5 Tips for Slackers Visiting Pandora at Disney World

If there are no Pandora Fast Passes available for your Disney World vacation, don’t worry. Here’s a strategy for riding BOTH Na’vi River Journey and Flight of Passage in 2 hours!

“Did you book your FastPass+ yet?” My sister-in-law asked this question every time we talked about our upcoming trip to Walt Disney World. “Nope. I’ll get to it,” was my standard reply. When I finally opened the My Disney Experience app (while riding on the Magical Express from the airport to the Animal Kingdom Lodge), there was no availability for any of the popular rides, including Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey in the new Pandora – The World of AVATAR.

When visiting Pandora without a FastPass, be sure to catch the Tree of Life Awakening in Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Watching the Tree of Life is a popular nighttime activity in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Photo: Cathy Bennett Kopf/The Open Suitcase LLC

Oops.

No worries, I thought. I’ll just ride the carousel in Magic Kingdom over and over and over again.

Not!

But what’s a girl without a FastPass+ to do?

Well, it turns out it’s easier than you think.

Here are 5 Tips for Visiting Pandora – The World of AVATAR.

  1. Head to Animal Kingdom 2 Hours Before Park Closing
  2. Ride Na’vi River Journey First
  3. Take a Bathroom Break
  4. Get on Line for Flight of Passage
  5. Linger in Awe

1. Head to Animal Kingdom 1 Hour Before Closing

I recommend going to Animal Kingdom 1 hour before the park closes at night. I originally planned to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours available to Disney resort guests and arrive for the rope drop at 8 a.m..

The disadvantage to that strategy was that, while I would be riding the first Pandora ride, hundreds of people would be pouring into the park. Instead, I got there at 8 p.m., one hour before the scheduled closing at 9 p.m. At night, people are leaving the park, not coming in. Unless you’re me.

Park opening and closing hours vary; check the My Disney Experience app for details.

2. Ride Na’vi River Journey First

Walking from the front entrance to Na’vi River Journey, I had to keep reminding myself to close my mouth. Pandora is a luminescent feast for the eyes after dark. A massive mountain floats above you and hundreds of illuminated fantasy plants dot the landscape. Ooh. Aah. Move on. You can take your pictures later.

Visiting Pandora without a FastPass is no problem if you arrive near closing to see the Shaman of Song.

Traveling through the Valley of Mo’ara, Disney guests meet the beautiful Shaman of Song. Photo: Cathy Bennett Kopf/The Open Suitcase LLC.

If you’re lucky, the line will move very quickly, as it did for me. Take advantage of the convenient water bottle fillers and hydrate while you can. Then climb aboard your reed boat and drift through the Valley of Mo’ara. The ride is crafted with pure Disney genius. I was blown away.

3. Take a Bathroom Break

Take a minute to head to the restroom. You have time. It was 8:30 when I exited Na’vi River Journey and the park was scheduled to close at 9. The young lady standing at the entrance to Flight of Passage said that guests just need to be on line before closing time. They won’t kick you off line and close the park..

Alternatively, if you’re there with a friend, get on line and take turns going to the bathroom. Other guests were very polite about letting people in and out of the queue for bathroom and cocktail breaks. Question for frequent Disney visitors – when did Disney World become a cocktail lounge? When my kids were little, there wasn’t public drinking. In fact, I think the only park that permitted alcohol was Epcot. Am I making this up?

4. Get on Line for Flight of Passage

Visiting Pandora at Disney World without a FastPass is no problem and one thing not to miss is the floating Na'vi on Flight of Passage.

This floating Na’vi is massive – my guess is about 10′ tall! Photo: Patty Holliday/My No-Guilt Life

And be prepared to wait. And wait. During the day, the wait time for Flight of Passage hovered in and around 185 minutes. For you non-math folks, that’s over 3 hours!!! I waited one hour at night. It was comfortable while the line was outside. But I don’t think the a/c was functioning well inside the research facility. It got stuffy quickly. Fortunately, the line kept moving and getting up close and personal with a full size floating avatar was one of those Disney “oh wow!” moments worth waiting for.

My Disney Experience screenshot with waiting times at Animal Kingdom, a handy tool when visiting Pandora.

The My Disney Experience app has a handy feature that lets you see the wait times for attractions at the parks. Photo: Cathy Bennett Kopf/The Open Suitcase

And then there was the ride. It’s super. You may cry. That’s all I’ll say ’bout that. No spoilers here. Is it worth waiting 3 hours for? In my book, nothing is. A one hour wait seemed like the perfect cost-reward ratio.

5. Linger in Awe

Now’s the time to check out the Pandora landscape as you exit the park. Attendants are positioned to funnel you to the exit, but no one was hurrying me out. And, without crowds, you can stand around and gape at the bioluminescent displays. It’s surreal. The one disadvantage to visiting right before closing is that I didn’t get a chance to see what Pandora looks like during the day. Luckily, fellow TravelingMom Cindy Richards took some great photos and has additional tips for visiting Pandora.

And loud. Pandora is an immersive experience. The night sounds made me totally feel like I was deep in a fantastic forest. Stumbling out into the lit plaza in front of the Tree of Life was disorienting at first. But once my eyes adjusted, I realized it was time for shopping! Disney keeps the gift shops open for the slackers.

I was back on the bus (no lines!) to the Animal Kingdom Lodge by 10 p.m.. So it’s definitely possible to ride Na’vi River Journey and Flight of Passage without waiting on line for hours in the Florida sun and humidity.If you didn't book a FastPass+ for Disney's Flight of Passage or Na'vi River Journey, relax! You can still ride these popular new attractions in Disney's Animal Kingdom without waiting on line for hours. Here's how.

Another option is available for laggards. If you’ve got deep pockets, book the Disney Ultimate Nights of Adventure VIP Tour. For $249 (guests must also have a valid park ticket), big spenders are escorted on a 4-hour tour that includes the Pandora rides, Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safari, Rivers of Light, and more. For additional information about this appealing, if expensive option, contact Disney reservation specialists (407) 939-PLAY or (407) 939-7529.

How long is too long to wait for a theme park ride?

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