Daily life with Allison and Ray via iPhone photos.
Animal Kingdom’s Pandora: World of Avatar
Several months ago I read a rumor that annual passholders might get an opportunity to check out Pandora before it officially opens. A few days later, someone in a facebook group I’m part of posted that preview sign-ups were up on the website. I quickly reserved my spot for a day Ray and I were already planning to be at Animal Kingdom. Within the next 30 minutes all the reservations were accounted for!
Last Sunday Ray and I were at Disney World spending time with our family and celebrating our cousin’s graduation/birthday (more on that trip to come). We spent the morning at Animal Kingdom riding Everest, the Safari, and Dinosaur. After a break at our hotel, we made our way back to Animal Kingdom for our 6pm Pandora reservation.
Walking into Pandora was an incredible experience. It truly felt like I was walking into a different world. Here’s the breakdown:
Valley of Mo’ara
So, let’s start with Pandora’s most obvious and breathtaking feature, the Valley of Mo’ara. The landscaping is stunning and intricately detailed. Every view is a photo opportunity… waterfalls, alien vegetation, oh, and floating mountains. FLOATING MOUNTAINS. The details are bananas. Glowing sidewalks, native weavings, tiny bioluminescent flowers… I could go on and on. The theming extends to the ride queues, which I always appreciate.
Na’vi River Journey
The Na’vi river Journey is an evening boat ride through Pandora. It features glowing plants and Pandoran animals. Disney has created some new magic using video screens, projections, and tradition 3-dimensional sets. I have no idea how all of this works together, but the outcome is beautiful. The ride concludes with the Shaman of Songs (I had to look that up) which is hands down Disney’s most life like animatronic. Its arms move so fluidly it’s hard to remember it’s actually a robot.
Overall this ride is relaxing and beautiful. The queue, while mostly unairconditioned, is beautiful. It’s a must see.
Flight of Passage
Flight of Passage is the most technologically advanced ride I’ve ever experienced. It’s a flight simulator of which you ride on the back of a banshee (but why aren’t we just calling them dragons?) through the planet’s different environments.
Because we went to a preview viewing of Pandora, we walked through the fastpass line for this ride which is MUCH shorter than the standby queue. I’ve read that if the entire queue is full it’s about a 4 or 5 hour wait. Thankfully, the theming is very well thought out and at least half of the queue is air conditioned. You walk through the jungle, some rocks, and a laboratory. Once you make it through the laboratory, you’re taken into a 16 person room to get the background story of the ride and prepare for your flight. A video plays, it talks about your consciousness, blah blah blah. Honestly, this part was rather boring to me but I know it’s what they needed to do to set up for the ride. You’re then led into a room with what almost looks like stationary bikes or motorcycles. You’re handed 3-D glasses and told to “mount” the seat. Once you’re seated, back and leg restraints deploy.
To start the ride, the room goes dark, there’s a flash of light, the screen in front of you disappears, and suddenly you’re immersed into the world of Pandora. You fly up, down, and around experiencing the various landscapes. Oh, and you can feel the dragon breathing beneath you. The video is beautiful and well synched with the ride vehicles. You truly feel as though you’re flying!!
Apparenlty, if you have large calves or a larger middle, you may not fit on the ride. There have been tons of reports from people not being able to experience Flight of Passage due to the size of the ride vehicles. That’s a super bummer. When we went there were no test vehicles outside the ride, but hopefully that will change soon because waiting hours for a ride, then not fitting properly is a truly un-magical experience. Also, while I felt fine, there is potential for motion sickness during Flight of Passage.
Pongu Pongu is currently the only refreshment kiosk in Pandora. It offers several drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and a few snacks. Ray and I ordered a Night Blossom and a Mo’ara Margarita.
The Mo’ara Margarita is a mix of strawberry and blood orange flavors and topped with boba balls. It was good, but nothing special. I probably wouldn’t purchase this again.
The Night Blossom is a mix of limeade, apple and pear, and topped with passion fruit boba. This drink was delicious and because it’s non-alcoholic everyone can enjoy! Also, it’s very instagram-worthy. Definitely get this on your next trip to Animal Kingdom! Satu’li Canteen
The Satu’li Canteen is a great change to the Disney parks. This “fast casual” restaurant offers primarily healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. At the time of our visit, Ray and I only saw the lunch and dinner menu so that’s what I’ll be talking about. There are two main options on the menu, bowls and pods. For the bowls you choose a protein (slice grilled beef, chopped grilled chicken, fish fillet, and crispy tofu), base (quinoa salad, red and sweet potato hash, mixed rice, and romain and kale salad), and a sauce (onion chimichurri, black bean vinaigrette, and creamy herb dressing). Ray chose sliced beef over rice with the chimichurri sauce. It was DELICIOUS! The pods come with two options, cheeseburger and vegetable curry. I ordered cheeseburger pods, which were also very good but I wish I had tried the curry. We also ordered the beautiful, yet underwhelming blueberry mousse dessert.
Things of Note:
Windtraders is a unique store in Pandora. We were only inside for a few minutes, so I can’t give a real review, but it sold tons of interesting and pandora-like objects. Also a banshee adoption center.
One of the best parts of the theming Disney incorporates is scent. To me, most of Pandor smelt like jalapenos, which I loved.
We visited Pandora during the late afternoon before it was dark. The Valley of Mo’ara is supposed to be beautiful at night, all light up with bioluminescent plants. I can’t wait to see it!
Find the moss wall. Take an instagram. #mosswall
I’m coming clean and letting you know i’ve never seen Avatar. Honestly, I’ve never wanted to. But guess what… I still LOVED Pandora : World of Avatar. If you haven’t seen the movie OR if you didn’t like the movie, don’t let that stop you from going!!!
We had such a wonderful time and I can’t wait to go back!
Up until a few weeks ago, if someone was to ask me what my favorite cocktail was, my answer would have been a Dark & Stormy. It’s my go-to. With dark rum, lime juice, and ginger beer, Dark & Stormies are crisp and light and a little spicey. A Dark & Stormy is essentially a Moscow Mule (which you might be more familiar with), but with dark rum as opposed to vodka.
If you saw my January Favorites post, you saw that I’ve been really into blood oranges lately. I made blood orange ice cream a few weeks ago and have been playing around with ideas for different blood orange cocktails. I decided to go with what I know and love and create a blood orange Dark & Stormy!
This drink recipe is so simple and it’s almost laughable to post a recipe, but I didn’t want to keep this masterpiece to myself!
1 shot of dark spiced rum (or 2 or 3)
Juice from 1-2 blood oranges
Add the rum and blood orange juice to a chilled copper mug (because fancy). Fill the rest of the mug with Ginger Beer. Garnish with an orange slice. Enjoy!
What have you been loving recently?
Happy 2017!! I might regret this in December, but I’ve decided to publically declare my goals for the year!
– Be better with plants. We love plants, but on the real- I always forget to water them. I also tend to let my succulents get too leggy. Time to propagate!
– A sub-goal to being better with plants is to add new pants to our yard. When we rebuilt our porch in the fall, we also removed bushes from the front of our house. I would like to replace those bushes with large cacti. I would also like to add several fruit trees (most likely citrus) to our yard.
– Be better prepared for dinner. We cook a good bit in our home, but Ray and I are both terrible at meal planning/prep. It’s completely normal for us to have dinner after 8:00pm because we had to shop for extra ingredients, allow meat to thaw, etc. I’m going to try and be better prepared for dinner this year. My goal is to plan and organized our meals on Friday for the following week, shop on Saturday morning, and prep Sunday evening. I’ve already failed at this as I forgot to buy chicken this past weekend.
– Organize our upstairs storage area. We have two large upstairs bedrooms in our home. One is our guest room and the other is used for storage. Our storage room is completely unorganized and in disarray. We want to get rid of the furniture in that room and add shelving for organized storage. We have a lot of mismatched storage bins and I would like to reorganize everything in clear labeled bins. As much as I hate the idea, I think a yard sale might be in the future for 2017.
– Organize our Sunroom. Our poor little sunroom ends up being a catch-all for all our knick knacks, extra records, wayward furniture, rando computer parts, etc. It’s Black Cat’s favorite room, but because it’s so cluttered he knocks things over and makes it even more messy. I want this room to be almost empty except for plants.
– Redo our downstairs bathroom. Our downstairs bathroom, which is connected to our bedroom, is teeny tiny with an old sink and toilet and boring off-white walls. We’re hoping to purchase a new sink, toilet, and lighting, add shelving, and paint the walls and trim.
– Continue to work on my Southern Lady list. I’m not sure if I’ve shared it on the blog, but my Southern Lady List is full of quintessential southern recipes I need to make and skills I need to learn.I marked off homemade pimento cheese a few months ago.
– Work on personal projects. Ray and I both work full time jobs with responsibilities and a lot of times we want to come home, sit around, and do nothing productive in the evenings. While I think that’s perfectly acceptable some nights, we also have projects we’re both working on that tend to get neglected. So… a new podcast is coming to you in 2017! 😉
– Blog more consistently. I’ve been semi consistently blogging since 2006, starting with myspace blogs. I love blogging! I probably have 15-20 fully written blogs hanging out in my drafts, just waiting for photos and to be posted. I always want to include photos in my posts, and if I don’t have photos I usually wont post the blog. So, maybe I need to take photos more consistently? – Blog redesign. It’s truly time to refresh this site. I’m not looking to do anything crazy, but I would like to refresh and update this blog. Honestly, I think this was one of my goals for 2016…
That’s what I have for now! I’ll try to keep you updated on my progress!