When one dreams about visiting faraway galaxies, Star Wars is always the first one to pop into their head. And why wouldn't it? Since 1977, it hasn't stopped growing, always unveiling new planets, species, characters, adventures, and storylines. And when it comes to Walt Disney World, things aren't so different. Since the Lucasfilm acquisition in 2012, Star Wars has continued to expand at Disney's Hollywood Studios, with its very own themed land Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, and now with upcoming experience Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.
But while it's undoubtedly the most popular faraway galaxy at the resort, it isn't the only one. Animal Kingdom Park's themed land Pandora - The World of Avatar, based on the sci-fi juggernaut Avatar, might be enough to give Star Wars a run for its galactic credits. In cinema, there isn't much in the way of competition between the two franchises, but at Walt Disney World, there is, perhaps, a silent galactic war taking place. So, which is the best faraway galaxy at Walt Disney World? It's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Vs. Pandora - The World of Avatar...
In terms of attractions, the two themed lands are practically symmetrical, as they each boast two, with all four of them being pretty spectacular, leaving no room whatsoever for modesty. At Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, you'll discover Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, both of which are highly immersive, with the former giving you the opportunity to fly the fastest ship in the galaxy in a simulator experience, during which you can undertake missions and blast your way through the galaxy, while the latter pits you in a battle between the Rebellion and the First Order, using real-life actors, laser projections, simulations and all sorts of special effects to do so.
Not so many lightyears away, at Pandora - The World of Avatar, you'll uncover Avatar Flight of Passage, a wrap-around simulator-based adventure that sees you riding a sky banshee, from which you'll marvel at the striking landscape on display, and Na'vi River Journey, a dark ride along the banks of a dense, exotic and bioluminescent jungle, where you'll meet the most impressive theme park audio-animatronic in the world. As for which set of two is the best, we think Pandora - The World of Avatar is a no-brainer, seeing as each attraction offers up Pandora from a completely different level, with one for the thrill-seeker in us, and the other appealing to our more meditative nature.
2. Immersion & Interactivity
When it comes to immersion and interactivity at these two themed lands, there's no denying that both are vastly impressive. Where Pandora - The World of Avatar is concerned, just looking at things alone is enough to make you feel like you've been dropped on the jungle-clad moon of Pandora, especially at nighttime, when everything comes to life all over again through the environment's incredible bioluminescent features. As for the two attractions, they simply feel like extensions of the themed land - even the virtual Avatar Flight of Passage, a simulator that uses original CG effects to recreate the moon's diverse landscape.
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is also incredibly rich with detail, and plunges you deep into the hustle and bustle of a busy remote trading outpost. Even stores such as Dok-Ondar's Den of Antiquities and Savi's Workshop don't just feel like retail outlets - there's always something to blur the lines between themed land and real distant planet, whether it's Dok-Ondar himself, or the disembodied voice of Jedi Master Yoda. But which of the two themed lands is the most immersive and interactive? But despite the variety of things on offer, and its commitment to being 'canon' with all things Star Wars, we'll let Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge have this one.
3. Aesthetics, Design & Photo Opportunities
One's preferences for visuals, aesthetics, and overall design usually comes down to one thing - subjectivity. You might be a fan of Avatar, or perhaps you're a Star Wars fanatic. Or maybe you're both - which, if you're a fan of all things faraway galaxies, is likely to be the case. Perhaps you don't think there is a right or wrong answer regarding which of the two themed lands is the best. After all, each one offers an experience that's entirely different from the next. Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge allows you to immerse yourself into the world of Batuu, a previously uncharted planet on the edge of Wild Space, while Pandora - The World of Avatar, plunges you deep into the tropical ecosystem first brought to life in stunning 3D.
At first glance, Batuu appears to emulate the typical, sand-swept desert towns not unfamiliar to the Star Wars universe, but on closer inspection, it actually boasts a more rustic look, with a surprising amount of greenery in the foothills. Sure, it still embodies that Western feel that The Mandalorian really capitalizes on, but it's far more spaceport than gunslinger's saloon, and there's a ton of photo opportunities on offer here, whether it's the Millennium Falcon or Black Spire Outpost. Pandora - The World of Avatar, however, with its bioluminescent rainforests and the Valley of Mo'ara, oozes eye-candy upon every turn. As such, this themed land wins by a landslide.