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Animal Kingdom has always been one of my favorite parks, long before they announced the addition of Avatar attractions.

The World of Pandora just takes it to a whole new level.

I’ll admit I’m not an Avatar fan, per se. I’ve seen the movie once and tried to watch it a couple of times after, but never quite got into it.

But the land of Pandora is beautiful and Disney has done a great job of recreating that world in Animal Kingdom.

So, our Animal Kingdom day, the plan was pretty simple. Get to Pandora early in the day, get that out of the way and then move on to the rest of the park.

Animal Kingdom opened at 8 a.m. that day and we got to the park right at 8 a.m. (it’s hard getting three kids up and dressed so early LOL).

We went straight to Pandora. We had FastPasses for Flight of Passage, so we went straight to the Na’Vi River Journey line, which started out as 45 minutes. It did take a while to get on the ride, but it was an awesome queue. The sights and smells (bell peppers) are all around you.

The coolest thing about Pandora, in my opinion, is that no matter where you are in that area, you are in Pandora. In other parks, you can be in Fantasyland and see Haunted Mansion or Tomorrowland. When you’re in Pandora, you don’t see anything else. You are fully immersed in that world.

Na’Vi River Journey was a visually appealing ride, but I thought it was too short. Just when I was getting into it, it ended.

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From there, we headed to Flight of Passage. I had been hearing stories of guests not being able to fit on the ride vehicle, because it’s a tight fit. People of certain body types were not able to get fastened into the restraints (which come up behind your back and calves).

I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to ride, so I went to the test vehicle outside to see before I wandered through the entire FastPass line only to get turned away.

It was a tight fit and I didn’t want to risk it so I decided to let my wife and Kaleb go ahead without me. I may or may not have been able to ride, but I wasn’t interested in walking through the line to get turned away.

I saw a lot of people seeing if they would fit on the test vehicle, and a lot of people were walking away disappointed.

I hope Disney will do something to make the ride a little more compatible for bigger people, but I can only blame myself, so I’m also going to work on losing some weight so next time we visit, I can experience it myself (not through YouTube).

While Timberly and Kaleb rode, I took Jared and Logan and explored Pandora. It was nice to be able to really walk around and check it out. Like I said, it’s got some very beautiful scenery.

I think it’s a little small, but hopefully they have plans to expand on the area to not make it so congested.

Timberly and Kaleb waited about a half-hour to ride (better than six hours) and they both loved it. Timberly, who can’t stand Star Tours, said it might be the best ride at Disney. She said the sights, sounds, smells, feeling the Banshee breathe underneath you, just made the ride spectacular.

Having done the two rides in Pandora in about two hours, we left that area for the rest of the day.

We had a FastPass for Kilimanjaro Safaris in about a half-hour, so we did the old Pangona Exploration trail, which I guess is now named Gorilla Falls.

After that, we got on the Safari and it was OK. Our driver was kinda crappy. You couldn’t hear what he was saying because his mic was basically in his mouth. And he kept messing up on what area we were in.

Good thing the ride is more about the animals than the human driving the truck, and we were able to block him out and just watch all the animals.

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After safaris, we decided to take a break for lunch. It was starting to look ugly, so we headed for some indoor shelter at Restaurantasaurus. It’s one of our go-to places at Animal Kingdom. I know there are better and more diverse options, but it’s an indoor restaurant with plenty of seating.

Our lunch took us right into our Festival of the Lion King FastPass so we headed straight there after lunch. It was a bit of a zig-zag to get there, but we got there with five minutes to spare and were almost instantly seated.

The show was fantastic. It’s easily my favorite show in Disney. I could watch it every day and never get tired of it.

About halfway through the show, we heard thunder, and it wasn’t thunder from the show. It was pouring down outside.

I’m talking a huge thunderstorm. We put on our ponchos and headed outside, having to fight our way through a crowd of people who refused to exit.

We were going to get soaked anyway, so why not get it over with, right?

We started to make our way to Fights of Wonder, but it was raining too hard and we weren’t going to sit in the slightly-exposed amphitheater for a show that was going to most likely get canceled.

It was then that we were passing Mickey and Minnie meet-and-greet and saw it was only 35 minutes (yeah right), so we jumped in the line and more importantly inside and away from the rain. It ended up being a 45-minute or more wait, but we were inside.

By the time we go out, that storm had cleared out of the area and we were able to walk to Dinoland, so we could ride Triceratops Spin for Jared. It was mainly just to waste a little time before Nemo show, which we did next.

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While we were in Nemo, it started raining again. So we put on the ponchos and ventured out. It was about time to leave, anyway, and especially after checking the weather and seeing that it was going to continue raining until 7 p.m., we made the decision to go.

But, since we were already soaked, how about a quick ride on Kali River Rapids? Kaleb and I went ride that while Timberly took the other two boys to the gift shop to stay dry.

That was the end of our Animal Kingdom day. With soaked shoes, we headed back to the hotel to dry off and regroup for the second Magic Kingdom day.

All in all, a good day at Animal Kingdom. Pandora was very nice. I could see fans of Avatar really enjoying it. I don’t think I’d wait two hours for either ride, but if I had a FastPass, I’d probably do it again.

Up next: Magic Kingdom again!

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