Riding rides you have never been on can be both thrilling and scary. For some thrill-seekers, the surprise is part of the fun, but for others, the unknown can suck all the fun out of a ride.
If you identify more with the later, this article will tell you everything you need to know to prepare for riding the Flight of Passage ride in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
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In 2012 Disney decided that they wanted to design a ride around the movie Avatar; they wanted to make a banshee ride. A banshee is a creature the characters in Avatar rode around on for hunting and traveling long distances.
It was then that they approached the director of the movie, James Cameron. He wanted the ride to be made very similar to Disneyland’s Soarin’ over California (which is also similar to Epcot’s Soarin’ Around the World).
Cameron wanted a “Soarin’ over Pandora.”
And in many ways, the ride is just that, as Flight of Passage utilizes very similar technology and effects as the popular Disneyland ride.
As the ride was being developed and the prototype was created, it is said that Avatar producer rode the ride hundreds of times and gave lots of feedback.
Additionally, James Cameron was, of course, one of the earliest people to get to ride the prototype and he helped the developers get the Na’vi language just right.
Since the ride’s release, it has been one of the most popular Disney rides. Millions of people have ridden on it, and there is often a several hour wait.
You definitely do not want to miss out on this one.
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What to Expect While on the Ride
The experience of Flight of Passage begins before you even get to your seats.
It starts with a walk-through Pandora’s beautiful wilderness and caves covered in Na’vi paintings that lead you into a banshee research facility that was previously a mining sight for the “Resources Development Administration” (the antagonist group from the movie).
Inside the research facility, you will see various experiments and even little amoeba-like creatures scurrying about.
However, the most impressive part of the first room is a Na’vi Avatar floating in a tube that actually twitches and moves.
When you have finished the wait, you will be moved into a chamber room to prepare you for the flight.
Here, a video will play that will explain what an avatar is, guide you through a “Pandora parasite decontamination” process, and some other secondary video.
Finally, you will be genetically matched with your avatar.
Avatar Flight of Passage Ride Experience
Now it is time to actually ride the ride.
You will go into yet another room filled with chairs that “link” you to your avatar. After you receive a pair of 3-D glasses, you can swing your legs onto the ride seat and scoot as far forward as possible.
There are a few things you need to keep in mind about the chairs.
One, there will be padded restraints along your calves and lower back during the ride so you cannot fall off.
The restraints and sitting position are very comfortable, but if you suffer from claustrophobia, the restraints may prove to be a challenge.
Second, while the seats are close enough that a rider could reach out to the person beside them, this ride is a solo experience, so it may not work great for younger children or those who prefer to ride with another person.
When the ride actually begins it is a beautifully designed experience from the physical effects such as airbags that allow you to feel your banshee’s breathing to the beautiful sights of floating mountains.
You’re also able to look all around at (to be specific, you can look about 90 degrees left and right and 45 degrees up and down).
There are so many details that you will have something new to see and experience every time you ride.
Additionally, the ride is very smooth.
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Does Flight of Passage Cause Motion Sickness?
If you get motion sickness easily, you should keep that in mind as the feeling of flying is very real, but there have been many reports of people who get motion sickness on other rides not getting sick on Flight of Passage.
Of course, if the ride becomes too much, there are Disney employees nearby that can help you.
Hipster Power Tip: You must be 44 inches tall to ride. So, keep this in mind if you have small children.
Fun Facts About Flight of Passage Ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Here is just some good/interesting information about the ride that you may like to know.
- Flight of Passage has one of the longest recorded wait times at Disney World
- One thousand four hundred forty people can ride the ride in an hour.
- The “genetic match” actually does a body scan, and the avatar you get may change your ride slightly.
- It is Disney’s first fully augmented reality (AR) ride.
Flight of Passage Wait Time
The Flight of Passage ride is one of the most popular rides in the Animal Kingdom park at Disney World and therefore has one of the longest wait times there is.
The ride has a range or a one and a half to a six-hour wait time. The most it has ever had was six and a half hours.
Additionally, unlike other new rides, the wait time for this ride did not die down after the original buzz did, but it is finally starting to drop after the opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance experience.
The good news is the Disney Imagineers of the ride prepared for this by making one of the longest and most intricate waiting queues there is.
As you wait in the long line, you will walk through the world of Pandora, see beautiful sights including the floating mountains, head into caves covered in Na’vi paintings, and finally through the research facility itself.
During all stages, you will learn lots of interesting information about the Na’vi’s history. The sights and information make the long wait time much more bearable.
How to Get a Shorter Wait Time for Flight of Passage?
If the long wait time is not for you, there are a few times that will be better to try and ride it.
One, if there is rain or inclement weather, the line will quite possibly be shorter. While the ride itself is completely indoors, some of the waiting takes place outdoors, so the lines will probably be shorter on these days.
Two, if you can get to this ride first thing when the park opens, the wait will be shorter.
If this ride is really important to you, doing it in the morning before the park gets busy will save you lots of time.
Securing that Coveted Disney FastPass
Because the wait time for this ride can be so long, it is a great option for your FastPass selections, but availability goes fast, so make your reservation as soon as possible.
If you are unable to get your reservations before the day of, there are new spots released every hour, so check the app consistently to try to get a reservation.
It is rare for FastPass wait times to get above fifteen to twenty minutes, but it can happen.
Nevertheless, you can save hours of time by using Disney FastPass for Flight of Passage and other busy rides.
Keep in mind that both Avatar rides, Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey can have fairly long wait times, so you will have to prioritize with your initial FastPass booking as they are both on the list of rides you can only pick one of.
Flight of Passage is usually harder to get and has the longest wait time, so you may want to start with it, but the day of if you consistently check your app, you may be able to reserve FastPasses for both as you complete your first selections.
3 Top Tips for Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom
1 – Use Extra Magic Hours
If you are staying in select Disney World Resorts and Hotels, you will have access to Extra Magic Hours on certain days.
This means you can enter any of the parks an hour earlier or stay an hour later than most guests. It also means there will be fewer people and less of a wait.
If your Extra Magic Hours are in the morning, try to show up an extra thirty minutes early as you will then be one of the first people in the park.
On the other hand, if you do not have extra magic hours, come to Animal Kingdom on a day where those hours are not available as there will probably be fewer people in the park, and if you get there early, you can still be one of the first into the park.
2 – Bring a Water Bottle with You
If you do have to wait in the long line, especially the outdoors part when it is hot, you will want to make sure you are not dehydrated.
Of course, Disney thought of that too. Halfway through the line, there is a water bottle refill station, so do not worry about trying to stockpile your water before getting in a huge line.
3 – Look for Hidden Secrets
Before you get on the ride, you will be grouped into different chambers, and while there is no difference between the experience of each chamber, you ask to be in chamber A or B.
You will be able to find the red hand prints when you get off.
On the concrete wall, as you exit the ride from those two chambers, you will spot three red hand prints with initials underneath.
These are the handprints of the director, producer, and executive designer of the movie.
Overall, I give this ride, on a hipster scale of 1 to 10 a 10 plus! It is a must do attraction.
When you have the chance to book your FastPass+ do it as soon as possible for Avatar Flight of Passage.
I hope you enjoy your magical trip to the Animal Kingdom and the world of Pandora!
Ready to experience Pandora: World of Avatar? If so, you can read the full guide here!
Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!
(Original Article Date: May 23, 2017/Updated January 24, 2020)