David Roark/Disney
Carlye Wisel
May 30, 2017

If you aren’t already excited for Pandora — The World of Avatar, prepare to be blown away.

The Avatar-inspired land borders on a life-changing experience that will leave you speechless, and can’t be missed on your next Disney vacation. This extraordinary expansion to Disney Animal Kingdom brings with it a smattering of bizarre eats, astonishing Instagrams and what very well may be the best ride at Walt Disney World, but it helps to get the lay of the land before entering.

Follow our expert tips for the best seats on Pandora’s two groundbreaking attractions, essential must-haves for your visit and why you may not want a Avatar Flight of Passage Fastpass after all:

Forget everything you know about FastPass.

There’s no question about it — Flight of Passage has secured its spot as one of Walt Disney World’s best attractions — but nabbing a FastPass to skip the line is a double-edged sword. You’ll cut your wait time down significantly but also miss so much of the robust queue, including one of the best photo opportunities in the park: a full-sized Avatar within the laboratory scene. If you are lucky enough to secure a FastPass+, consider riding again in the standby line for the full immersive experience.

Make use of the free WiFi.

Cell service is rather nonexistent within Na’vi River Journey and Flight of Passage’s cave-like queues. Be sure to utilize Walt Disney World’s complimentary wireless, which is essential for staying connected while waiting to board.

Upgrade your Avatar linking experience.

Flight of Passage is a multi sensory adventure unlike any other Disney attraction, but there are little ways to enhance your journey even more. Keep your legs squeezed around the ride vehicle as though you’re on a horse to get the full effect of piloting your avatar on a banshee’s back, and whatever you do, wear contacts — the goggles are a bit oversized and a tough fit over glasses.

Preston Mack/Disney

Nab the best photo of Pandora’s Shaman of Songs.

The advanced audio-animatronic within the Na’vi River Journey attraction is a sight to behold — that is, unless you’re seeing it from between other passenger’s phones. The impressive native appears on the right side of the river, so be the first to board the first row for picture-perfect Instagrams.

Ask as many questions as you can.

The plant life and biology of Pandora is otherworldly, but it all goes much deeper than you’d expect. If you’re curious about the handicrafts or wondering what those big blue orbs are, inquire with one of the many guides stationed throughout the park. It sounds a little “teacher’s pet," but you’ll be able to understand the strange mix of flora and fauna much better once you know the backstory.

Prioritize bathrooms over banshees.

Flight of Passage’s hyper-detailed standby queue is easily Walt Disney World’s most impressive, but also its longest. With multiple spaces and switchbacks, it’s rumored to have the capacity of a five hour-long line, but with no restrooms along the way and only one water fountain, it’s essential to make a pit-stop before getting in line.

Carlye Wisel

Don’t hold off ’til nightfall to see it glow.

If you’re hyped on seeing Pandora’s famed bioluminescence, Na’Vi River Journey is truly your best bet. The land glows at night, but it’s more of a blacklight effect, while the River Journey attraction gives the full effect of those eye-popping Avatar scenes, complete with floating Eywa woodsprites and spiral helicoradians.

Be sure you board the correct ride.

You will truly feel like you’re on another planet once you enter Pandora, and one detail essential to that immersion are the attractions, which have minimal name signage. Know that Na’Vi River Journey, the family-friendly boat ride, is closer to the entrance bridge, while Flight of Passage’s thrills begin underneath the floating mountains.

Enjoy a taste of something unbelievable.

Colored beer, sugary sweet slushies, cheeseburger pods — no matter what you choose, you’ll have indulged in a crazy new edible addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Satu’li Canteen restaurant offers plenty of strange items to snack on, but if you don’t have enough time for a full meal, hit Pongu Pongu for lumpia, a creamy sugar-dusted pineapple spring roll.

Get nauseous easily? Go in with a game plan.

Flight of Passage features intense flight simulation, but is seamlessly executed and may only cause a physical reaction for those with extreme motion sickness issues. Ask to ride on the first floor if you’re concerned, which will soften the flight sensation, and if you feel dizzy afterwards, the fridge inside Windtraders gift shop at the ride’s exit is stocked with ginger ale.

Bank on gathering social media gold.

Don’t worry about lugging a DSLR to Orlando to get the perfect shot of Pandora. The colors are so vibrant and landscape so detailed that even a smartphone snap will show its overwhelming beauty.

It’s all too easy to miss Pandora’s best souvenir.

With so much for sale within the gift shop, you may not realize that visitors to Pandora can actually get an Avatar made in their likeness. The ACE Avatar Maker scans each participant’s face to make an action figure-sized creation that shares similar features, but also lets them choose their own body type, hairstyles and face markings. It’s not just a 3D printer popping them out, either; the entire experience is akin to a show, with a final reveal that’s wildly exciting.

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