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Five Things to Know About Avatar Flight of Passage

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When Avatar Flight of Passage opened on May 27, 2017, it immediately established itself as the most popular attraction in Animal Kingdom – and it remains so today. The ride employs 3D glasses and unique ride vehicles to create the illusion of flying on the back of a banshee; it’s one of the most technologically advanced rides that Disney’s Imagineers have ever produced. Read on to find out why this attraction remains a must-ride for Animal Kingdom visitors. But if you’d rather skip ahead and learn all about the whys, whats and wheres of this attraction, here’s your shortcut.

1. The queue is an attraction in itself.

The queue for Avatar Flight of Passage just may win the prize for most elaborate queue in any theme park. Period. You begin the queue by wandering through the landscape of Pandora. Waterfalls, exotic vegetation, and the amazing floating mountains line the walkway. You wind through abandoned cave dwellings where wall paintings and markings tell the story of the Na’vi, the inhabitants of Pandora. You continue through more jungle and rocks as they transition to an industrial-looking space, until you arrive at the research laboratory of the Pandora Conservation Initiative.

Flight of Passage queue. (photo by Michael Carelli)

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the lab is the Na’vi avatar, suspended in a large, fluid-filled tube. The peaceful floating figure is the only animatronic in the attraction. Periodically fingers twitch or legs move, adding to the realism of what you’re seeing. You could spend a lot of time in the lab noting what the screens are reporting and which experiments are being conducted. It’s immersive, incredibly detailed, and endlessly fascinating, a tribute to the Imagineers’ creativity and devotion to detail.

Photo: Brandon Glover

2. There’s a show before the show.

The lab’s exit leads to a 16-person chamber. Here you view preshow one, designed to help prepare for your flight. Before you’re “matched” to an avatar, you’ll undergo a “parasite decontamination procedure”. Another “process” matches you with an Avatar based on “genetic material matching” (and no, you don’t have to submit a DNA sample). You’ll then move to an orientation room for preshow number two. There, Dr. Ogden explains the Rite of Passage ceremony you’ll be experiencing. She explains that you’ll link to an avatar already on the back of a banshee by sitting in one of the 16 link chairs.

After the pre-shows, you’ll be offered the chance to use the chicken exit, so if you decide not to ride the attraction you can still enjoy the impressive queue.

3. The ride vehicles are unique.

As you enter the link room, a video will instruct you to store your stuff in the containers on the back wall. You’ll receive 3D glasses or “flight visors” to wear. Video instructions tell you how to mount the ride vehicle for a safe flight. Mounted like a bicycle, you straddle the seat, step forward and sit down. Slide your hips forward until you’re against the chest pad, then move your feet all the way forward. Hold the hand grips. Back and leg restraints firmly engage to lock you in place. You’ll be facing a bit downward at an angle at this point.

Flight Of Passage Test Vehicle

The seating and safety restraints may prohibit guests of certain body shapes or sizes from riding. There’s a test seat outside the attraction for guests to try, but it only approximates the ride vehicle. So, it’s possible for guests who had no issues with the test seat to experience trouble with the actual ride vehicle. It’s worth noting that the snug fit of the back and leg restraints, (plus the confined space of the chamber) have caused some guests with claustrophobia to exit before the ride begins.

While the vehicles are close enough together so you could touch riders next to you, you’re essentially riding alone. If you have members of your family or group who really prefer to ride in the same seat as a family member or friend, that’s not possible here.

4. You’ll find yourself a-banshee-back.

Once seated, the room darkens, lights flash and you’re “linked” to your avatar on the back of a banshee. This “linking” allows you to see and feel what your avatar experiences. The ride vehicles are arranged in three rows, each of which has its own platform. These lift as the ride begins and you’ll find yourself immersed in the huge multi-story screen for your flight. We think riders toward the middle of the room (seats 4–8 in one group and 9–12 in the other) have a better range of vision. You can turn your head almost 90° either way, and about 45° up and down, to survey the Pandora landscape. However, seats on the ends still have an excellent ride.


The flight sequence is done incredibly well. You’ll fly through bioluminescent forests, over oceans, and through valleys. Thanks to your link chair and 3D glasses, you’ll really feel as if you’re on the back of a banshee! Your experience is augmented with numerous sensory efforts including wind gusts, light mists, and the scents of the Pandora landscape. Throughout the ride, airbags at your legs gently inflate and deflate to simulate the banshee’s breathing. While most of the ride involves flying, there are a few moments when the banshee stops to rest. This is a great time to really look around! Each moment of the ride film is layered with so many details that you’ll see something new every time.

The ride experience lasts 4 minutes and is very smooth. Many (but not all) riders who have problems with motion sickness on screen-based rides report that they are able to ride Flight of Passage. But if you’re still uncertain about whether a banshee ride is in your future, you can check out our Ride Wimp’s review.

5. The Nuts and Bolts.

Avatar Flight of Passage is located in Animal Kingdom’s Pandora – The World of Avatar. To get there, head left after entering the Discovery Island area of the park. Turn left as you approach Pizzafari and continue past Tiffins to enter the land. The entrance to Avatar Flight of Passage sits under the signature floating mountains. Weather doesn’t affect Avatar Flight of Passage since it’s completely indoors and out of the elements.

We’ve talked about the seating and safety restraints of this attraction above. Just in case you were skimming: the ride vehicle is a “link chair” that you’ll sit on like a motorcycle. It has back and leg restraints that may cause some guests to feel claustrophobic, and may also prohibit guests of some body shapes and sizes from riding. Although there is a test seat outside the attraction, it’s possible to fit the test seat and still have trouble on the actual link chair.

Flight Of Passage Ride vehicle

Guests must transfer to a wheelchair, then to the ride vehicle. Service animals are not permitted. Guests must be 44 inches or taller to ride, and as with all rides that have a height requirement, Flight of Passage offers Rider Switch. 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.

Audio description, video captioning, and assistive listening devices are available for Flight of Passage.

Since Avatar Flight of Passage remains the most popular ride in Animal Kingdom, you should visit early in the day or nearer park closing time. It’s open for Early Theme Park Entry, and you can purchase an Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) to shorten your wait.

The Bottom Line.

We rate Avatar Flight of Passage as not-to-be-missed. It offers an incredibly immersive experience by combining cutting-edge technology, storytelling, and intricate theming as only Disney can do it. Whether you’re a fan of the movies or not (or even if you haven’t seen them), it’s worth your time to hop on the back of a banshee!

Have you flown on a banshee? What’s your favorite part of Flight of Passage? Tell us in the comments below.

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Bob Jacobs

Bob Jacobs lives in Wisconsin where he retired as Editorial Director for a well-known catalog company. He and his wife Cristie have four children, seven grandchildren and a cocker spaniel named Penny the Dog. They’ve visited Walt Disney World regularly since 1992.

2 thoughts on “Five Things to Know About Avatar Flight of Passage

  • Heck, I really struggled with the motions on Runaway Railway – that on-screen “plunge” over the waterfall! – and Remy – the rapid swirling of the vehicle! So this one’s a hard no for me. The drops on Frozen and the experience at Soarin’ are my limit so far, although I may screw up the nerve to try Rise. Dinosaur ruined me.

  • This one is a little higher on the motion sickness index than most. I rode this for the first time when we were there a couple years ago. My daughter got fast passes because they screwed up her tickets when she checked in at the hotel. So no line. The ride is pretty exciting, on a par with some others like Space Mountain or Rock-n-Roller Coaster. I got fairly nauseous at a couple points though and had to look away from the screen. Definitely worth at least one ride.


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