Color me very, very jealous. Over the weekend, several local websites had the chance to go inside the Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I’ll be 100% honest, I was not expecting the rides and the land to be very good. Yes, I know it’s Disney. Yes, I know it’s an all new land…but really, I’m not a fan of Avatar, and quite frankly Disney’s latest offerings with things like Frozen have been rather…well, lame.
It looks like I may have a big pile of crow to eat, as the videos and pictures from our friends at Inside the Magic are absolutely stunning. We’ve included a few of our favorite videos below to give an idea of the sheer scope and feel of the new area at Animal Kingdom. However, if you want a full look, visit Inside the Magic for many more details, videos and pictures.
Taking a walk around the land, you see just so many things come to life, like the amazing plant and rock work. It all seems to blend seamlessly together. The final result is stunning, but how are the rides?
First, the queue for Flight of Passage looks amazing, as it employs one of the most stunning, and creepy, animatronics ever.
As for the ride itself, it’s being described as a very amped up version of Soarin at Epcot, mixed with a little Tower of Terror. Soarin for the obvious, ride along the screen reasons, but Tower of Terror? The ride is a tad thrilling, with some minor drops, and a lot more motion than something like Soarin. Big people may have a rough time getting on, as the fit is very tight, but we’ll have to see just how tight.
The ride vehicles themselves are not giant Banshees. Sorry folks. But they are Tron style bikes, and the experience is no less amazing. You are connected to an Avatar, and you are put into the world on this bike. You have what feels like electronic impulses down the bike, which gives the feeling of the creature actually breathing. It’s total immersion. There are smell effects, but also wind effects, so you are really there.
The next ride is the N’avi River Journey. Guests are taken into the forests, and on a musical ride. At the end they come face to face with one of the most impressive audio animatronics ever created. The Shaman is huge, the motion us ultra fluid and the song seems to create a sense of purpose on the ride. It’s not just a blue version of Small World.
Color me impressed with that giant animatronic. The look of everything definitely feels very Animal Kingdom and it definitely has a unique spin. The river journey is much more interesting than it sounded on paper, and it looks like it delivers a completely different attraction.
Of course, all that is fine and good, but what about the rest of the area? And what about the elusive night time effects?
While the area wasn’t 100% ready, Inside the Magic did get a great look at the new area at night.
I can see this as being a premiere destination at night, especially with all the hype surrounding the new Rivers of Light show at Animal Kingdom. Disney is putting all the marbles on Animal Kingdom becoming a full day destination, and with Avatar making a huge switch from the day experience to the night experience, they’re making Pandora the crown of the full day jewel.
While personally, I’m still skeptical I’m a little more excited about the land now. The videos do show a great new addition to the Disney experience. I’ll have to wait a few weeks until I get to see it for myself during passholder previews. The consensus from a majority of the sites is that the land works on it’s own two feet. You don’t have to be a fan of Avatar to enjoy it, but if you are a fan…it’s definitely going to be more amazing for you. It also fits in with the Animal Kingdom aesthetic. Everything is said to be very earthy, and very organic feeling. That’s very important to the whole feel of the rest of the park. Everything feels like it belongs together, because of the richness of the earth tones and colors.
Of course, the sites that were there had the chance to see the land without crowds, and with the people that created it, so there might be a small bias there. However, the videos don’t lie, and you can definitely get a sense of wonder from it. We find out for sure when Pandora opens on May 27th.