So I just finished a full two-day trip to Pandora!
PICTURES are linked at the bottom, to my public photo album of my visit on Facebook.
First I won't go into many details on the rides, except that Flight of Passage is ASTOUNDING! It is absolutely the most emotional thing for an Avatar fan to experience... I was bawling my eyes out after it ended and could barely make it outside.
There are so many details everywhere, but you really have to look! The story goes Mo'ara is a valley that used to have a small RDA base of operations, but now it's all overgrown. Your visit is 100 years after the final Avatar movie. The staff told me new stuff seems to appear out of no where, even to them, like some stingbats hiding in the mountains that showed up right before opening day, and another creature that showed up just a couple days ago!
My first day was AMAZING not as a Disney guest but as an avid Avatar fan! About halfway through, I left for a bit to get coffee and came back, and approached two of the Pandora staff to ask about a special pamphlet about the flora and fauna. We proceeded to talk about it, my fandom became known, and then the guy gave me a tour of a bunch of little things guests normally miss! Like little bugs in flowers and over-grown RDA vehicles! The girl broke off for a bit, then found me again learning about the fauna, and she gave me a plush banshee from Windtraders!! Then she asked me if I wanted a personal tour of the Na'vi River ride--and she shared awesome details!! She brought me in, skipping the line, and it was just me and her in the boat, it was so cool. THEN as a final surprise she gave me a fast pass to Flight of Passage!! (I shared with them how my first experience left me bawling!) It was my 3rd time going on this! That just I made up the entire trip, I mean it's been going fair but this made it EXCEPTIONAL. Talk about making an Avatar fan's day!!!
If you really want to make the most of your trip here, engage with the staff! They'll even share their own Pandora stories if you ask.
Inside Satu'li Canteen! I want to mention this awesome facility. I was told many of the woven decorations on the ceiling have connections to the menu; apparently one of these designs is a fish...
Also, Marshall Lamm is the character played by a well-known face... Jon Landau! Lamm the Founder of ACE (Alpha Centauri Expeditions). There is a letter and photos of him inside the Canteen, which is set up like a museum. There are also many photod of him with some Na'vi in Mo'ara, so take the time to check it out!
On the Na'vi River Journey, which consists of a relaxing boat ride down the Kapsavan River, you see various animals not seen elsewhere in the park; specifically, viperwolves, hexapede and tree spirits (atokirina). But you also see a brand new animal! A shimmyfly resembles a big, beautiful six-winged butterfly. Also the music and singing shaman were utterly amazing!
Now for some information on the four newly introduced animals!
Pluropoda Saggitaria, casually known more simply as the Sagittaria, is a snail-like creature that shoots water out of its head through three tubes positioned there. Found in the same water is a big water bug, the Cerebellis Scapularis! This bug showed up only a few days before I got there, according to the Alpha Centauri Expedition staff. It and the Sagittaria have a co-depenent relationship.
The "Ilu" and "Nalutsa" are introduced on Flight of Passage. They are my FAVORITES by far, especially the Nalutsa!
Now information straight from the field guide:
The ilu is a large plesiosaur-like sea creature that is the direhorse of the Pandoran ocean. With multiple fins/flippers and a long streamlined shape, this aquatic pack animal serves the reef Na'vi clans like direhorses serve the Na'vi of the forests, jungles and plains.
A cousin of the more elusive and fierce akula*, this six-gilled ocean behemoth can be seen leaping out of the near-waters. Birthing and parenting behaviors are not dissimilar to those of orca whales on Earth.
An iridescent and glimmering Pandoran version of the Terran Lepidoptera (butterfly), this delicate creature gracefully flies through the Mo'ara valley on multiple glowing, almost crystalline wings.
A predator, this cephalopod-type creature has a hard exterior which is exposed to the air. Long tentacles float calmly in the water. The means of hunting prey, which mostly consists of small flying creatures, is highly specialized and unique.
*(Hmm, what is an akula? We have no idea!)
Not written anywhere is the name of the spider-like creature in some of the large pink flowers. If you ask certain staff, mostly the Wilderness Explorer staff, you can learn it's called an Epispike. At night, its bulbous backside has bright orange bioluminescence. The pink flower it calls home also glows orange.
Lastly, the shimmyfly can be seen on the Na'vi River Journey! It looks like a beautiful moth actually, but the eight wings are long like a dragonfly's and are, of course, bioluminescent. There are four or five that I spotted on the ride, and there is a design of a shimmyfly on a girl's shirt in Windtrader's, the gift shop.
Also, you can get the official Pandoran field guide HERE: avataruploads.azureedge.net/me…
You can see drawings of the new creatures and new plants, too!
The big attraction, of course, is the Flight of Passage! How is this possible? Well, PCI (Pandora Conservation Initiative) works with ACE (Alpha Centauri Expeditions) to bring you an experience that facilitates understanding by taking part in a right of Passage (Iknimaya is the right itself, according to a video featuring a Dr. Jaclyn Ogden) by linking people with avatars who are already on banshees. The avatars and the banshees they are riding are guided by a Na'vi on another banshee, and your flight follows hers. The project was set up by Pandora Conservation Initiative to get people to appreciate the banshees (ikran). What people understand and love, they'll work to conserve.
And let me tell you, ride it not only more than once but get different seats! There are 8 per room with a two-room set up. Numbers 1 and 9 are on the far left; 8 and 16 are on the far right. The first times I rode I was numbers 2, 1 and then my third time was 4 or so. I was 9 later. Then my last ride I was number 16, and I was blown away that the perspective changed so much!! So you can avoid the same perspective by asking fellow riders to switch numbers. Yes they tell you to stay on a particular number but you can honestly change it, it doesn't matter. Change in queue if you get the opportunity or hop on an empty number in the first room if you're able. It is so worth going on this ride more than once and doing so from different perspectives. I was as amazed the last time as I was the first time.
I had such a perfectly amazing and inspiring time, I almost didn't return the next day. I could have saved my ticket to come another time. However, I decided to do so anyway--more pictures and more fun. Sadly, both rides in Pandora broke down, not once but twice, and once I was in the line for it when it happened (we all had to evacuate after). The ride did come back up... At 1800! I actually jumped in line near the beginning so I was closer than where I got before when I had to wait again, so it wasn't long. I still enjoyed my second day immensely; it was very relaxing and I didn't even get mad or frustrated over the rides (I know my closest friends will find that hard to believe! But I was actually quite content).
By the way, there is a staff member named Mayme who has an AWESOME notebook she did all herself, on her own. So impressed was "Marshall Lamm" that he introduced her to James Cameron AND Zoë Saldana, who were by all accounts VERY impressed with her notebook! It details the plant life around the valley of Mo'ara. The drawings are gorgeous not only because of Mayme's obvious talent but her impressive water-coloring--and she used glow in the dark paints so some plants have a different look in her notebook as they do in real life! Pictures of what she had done so far are linked in my Pandora gallery on Facebook.
I also have a picture of a badge from one of the ACE (Alpha Centauri Expeditions) Pandora members. They can earn stickers depending on what training they have. The picture I have shows he is a trainer for the Flight of Passage (a banshee sticker with a Trainer label above it). But he also earned a sticker for the Na'vi River Journey (a sitting shaman). I forgot what the silver atokirina is that he also had on there.
Also many different types of staff are here; ACE staff wear plain blue shirts with maroon pants. People with Hawaiin-type-print blue shirts are "expats" and live on Pandora. People in all white work in sanitation, guides have on safari-type clothing and finally the Satu'li Canteen staff wear tan and maroon.
Now this is fun to know but also important to maximize your experience here. This is especially useful if you plan on being a trading card collector! Right now, they don't all have cards, but each type of staff member (excluding Satu'li Canteen for sanitation reasons) carries different cards. These are STAFF EXCLUSIVE and cannot be bought! They have silver coloration on them. I managed to get six when I was here, but I think it's unusual as a staff member was carrying five and traded me them all, but the lady in sanitation who traded her card said she never heard of a group having more than one! So I got really blessed/lucky!
(Counting my cards, I have 67 of the 90 you can get. And I have 22 repeat cards I'm more than willing to trade!
There is also a drum team here. Of the two guys, one is an expat and the other came with his family to Pandora. The energetic girl who does most of the jumping around, drumming away, calls herself a "wild child" who was born on Pandora.
Speaking music, the ambient music played around the businesses is something else I want to mention! There is a relaxing 40-minute loop of music played in Satu'li Canteen that is just amazing to sit and listen to. It is not just instrumental but includes some lyrical parts in Na'vi and sounds like it belongs in Avatar itself. It is PERFECT for submersion and enjoyment in Pandora. One of the Satu'li Canteen staff told me if I stand between the Canteen and Pongu Pongu (which serves refreshing drinks), the music there is different but seems to match the music played there. You can also hear this music while waiting in line for Na'vi River Journey, along with the jungle sounds that are EVERYWHERE.
Also, one of the ladies told me about #ExplorePandora
... If you type this into Facebook Messenger you will be connected to Dr. Fitsimti Buckley. This is more for kids but could be fun to do nonethless because it's a mini quest/hunt for various things. She sends you pictures and you find those plants or animals and she will tell you a bit about them and compare them to Earth counterparts. Be advised this does not work at all if you're not in Pandora and connected to their wifi. However, she is a bot and is somewhat glitchy, and I never actually received the pictures she was sending.
I didn't leave until the last possible minute; somewhere around 1:30 or 2 am. I stopped into guest relations on the way put and gave them an absolute stellar review, naming at least four staff members who were just fantastic. They needed it, after what they must've put up with after the rides broke down. So guest relations said I made their day, and I let them know when AvatarMeet was planning to come!! I'm going to see what they can do for the big fans!!
Lastly, I did do a custom Avatar doll at Windtrader's. I really like her, though at some point I'm probably going to send her off to someone for a more realistic, and less cartoon-y paint job. You also get to keep a cool "Avatar maker" card they give you as your wait ticket. It's a nice little souvenir!
Wow so that is a lot! I didn't cover everything either. The rides were so amazing i their own way, I rode Flight of Passage 4 times the first day and twice the second; and River Journey three times the first day and two the second time. A must experience, without going into details. I'll leave you with this: no matter how many pictures you see, seeing it in person is just overwhelming. You can't get the same feelings from pictures, and you'll never forget Flight of Passage. So this place is a MUST for any Avatar fan to visit! I will definitely be returning!!
Now for pictures! m.facebook.com/angela.dunne.50…