seat. The question on everyone’s mind was simply: was Rivers of Light worth the wait? SPOILER ALERT: Yes. Even better, just as the Main Street Electrical Parade’s return to Disneyland brought along a lot of other cool stuff for guests to enjoy, Animal Kingdom has gone all out for Rivers of Light as well. Today we’re going to look at the actual show along with awesome food and merchandise that supports it. Let’s kickoff the countdown with…
# 6 – Lotus Flower Popcorn Bucket
Walt Disney World has stepped up its popcorn bucket game in a major way in the past few years. We’ve seen neat buckets themed to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Cinderella’s carriage, and even Han Solo frozen in carbonite. But a true E-Ticket popcorn bucket arrived for Rivers of Light. Based on the show’s iconic lotus flower, the popcorn bucket not only looks visually stunning, but it also lights up. A game changer in the world of popcorn buckets and we love it.
Lotus Flower Popcorn Bucket. (photo by Brandon Glover)
The Rivers of Light lotus flowers. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Popcorn, a top six theme park snack if there ever was one.
# 5 – Lotus Flower Drink Topper
We’re not the biggest fans of glow cubes in drinks, but themed glow cubes? Now you’re talking. While Disneyland has the cute turtle drink topper, over in Walt Disney World we have an awesome glowing lotus flower. Once the sun goes down, this little flower looks wonderful in any drink, and even makes a beer look better! These toppers are available at Thirsty River Bar and Snacks, directly across from the Rivers of Light theater.
If you love getting to learn more about the animals that are found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, then you will want to make sure to sign up for this brand new tour. Caring for Giants is a brand-new unique, family-friendly backstage viewing experience featuring the park’s African elephants.
The tour has Guests meeting with Disney’s Animal Kingdom animal care specialists who help provided for the wellness of the park’s elephant herd. In addition, Guests will be able to hear stories of Disney’s conservation efforts that have been made toward perserving wild populations. The tour will bring Guests up close to the action…well, as close as you’ll want to comfortably be, anyway – approximately 80-100 feet.
The Caring for Giants tour will last 60 minutes beginning March 12. Tours will occur daily between 10:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Guests must be at least 4 years or older to particpate in the tour. Guests will need to check in 15 minutes prior to start of experience at the Animal Experiences booth, located across from the Kilimanjaro Safaris entrance. The cost is $30 per person (tax included) and park admission is required, but not included.
It’s finally here. After months of delays and a long hype campaign, Rivers of Light has made its debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Once upon a time, having Animal Kingdom open at night, let alone its own night time show, was just a dream. The fact that it is finally a reality is enough to make me happy. Personally, I found the show to fit the spirit of Animal Kingdom very well and think it is a nice addition to this Walt Disney World theme park that always seems to be fighting an uphill battle.
On your next visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom you should definitely make time to see this new night time show. Rivers of Light is worth seeing at least once, and here’s what you need to know before you go.
FastPass+ entrance – Rivers of Light
There will be lines
(regardless of if you have a FastPass+ or not)
Even if you book a FastPass+ for Rivers of Light or if you book a dining package, there will be lines to get into the ampitheater. There are two main entrances into the theater, one in Asia, near Expedition Everest, and the other in DinoLand U.S.A. The Asia entrance is FastPass+ and dining package only. The DinoLand entrance is standby, and dining package seating, though it seems to a lesser extent than the Asia side.
If you have either a FastPass+ or dining package you are guaranteed a seat up until about 5-10 minutes before show time. The advantage of both of these options is to not have to get to the theater 45 minutes before showtime just to get a seat of any kind. Both methods save you time.
Asia side of theater nearly full 30 minutes before Rivers of Light show time
In my opinion it was worth having the FastPass+ when I viewed Rivers of Light. It reduces the stress and worry of wondering if you’re even going to get into the theater, plus the standby line is quite long. So while FastPass+ and dining package guests are seated in the theater, hundreds of standby guests wait standing in a long, winding line.