Disney Shopping! Windtraders in Pandora

In Animal Kingdom’s newest land, the ubiquitous merchandise common to many stores throughout Walt Disney World is missing.  Pandora’s store, Windtraders, is packed instead with unique, land-specific souvenirs.  And while the toy Banshees were still sold out when Megan and I were there in June, there was plenty left to satisfy our desire to pick up a couple of things to take home.Windtraders in Pandora

Disney Shopping! Windtraders in Pandora

Windtraders was doing a brisk business both times we visited.  Our M.O. for souvenir shopping is usually a recon mission on the first go ’round followed by a later visit for making actual purchases.  That’s exactly what we did in Pandora.  On our first morning there, we took about 10 minutes to check out the merchandise assortment.  There was a lot to choose from even without the super-popular shoulder-Banshees!Windtraders in Pandora

Things you’d expect like shirts, caps, mugs, toys, and jewelry were plentiful and offered in quite a bit of variety.  Personalized Avatars, unusual plants, and A.C.E. (Alpha Centauri Expeditions) uniform items and accessories were also available.  We took our time on the second visit and explored every section of the store before making our selections.  Windtraders in Pandora Windtraders in Pandora Windtraders in PandoraAfter much deliberation over design choices, Megan bought a shirt.  I picked up some tee-shirts for Joseph and Lyndsey and at the last minute, I also grabbed a canister of small, plastic toy Pandora creatures.  I haven’t opened it yet, but as far as an inexpensive reminder of the very unusual aspects of this little corner of Animal Kingdom, I thought it was kinda cool.

We loved the interior of Windtraders found it tons of fun to explore.  It’s immersive, visually interesting, and the merchandise seems to be carefully curated to appeal to a wide variety of shoppers.  I’m not sure how many souvenirs from Pandora I’ll feel the need to own in the future, but Megan, Joseph and Lyndsey seem to love their shirts and we will definitely stop in Windtraders again for another look around.

Have you visited Windtraders?  What did you buy?  If you haven’t yet visited Pandora, is Windtraders on your to-do list?

Disney’s Pandora – Thoughts on Na’vi River Journey

When I’m at Walt Disney World, I talk to strangers.  Lots of times, strangers talk to me.  It’s kind of a joke in our family and after all these years, is rather expected.  I think conversations strike up easily in queues and shops and on Disney transportation because I look happy all the time when I’m at Disney World.  (In real life I’m pretty sure my usual RBF is a bit off-putting.)  No matter the reason for all the chitchat, on our last visit I asked a bunch of people what their thoughts were about Pandora and the two attractions there.  Let’s talk about Disney’s newest boat ride!

Disney’s Pandora – Thoughts on Na’vi River Journey

Pandora’s boat ride encompasses most of what you’d expect – dark, cool, bunch of clever details, animatronic figure, interesting sounds/background noises.  What it lacks is a story.  The ride is a tour of Pandora at night.  And that’s pretty much it.

When Megan and I took our one and only Na’vi River Journey, I kept pointing to all the things I recognized from Avatar (the movie).  Used to my tendencies, Meg did not complain, but politely indulged in my need to redirect her attention by back-handing her in the arm and whispering “look!” every few seconds about something I found super interesting.  She’d smile and nod.  She loves her mom a lot, I can tell.

Anyway, after the ride was over, I had the opportunity later to ask a few people here and there if they’d ridden Na’vi River Journey and what they thought about it.  I asked people in line for Festival of the Lion King, in the loooooong queue for Flight of Passage, and anyplace else I could start a friendly conversation without seeming creepy. The results of my casual poll were this:  Those who’d seen Avatar tended to like the new boat ride well enough.  Those who’d never seen Avatar mostly thought the River Journey was meh.  Here’s where the lack of a story hurts this attraction, I think.

All that being said…if you want to maximize your enjoyment of Pandora, and Na’vi River Journey in particular, try to catch Avatar before you go.  Even if you don’t care for the movie, you’ll at least be able to recognize and hopefully appreciate all the work the Imagineers put in to recreating Pandora.

Have you been to Pandora?  Did you see Avatar before you went?  Did you think being familiar with Pandora helped you enjoy it more?

Almost Time – Disney Summer Road Trip Plans

We’re calling it the “Epic Mother/Daughter Disney Summer Road Trip” and in just a few weeks, we’ll be on our way!  Packing lists are made.  FastPasses are booked.  Like all great Disney vacations, new things are in store and include quite a few Disney firsts for us.  Megan and I are more excited than I can describe and are constantly texting each other about our plans.  Speaking of plans…

Almost Time – Disney Summer Road Trip Plans

Let’s start with the firsts:  First time at Saratoga Springs, first time on the Quick Service Dining Plan, first time driving to Orlando, and (the most exciting!) first time to see Pandora!  We’ve also booked the “Caring for Giants” tour at Animal Kingdom and are looking forward to seeing the new Happily Ever After nighttime spectacular in Magic Kingdom.

Here are the plans we’ve made day-by-day…

Arrival Day:

Magic Kingdom:  We’ll get there for lunch and grab what sounds good at the time.  We have FastPasses starting right after lunch for Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Splash Mountain.  Between FastPasses, we’ll fill in with the usual favorites depending on wait times.  Those attractions are usually PeopleMover, Haunted Mansion, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Carousel of Progress, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Country Bear Jamboree.  For dinner we’ll catch the boat to Wilderness Lodge to try Geyser Point before returning to Magic Kingdom and staying for Happily Ever After.

Day Two:

Animal Kingdom as early as possible.  It would stress me out to shoot for an exact arrival time, but it will need to be early.  FastPasses start at 9:00 am with Na’vi River Journey in Pandora.  We’ll grab breakfast there at Satu’li Canteen either before or after the ride.  Then we’ll have plenty of time to explore all of Pandora at our leisure.  Our next FastPass (Expedition Everest) isn’t until early afternoon.  We’ll do the Caring For Giants tour mid-afternoon then be able to roam around Animal Kingdom at a lazy pace, eat dinner, and use our final FastPass for Rivers of Light at 9:15.

Day Three:Animal Kingdom's Kali River Rapids

Animal Kingdom again first thing.  Our FastPasses are all in the morning:  Flight of Passage, Primeval Whirl, and Kali River Rapids.  We’ll be hopping to Epcot for the afternoon – so many great quick service options for lunch in World Showcase!  Dinner that night will be at Paddlefish in Disney Springs after which we’ll call it a day.

Day Four:Entrance for Toy Story Midway ManiaWe’ll start by rope-dropping the Studios to ride Rock’n’ Roller Coaster before using our three FastPasses for Tower of Terror, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Star Tours.  The unplanned afternoon will be spent at either Magic Kingdom or Epcot before we start the first part of the long drive home that evening.

Yes, we have solid plans for much of the time, but I think we’ve allowed for plenty of free-styling along the way.  Primarily we’ll be focused on exploring Pandora since it’s new, but we’ll also be able to enjoy many of our must-dos in every park while trying a few new restaurants too.  Mother/Daughter time should include a nice mix of new experiences and old favorites while making lots of happy memories.

While we’re away, Joseph has decided he should stay at the house and keep Raymond (and Junior) company.  So while they won’t be going to Disney World, they’ll be guys home alone doing guys stuff.  I think they’re pretty excited about it.

Are you headed to Walt Disney World this summer?  What are you the most excited to see and do?

 

Disney FOMO is Real – I’ve Been Stricken

Google FOMO and the simple definition displayed says it all.

“noun: FOMO

  1. anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”

Therein lies my problem.  FOMO clearly afflicts people of all ages…including middle-aged Disney fans who have been obsessively watching all things World of Avatar on the internet.  My April Disney vacation is too soon.  My November Disney vacation is sooooo far away!  Pandora is finally opening in May and I want to see it!!!

Disney FOMO is Real – I’ve Been Stricken

It’s not like Animal Kingdom’s newest land is suddenly showing up after a few months of preparation.  The first announcement of Pandora’s imminent arrival was made in early 2011.  That’s SIX years ago.  Six years of speculation, starts, stops, controversy, rumor, and (for some) excitement.  Construction began in 2014 and, by bits and pieces, we’ve learned the details of exactly how Pandora will make its place in Animal Kingdom.  At long last, the time has arrived – May 27, 2017 – and I won’t be there.  New rides, restaurants, shops, exquisitely themed and amazingly detailed, and I’d already booked April and November before the opening date announcement was made.  The internet is full of ride details and food pictures – constant reminders of what I won’t be seeing anytime soon.

What’s a girl to do?

I have a plan, of course, and a willing cohort.  Megan and I have been talking about a mother/daughter getaway forever, so I filled her in during our usual Sunday visit.  In short order we had vacation schedules verified, 42 vacation club points booked (Saratoga Springs), and a route planned.  Since we have always flown to Disney World, this driving thing will add a different aspect to our trip, but Meg and I are pretty stoked.  We have virtually unlimited packing space for the first time ever and can bring important things like breakfast foods and wine.  As many pairs of shoes as we want!  Once we arrive at Disney World, we’ll have three whole days to explore Pandora before heading home.  Our first summer road trip, just the two of us, and we couldn’t be more excited.  See you in June, World of Avatar!

Have you suffered from Disney FOMO?  What new Disney World attractions are you looking forward to most?