The website has provided quite a bit of coverage of the opening of Pandora – World of Avatar, but I thought it would be prudent to update on how things are going operationally. As a reminder, here’s past correspondence:
- A review of the major quick service, Satu’li Canteen.
- A review of the boat ride, Na’vi River Journey.
- Pictures around Pandora.
- Pongu Pongu, the takeaway bar.
- Avatar Flight of Passage review, queue photos, and strategy.
- A followup review of Satu’li Canteen covering the items not previously reviewed, including the Tofu Bowl and Curry Bao.
- 140 pictures of merchandise in the Windtraders store pus some sass.
- Pandora World of Avatar Overarching Review.
- Pandora Rope Drop Touring Does Not Go Well.
- Pandora Rope Drop Touring Strategy That Goes Well.
- Part 2 Also Goes Well.
The news is all good. After the opening weekend, Pandora has not closed to capacity during the day at any point. And over the last eight days, neither Avatar Flight of Passage or Na’vi River Journey have closed to capacity in the late hours.
Here’s a look at Avatar Flight of Passage wait times in June:
We can glean a couple of things from this chart. First, wait times continue to drop with average waits for the day falling much closer to 100 minutes than 150 minutes over the last week.
Waits are among the lowest of the day during the heart of the afternoon. This may seem illogical on first blush, but it seems likely that 2pm – 4pm is a lull in between the early risers exiting and those going to the Park for the nighttime festivities arriving. If you’d like to experience the ride, couldn’t get FastPass+, and can’t stay late, then you may want to get in line during the heat of the day. The line should be short enough that the wait is all inside and air-conditioned, while those arriving around 9am will enjoy the worst of the morning humidity in the extended queue outdoors.
From the rope drop strategy posts linked above, we know that a short wait is possible with a very early arrival, but those that arrive at open or anytime after for a couple of hours are going to wait longer than anyone else later in the day. This is probably because a lot of people think “8:30am is early enough” and want to visit Pandora first thing. It’s not. And you don’t.
It’s also interesting that Sundays are now the best day of the week to visit Animal Kingdom with the lowest crowds and shortest waits. I would have expected local visitors to prop up attendance on both weekend days, but Silver Pass, Weekday Select Pass, and Seasonal Annual Passholders are blocked out through August 11th. Saturdays may be a bit busier with the morning Extra Magic Hour, but it’s the worst day of the week to visit in terms of crowds and waits.
It will be interesting to see if Disney makes changes to blockout dates in the future given how much crowd flow has changed. June is now dead while October is incredibly crowded, particularly on the weekends.
Speaking of Extra Magic Hours, those with the ability to arrive by 6:30am can experience both Pandora rides during the morning Extra Magic Hour. Evening Extra Magic Hours are better for Na’vi River Journey, but it’s another opportunity to experience Flight of Passage with actual waits closer to 50-75 minutes. You may still want to get in line for the ride an hour before evening Extra Magic Hours end to guarantee a ride. Capacity closures can still happen and probably will once crowds increase heading into the fall. If you’re back out in front of the ride before Extra Magic Hours end and standby is still open, you can then enjoy a second ride with the lowest possible wait.
Let’s take a look at Na’vi River Journey:
The pattern here is a bit different. River Journey is a lower morning priority because virtually everyone is headed to Flight of Passage.
So if you are able to secure FastPass+ for Flight of Passage and don’t want to deal with the crowd pictured above, then you can very easily hang back and still experience Na’vi River Journey in standby with limited hassle. The rest of your morning should go even better than it would have prior to Pandora opening with so many people heading to the alien moon first thing.
We do see a similar dip in afternoon wait times at River Journey, but it’s not quite as substantial as Flight of Passage. And with more opportunity to ride early or late, you may not want to wait in a 60+ minute line here in the afternoon given that the queue is 98.2% outdoors and there isn’t a whole lot to look at. During the last hour of evening Extra Magic Hours, the ride should basically be a walk-on most nights.
Fortunately, we haven’t seen a recurrence of whatever the problem was with the fire alarms causing both rides to evacuate on June 8th and 9th, but the animatronic shaman did stop working on the 16th and 17th, causing several hours of downtime each day.
So at least at the moment, Pandora is wide open all day and night, though we may see capacity closures return closer to July 4th and then in the fall when earlier closing times will allow more people to stay after dark. You may still want to be inside Pandora three hours before close, just in case. Satu’li Canteen is a good spot to have dinner, particularly when mobile order removes the hassle of waiting in line.
I’ll continue to keep my ear to the ground or whatever the saying is for paying attention to Pandora crowds and wait times.