Review: Avatar Flight of Passage at Pandora: World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

We move on to Pandora: World of Avatar’s marquee attraction in Avatar Passage of Flight. Like previous reviews, I offer a picture-free, largely spoiler-free introduction to what to expect from the ride along with some preliminary touring strategy here. Obviously, it can’t be completely spoiler-free as I’ll be briefly describing the ride system and a bit about what the simulator is like, though I won’t tell you anything that you’ll really see or experience. Skip reading the spoiler-free link if you’ll be scrolling through the next few pictures as the same information will come up again.

In the photos that immediately follow, I’ll post some pictures from the preshow video that describe how the ride system works and what the seating situation is like. Then I’ll walk you through the incredibly long, incredibly detailed queue. If you’re going to experience Pandora anytime in the near future, you might “x” out of the page before the queue pictures start. There’s no real reason to spoil it.

This is the hallway to the first pre-show area immediately after the FastPass+ line merges with standby. There are four individual theaters each with three levels.

The ride offers FastPass+, has a single rider line, and a 44” minimum height.

The first pre-show takes about four minutes. This is where you will “link” to your Avatar.

It’s kind of neat in that the silhouettes that appear digitally on screen ahead are actually the people in the room.

You can kind of see me in the back creepin’ with my camera.

The next pre-show room introduces how the ride system works.

It compares the vehicle to a bike in the text up top. I find it easier to just slide my behind forward rather than doing the leg kick thing. Bloggers are not typically known for being nimble or able to follow basic social norms.

From the front.

Highlighting the restraints.

I didn’t even feel the leg restraints close. I had an irrational fear that the back was going to crush me to death, but that didn’t happen either. The initial configuration caused a number of taller or larger people to not fit in the seat, but modifications have already been made that should allow the vast majority of people to ride with a reasonable amount of comfort.

3D glasses are provided and they seemed to fit over my regular glasses fine.

The ride experience is perhaps best described as a cross between Soarin’ and Star Tours with a ride system that resembles a row of bicycles or motorcycles in a single line. Unlike Soarin’, seats are not raised into the air in dramatic fashion. The seats are already positioned high enough in front of the gigantic screen. Instead, once the ride begins, the seats detach slightly from their bays and then move back and forth from side to side slightly to mimic the feeling of flight. A couple of minor “drops” are felt throughout with a sensation in the stomach similar to the smaller drops on Tower of Terror. But the vehicle itself does no actual plunging. The motion is quite smooth. I think we’ll have to wait to see how the ride affects those prone to motion sickness. There’s quite a bit more movement than Star Tours or Soarin’, but it “feels” natural and I didn’t find any part particularly jarring or unpleasant.

Those that enjoy simulator rides should love Flight of Passage. You don’t really need to know anything about the movie to hop on the back of a dragon and ride it through a bright alien world. It’s certainly the next generation of this style of ride and I’ve never experienced anything quite like it at any other Disney or Universal park.

The ride capacity is quoted as being around 1,550 riders per hour, which is on the low side considering Expedition Everest does 2,100 riders per hour and Kilimanjaro Safaris is quite a bit higher than that. FastPass+ experiences are difficult to obtain any less than 59 days in advance at the moment. It should be your highest Animal Kingdom FP+ priority as guests can currently only choose one of the two Pandora rides in advance.

The extraordinarily long standby queue is richly detailed and has been quoted as holding four hours’ worth of guests. The FastPass+ line bypasses virtually all of the queue, which is worth walking through if you can arrive very early or very late. Disney resort guests will enjoy nightly evening Extra Magic Hours inside Pandora from 11pm-1am from May 27th through July 4th. Those able may want to get in line as late in the evening as possible.

I’m expecting the full Flight of Passage experience to take about 30 minutes even without much of an initial wait. There’s the initial wait to be sent to a theater, then an additional wait before entering the first pre-show. Then two pre-show videos follow in two separate rooms before the lengthy loading process takes place. And it’s a hike back through the gift shop and back outside.

Those able to secure FP+ for Flight of Passage may want to head to Na’vi River Journey first and then ride Passage with FP+ after. It remains to be seen how quickly waits build at River Journey, but they may be sizable 30-40 minutes after opening. We’ll see.

The standby queue is incredibly immersive as it seemingly winds around outside, then inside, forever. Like these people circled are in the standby queue. I’m actually still walking the queue as I type this.

A wider look.

We’re not quite on the level of Journey of the Little Mermaid over at Magic Kingdom, where the queue is arguably better than the ride.

But the amount of detail is incredible and it’s more of a testament to the quality of the ride experience.

At times, the queue also offers a higher vantage point to enjoy the scenery below.

And above.

Luckily, at least as far as summertime heat/rain go, the outdoor portion of the queue doesn’t drag on that far, though I think with a 4-hour wait about half of that time would be spent outside.

Inside, the first room resembles a cave with hieroglyphics:
























It’s spectacular to experience in person, particularly with the sound effects.

And the amount of detail is incredible.

It must have taken forever to distress the walls so much. Remember, everything here is actually brand new

I love the look of these water fountains, which you’ll notice also offer a spigot to fill water bottles. These pop up in a variety of places, including the Na’vi River Journey queue.

Flora starts taking back the facility in the next room:

















It’s an incredible area and you might not even mind waiting 30 minutes of your 4-hour wait here.

It’s also in stark contrast to the laboratory in the next room:





























The animatronic Na’vi in the tank is particularly cool. They call him “Hans” or “Hank” because Hanes boxers are the only underwear they could find that fit him. I would have thought Rohde would knit something himself that he saw during his travels to remote Bali.

This is the last standby room before the queue merges with Fastpass+.



It affords an opportunity to take a picture with the silhouette of a full-size Na’vi.

At the conclusion of the ride, there’s a long walk down to Windtraders, Pandora’s principal retail location.

We’ll see how long these flowers, which kind of resemble banshees, last.

Looking back up at the walk down.

Overall, Flight of Passage is the ride that Pandora deserves. I am not personally a big screen-ride guy – you might remember that I don’t like Soarin’ or anyone that does. But Flight of Passage is so technically impressive and so fun to experience that I think everyone will disembark satisfied. The smells and sounds in the queue and on the ride are incredibly immersive.  It’s very cool and I’m excited for more people to have an opportunity to experience it themselves.

Comments

  1. Boski says

    I love how you capture all the details. I’ve seen the “vlogs” of the queue but they all seem to miss the little things that make it so cool and focus on the bigger things (like the avatar in the tank). I mean a Jane Goodall book? Brilliant! Its one of those queues you’re actually going to be a bit bummed to skip through using a FP.

  2. anon says

    How long do you think it will take for someone to strap a camera to their chest and give us a onride video?

  3. Rob S says

    If you had young kids and usually liked them would you feel comfortable letting them ride? My youngest should reach the minimum height at age 5 when we go, but just want to make sure he’ll feel safe on the ride (typically rides everything his height allows with no issues).

    • josh says

      I’m not sure. I don’t have kids and it probably “depends” on the temperament of the child. The ride system is a little strange and because there is some distance between the seats, it might be more difficult to reassure a child that everything is okay. I would guess a lot of reports will stream in about people’s experiences in the coming days and we’ll have a better idea then.

    • Cheryl Thompson says

      I went yesterday with my almost 7 year old (who is just tall enough to ride!) and 9 year old. My 7 year old was very scared after the pre-ride show room 1. She got even more scared after the back harness locked her into place. She is usually fearless and LOVES Expedition Everest. That being said, I kept reassuring her and held her arm the entire ride. She got off, jumping up and down, stating that it was her new favorite ride! My 9 year old loved it as well. I had some motion sickness issues and I will take a Dramamine pill before my FP that I scored for June 10. The ride was amazing and I’ll sacrifice some motion sickness to ride it again!

      • Rob S says

        Thanks for that report, great to hear on both kid report and motion sickness, as they both pertain to me lol. EE is my DS6 favorite​ ride too

  4. Campbell says

    Strange things catch your eyes and the birds of paradise flowers are an excellent symbol for Avatar land and flight of passage. Hopefully they’ll all be in flower when we visit in July

  5. Trisha says

    That’s an avatar in the tube, per the cast member yesterday. Something about being able to tell based on his muscle structure and something else?
    The queue really is amazing to look at… I’m not sure if I’d rather wait and ride the river or just walk this queue instead!

  6. Jeff says

    Thank you Josh.
    You come at it very differently from everybody else. Much appreciated.

    The fact that you’re not a Soarin’ fan, but enjoyed this, really says a lot.

  7. dusty cheatham says

    thank you sir. mobility issues do you think in your humble opinion that this may be a problem ?

    • josh says

      Probably not…there is a also a modified seat where you can get on the vehicle and they slide you into the spot so you have to walk or move even less than those that use the regular seats. But in extreme cases there would probably be an issue as you do have to get on the vehicle in some way.

  8. Jess says

    Is a test seat offered for this ride before waiting in line and hoping to fit? If so, where is the test seat located? Thank you!

    • josh says

      Not yet. I have heard secondhand that they will install one, but we’ll have to wait and see when and where.

  9. TJ says

    It is my undrstanding that the ride vehicles themselves do indeed drop up to 10 feet during the ride to enhance the sensation of flying and doing ariel manuevers.

    No?

    • josh says

      I think it’s more that the whole theater drops that height rather than the individual seats. Regardless you will “feel” like you’re dropping from time to time.

  10. Kelli says

    +1 on is there a ride tester? I’d hate to get through the super long line and be turned away because I don’t fit.

    • josh says

      Not yet. I have heard secondhand that they will install one, but we’ll have to wait and see when and where.

  11. Catherine says

    Thank you! Your review almost makes me want to watch the Avatar movie before we go….maybe. I’m not a scifi fan.

    • Pixarprincess says

      We were just having this conversation and got our hands on a copy to watch before we go. Now to find that kind of time (its so long!)

  12. Marla says

    You mentioned that modifications were already done to ensure most folks fit in the seats. When was that done? Since Saturday? Thanks for the updates ?

    • josh says

      This is secondhand information, but when you sit down, there is a “chest pad” towards the front of the seat that inflates. During the very first preview, the pad was already inflated near its maximum. Now, the pad inflates around you after you sit. So before, some people couldn’t fit with the pad being so wide. Now, they can because the pad doesn’t inflate as much in those situations.

  13. Disney Fanboy says

    Unfortunately the Fanboy got his 3rd DUI and the judge suspended my license 90 days. I’ll have to wait ubtil Mid-August before I can drive over to AK and check it out. I’ll let y’all know what I think then.

    Fanboy out!

  14. Tracy says

    So how much of the queue will be missed with FP+? Just the outside portion before the pre shows start?

  15. TeacherGrandma says

    These pictures are fantastic, Josh! Thanks! I can’t wait to try this, but I’m getting anxious about the motion-sickness possibility.

    • says

      Do you get MS on Soarin’ or Star Tours? I get MS on ST, mostly because of the fuzzy video (going to lightspeed is a no-go for me, but I just shut my eyes). In regards to MS for this ride:
      I took one Dramamine at 10am (for RnRC / Star Tours at DHS). Didn’t take any more all day.
      Rode FoP at about 3:45. One spot got me a bit “ooh, that’s not fun” – you are simulating going in a downward direction while in a loose circular motion (if you’ve ridden BTMRR, you know how it circles at the end? It’s like that, not a barrel roll). I can’t do circles, so that was the only thing that got me slightly uncomfortable.
      Rode again at about 5pm. Slightly more “icky” feelings, but I know that I generally can’t ride these things back to back (ST, Soarin’, BTMRR, all rides I can’t two-fer). Hubby warned me when “Circle” time was coming, and I just shut my eyes, then opened them when he said it was over.
      One thing that is very helpful is that there is a break in ‘the action’ and kind of gives you a breather (similar to the middle part of ST). It was very beneficial to me.
      TL;DR – I didn’t puke, and I get MS a lot. Take Dramamine to CYA.
      Enjoy! This ride is FREAKIN’ AWESOME!!!!!!!

      • Ash says

        Thank you so much for the heads up. I’m extremely prone to motionsickness as well (I have difficulty watching most movies with any sort of action on a big screen, never mind adding 3D into the mix), so it’s good to know it can be manageable .

  16. Jenny says

    I am on the fence about riding this. I can ride soarin no problem, but minion mayhem makes me queasy sitting on the stationary seating….. I wonder if I could ride without the 3d glasses or if that defeats the purpose of even riding? I usually walk through the queue even if I can’t ride because I like the theming….I have a year to think about it!

    • josh says

      Minion Mayhem messes me up pretty good too, but I didn’t have similar problems with this ride. I’m hoping most people will report being just fine, which in turn gives more people confidence to give it a shot.

    • says

      I ride Star Tours without glasses (actually eases the queasiness). You’ll still be able to see and feel, but I’d say you’ll get 75% of the feeling of the ride without it.
      I’ve not ridden Minion Mayhem, but you’re not exactly stationary. Your seat moves on a circle on the floor, while the floor itself also moves. You’ll move more, I think, than you would in a Soarin’ seat or Star Tours seat.

  17. FL Orange Bird says

    Thanks Josh. Have you given any thought to how those of us now scheduling our FP+ should proceed? Don’t want to wait forever for either ride (get a FP) but don’t want to miss the details of the FOP queue (don’t get FP for it). I realize you can’t know how crowds will build yet, but if YOU were planning a day at AK for mid-July, what would be your choices/timing?

    • josh says

      You could head there first thing in the morning and use FP+ at River Journey later in the day. Or ride Flight of Passage last thing at night. With the lousy capacity, I’m thinking it’s going to be worse than the Mine Train situation with 60+ minute waits basically right at rope drop and only increasing later in the day.

  18. Chris says

    I’m 5’11” 300lbs, and worried about not being able to get on the ride. I have a small backside and most of my weight in my midsection. My waist is 48″ in size. Do you think that I should be ok with the new modifications?

    • josh says

      Heavier people, taller people, and shorter people have all ridden. I hesitate to make any declaration about any specific individual because I just don’t know. But I do know people around your height and weight have ridden.

      • Chris says

        Thank you so much. I am going on Thursday for my AP sneak peak and I am so excited to ride this ride.

          • Chris says

            Update on Flight of Passage. Like I said I am 5′ 11″ and about 300lbs. I was able to ride flight of passage yesterday with very little issues. The back restraint really wasn’t an issue. It locked right away. However the leg restraint took some maneuvering . The CM was amazing and helped me out by giving me some pointers. The key is to move your legs as far forward as possible. If the leg restraints don’t lock, she had me raise up on my toes a little and push my knees towards the center of the bike. Once I did that it locked with out her having to push at all. Also there were some guys that were bigger than me riding without issues as well, and some who were a lot smaller than me having issue and not being able to ride. The key to riding is to listen to the CM and do what they say. One CM told me that the majority of those people who couldn’t ride are not following directions and not moving all the way forward. I hope this helps.

  19. Robin says

    Do you remember the Aladdin Flying Carpets at Disney Quest? Seems to have some of these aspects as well. I had bad motion sickness with those so I am concerned. On a positive note- I’ll be releasing some early June FP because my kids most likely won’t ride with that extensive of a restraint system.

    • Adrian says

      I’d guess it would depend quite a bit on the month. Been reading only 1 or 2 of the 4 theaters have been working.

  20. Jo D says

    Wow, it looks amazing!!! Staying offsite so I guess we will have to rope drop as no chance of getting FP+ at 30 days out & we want to walk that queue! Looking forward to your first rope drop posts! First day at AK on 19th July :-). Will be more than one visit I’m sure. Hoping to meet you one day, my hubby and kids get fed up of me saying “Josh says…..” We owe you lots of drinks at Nomad Lounge.

  21. Angela says

    Love the detail of the queue! I work for an environmental engineering firm–we use the water membrane book shown in the lab–cool!

  22. Ava says

    Do you know how much of the queue the single-rider line goes through? Or how the loading may work for that line? It looks like there are 6 seats in the row I can see in your photos; is that how many seats are in each room, or are there multiple rows per theater?

    My youngest is too short for Flight of Passage so I was thinking of using our FP+ for River Journey and having the rest of us take turns doing single-rider for FoP. Or would you recommend using FP+ for FoP and go to River Journey at rope drop? It’s hard to decide what to do when one kid is too short! If we do FoP at rope drop I’d be worried the CM wouldn’t give us a Rider Swap pass, as I’ve been denied one before when the standby line is under 15 minutes.

    • says

      Seating is weird, and doesn’t correspond to the rows in the photo above. Each row (Row 1, 2, 3) will have a total of 16 people go through a door (so, up to 48 people, if they’re using all 3 doors). Once through the door, and through the preshows, there are two rooms with the seats: each room has 8 seats. I’ve heard that there are 4 theaters, but I don’t know how many people fit into each theater. I looked around the second time we rode, and I think there are 3 rows of people, with 32 per row. This would equal 96 total people (but, math is hard when you’re on a super-awesome ride like this!).
      I’m not sure how Single Rider is going to work; I would think maybe a dedicated “Link Chamber” line? I too am interested in this info! I would assume they will bypass a lot of the line, like FP+ does.

  23. AJ says

    Would you say the sensation is closer to being on a roller coaster (in the sense that even if you close your eyes you will still experience drops)? Does it go “upside down” at all? I love seven dwarfs mine train, and finally worked up the courage to go on Tower of Terror last year and ended up loving the sensation (although was a little too scared to ride again right after). I think I might enjoy this, but I don’t want to get into a situation where it triggers a panic attack because I can’t get off/close my eyes.

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