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.
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.