Pandora, World of Avatar Preview

Avatar is a movie that has touched my soul.  There are people that love Star Wars, Marvel, Star Trek & more.  Myself, I am more of an Avatar gal.  I love animals, nature & the message of this movie.  Pandora in Animal Kingdom really brought all of this to life for me and I may have or may not have squeaked a tear when I rode the Flight of Passage attraction; there is no proof.  Disney has done a phenomenal job of bringing this movie off of the screen & into reality.  It feels like standing on another planet; the design is flawless, the sounds of the indigenous species surround you and some of the plants are interactive.  If you are an Avatar fan like I am, you must not miss this new land in Animal Kingdom!
Be sure to scroll all the way to the end of this article for a video of my Pandoran preview experience.

156-foot-tall “floating mountains” are the centerpiece of the Valley of Mo’ara
Pandora Preview Map
Pandora preview Map inside

One of the first things that we came to as we entered Pandora was a giant plant that smoked & made sounds when you touched it.  Right next to the plant was one of two brand new Wilderness Explorer stations located in Pandora.
For those of you that are not familiar with this program, you can pick up your Wilderness Explorer guide at various locations around the park and work through the (now 32) learning experiences throughout Animal Kingdom and earn badges (stickers) for each experience and a completion sticker at the end.


Wondering through the Valley of Mo’ara was visually stunning.  Floating mountains, bright plants from another world, waterfalls and sounds of the Pandoran primates  from all directions immersed me in this distant world.


We stopped for a few pictures before heading off to use our fastpass on the Flight of Passage attraction.  On the way we encountered an Amplified Mobility Platform, which is the huge motorized suit that the soldiers drove on Pandora.

The elaborate queue design for the Flight of Passage attraction is entertaining in itself.  The science lab in the queue was not operational during our visit & I look forward to seeing the Na’vi, growing in the fluid filled tube, on my next visit in a few weeks when the park opens to the public.  As we passed through the queue, we were given numbers & separated into different chambers to be ‘debugged’ for our link with our avatar.  Jackie Ogden appeared onscreen and took scans of our bodies and brain waves.  We proceeded from one room to the next where we were instructed by Sigourney Weaver on what to do for our experience with the Banshee flight.
The height restriction for Flight of Passage is a minimum of 44″

One of the preparation rooms for the Flight of Passage.  You are asked to move around & as they scan you on the screen.

Once you are prepared and handed your flight glasses, you enter the room where you will link with your Avatar which is already seated on a Banshee high in the mountains.  You straddle the seats’ bike style’ and the back of the seat comes up behind you to hold you in.  Get ready for an amazing flight!!!  You can feel the Banshee move & breath as you ride.  (I’m not tearing up writing about this truly unique, amazing experience! really… I’m not)


During your unbelievable flight through the stunning landscape of Pandora, every one of your senses is engaged.  The visually stunning landscapes rush past as you smell, feel and hear each and every minute of your flight.

Once your flight is over you exit into Windtraders gift shop where you will find numerous unique souvenirs.  My kids could not resist adopting their own banshee from the Rookery while we were there.

Spending time in Windtraders is an experience in itself.  Parents be cautioned, the Banshee Rookery will draw you in & you may just leave with a new member of the family for the bargain price of $49 + tax
I almost expect Disney to eventually release a new version of the Banshee that is interactive with the Pandora park surroundings.


Next Stop… the Na’Vi River Journey.  This peaceful boat ride takes you on a journey down the sacred river where you encounter bioluminescent plans, spinning orange disks, moving silhouettes of lizards and more.  Perhaps the star of this attraction is the anamatronic Na’vi Shaman singing toward the end of your journey.  This is the most advanced anamoatronic I have seen so far in a theme park; the Na’vi is so real & life like that you have to wonder if it is not a person in costume.
Scroll to the bottom on the article for a full ride through video of this attraction in my Pandora video on YouTube



By the time we were done with the River Journey, our time in Pandora was almost over.  We wanted to be sure & stop for a few Photopass pictures to remember the night.


near the entrance / exit of the park is a musical set of trees with drums embedded in the tree stumps.  Drumbeats will respond to you when you interact with these trees.

Although the restaurants were closing for the night, we took a few minutes to wander through them and look at the menus.  The food is unique and something that you will not find anywhere else.  You can pre-order your meal through the Disney Parks app & pick it up once you arrive to avoid the wait at the order counter. (another first in Disney tech)  I guarantee I will be eating a few meals there when the park has officially opened.


As the sun set for the day, the pathways lit up with bioluminescent plant life.  They were still working on the details and not all of the affects were available.  Another reason for me to return in the near future.

If you would like to follow me through some of my Pandoran preview, feel free to watch the YouTube video below:

Thank you to all of my fans for reading and following as I share my adventures with you!
I am a HUGE Disney fanatic and I’m also a Travel Agent.  I charge NO additional fees to help you plan your next vacation, it costs exactly the same to book through me or directly through Disney.  Why not take advantage of a little free planning assistance?

My name is Melissa and you will find me almost every weekend in one of the Disney parks with my family.  We never run out of things to do, taste, try, experience & explore.  I look forward to helping you plan your own adventure to Pandora!

Melissa, Travel Designer & Destination Specialist


Holiday Party Tickets Now on Sale for Walt Disney World.

If you are visiting Walt Disney World sometime between August 25th, 2017 and December 22nd, 2017, you may want to consider adding holiday party tickets to your vacation.  Both Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party are festive events in Magic Kingdom which offer special character meets, parades, shows, fireworks, delicious treats and more.

Cinderella’s Castle, brightly lit with thousands of lights during the Christmas holiday season

Having been to both parties for numerous years, our family now considers these festive events a tradition.  The Halloween party offers unlimited, delicious candy and the Christmas party has now added new cookie & drink flavors as options.  Our favorites in 2017 were the candy cane cookies.  So go ahead, treat yourself and buy tickets to these fabulous parties.


Dates & Prices for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party:





Our candy haul from the 2016 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party

Dates & Prices for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party:



Cookies, that we didn’t eat, that we brought home with us from Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party.  left to right, you can see… Sugar Cookies, snickerdoodle cookies, pappermint bark cookies, more sugar cookies, and ginger molasses cookies.  Each cookies station served hot cocoa or spiced apple cider.  YUM!!!

Now… who’s ready to celebrate the holidays with Mickey???  I know I am!!!

My name is Melissa and I am a Disney fanatic; I’m also a travel agent.  If you would like help planning your holiday vacation, I can help you book and plan at no added cost to you.  You will find me in one of the Disney parks almost every weekend with my family and we DO plan to attend both holiday parties this year.  I can’t wait!!!
Planning your trip all starts with a free quote, contact me or visit my website.
Thank you for reading!
Melissa, Travel Designer & Destination Specialist


Fall Room Discount – Save up to 25% on Rooms at Disney World Hotels

It’s 4:00am and new offers are starting to be announced for fall Walt Disney World travelers.  I’m up and ready to transfer my guests to any new offer that might save them money and help other people with new vacation reservations.  I anticipate that the next few days are going to be very busy, the best way to reach me will be through an email or a message on my Facebook page.  Rooms for these offers can fill up fast.


It’s the perfect time to stay in the middle of the magic! Guests can save up to 25%* on rooms at select Walt Disney World® Resort hotels for stays most nights Aug. 1-Oct. 7, 2017 when they book by Aug. 31, 2017.

With this offer, you can enjoy distinctive Disney Resort Guest benefits and amenities – including early access to Disney FastPass+ planning, Extra Magic Hours, complimentary Resort transportation, standard parking and entertaining amenities!

Plus, guests can uncover a magical mix of new and unforgettable experiences when they add theme park admission, including Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park.

Booking Window: through Aug. 31, 2017
Travel Window: Aug. 1-Oct. 7, 2017

*The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Length-of-stay requirements may apply. Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room. Additional per-adult charges may apply if more than two adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts. Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. Advance reservations required. Offer excludes 3-bedroom villas, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms and the Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. 25% savings for select Disney Deluxe and Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts; lower savings may be available at other select Disney Resort hotels.

Thank you for reading,
My name is Melissa and I am a Disney fanatic, I’m also a travel agent.  You will find me almost every weekend in one of the Disney parks with my family.  I enjoy trying new experiences so I can help guest plan their own Disney vacations.  All of my planning assistance is FREE; it never costs extra to plan with me over planning directly through Disney.  Why not gain the assistance of someone with countless hours of personal experience?  Contact me for a no obligation quote today.
Melissa, Travel Designer & Destination Expert – Pixie Dust Adventures
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Book 2018 Star Wars Half Marathon Packages for a limited time

Why book your 2018 Star Wars Marathon package now?
1. 2018 packages are only available at this time, through this offer
2. You can book your 2018 Disney World Marathon package at the current 2017 prices
3. Grab your race registration & bib before they go on sale to the general public so that you are guaranteed your spot in this race.


Tomorrow we will be attending the 2017 Star Wars, Dark Side Half Marathon in Walt Disney World.  I will be taking pictures & video & will be blogging my review in the near future.  If you’ve always wanted to participate in the Star Wars Marathon, this is an excellent opportunity for you to book your 2018 packages now.

Disney has announced the following:

“It’s a weekend of galactic fun and fantastic runs during the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side – at the Walt Disney World® Resort!  And now for a limited time, April 20 – May 1, 2017, you can book your Race Registration with a Magic Your Way® Package for the 2018 Star WarsHalf Marathon – The Dark Side Weekend, which takes place April 19-22, 2018.”

Guests will also be able to Book 2018 Star Wars™ Half Marathon – The Dark Side Packages with Race Registration at the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo During The 2017 Star Wars™ Half Marathon – The Dark Side!

If you are not attending the race this weekend, contact your travel agent for a free, no obligation quote.

Booking Window:  April 20 – May 1, 2017
Travel Window:  April 12 – April 30, 2018

*Star Wars race registrations are non-refundable & non-transferable

Thank you for reading!
My name is Melissa, I am a Disney fanatic and I’m also a travel agent.  I will be attending the Star Wars Half Marathon this weekend and am looking forward to assisting you in planning your next Run Disney vacation.  Contact me with any questions you have or for a no obligation quote, on this limited time offer.
Melissa Mathies, Travel Designer & Destination Expert
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Why Plan a Deluxe Walt Disney World Vacation?

Why plan a deluxe Walt Disney World vacation?  Why not? Our vacation memories are some of the strongest memories of our lives.  It’s hard to put a value on these once-in-a-lifetime experiences and Disney offers unmatched service that is not easily found anywhere else.  If you’re dreaming of a relaxed, unforgettable vacation, a Disney World Deluxe vacation is something that you should certainly consider.  Maybe you are an experienced Disney World traveler; a deluxe vacation with added tours might offer new experiences for your stay.  Deluxe vacations come with many different price tags depending on the options that you choose.
My definition of a Deluxe Disney vacation is as follows…


The top features of a Deluxe Disney Vacation Package are:

• a stay in a Disney owned deluxe resort
• minimum 5 night stay
• minimum 4 day park tickets
• Disney Dining Plan or Deluxe Dining Plan
• possible added tours and parties
• possibly a land/sea vacation

Your Resort

A Deluxe vacation usually includes a stay in a Disney owned, deluxe resort for a minimum of 5 nights or longer.  There are rooms that might be considered ‘deluxe’ at some of the other Disney Resorts including the specialty rooms at some of the moderate resorts and the suites at Disney’s Art of Animation.


Why stay in a Deluxe Resort?

Deluxe resorts offer beautiful theming and outstanding lobbies and all of the rooms open to inside corridors.  The food is outstanding with table service restaurants and at least one upscale option as well as savory quick service dining.  Each resort has a main feature pool with a water slide and other quiet pools throughout the resort.  Every deluxe resort includes non-bus access to at least one park with the exception of Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Most of the deluxe resorts can accommodate 5 people in a standard room and they all offer on-site gyms, salons & valet parking is available.  These amazing resorts will really make you feel like royalty.


Park Tickets

Deluxe vacations include a minimum of a 4 day park ticket.  If you want to fully experience Disney, stay a few extra days for some relaxation time.  Added days and nights offer extra options such as a second day in your favorite park/s as well as time to experience places like Disney Springs, the Disney water parks, golf, spas, fishing, mini-golf or a wide range of other personalized experiences, recreation & tours that Disney offers.  Adding extra days or nights to your trip for relaxation, pool time and other non-park activities always makes your vacation feel more relaxed.

Dining Plan

A deluxe Disney vacation should also include a Disney dining plan and possibly the Deluxe Disney dining plan with 3 table service meals per person, per night of your stay.  Disney Dining Plans give your vacation package a more all-inclusive feel; there are several options, which you can discuss with your travel agent in order to figure out the best fit for your family.  The Deluxe dining plan combined with proper planning, will allow you to enjoy some of the famous, sought after signature restaurants around Disney property, without the stress of paying a large bill at the end of every meal.


Additional Activities, Tours and Options

Some options that can be included and planned for your Deluxe Disney vacation are backstage tours in the parks or resorts; examples are the Star Wars tour in Hollywood Studios, Wild Africa Trek in Animal Kingdom, Behind the Seeds Tour in Epcot and Family Magic Tour in Magic Kingdom to name just a few.  You can also add an amazing dessert experience that offers mouthwatering treats and VIP seating for the fireworks shows in the parks.  From September through December special holiday parties are offered in the Magic Kingdom; these parties are extra ticketed events and are not included with park admission.  If you are looking for something extra special, there are VIP experiences that you can reserve with a VIP guide.  The sky is the limit for private parties, as long as the budget allows we can set up numerous custom options for your family or group.


Land / Sea Vacation

For a truly Deluxe Walt Disney World vacation, add a cruise to the end of your park package for some time to relax and let down.  I’m speaking from personal experience when I say that there is no better Disney vacation than one that goes from the Disney World parks to a Disney Cruise experience.  Disney Cruise Line currently has 4 ships and I have been on all of them.  Most itineraries out of Port Canaveral include a stop at Castaway Cay, Disney’s own private island.  This island paradise is by far the best, private cruise line island anywhere.


Once-in-a-lifetime Events

Deluxe Disney vacations are perfect for those lifetime events that only happen once.  Disney is an expert at creating those perfect, unforgettable moments. Examples are weddings, honeymoons, Birthdays, graduations, babymoons, bar & bat mitzvahs, quinceaneras, business events and countless other celebrations that everyone will remember forever.


A Travel Agent

An invaluable piece of your Disney Deluxe vacation is an experienced and knowledgeable travel agent.  Your travel agent can help you put together all the pieces including dining reservations, fastpasses, tours, events and more.

The sky is the limit when you plan a Disney vacation and it’s never too early to start dreaming, saving and planning.

Why use a Travel Agent for your next Disney Vacation?

My name is Melissa and I am a Disney fanatic; I am also a travel agent. You will find me in the parks with my family almost every weekend, exploring new experiences so I can help my guests plan the perfect vacation.  When you book your Disney Deluxe vacation through me, you get my planning services FREE of charge.  You read that right; it costs exactly the same for you to book your vacation through me as it does to book directly through Disney and you get dedicated, personalized planning assistance based on countless hours of personal experience.  I’m here to answer any and all questions that you have and if I don’t have an answer, I will get one.
For my deluxe guests I always send Walt Disney World autograph books to the kids and even Disney gift cards for a special treat while you enjoy your vacation.
Melissa Mathies, Travel Designer & Destination Expert
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How to Plan… for the WDW Free Dining Plan

Free Dining RUMORS are swirling around out there right now.  The Walt Disney World free dining plan is possibly the most popular promotion that Disney World releases.  This special offer typically releases at the end of April and I would like to share with you some of the typical facts and rumors surrounding this offer.


Disney World Free Dining – 2017 RUMORS

The Disney World free dining offer allows everyone booked in one room, in the same package to get one of 2 Disney Dining Plans.  The RUMORS for 2017 are this… you must book a minimum 4 night package and include the Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus tickets.  NEW this year: the Value & Moderate Resort guests will receive the free Quick Service dining plan while Deluxe Resort guests will get the free Disney Plus Dining Plan.  The arrival dates are widely rumored and have been said to include select dates during the months of September, November & December & maybe August.

Be Available

If you currently have a reservation, be available through Facebook messenger or text or email.  Sometimes questions will come up about options for your vacation package & I will need to get in touch with you to make decisions while I am on the phone.

Be Flexible & Patient

Not all resorts are offered for the free dining promotion.  You may need to be open to changing resorts or ticket types in order to qualify.  On the day that this promotion is released, the phone lines are very long & the websites may experience delays (another reason to let a travel agent assist you with your reservation).  I will be up bright & early going through all of my reservations & assisting guests in making any changes that will save them money.
As a Travel Agent, I can book any offer that Disney releases, at no additional cost to you and with the added benefit of free planning assistance.

Have a Plan in Place

Communicate with your travel agent.  If you already have a reservation, decide if you are open to changing resorts or upgrading your tickets in order to qualify for free dining.  If you currently have a package booked, but have not yet added dining to your reservation, let your travel agent know what your maximum budget is in case ticket upgrades or resort changes might affect the price of your package.  If you have not yet booked a vacation, but are interested in free dining, talk to me about your desired reservation details, and I can place a hold on a vacation package for you once the offer is released.
Sometimes the rooms sell out very quickly

Your Travel Agent is there for you – Trust Them

I have been through the release of free dining many times, and have personally traveled on the free dining plan on a number of my own vacations.
A good travel agent will research & outline all of your options. (This is the reason we need to be able to contact you for decisions).  Sometimes upgrading to the park hopper ticket or changing your resort might cost you more and a room discount offer may be the best option for your stay.  Discounts cannot be combined so you will not be able to keep a room discount & add free dining on top of it.

The Next Step

If you are not already booked & are interested in the free dining promotion contact me
If you are already booked through me, and are willing to change your reservation, please communicate with me on your wishes and budget.
Rest assured that if your vacation package is already booked through me, I will be checking to see if I can apply any promotion to save you money.  I LOVE sending out emails telling people that I was able to save them money on their vacation!

Planning is essential for saving money and having a great Disney vacation.  Why not book through a travel agent at NO additional cost to you & let them take care of the hard work so your vacation is all about relaxing & fun?

Thank you for reading,
My name is Melissa, I am a Disney Fanatic and I’m also a travel agent.  It means the world to me to share with you what I love. You will find me in the Disney World parks almost every weekend with my family; I am always trying out new experiences in person, so that I can help you plan your dream vacation.
Melissa Mathies – Travel Designer & Destination Specialist
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Why Use a Travel Agent for your next Disney Vacation?




Pandora Dinner Event in Walt Disney World

As many of you know, I was thrilled to be invited to a special Pandora Dinner event at Disney’s Contemporary Resort on May 6th.  This was a great opportunity to learn, in person, about the new expansion, opening in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park on May 27th.

This dinner did not include a personal visit to Pandora, but… I will be there for a preview on May 15th.  Be sure you watch for my full review in the following days.

Not wanting to miss a minute of this dinner, I left my house early to avoid the heavy traffic on I-4.  I was one of the first few to enter the convention center at the Contemporary Resort; the size of this area never ceases to amaze me.  Disney’s event team had decorated and put out a few canvas photos of Pandora.  (below)

Once the doors to the Fantasia Ballroom opened, I was not disappointed.  From the iridescent purple & teal table clothes to the fancy sparking wine, that made a cloud effect when swirled, it was a flawless presentation typical of Disney.  Each place setting at the table had a Pandora notepad and light up Pandora pen.

Clair Bilby welcomed us to the dinner and thanked all of us for all of our hard work.  Immediately they began to bring around our tantalizing meal.  For you foodies, here are the details of the dinner menu:

Appetizer: Lush baby greens salad with apple and date chutney, rainbow vegetable tendrils, cucumber, and tear drop tomatoes and topped with Riesling Vinaigrette dressing and a beautiful edible flower.  Yes, I did eat the flower.  It had a pleasant crunchy texture but not a lot of scent or taste.

Main Dish: Flame grilled breast of chicken with pomegranate sauce paired with hearth braised beef short rib with Demi-glace.  Served with roasted sweet and red potato hash, green bean pods with olive oil and sea salt.  dinner rolls & butter were also on the table.

Dessert: Na’vi Forest Blueberry Cheesecake with lemon curd.
This dessert was such an amazing mix of complementary flavors, that I ate every bite.  The cheesecake will filled with just enough fresh blueberries and perfectly complimented by the lemon custard.  It was topped with an edible flower and surrounded by delicious meringue kisses.  The sweet, blue outer coating sparked in the light.  It was almost to pretty to eat.

We were not told if these dishes would be served in Pandora when it opens.  However, I do see some similar items, especially the dessert on the menu for the Satu’li Canteen.  You can bet that I will be stopping in at the Satu’li Canteen the first chance I get and ordering the Blueberry Cheesecake.

Kenny Pitchett was the main presenter tonight and he began the presentation asking us not to take photos or video.  Darn, I will have to wait to share more pictures with everyone when I enter Pandora on May 15th.

You can take your own journey to Pandora when you visit Walt Disney World after May 26th and Disney resort guests will get exclusive extra magic hours on select nights for a limited time this summer.  During the extra magic hours, only the resort guests will be allowed into Pandora.

Pandora is thought of by Disney as its’ own world and not just another park in Animal Kingdom.  Because of their similar messages and values, Animal Kingdom was the perfect place to build a bridge that will be the entry way into this new land.

When you cross the bridge to Pandora, ACE or Alpha Centeri Expeditions, will welcome you to the planet that is 4.4 light years away from Earth.  While you are in the World of Avatar explore the flora and fauna in the valley of Mo’ara and learn about the purpose of each unique plant.  If you’re hungry, visit the Satu’li Canteen (don’t forget to try the blueberry cheesecake); if you’re thirsty, stop in at Pongu Pongu, which means party party in Na’vi.  There are 2 main attractions in Pandora.  A family friendly Na’vi River Journey and Avatar – Flight of Passage, where you can view Pandora from the back of a Banshee (height requirement of 44in).  Don’t forget to stay until after dark when you will be able to experience the bioluminescent plant life.

At the end of the event we were given an envelope of Pandora posters for our office walls.  You can bet that I will be hanging mine soon.


If you will be visiting Pandora, you will want to be sure and take full advantage of the Fastpass system for the attractions.  The best way to plan your trip, is to enlist the help of an experienced travel agent who has personally traveled to Pandora.  😉

Thank you for reading.
My name is Melissa and I am a Disney fanatic; I’m also a travel agent.  You will find me almost every weekend in one of the are theme parks with my family.  If you would like FREE planning assistance for your next vacation, contact me or visit my website for a no obligation quote.
Melissa Mathies, Travel Designer & Destination Specialist
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Why use a Travel Agent for your next Disney vacation?