I have already reviewed the signature attraction in Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but in this article, I want to discuss our overall feeling about the new land in general. Rex and I were able to visit the park on opening day for Pandora and spent a significant amount of time in the land, both during the daylight hours and at night.
One of the things we were most concerned about going in was the overall size of Pandora. Was it going to be large enough to provide the kind of planetary feel of the film, and more practically speaking, would it be a comparative rival to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Orlando Resort? The short answers for me are: Yes to the former and no to the latter.
The land feels bigger than it actually is because of the huge amount of Pandora plant life and the various pathways that lead in a variety of directions. This is especially noticeable at night when it can be difficult to know if you have already been down a specific pathway or if you are retracing your steps. I found the land to be beautiful during the day and downright awesome at night.
To be certain, if bioluminescence isn’t your thing, then Pandora might not captivate you. Even with the obvious use of an age old special effect – the blacklight – the land absolutely comes alive at night and is one of those mesmerizing theme park experiences where you can just stand and be in awe of your surroundings. If you visit, then visiting Pandora at night is non-negotiable.
The floating mountains are equally impressive. Given the fact that in real life, heavy objects don’t float, I thought the Imagineers did a remarkable job with a stunning visual effect. Another tip is to move around the park to get different views of the floating mountains. They look significantly different depending on which side you are standing. One particular angle makes the mountains look like a massive giant pushing a huge boulder. This caused Rex to ponder the existence of real life giants and what would happen if one decided to destroy planet Earth. It was a strange moment of reflection, but a necessary one.
As wonderful as all these things are, they simply cannot compete with Universal’s WWOHP, and I’m not sure that was Disney’s intent all along. Potterverse just has too many positive things going for it, both in terms of marketability and attractability. The only thing that can begin to rival Potter, in my opinion, is Star Wars land and time will tell if even that can usurp Potter as the king of the theme park universe.