Monday 15 May 2017 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Today is the day for my Passholder Preview of Pandora–The World of Avatar.
My assigned admittance window is between noon and 2 pm. At 9:07 am, the parking lot tram is whisking me to the park entrance.
Oasis flamingoes are indifferent to Pandora sneak peeks.
I proceed to Harambe where I find that the standby wait time for Kilimanjaro Safaris is posted as 65 minutes. No FastPasses are available, so why not? From entering the queue to arriving at the boarding area is more like 50 minutes.
The name of our safari guide and driver is Goose, if I have heard correctly. And I have heard him say it two times when I thank him at the end of our expedition. I can’t see his name badge so I have no idea how he spells it. When I say “Thanks, Goose,” his eyes betray no shock, surprise, or offense–so I guess I’m saying it right. Anyway, he’s a good safari leader. Very clear diction and no annoyingly affected inflections.
On the way back into Harambe, this gorilla displays an indifference equal to that of the flamingo earlier.
My plan is to have lunch within Pandora at their eatery but at 11 or so I am going to have to have something now as I skipped breakfast before leaving the apartment. So I enjoy an “accompaniment” of Tomato Basil Soup (enhanced with extra crackers) in the conditioned air of Pizzafari. This is the first time I’ve had this and it’s pretty good.
From my table I look out to view the line that is forming outside for entry into the new land.
Once souped up, I go out and take a closer look at the line-up. These people are still quite a way from the bridge that leads into Pandora.
Moving a bit further up, you can just make out one of the famous Floating Mountains looming in the distance.
With about 45 minutes still ahead before my scheduled entry time, a stroll through a shop sounds like a good idea. It’s really warming up and it’s always cool in the shops.
Island Mercantile, where time, I discover at 11:24 am, means basically nothing…
…and where someone has been known to gnaw.
Better flee from the butterfly.
Exit from the store is effected successfully, which means that no purchase has been made.
At 12:07 I am finally at the threshold of the Valley of Mo’ara.
Apparently I am seen.
Don’t ask me, I’ve never been here before.
Without knowing what anything is, I love the Flora of Pandora.
This looks like it could be the start of a beautiful friendship with a salad… provided it doesn’t contain something that’s going to eat me.
Just as they do in the Sistine Chapel, I imagine that the majority of earthlings will wander around here looking up most of the time.
Of course there is also fauna in Pandora.
I obligingly flail a bit and sure enough, these hungry animals try to hunt me (although I am hardly small and definitely not flying) with their hydro-jets. Unfortunately I do not get wet.
Back to flora and floating mountains.
Uh-Oh! Look, there’s a banshee! (The Na’vi call it an ikran, but nobody wants to hear earthlings trying to say that all day.)
Which must mean that it’s time for my Avatar Flight of Passage. For I am destined to
“Fly on the back of a mountain banshee during an exhilarating, 3D ride above this vast moon”
Which I do. Now there’s no photography permitted during this experience and I obey. But I can tell you that a whole lot of the queue is outdoors and uncovered and uphill. I’m in it around 1 pm and trust me, you want to do this early in the morning or later on in the evening.
After that, there’s plenty of cooler, indoor queue as well. And prior to the actual flight, there’s plenty of explanatory folderol. We have to be scanned for parasites, for starters. And of course we’re full of them. So, like one had to do for Body Wars back in the day, one must be decontaminated.
As we proceed from one stage of the foreplay to the next, we are repeatedly admonished to stand on the same number on the floor that we were originally assigned. But when we get to the actual boarding location we are directed to completely different numbers. Okay, just follow the Cast Member.
We stow all our gear on the provided shelves before we can mount our Pandora Harley-like steeds
and get physionically–that’s right: physionically–linked to our Avatars. (Don’t ask–it will all be explicated to you in excruciating detail when you experience your rite of passage).
As soon as I straddle my saddle satisfactorily, the promised locks move in on my back and legs so that I won’t be able to escape before mind-melding begins. During this process, my back and frontal midsection are periodically treated to mild vibrations and I can watch on the console in front of me charming images of myself and my Avatar getting physionically linked. Oh brother.
The procedure is clearly designed to take up only a few seconds, but on this occasion it’s being repeated, over and over, for what I’m thinking has to be at least four minutes. At least this gives me time to make several attempts to wipe clear the right side of my 3D glasses which is annoyingly smudged.
Finally the physionics kick in and we all get successfully linkulated and we plunge into our flight. Now this is quite exhilarating and the sights and sounds are truly beautiful, even to someone who has only viewed a few scenes from the movie on television. Combine your Soarin’ and your Star Tours and ramp it all up several notches and you’ve got an idea of the effect.
During my flight I am wondering why there is a kind of rhythmic swelling and contraction of the part of the “vehicle” that I feel between my knees. Eventually it dawns on me that my Avatar is riding a banshee, and presumably the banshee breathes, and I can feel it, thanks to being physionically linked. That’s my conclusion, anyway.
Unfortunately we only get to fly once as part of the Passholder Preview, but it’s a great experience and it’s going to keep this part of the park mobbed for a very long while beginning the 27 March when opened to the general public.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that turns out to be so. But for the sake of the guests, my fingers are crossed.
Following my rite of passage it’s almost 2 pm and time for a passage to lunch at Satu’li Canteen.
I like it, and hope that the menu doesn’t freak too many people out and cause Disney to dumb it down to NaviBurgers and AvaFries.
How I create my own Satu’li Bowl today:
Behold the result:
After my delicious lunch strolling about in the relentless sun of the Florida solar system proves unbearable. Time to chill on the Na’vi River Journey. No restriction on how many times we can cruise, so I do so once just to relax and check it out, and a second time to invite you to do as they say and
enjoy the bioluminescence.
A look back as I exit the World of Avatar
and retreat to the Nomad Lounge for my
Cheers! It will be a long time before I get to experience the River Journey and the Flight again, but I will probably visit to observe the teeming masses.