You’re going on vacation to Walt Disney World! The only problem? You’re not sure which attractions are right for you and your kiddos and you have questions. Which attractions are too intense for little ones? What rides do I really need a FastPass+ reservation for? What’s the disability access like for certain attractions? We’re answering all those questions and more in our Everything You Need to Know attraction series with today’s focus on Avatar Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
What is Avatar Flight of Passage?
Avatar Flight of Passage is Pandora – The World of Avatar’s signature attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This flight simulator attraction creates the exhilaration of flight from the back of banshee over and through the breathtaking landscapes of Pandora. Flight of Passage is often compared to Epcot’s Soarin’ Around the World as it effectively simulates the sensation of flight and uses a giant screen coupled with scents and water effects. What makes Flight of Passage unique from Soarin’ Around the World is its use of 3-D coupled with unique ride vehicles.
Where is Avatar Flight of Passage?
Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to Avatar Flight of Passage. Upon entering the Discovery Island area of the park, guests should head left. When approaching Pizzafari, guests should turn left and continue past Tiffins to enter the land. The entrance to the Avatar Flight of Passage attraction sits under Pandora – The World of Avatar’s signature floating mountains.
What is the History of Avatar Flight of Passage?
Pandora – The World of Avatar for Disney’s Animal Kingdom was officially announced in 2011. The land is a representation of the planet of Pandora seen in James Cameron’s 2009 Avatar film. Imagineer Joe Rohde described Flight of Passage’s premise at D23 Expo in 2013; but it wasn’t until D23 Expo in 2015 that the attraction’s name was announced. Pandora – The World of Avatar and Avatar Flight of Passage officially opened to guests on May 27, 2017 and was an immediate success. Avatar Flight of Passage continues to be one of the most popular attractions on property.
What Do You Need to Know About the Queue for Avatar Flight of Passage?
Your journey begins with a long walk from the base of Pandora, up an inclined path, and into abandoned cave dwellings. Wall paintings and markings inside the caves tell the story of the Na’vi who first used them. From there, you walk through jungle and more rocks, until you reach the research laboratory of the humans who’ve settled on Pandora. Inside the lab are various experiments showing how the study of the planet’s wildlife is progressing. Some of the effects are clever little engineering tricks – small, black, amoeba-like creatures scurrying about in the lab are probably made of ferrofluids (bits of metal suspended in a liquid) moved about by specially shaped magnets. Even if you know how it’s done, it’s a joy to see the idea used.
The star of the pre-show, however, is a sleeping Na’vi avatar suspended in a giant, water-filled tube in the lab. It’s eerily realistic, so much so that it occasionally twitches and moves.
Once through the queue, you’re brought to a 16-person chamber room to prepare for your flight. A video plays, explaining the concept of an avatar – a way for you to project your consciousness on to another being, in this case a Na’vi riding astride a banshee – and feel everything it feels. Your preparation includes a parasite decontamination procedure – Pandora is filled with critters, in case you hadn’t noticed. A second part of the video seems to be chosen randomly from a few different scenes, so you’re likely to get a different pre-show experience the first few times you ride
What are the Ride Vehicles Like on Avatar Flight of Passage?
When it’s time to ride, guests enter an enclosed room with what looks like 16 stationary bicycles without pedals. You’re handed 3-D googles and told to approach the “bike”, swing one leg over, mount it, and scoot as far forward as you can. The reason for doing this is that padded restraints will be deployed along your calves and lower back, ensuring you don’t fall off during your flight. (The snug restraint system, coupled with the confined space of the room, causes some claustrophobic guests to exit before riding.)
Riders are close enough that they can reach out and touch the rider next to the them, but this is very much of a solo experience. It’s something to be aware of for wary riders who prefer riding with a family member or friend.
What Do You Need to Know About the Ride Experience on Avatar Flight of Passage?
Avatar Flight of Passage is often described as emotional and thrilling. There are a few action-packed moments, dips and dives, and near misses, but the Flight of Passage is more of an experience than a wild ride.
The ride movements are impressively smooth and fluid. While most of the ride involves flying, there are a few moments when the banshee stops to rest. Throughout the ride, airbags at your legs gently inflate and deflate to simulate the banshee’s breathing. Each moment of the ride film is layered with details so there’s something new to see each time you ride.
The flying effects are very well done – you can turn your head almost 90 degrees either way to survey the Pandora landscape while you’re flying, and about 45 degrees up and down. Riders toward the middle of the room (seats 4 through 8 in one group and 9 through 12 in the other), we think have better range of vision. At any given time, Disney says, there are 3 levels of 16 riders flying with you. We didn’t see anyone other than our immediate neighbors, but people at the far ends said they could see almost all of the riders when they turned their heads.
What Do You Need to Know About Accessibility for Avatar Flight of Passage?
Guests must transfer to a standard wheelchair, and then to the ride vehicle to experience Avatar Flight of Passage. It’s also important to note that service animals are not permitted on this attraction.
The seating and restraints of this attraction may prohibit Guests of certain body shapes or sizes from riding.
What Do You Need to Know About Health and Safety Advisories for Avatar Flight of Passage?
For safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure; heart, back, or neck problems; motion sickness; or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride. There are also moments of flashing lights or strobe lights.
The snug safety restraints against guests back and legs may make some feel claustrophobic. Guests who have a fear of heights may want to skip this attraction.
What Are the Height Restrictions for Avatar Flight of Passage?
Guests must be at least 44 in. to experience Avatar Flight of Passage. This attraction also offers Rider Swap.
What Do You Need to Know About FastPass+ for Avatar Flight of Passage?
Avatar Flight of Passage is INCREDIBLY popular. Expect it to be busy from park open to close. If Avatar Flight of Passage is a priority for you and your family, I recommend getting a FastPass+ reservation as soon as possible. However, be aware that Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey are both in a “choose only 1” FastPass+ tier, so for now you will only be able to reserve FastPass+ for one of the attractions in Pandora. It’s important to note that Avatar Flight of Passage is one of the tougher FPs to obtain. Some of our brilliant users have noticed that available same-day FastPass+ seem to be released at 7 minutes past the hour. If you weren’t able to reserve a FastPass+ for Flight of Passage check every hour.
Does Weather Affect Avatar Flight of Passage?
The Avatar Flight of Passage attraction is completely indoors and out of the elements. However, there is an outdoor portion of the queue which can extend through the land itself on especially busy days.
What’s the Best Time of Day to Ride Avatar Flight of Passage?
We’re told that if the entire queue is full, the wait to ride Avatar Flight of Passage is between 4 and 5 hours. It’s not worth that much time. If you can’t get a FastPass+ reservation, get to Animal Kingdom early–an hour before opening is ideal–and join the crowds of people lining up already.
This chart shows you roughly how long you’ll wait for Avatar Flight of Passage when you visit on a day with a given Disney’s Animal Kingdom Crowd Level. The blue bars represent the average “peak” wait time (that is, how long the line will be at its busiest). The bottom and top black lines represent the range of peak wait times to expect (for you fellow nerds out there: it’s the 5th percentile and 95th percentile of peak wait times). Please note that these are estimates, and for a better forecast for your travel dates, see Avatar Flight of Passage Wait Times.
Did I answer all of your questions about Avatar Flight of Passage? Is this attraction at the top of your family’s vacation to-do list? Let us know in the comments.