What do dolphins and banshees have in common? Well, a lot if you happen to be staying at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin AND heading to Animal Kingdom to experience all of the World of Avatar highlights for the first time ever!
After visiting the Walt Disney World Swan in late 2016 and learning about the multi-phase, multi-year, $140 million redesign project that planned to transform every guest room in the 758-room Swan Hotel and the 1,509-room Dolphin Hotel, I wanted to go back to check out the progress on our first trip to #visitpandora.
Disclosure: The Dolphin provided us with a media rate to stay on property. This allowed us to check out all of the new guest room features as well as their gorgeous new lobby.
The renovated rooms now include upgraded furniture as well as all of the latest technology including large HD TVs. Additional power outlets provide family travelers (and bloggers) more options for use of multiple personal electronics. And of course, we love a good balcony room with a view!
The new room design was inspired by the resort’s water-themed architecture. The goal was to create a serene and sophisticated atmosphere. I think they succeeded!
MBMom Tip: The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin offers 17 restaurants and lounges. Take advantage!
We especially loved the all-new look of Phins in the Dolphin lobby. Phins is a contemporary lounge where guests can enjoy sipping on custom-crafted cocktails, a glass of vintage wine, or even a frosty mug of special Phins and Feathers beer. You can then enjoy your drinks under the sophisticated ambiance of a spectacular custom-made crystal chandelier. It’s gorgeous, trust me.
Our family also took advantage of the grab and go restaurant, fuel, in the Dolphin lobby. If you’re looking to stock up with snacks for the theme parks, this place will come in handy. We filled up on coffee and ready-made breakfast sandwiches before heading to Animal Kingdom to check out the World of Avatar highlights.
MBMom Tip: Complimentary bus transportation is available to all of the parks from the Swan and Dolphin. Or, you can take a short water taxi to Epcot® and Disney’s Hollywood Studios™. The Walt Disney World Dolphin is also ridiculously close to Disney’s Boardwalk, which is a really cool area! We grabbed pizza over there on our last night.
As for Pandora… Walt Disney’s World of Avatar Highlights
We might be one of the last ones to the party, but we FINALLY had the time (and Disney Annual Passes) to visit Pandora: The World of Avatar this February. Granted we were daytime visitors, but I feel like we got a healthy dose of this new attraction, especially when it came to the cuisine. But, we do look forward to returning again to see it in all its glory at night!
When you enter the World of Avatar, you essentially become an eco-tourist. You’ll encounter floating mountains, a glowing, bioluminescent rainforest and other wonders of an alien world. The premise of the land is that the Valley of Mo’ara on Pandora is undergoing a rebirth long after a destructive mining operation ceased operation. Eco-tourists (aka us!) for the first time, can travel to this exoplanet located in the Alpha Centauri star system 4.4 light years from Earth. Pretty cool, huh?
My 4 year-old daughter didn’t really know anything about the movie prior to entering the land, but she was game for it all (albeit not tall enough to ride Flight of Passage yet, so we missed that one this time). Instead she settled for face painting this trip.
World of Avatar Flora
The Walt Disney Imagineering landscape architecture team worked side by side with the land’s design and engineering teams to ensure that thousands of Pandoran plants fit into the overall landscape plan. You truly couldn’t tell the real plants from the fake apart. It was impressive!
More than 250 varieties of live trees, shrubs and epiphytes mingle with the Pandoran. The Disney horticulture team planted more than 500 trees and nearly 10,000 shrubs across the Pandoran landscape.
Na’vi River Journey
At the center of Pandora is a riparian area, where waterfalls cascade from the mountaintops into gentle pools and streams. One stream follows a peaceful path along the entry to Pandora. The other flows into the Na’vi River Journey, where guests board reed boats for an excursion to see the revered Shaman of Songs.
We loved hopping on the reed boat for Na’vi River Journey. Seeing all of the glowing flora and fauna were some of the top World of Avatar highlights for me! The best part was that it’s a very family-friendly water adventure…aka slow. 😉
All of this adventure had us working up an appetite! We headed to the brand new Satu’li Canteen (formerly the RDA mess hall) to indulge in the international-inspired cuisine, vegetarian options and specialty libations crafted from Pandora’s natural abundance. We weren’t disappointed and there is virtually no wait if you visit on the earlier side of your day. Here’s what we sampled:
I also sneaked over to the Pongu Pongu Lounge for a quick cocktail while #dailybocaavery was getting her face painted. The “bioluminescent” frozen cocktail Night Blossom hit the spot for this thirsty traveler! The drink is a mix of limeade combined with apple and desert pear flavors finished off with passion fruit boba balls…and rum if you’d like it. It’s very tasty and unique!
At night, you’ll see that many of the walkways and paths, like the alien plant life that surrounds them, are bioluminescent. A treatment added to some of the Pandoran walkways gives them a glowing quality. Talk about World of Avatar highlights! Charged by sunlight and reinforced by black light, the glowing pathways literally come to life in the evening.
We can’t wait to travel there again! Have you been to #visitpandora yet?
Special thanks to Mazda USA for providing our ride to/from Orlando in the 2018 Mazda CX-9!
We loved it. #drivemazda
Check out some of our favorite features from the Mazda CX-9 3 Row 7 Passenger SUV in our video below: