6 Tricks to Save Money, Time, and Energy at Disney's Pandora

by  Christine Dayao | Updated on Feb 10, 2022
Na'vi River Journey at Pandora
Na'vi River Journey at Pandora / Steven Diaz/Walt Disney World

Want to feel like you're stepping right into one of the highest-grossing films of all time? Inspired by the 2009 blockbuster film AvatarPandora – The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom is set on a planet 4.4 light years away. Six years in the making, it marks the park's largest expansion since its opening more than 20 years ago, and though it has only two rides, don't let these 12 acres fool you: it can easily take up at least two or three hours. Here's how you can tackle it.

Pandora - The World of Avatar / Christine Dayao

1. Get there early.

One of our biggest time savers when visiting a Disney park is getting to the gate early (at least 45 to 60 minutes prior to opening), and this is especially important for Pandora. Wait times for both of the land's attractions – which include a simulator ride called Flight of Passage and Na'vi River Journey, a boat ride through a bioluminescent rainforest – are often among the highest of the resort's attractions. Make a beeline to this area of the park and you can significantly cut down your wait time. Plus, those staying at select Walt Disney World resorts can get early entry into the parks on some days. Those at deluxe hotels can take advantage of extended evening hours on some nights.

2. Use Genie+.

In late 2021, Disney introduced a system called Genie+ that allows you to choose the next available time to arrive at select attractions and experiences using the Lightning Lane entrance, one at a time. The paid service starts at $15 per person, per day and can cut down your attraction wait time. Access to Na'vi River Journey is included in that price, but you'll have to pay a few extra dollars for Flight of Passage since Disney made this an individual Lightning Lane option.

Pandora - The World of Avatar at night / Christine Dayao

3. Come back at night.

Flight of Passage and Na'vi River Journey may be the two biggest draws in Pandora, but the land itself can easily be counted as a third. Featuring floating mountains plucked straight from the movie, serene creeks and waterfalls, as well as vibrant and lush plants and landscaping, the area touts Insta-worthy views at every turn. (Don't forget to keep your ears tuned up for the sounds of Pandora's creatures, which change throughout the day.) At night, there's a completely different experience as the entire land gets a bioluminescent transformation: the plants and ground glow with hues of blue, green, turquoise, yellow, and purple. 

4. Try before you fly.

Flight of Passage has quickly become one of the park's most popular attractions. Here, guests take a simulated ride on the back of a flying banshee, soaring past mountains, through the jungle, and above other Pandoran wildlife. Due to the nature of the ride, the seat is similar to that of a motorcycle, for which you'll have to lean forward in order for the restraints to lock into place; make sure you're comfortable with it by trying out the test seat located outside the attraction.

Blueberry cream cheese mousse / Christine Dayao

5. Plan for a budget-friendly meal.

Thought you'd take a trip to Pandora and have to settle for normal theme park food? Think again. This section of Disney's Animal Kingdom has one quick-service restaurant, Satu'li Canteen, serving lunch and dinner. Entrees here are all $18 and under – plus, they're served with real dishware and utensils. For lunch and dinner, choose from dishes like rice bowls served with beef, chicken, fish, or tofu alongside veggie slaw and boba balls (from $12.99). Top the meal off with one of Satu'li's two specialty desserts; our favorite is the blueberry cream cheese mousse with passion fruit curd ($5.79).

When you're looking for something tasty in between meals, head to Pongu Pongu, a snack stand that serves a sweet spring roll with cream cheese and pineapple filling ($3.79) and an assortment of beverages, including the Night Blossom ($5.99) – a tart, colorful concoction with hints of apple and pear, sprinkled with passion fruit boba.

6. Save time with mobile food ordering.

Say goodbye to waiting in long food lines. When dining at Satu'li Canteen, you can place your order through the My Disney Experience app even before getting to the restaurant. From your smartphone, you'll be able to customize your order and pre-pay for the meal; once you're ready to dine, select the option that notifies the restaurant to start preparing your food. As soon as your order is ready, you'll be given an alert that prompts you to pick up your meal.



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