Avatar Flight of Passage Review and Planning Info
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Avatar Flight of Passage opened on: May 27, 2017.
Location: You’ll find the entrance to Avatar Flight of Passage in the back right corner of Pandora to the left of Satu’li Canteen.
The entrance is largely unmarked. You’ll be able to tell that it’s Flight of Passage based on the long posted wait time and all of the people surrounding it. The test seat, which I’ll discuss later, is on the far left in the picture.
Extra Magic Hours: Morning.
Ride Length: 5 minutes.
Type: Flight simulator.
Similar To: A cross between Soarin’ and Star Tours. The large screen and side-by-side seats are similar to Soarin’. The motion and 3D effects are similar to Star Tours, though Flight of Passage is much smoother.
Requirements: Must be 44″ or taller to ride.
Scary Factor: Guests may initially be apprehensive about riding Avatar Flight of Passage.
First, the seats are constricting, with the potential that some guests may not comfortably fit. There is a test seat in front of the attraction entrance. If you’re on the tall and/or wide side of things, you may want to try it before committing to a long wait.
If the restraints don’t properly fit, a cast member will instruct you to exit past all of the other waiting guests.
For the best success, approach the seat like you would a bicycle, and scooch as far forward on the seat as possible.
Then move your legs and calves as far forward as possible, pressing your chest against the pad at the front. Once you hear the back restraint click, a cast member will come by and check it. Once you pass, you’re good to go. At best, the seats are only mildly comfortable with little padding. At least based on the long wait times, this does not dissuade most people from riding.
Flight of Passage is a 3D motion simulator, but it’s much smoother and more seamless than similar attractions. Even most of those who report uncomfortable experiences on Star Tours or Mission: SPACE usually disembark Flight of Passage feeling fine. Still, those with motion sickness issues will want to take the usual precautions, whether that means using Sea-Bands, Dramamine, or simply making sure that you’re properly fed and hydrated.
Only those with an extreme fear of heights should run into issues on that front. Unlike Soarin’, which whisks you 80 feet in the air to start the ride, your ride vehicle starts at the height that it will be at for the majority of the ride. There is the occasional dip, but it should be a lot more fun than it is scary. In each theater, there are three floors with 16 seats in each row. Theoretically, you could request the bottom row to be closer to the ground, but you’ll still be a fair distance in the air. If it’s going to be a problem, it’s probably better to not think about it rather than trying to focus on just how high up you are.
What to Expect:
The lengthy standby queue is a spectacle in its own right.
It winds around a mountain outdoors before arriving at the laboratory inside.
Guests enter the first of two pre-show rooms, where Dr. Stevens will first introduce riders to the Avatar link process. Then, Dr. Jackie Ogden takes over in the next room and explains the mission further.
Once you’re paired appropriately with your Avatar and get properly seated, the theater and ride vehicles move to simulate flight to great effect with the 3D images working in tandem with physical effects to create a real feeling of soaring through the world of Pandora. It’s a tremendous move forward in flight simulation. I don’t want to give too much away, but you can check out an on-ride YouTube video like this one if you’re more curious.
Where to Sit: Each theater seats a total of 48 riders with 16 riders per floor. Each floor is broken up into two rooms with eight seats in each. Parties of two may want to request seats seven and eight or nine and ten to be centered. Groups of four may prefer seats five through eight or nine through twelve to be in the same room.
Every seat offers a great experience and it’s rare to hear anyone request a specific row or seat. Unlike Soarin’, where the top middle row is preferable due to less distortion and a lack of feet dangling in your face, the best floor on Flight of Passage is less clear. The middle row potentially offers the best straight-on view of the screen. The top row means you won’t be looking up at anybody’s feet, but you may also find yourself looking slightly down most of the ride. The bottom floor is arguably the worst because the floor is visible if you look straight down, but even then, complaints are rare. Most people are content with whatever placement they receive, particularly after the (potentially) long wait. Seats one and two and fifteen and sixteen are the only ones where slight distortion may be noticeable.
FastPass+: Yes, Flight of Passage is far and away Animal Kingdom’s highest FastPass+ priority. Guests may initially select FastPass+ for only one of the two rides in Pandora – Na’vi River Journey or Avatar Flight of Passage. FastPass+ for Flight of Passage are routinely unavailable fewer than 60 days in advance, with limited availability at 60, 61, and 62 days out. Using FastPass+ for Flight of Passage will save 90+ minutes in line, and almost always more time than any other Animal Kingdom attraction.
What You Miss Using FastPass+:
Unfortunately, guests using FastPass+ miss virtually all of Flight of Passage’s standby queue. While we rarely enjoy waiting in line, there is a lot to see in the queue, and the various scenes help tell the story of the destruction that happened in the Valley of Mo’ara and how that became the basis for the Avatar project.
The cave paintings and artwork show a more primitive side of the alien life.
Moving further into the building, you can actually see the flora reclaiming the Resources Development Administration’s facility.
The details are pretty spectacular. Remember, this is just the queue.
Eventually, you’ll arrive at what is now a research laboratory for the Avatar project.
Those using FastPass+ instead will still walk through the outdoor portion of the queue. The only downside is that the FastPass+ line funnels guests through on the right path, and standby is on the left. That means this view will be marred somewhat by those waiting in standby.
In the FastPass+ queue, this is the walkway that you’ll use once you head inside.
At the end of the barren walkway, a cast member will assign you to a row and you’ll bypass all of the neat standby queue details. Basically, with FastPass+, the last two pictures are all that you’ll see inside the building and before the two pre-shows.
There is really only one way to see the standby queue without waiting over an hour in line. In order to move through as many guests first thing in the morning as possible, Disney typically routes the first several hundred guests who arrive through the FastPass+ queue instead of standby. That means those guests who arrive early for rope drop will bypass the same queue elements. The only time you can see the standby queue without waiting 60+ minutes is last thing at night. You can read more about visiting Pandora in the final hour of operation in this detailed post.
Total Average Experience Time with FastPass+: 25 minutes.
4th FastPass+ Availability: Only if you get incredibly lucky with someone else cancelling their FastPass+. Most people are aware of how much time Flight of Passage FastPass+ saves and how difficult they are to acquire. Potentially, Disney may release some day-of FastPass+ for Avatar Flight of Passage. Refresh availability consistently at 11am, 1pm, 3pm, and 5pm on the day of your visit and you may see Flight of Passage FP+ become available.
Expect to Wait:
Avatar Flight of Passage easily posts the longest waits of any attraction at any Walt Disney World Park. The average wait still exceeds two hours and hits that number within a couple minutes of opening most days.
When to Go: Absolutely first thing in the morning, last thing at night, or with FastPass+. See the touring plans section for more information on how best to experience Avatar Flight of Passage.
Josh’s Take: Even three years after opening, Avatar Flight of Passage continues to wow guests. Virtually everyone who exits loudly proclaims that the attraction was well worth the 2+ hours they waited. Personally, I’m not quite as high on screen-based attractions, even when they’re executed as well as Flight of Passage. But the proof is in the pudding as they say, and I have been overruled on this one. I’m not sure you could find someone who didn’t enjoy it.