Kaltxì and Greetings! Are you ready to step in Pandora-World of Avatar? Once you enter Disney’s Animal Kingdom and cross over into the 12-acre area designated as Pandora, you have journeyed onto another planet. Unknown creatures can be heard rustling around in the bushes and strange plants grow underneath floating mountains. Guests to this land can experience what it’s like to ride a banshee and feel it breathing. Pandora now thrives in the area that once was Camp Minnie-Mickey. The attractions and inhabitants of this area of the Animal Kingdom were all relocated to allow guests to experience the thrills of Flight of Passage, the wonder of the Na’vi River Journey, and all of the secrets that make up Pandora. The best part about this bioluminescent land is that you don’t need to be a fan of the 2009 Avatar film on which the area is themed. Pandora appeals to every guest with a sense of adventure and a love of exploring the unknown. Here are a few fun, yet not so well known, aspects of Pandora to check out on your next trip. See if you can find more to add to the list!
1. Mysterious Drums
Walk through the Valley of Mo’ara and observe the intriguing drum circle. Not only do native performers put on a show several times a day, but guests are invited to try out new rhythms on the instruments as well. Only a sharp eye will notice the claw marks on the benches in the area. Who, or what, left them there?
2. Beware of the Bats
If you’re ready to take flight on the back of a banshee on the Avatar light of Passage attraction, you might notice the stingbats sleeping upside down. Just before entering the cave in the Flight of Passage line, look to the left and up at the floating mountain. In Pandora, stingbats are flying predators of the forest, but they are also a favorite food of the banshee.
3. Falling Water
I love the beautiful waterfalls that make up Pandora, but not all of them are what they seem. The waterfall by the Avatar Flight of Passage attraction is actually created by two rotating wheels to resemble falling water. Disney Imagineers once again used the fantastic trick of forced perspective and configured the water to fall slower, making it appear that the waterfall is larger and farther away than it actually is.
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4. Cryptic Footprints
The paths in Disney’s Animal Kingdom reflect the area that you are exploring. Look at the trails in Africa for animal footprints and imprinted leaves. Bicycle tracks can be found in the bustling Asia section. When you’re in Pandora, look down for the Na’vi footprints imprinted in the ground, especially in the front of the Na’vi River Journey attraction entrance. It’s fun to compare the size of your shoe to the average Na’vi!
5. Mess Hall Memories
Travelers to Pandora will need to take a break and enjoy a meal, and a great place for this is the site of old mess hall used by the RDA (Resources Development Administration-if you’re following along from the movie). This is now called the Satu’li Canteen, a popular quick-service restaurant, and the Imagineers didn’t forget the details here either. Take a peek at the framed photographs near the registers and check out how the RDA ate their meals and how different this eatery looked. It’s just one more way that Disney goes above and beyond with the theming of Pandora.
6. Famous Books
If you weren’t lucky enough to grab a FastPass for Flight of Passage, the line is going to be long. Don’t worry, there are an amazing amount of great details to look at while you’re waiting, including a full-size avatar floating in a capsule. Look closely at the books in the small library and see if you can spot a book by Dr. Jaclyn Ogden, the banshee expert featured in the preshow. Dr. Grace Augustine has also left here book here about the botany of Pandora; she’s the character played by Sigourney Weaver in the Avatar film. Keep your eyes open too for a book by the famous anthropologist and primatologist, Jane Goodall, another detail that fits perfectly.
7. Secretive Signatures
The Avatar film was directed by James Cameron and produced by Jon Landau, and they made sure to leave their mark on Pandora. Check out their initials and handprints as you exit Avatar Flight of Passage. Joe Rohde wasn’t forgotten either. This lead Imagineer for Pandora and all of the Animal Kingdom made sure to make his presence known too.