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Is Pandora: The World of Avatar Too Perfect?

Problems and solutions and more problems

Image: DisneyEven Disney executives were caught off-guard by the blockbuster success of Pandora. They knew that Avatar – Flight of Passage would drive some traffic, and they quietly demonstrated confidence in Na’Vi River Journey, also. No one expected the wait for both attractions to exceed two hours for a calendar year. In the case of Flight of Passage, a two-hour wait seemed reasonable comparatively during this timeframe. The land was that mobbed.

The explanation for the triumph of Pandora is simple. Imagineers were given free rein to design an entirely alien world, one that embodies the environmentally friendly themes of Animal Kingdom as a whole. Where critics saw flaws, cast members appreciated the similar undertones and accentuated them whenever possible. Pandora looks beautiful, albeit in that understandably alien way.

Disney went all-in on the theming, too. Even the opening day restaurant, Satu’li Canteen, maintains the concept. You’re not eating at a Disney theme park restaurant here. You’re a guest at a tourist destination where your hosts serve food in a former mess hall. Na’Vi art is everywhere here, and the food is foreign, too. Bowls and pods mimic the flavors that you know on Earth, but their structure is distinctly Pandoran.

Image: DisneyGuests loved the escapism of the themed land. It seemed like a place that Walt Disney would build if he were still alive today.  And the glowing reviews drove traffic that much more, as tends to happen with social media. Everyone wanted to visit Pandora. The strange part is that the praise remained nearly universal after the park had been in operation for a while.

Through the first 18 months of the themed land’s existence, its worst major problem was a temporary ride building shutdown caused by a fire alarm issue. If not for that, Pandora would have a flawless resume to date. Therein lays the problem we’ll discuss in a moment.

Image: DisneyBefore moving on, I should mention that Disney had to react to the attendance with emergency tactics. They added a new character meeting involving a mech aka a Pandora Utility Suit. It’s an eight-minute show with a singular purpose. It sucks traffic away from the long attraction lines in the area while providing guests with something else to do in Pandora. Its very existence demonstrates just how much demand there is for the World of Avatar.

Disney even had to add a new character meeting at DinoLand U.S.A. Its entire purpose is to balance park traffic. Currently, guests spend more time in Pandora than park officials would like. Donald’s Dino-Bash popped up in 2018 as a way to persuade at least some guests to visit the least trafficked themed land in the park. It too wouldn't exist if Pandora were only moderately successful. 

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