Sneak Peek of the two new attractions at Pandora – The World of Avatar

 

Pandora - attractions

 

Kingdom Planners was thrilled to be invited to a “Sneak Peek” of the amazing new land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Pandora – The World of Avatar.

This new land includes two incredible new attractions.  The first, an “e-ticket” attraction, is Avatar Flight of Passage.  The second is a much more gentle ride named Na’vi River Journey.

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-38

 

During the preview, the stand-by wait was posted as 25 minutes… and luckily it was even shorter than that.  The queue itself takes about 5 minutes to walk through, even without a line!  I’m sure that the stand-by wait will be much more than 25 minutes once Pandora opens to the general public.  Get your FastPass+ now!

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-16

 

The queue was very well-themed.  There were so many details that it would be difficult to notice everything in only one or two rides.

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-4

KingdomPlannersPandora-5

 

The eco-friendly message is clear throughout the land of Pandora.

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-6

 

As you get closer to riding, there is more information on how humans can “link” to their Avatar.

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-7

KingdomPlannersPandora-8

KingdomPlannersPandora-9

 

A board tracks all of the human-Avatar links and where their banshees are located.

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-10

 

An empty queue line – this will be a very rare shot in another week!

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-12

 

Getting closer to riding a banshee!  You step on your assigned number and you are matched with your Avatar.

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-11

KingdomPlannersPandora-13

KingdomPlannersPandora-14

 

After the match, no more photos are allowed.  You are then led into a room where you are fitted to your banshee.  You put on your special (3D) glasses, are linked to your Avatar, and take the flight of your life!

In our opinion, the ride is not scary, but the illusion of flight may be too much for those who are afraid of heights. As one Cast Member put it, this attraction is “Soarin’ on steroids”!

If Avatar Flight of Passage is too much for some members of your party, or if you have young ones with you, then the Na’vi River Passage is the attraction for you.

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-18

 

Similar to “it’s a small world,” this attraction is a gentle boat ride.

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-19

 

Your journey takes you deep into a bioluminescent forest, where you see and hear the wonders of Pandora.

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-20

 

On your ride, you come face-to-face with the mystical creatures and glowing plant life of the rainforest.

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-21

 

At the end of your adventure, you meet the Na’vi Shamen of Songs.  She sends her positive energy out to the forest and to you as well.

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-22

 

The Na’vi Shaman of Songs is the most complicated Audio-Animatronics figure ever created by Walt Disney Imagineering and meeting her is an impressive ending to this attraction.

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-23

 

The two attractions in this new land are stunning and experiencing them is a must on any Walt Disney World vacation.  There is much to explore in Pandora – The World of Avatar.  In addition to the rides, there is the unique landscape to explore plus unique dining and shopping opportunities.

When are you planning your journey to Pandora – The World of Avatar?

Amazing Sneak Peek of Pandora – The World of Avatar

 

Kingdom Planners was fortunate enough to be invited to a “Sneak Peek” of Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s newest land – Pandora – The World of Avatar!  We were so excited to be allowed into the newest land at Walt Disney World.

 

Pandora - The World of Avatar

 

 

As we walked past the security gates (the land does not officially open to the public until May 27th), we were greeted by official envoys of  ACE (Alpha Centauri Expeditions).  With their help, we were transported to a new world, Pandora.

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-1

 

We began our adventure by exploring the gorgeous Valley of Mo’ara.  Lush and filled with exotic flora and fauna, it is like nothing you’ve seen back on Earth.

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-40

KingdomPlannersPandora-2

KingdomPlannersPandora-3

 

The enormous floating mountains are definitely the focal point of this amazing landscape.

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-39

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-37

 

 

And although Pandora is beautiful during the day, the forest glows with bioluminescence at night – which will be even more spectacular!

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-17

KingdomPlannersPandora-35 KingdomPlannersPandora-36

 

I found a little banshee friend (you can find your own in the Windtraders gift shop).  You will notice that there are no “Disney” themed gifts available in Windtraders, as you have truly left Earth.  Even the shopping  bags are “Pandorian” – not from Walt Disney World or Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

 

KingdomPlannersPandora-15

 

So that is a preview of the wonderful Valley of Mo’ara area of Pandora – The World of Avatar.  In addition to the sights and sounds of the alien atmosphere, there will also be a Na’vi-built drum circle where you can play and new Wilderness Explorer badges and challenges.

This new world opens on May 27, 2017 and as a benefit to Walt Disney Resort guests, special Extra Magic Hours  for Pandora will be extended from 11pm-1am (through July 4th).

More posts are coming with information on the dining and attractions in this amazing new land.

When are you going to visit Pandora – The World of Avatar?

 

Best Long Weekend Ever – Adventures by Disney San Francisco trip!

Recently, I was lucky enough to experience the Adventures by Disney San Francisco long weekend trip.  It was an amazing experience for this type-A, professional “planner.”  For the first time in a long while I was able to completely relax and “enjoy the ride”.  With 2 unbelievably fun and competent adventure guides, I knew that every detail was handled and I could just have fun!

Adventures by Disney San Francisco

 

First, I arrived at the accommodations for the trip, the Omni San Francisco.  This lovely hotel is right in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district and a short walk from Chinatown, Little Italy and many other points of interest (it probably took me about 45 minutes to walk to the Fisherman’s Wharf area and Ghiradelli Square – but you can of course also take public transportation).  The service and rooms are top notch and I was very comfortable during my stay.

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-5

 

Day one of the itinerary has you meet in the lobby of the hotel at 2pm.  Soon, you are off on your first  adventure – a guided bike tour along the edge of San Francisco Bay!  This is something that I would never do on my own – a bit out of my comfort zone – but it was my favorite part of the whole trip.  We had an absolutely beautiful day for the ride and it felt so nice to be out in the fresh air, looking at the gorgeous scenery.  Plus, there is no better way to break the ice with the other members of your tour group than to get everybody on a bike!  Don’t be intimidated – lots of the adults were shaky on the bikes at first, but then quickly got into the swing of things.

 

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-7

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-11

 

Keep in mind that you don’t HAVE to do the bike ride.  Our Disney adventure guides made sure everybody was comfortable with any activity.  Those who didn’t want to go on the ride were welcome to with one guide on a  bus tour of the city while the rest of us went with our other guide (plus 2 guides from the bike rental company) on the bikes.  That is the beauty of having two guides with us on our trip – unusual for most tour companies.

We rode down into the Golden Gate Recreation Area and stopped to view the Palace of Fine Arts.

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-10

 

We continued to Fort Point and were treated to fantastic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city of San Francisco itself.

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-13

 

At that halfway point, those who wanted to hop on the bus were able to do so (you could just leave your bike – I told you someone was going to take care of everything for you!) or you could ride back the way we came.  I was loving the bike ride so much that I decided to go for it and do the return ride.

Back on the bus, bottles of water and snacks are offered, and then we are off to get some more food!  After a bus tour of Chinatown, dinner is at M.Y. China – owned by celebrity chef Martin Yan (“Yan Can Cook”).   Executive Chef Tony Wu is the recipient of many culinary honors and is the first chef to set a record for pulling 16,000 noodles in two minutes!

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-14

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-15

 

This meal was family style and we were treated to everything on the special menu.  It was a lot of food!

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-16

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-17Wonton Soup

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-18Salt and Pepper Calamari

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-19

Spicy Seafood Dumplings (really spicy!)

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-20Honey Glazed Walnut Shrimp

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-21Sichuan Green Beans

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-22Wild Boar Scissor Cut Noodles (so good!)

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-23Peking Roast Duck (probably my favorite)

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-24Seven Spice Pork Ribs

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-25Chicken Fried Rice

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-26Sugar Egg Puffs

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-27So good that it deserves two pictures!

On Day 2, you enjoy breakfast on your own – there is a nice restaurant inside the hotel and also many options just a short walk away.

Then you are off to Muir Woods National Monument for a beautiful, peaceful trip that allows you to take in the splendor of the giant redwoods.

Next, there is a visit to beautiful vineyard with a tour of the working winery. This part of the adventure is really fun as you get to “stomp grapes” and compete with others in your group to see who can get the most juice!  Lunch is served at the winery (included).

Dinner is on your own – which is a perfect opportunity to explore San Francisco.  One popular area to go to is Fisherman’s Wharf  – or choose a great restaurant in nearby Little Italy or Chinatown.

On Day 3, after a breakfast on your own, your Adventure Guides take you up to the Golden Gate Bridge and you can walk a portion of it if you like.  This is a great picture-taking opportunity.

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-35

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-36

 

Next, you take the ferry to Angel Island State Park and enjoy a guided tour.  This island was the “Ellis Island of the West” as it was a busy U.S. Immigration Station.  Lunch is on your own.

One of the most exciting parts of the tour is next – a visit to the Lucasfilm campus!  This is a great photo opportunity and it is wonderful for any Star Wars fan to just “breathe the same air” as the talented filmmakers who are working at this location.

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-29Master Yoda!

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-33Is there someone behind me??

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-31Lightsaber!

 

After all of this fun, you are off to the Walt Disney Family Museum for a privately guided tour. Explore all of the exhibits and then shop for some special merchandise in the gift shop.

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-34

The farewell dinner is at One Market, which specializes in market fresh, California cuisine.

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-37

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-38

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-39Our Adventure Guide’s favorite bread!

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-40Farmer’s Market Salad (oh yes – and the wine is included too!)

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-41Natural Angus New York Steak

 

AdventuresbyDisneySanFrancisco-42New York Cheesecake

Overall, this was an amazing long weekend.  The amount of ground Adventures by Disney covers is fantastic, and would be hard to duplicate without the expertise of our Adventure Guides.  Unexpected things do happen when one is on vacation, and the Guides are there to take care of everything and let you go back to having fun – no stress at all for you – the guest!

There are so many good things to say about Adventures by Disney – so please don’t hesitate to ask any questions – either here through the blog, or through the Kingdom Planners email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).  This is a great way to see San Francisco (and other locations around the world as well) and I would be happy to discuss all of the options with you.

Have you ever taken an Adventures by Disney trip?  I would love to hear your experiences as well!

Susan

April 7, 2017

Copy of Dream Suite

One of the best things you can do for yourself on a Walt Disney World vacation is have your travel agent (Kingdom Planners!) book a Club Level room.  Club Level is Disney’s version of Concierge service and they do it right!  One of the very best resorts for the Club Level experience is Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.

The Grand Floridian has two Club Level areas – on the 4th floor of the main building and one other building that is entirely Club Level, Sugar Loaf.   We had the pleasure of staying in the Sugar Loaf building and it was first class all the way.

GrandFloridianClubLevel-14

As a beginning to a magical stay, the Club Level service can not be beat.  My family was greeted just as we exited the Magical Express Bus and we were escorted by a Cast Member right to our room. No waiting in line to check-in at all.  We definitely felt like VIPs.

Here is an overhead view of the Club Level Lounge.  You can see the Concierge desk and the ample seating for guests. The Concierge is available during your stay to assist with just about anything Disney-related.

GrandFloridianClubLevel-24

There is even a spot for the little ones to relax, have a snack and watch some Mickey cartoons.

GrandFloridianClubLevel-20

In my opinion, the best reason for upgrading to a Club Level room is the ease of picking up a quick breakfast.  There was always a beautiful display of fresh baked goods, cereal and a protein option like hard boiled eggs.  This is a perfect breakfast for my kids and definitely enough variety for the grown-ups.

It is so nice to have a breakfast without waiting in line and dealing with crowds.  We were able to have our fill and then go straight to the parks with full bellies.

GrandFloridianClubLevel-22 GrandFloridianClubLevel-21

GrandFloridianClubLevel-17 GrandFloridianClubLevel-16

When you return from the parks or the pool in the afternoon, it is lovely to have refreshments waiting for you.  Lots of drink options, including a mini-fridge filled with cold waters and sodas, and if you don’t see something that you need, a server is always happy to get it.

Continue reading

Take a rare tour of the Disneyland Dream Suite!

Have you ever wondered what is hiding up at the top of the grand staircase near the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland Park?  For those of us who have visited Disneyland for awhile, we know that from 1987-2007 it was the Disney Gallery – a beautiful space that held various Disneyland art exhibits.

However, that was not the intended use for that space.  Walt Disney himself had wanted to build a larger apartment in the park to accommodate his family and friends.  His original apartment over the firehouse on Main Street was just too small.  Walt commissioned set designer Dorothea Redmond to help create the special look of the apartment, which was dubbed the “Royal Suite”.  It was not given this name because Walt considered himself royalty, but because the suite was located on Royal Street in New Orleans Square.

Dream Suite

Unfortunately, Walt passed away before the suite was completed, and the Disney family decided to stop work on the project.

In 2007, the Disney Gallery was turned into the Dream Suite, using the original Dorothea Redmond drawings as inspiration.  The suite has 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms a living room, outdoor seating area and balcony.

No amount of money can get you a night’s stay in the Dream Suite – it is only used by the occasional prize winner or celebrity.  So, I didn’t get to pack my pj’s and spend the night, but I was lucky enough to get a rare tour of the apartment.  Let me show you the highlights…

First, you walk through a short hallway that is lined by Dorothea Redmond’s artwork.  This gives us a preview of what we are about to see.

DisneylandDreamSuite-36

 

Continue reading