Pandora: World of Avatar Overview

Disclosure: I attend an all expenses paid media trip to Walt Disney World and part of that trip was a sneak peek tour of Pandora. All opinions are my own.

When I first saw the itinerary for the media event I was going to be attending with Walt Disney World, I may have squealed a little when I saw we were to be spending time in Pandora before it was open to the public. A new space? With hardly any people in it? Heck yes!

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Something to keep in mind as your tour this area, is that it is supposed to take place many years after the movie, and now humans are allowed to come to Pandora. Look carefully for nods to the movie, it’s fun to pick things out!

Our tour was on a Monday morning, and we were running a little late so we were ushered straight to the Flights of Passage Ride.

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But not before getting a couple of quick photos as we crossed the bridge and went into the World of Pandora. This guy behind me was really fun. If you touched him in the spot right above my head, he started to steam and make noise. So interactive and fun!

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I didn’t have a ton of time to stop and explore the que since the ride was only going to be available for a few more minutes, but all I can say is details, details, details! There is just SO much to see!

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Flights of passage is awesome in a word. I was a little nervous not knowing what to expect, and it far exceeded my expectations. We went into a series of rooms where we were given instructions and backstory via cast members and video screen, and one part was interactive and fun!

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You are given a number to stand on, and it lines up with the banshee you will be riding in the last room. There is a space to store purses, backpacks, etc. and then you get on the ride. A back restraint and leg restraints come up, and then the four and a half minute journey begins. I don’t want to give too much away, but it is breathtaking, vivid, and intense all at the same time. Please note if you are prone to motion sickness, you may want to be careful with this one. I had to shut my eyes a couple of times for a brief moment as to not get sick, but then I was ok. Totally worth it by the way.

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After Flights of Passage we rode the Na’vi River Journey, which is fun for the whole family. It’s a leisurely boat ride down the “river”, and there are beautiful things to look at on all sides. I will say after going right off of Flights of Passage this ride was way less thrilling, but I’m glad Disney decided to put in something mild that little kids and those that don’t like intense rides can enjoy.

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The Shaman at the end was very impressive, but the rest of the ride didn’t wow me.

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Before getting off the boat at the end of the River Journey.

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After you ride this ride, you are let out into the gift shop called Windtraders. Something I noticed right away was that there are no signs of Mickey Mouse anywhere. This shop is totally Pandora themed, with no sign of autograph books or Donald Duck hats anywhere, which I loved. You could bead a necklace, buy some Avatar ears, or even adopt a Banshee which is a super cute process you go through at the store.

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I showed lots of restraint and didn’t buy anything at the store, but I loved this floating mountains mug. anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for Disney mugs.

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Outside of the store, I did more looking/staring in awe at the gorgeous landscaping and floating mountains. I just couldn’t get enough!

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I wandered over to the counter service location which has a nice covered outdoor seating area. The menu looks really good and I’m dying to get back and try it.

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Right outside of the gift shop and next to the counter service location you will find a cute little stand called Pongu Pongu where you can order drinks or a snack. It was a little too early for alcohol, but the Night Blossom (non alcoholic) looked pretty and I just had to try it.

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The drink comes with passion fruit bobas on top, but I asked for half and half with strawberry so I could try them out as well.

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Verdict on the drink: it was very refreshing, but also really sweet and tart. I couldn’t finish mine, but can definitely see the advantage of having one on a hot Florida day. Plus, who am I kidding, bobas are fun to eat.

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There is an overlook area that is higher than the rest of Pandora, and you can get some great panoramic shots. (Be sure to look for the photopass photographers in this area) Also, watch out for “things” that may spit water on you in this area!

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I did my best to just try and soak everything in, because I knew I would never see Pandora this empty again. I was there for over an hour and a half, and I know I still didn’t see everything there is to see!

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Oh, another cool thing, be sure to talk with some cast members. They stay in character and will tell you about how they came to Pandora form earth. Be sure to check out their name tags, too. Seriously, Disney thought of everything.

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I really enjoyed my brief time in this new land, and can’t wait to go back with my family when it’s open to the public. Even if the movie wasn’t your thing and you don’t like rides, it’s totally worth it to take a walk through this area and see the amazing things Disney created for it’s guests. No detail was spared, and they really have upped their game as far as creating a truly immersive experience as a part of your vacation. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

QOTD: Thoughts on Pandora? Do you plan to visit?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 3

I left off part 2 with us going to bed Thursday night. Friday morning, my dad and I drove to Tampa to look at homes with the realtor while my mom stayed behind with Emma Kate. They went to Disney Springs for the morning while we were gone, and then the playground after nap.

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Dad and I also looked at a couple daycares and found one I loved. I found a house that we ended up putting in an offer on that evening, and after stopping at the grocery store in Celebration and then picking up pizza, we headed to the pool and met up with my mom and EK.. Eating pizza at the splash pad area while EK played was a nice relaxing time, especially after a crazy day house hunting. (there may have been wine involved, too. Ssshhh)

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On Saturday we got up early and headed to Animal Kingdom. EK loves animals, so I was excited to take her on the safari ride in particular. We had fastpasses and headed there first thing. It was a cool morning so the animals were all out and about and active. We even got to hear the male lion roar which I had never heard before.

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After that we walked through some of the zoo like areas, and then headed to the boneyard playground where we stayed for over an hour. I loved that it was closed in so I didn’t have to worry about Emma Kate running off.

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Girlfriend must have gone down the slides 100 times.

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We waited for lunch at Flame Tree BBQ and ate down by the water. We also rode triceratop spin and I really can’t remember what else.

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Emma Kate was getting super tired and so we decided to head back to the resort after lunch so she could get in a good nap.

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During nap my dad and I walked around the resort and even went to the hot tub for a little while.

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We had chef Mickey’s brunch reservations at 2:30, so we loaded up and headed to the contemporary for a late lunch/early dinner. I was so curious to see how Emma Kate would do with the fab five after doing just so-so with the Winnie the Pooh characters.

Stay tuned for next time to see how brunch went with Mickey and the gang!

QOTD: Favorite thing to do at Animal Kingdom?

February 2014 Disney Trip Recap: Part 2

We left off part one of my recap on Saturday night after eating at Trail’s End Buffet. The next morning, I was up at 2:45 for the runDisney Princess half marathon.  I ran the race, Bobby met me at the finish, and we went back to the resort so I could shower and eat. I was feeling a little better this day, so instead of napping we all headed to Animal Kingdom.

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We did a Bug’s Life, and Bobby did Everest. We happened to be walking by right before the Flights of Wonder show started. They were doing a fun pre show with some of  the birds and Bobby was a volunteer.

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We watched the show after and really loved it. Those birds can do some cool things! If you have never seen it I highly recommend it.

We had lunch at my favorite, Flame Tree BBQ, and then headed back to the resort (and THEN I took a nap!) That night we had dinner at California Grill. I was so looking forward to it and was bummed that I started feeling crappy and sick. We had a great view, but I just felt bleh the whole dinner.

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Mom and dad wanted to take the monorail to the Grand Floridian and walk around after dinner, but I was ready for bed so Bobby and I took a cab back to the resort. I was SO glad the next day I didn’t have to wake up early and maybe would be able to make it through the day at the Magic Kingdom!

On our last day, we went to the Magic Kingdom.

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We introduced my parents to Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. I’m not sure my dad got it ha.

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We may have had Dole Whips at 10:00 in the morning.

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We had fastpasses for Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan, and the guys rode Big Thunder Mountain.

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They crack me up.

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We had fastpasses for lunch at Be Our Guest, and then we headed back to the resort for a nap, then we wandered around the Boardwalk and the boys got into trouble.

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That night, we walked over to the Beach Club for dinner at Beaches ‘n Cream. My parents had never been there, so it was a fun experience. We all split burgers so we would have room for dessert.

We split burgers AND all four shared this thing. We barely finished it. I have no idea how people eat one all by themselves.

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The next morning we took Magical Express back to the airport, and just like that our trip was over. There were some really fun moments, but I was also really bummed at how sick and tired I felt most of the time. It was really hard to just have fun and enjoy everything, and after all those months of planning I was bummed at the timing. Oh well, just means we have to go back again!

QOTD: Do you order dessert on vacation? Have you played Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom?

#DisneySportsFestival Day 1

When I was in Disney World for the Disney Sports Festival, I learned about a lot of things I didn’t know that were going on while I was in the parks with my family enjoying a typical trip.

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There are SO many sporting events, parties and the like that they have a whole calendar dedicated to sports! I was lucky to get to experience first hand some of these events while also learning about other offerings at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

On Sunday, the first day of the media meet up, we were invited to tag along at the opening party for the International Cup youth soccer tournament.

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Me and Jen on the bus

(More about this tournament to come on my blog!) The party was held at Animal Kingdom park on Sunday night. There was SO much excitement in the air as soccer teams from all over the world, dressed in their teams’ colors, ran around singing and laughing.

There was a buffet inside one of the restaurants, and I helped myself to the food and cotton candy for dessert!

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We went outside and discovered we could get free ice cream from the ice cream cart. This seriously made my night. It was the best dessert I had all week!

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Jen, Meghann, Kelly, and me

Dinoland was open, so we rode a couple of rides and played some of the carnival games. It was a blast!

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At about 11:00, we decided to head back. As we were walking through the park, my shoe broke! So I had to walk through Animal Kingdom and the parking area barefoot. Klassy with a K. Not my finest moment, but what can you do? Sadly, my shoes went in the trash.

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We had a great time and it got me excited for the next day when we would be touring the Sports Complex!

QOTD: Have your shoes even broken in public?

Disclosure: I attended this event as a media guest for Disney Sports. My flight, accommodations, park tickets, and meals were supplied by Disney, but my opinions are my own. 

 

 

Disney Cruise and Vacation: Part 6

 

Hi guys! Well, we are still here! It’s still raining here, still very windy. I posted several videos of the storm on my You Tube channel if you want to check them out.  It’s been a tedious few days, and the big news from yesterday is my flight got cancelled for tomorrow, so we are now having to fly out of Pensacola with a  stop in Atlanta. I know this is nothing compared to what other people are facing today with flooded homes, but not going to lie it frustrated me yesterday. In case you have no idea what’s going on down here I suggest you check out weather.com….lots of people have flooded or washed away homes, it’s bad down here. Again. 7 years to the day after Katrina. My family has been very lucky, and we are blessed to have a home with no water in it, and no major wind damage.

I remembered I still haven’t finished recapping my May cruise/trip to Disney, so I thought it would help me pass the time by remembering and posting about the fun time we had this spring! Well, until I got sick, but more on that later.

Where I left off, we were getting off the Disney Magic to start the “land” part of our vacation.

When we got off the boat, we got in our car and didn’t have to be sad, we were heading to WDW, and my parents were joining us there the next day. We drove straight to our resort, the Grand Floridian, to check in. It was early in the morning, and our room wasn’t ready yet. We grabbed some snacks from the lounge and headed back out to Animal Kingdom.

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We headed straight for Expedition Everest so Bobby could jump in the single rider line. He rode it twice very quickly….and then it started to rain, I mean POUR! We ran into the shop, and huddled in with hundreds of others for a good 20-30 minutes until it passed. I had not even thought to bring our ponchos. Whoops. Pretty sure we did the safari ride, walked through and saw some animals on the jungle trek, and did It’s Tough to Be a Bug. Even after eating non stop for 5 days on a cruise, my stomach had the nerve to growl and so we headed to lunch at Flame Tree BBQ. We ate down at a kind of “hidden” deck over the water that has a great view of Expedition Everest.

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While we were at lunch, we got the text message with our room number in it. I was itching to get back because I KNOW that room number and knew what room we were in, but Bobby wanted to stay longer at Animal Kingdom, so we wandered around a bit more, saw Festival of the Lion King, and then finally decided to head out.

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Bobby felt bad using a one day ticket for just a few hours (I have an annual pass) but I assured him it was ok. We had several one day base tickets leftover from packages years ago we needed to use anyway. We excitedly went straight to our room and called for our luggage. Just as I suspected, the wonderful staff at the Grand was able to get us the room we honeymooned in five years earlier.

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The best part of course, is the view. Can you see the castle to the left in the distance below?

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We had panoramic views from the monorail to the castle (including the DVC construction)

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We headed to the lounge for tea and scones, and the best banana bread ever. It’s one of my favorite things they serve in the concierge lounge!

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We relaxed and ate, my favorite thing to do at the Grand, and then went back to our room and had a surprise from the hotel.

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It was so pretty I almost didn’t want to eat it….but I did anyway, of course. We got cleaned up and dressed for dinner, then went to the lounge to enjoy some appetizers before driving to the Yacht Club for dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse.

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By this point we WERE full, so we decided to split a meal.

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Of course, we had to have a little birthday fun. Bobby was not amused.

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We headed back to the hotel to get some sleep before my parents arrived in the morning!

QOTD: Do you like having your birthday celebrated at restaurants, etc. or do you not like the fuss?