We were invited to experience the new Pandora: The World of Avatar at the Animal Kingdom Theme Park at Walt Disney World in Orlando and were thrilled to be one of the first to see this incredible new attraction in person.
Based on the mega-hit movie Avatar and approved by director James Cameron, who was was present at the opening ceremony, this new land fully immerses visitors in the world of Pandora. I found myself surrounded by lush greenery, glowing plant life, serene waterfalls and gently flowing rivers.
The wildlife of Pandora call and sing out from among the trees and the floating mountains. Nature guides are available to teach guests about the flora and fauna, including an interactive tree that needs visitors' help to regenerate.
Young visitors are given a nature book that teaches about various aspects of Pandora, and as they reach each checkpoint, can collect stickers to put in the book as they explore the land, with walkways, bridges and passages. There's a shady cave I really enjoyed, where you can sit for a while to relax while taking in the scenery.
At night, the bioluminescent rainforest lights up in a variety of beautiful colors, which you'll also be able to experience on the Na'vi River Journey. Day or night, you can take this serene ride on a reed boat, past exotic glowing plants while Pandoran creatures appear, then run off into the forest. You'll see the Na'vi ride past on a ridge, and creatures scattering overhead from leaf to leaf. The highlight of this mystical journey comes as you approach a Na’vi Shaman who sings a song of positive energy.
If you're brave enough, you'll want to fly on a banshee like the characters in the movie. I was really excited about trying The Avatar Flight of Passage. After following path up a mountain, I stood on a pad, as did the other people going on the ride, so we could undergo a process to resemble a Na'vi (humans aren't allowed to ride on banshees). Once strapped in, we could see our Na'vi features via a screen, and through the magic of immersive 3D, felt as if we were on the back of a winged mountain banshee.
We were launched on an exhilarating ride over the breathtakingly beautiful world of Pandora, feeling the wind on our faces as we flew past gorgeous vistas. The ride is a multi-sensory experience that let us feel as if we were careening through a forest, soaring over water and narrowly missing floating mountains.
Check out the video above to see more of this amazing new park attraction. ~Alexandra Heilbron