Avatar Flight of Passage is the new headliner attraction at Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. On this 3D screen- and motion-based ride, you are connected to your own avatar and fly on the back of a mountain banshee through the diverse environments of Pandora.
While this ride features a screen like Soarin’, the motions are a little more on par with Star Tours (though not as jarring or abrupt). However, the synchronization and fluidity between the screen and motion of your seat is flawless, and the ride also incorporates wind and smells to create a truly magical and immersive experience. It really does feel like you are flying on the back of a banshee through Pandora.
This ride does have a 44″ height requirement, and rider swap is available.
FastPass+ and a single rider line are also available.
Note: Disney only allows you to select one FastPass+ for Pandora, which means you cannot get a FastPass+ for both this ride and the Na’vi River Journey on the same day. If possible, visit Pandora on two separate days, so you can get a FastPass+ for each ride.
The queue for this ride is LONG, as Disney is (rightly so) expecting long lines. Fortunately, the queue design is almost as impressive as the ride, so you will have tons of things to look at if riding standby (the FastPass+ line skips much of the queue).
The queue begins outside, winding up the mountain.
Next, you walk through caves with native drawings. Be sure to check out the towering red banshee painting on the wall!
Then you go through a series of “containment” doors, which is where you will find a water fountain and water bottle refill station.
And then you move into a bioluminescent forest before finally entering the lab.
It is here you will find this remarkable piece of Disney imagineering.
When you reach the sorting area, you will be assigned a line either up or down a ramp. If you are sent up the ramp, you may then also be sent through a door that requires you to walk up a flight of stairs.
There are four theaters, and each theater has three levels with 16 seats on each level. It seems like an incredible placement puzzle, so props to the awesome cast members there figuring it all out.
Note: There is no bad seat, and the screen is not distorted anywhere (I rode of each level, including the top corners, and every spot was awesome).
There are two pre-shows. In the first, you are assigned a number to stand on. These numbers are pressure-sensored, so you can actually see that your spot is occupied on the screen. You are also then given some of the backstory of the ride by the scientist on the screen.
Consideration for parents: During this pre-show segment, the scientist says he needs to take a genetic sample from everyone, and the room starts buzzing with the lights flashing and surging a bit. If this freaks your child out at all, just distract them with the screen. You are told to move around, and you can actually see your outline and movements through a heat sensor on the screen.
After this pre-show, you enter another room, where you are given a pair of 3D glasses and watch another video giving you instructions on the seats and restraints.
Note to parents: The 3D glasses are one size fits all, so they may be a little big on your kids.
Finally, you enter the ride room, which is split into two sections of eight seats, and store all of your belongings in bins built into the wall (they also tell you no photos or videos). The seats look similar to motorcycles, and it is important that you slide your legs, knees and torso all the way forward so the back and leg restraints can click into place.
Consideration for parents: Your child will have to ride on their own seat. However, the seats are close enough together that you can easily hold their hand. Everyone is also very snug and secure in the seats. It would take a great deal of effort and multiple movements to get out of the restraints, and there are cameras in each room, so no concerns about your child getting out.
Speaking of restraints, there has been some concern about larger riders being unable to ride. Disney has a note at the bottom of the ride warning sign out front, as well as a test seat you can try before even getting in line if you are concerned about the restraints not being able to click.
The seats are mounted onto a platform, and both the platform and seats move in sync with the screen. You can even feel the movement of your banshee breathing! There are some simulated dives, but they are so smooth that I didn’t get the same feeling in the pit of my stomach as on a roller coaster.
Considerations for parents: I don’t want to give away too much of the ride, but here are a few more considerations just so you can prepare your child.
- After the restraints are in place, you are “connected” to your avatar. This is done by some mild(ish) vibrations around your stomach and back. I thought it was almost ticklish, but it could be startling for younger kids if they don’t know it’s coming.
- Also, right before the ride starts, there are some flashing lights in your face. They are not strobe light fast, but they are used as an effective distraction for when the panel in front of you lifts up revealing the big screen.
- And a final heads up: You do have a few close encounters with some of Pandora’s creatures. They are all very brief though, with only one that the youngest kids who meet the height requirement might possibly find scary. But again, that part is over pretty quickly, and the rest visually stunning.
After the ride ends, you return your glasses, walk down stairs (several depending on what level you were on), and finally exit through, you guessed it, a gift shop (Windtraders).
Pros: This is one of the best – if not the best – rides ever created by Disney. Between the air, smells and motions, it is an exhilarating and immersive experience. I was so impressed with the fluidity of the ride, and as long as your child is okay with all of the listed considerations, they (and you) will love it!
Considerations: Children having to ride on their own seat; “genetic sampling” during the pre-show; buzzing vibrations when “connecting” to your avatar; flashing lights at the beginning of the ride; and close encounters with some of Pandora’s creatures (more info on all of those above).
Kids Rating: For the youngest kids that just meet the height requirement, this ride gets 1/2 of 5, based solely on the number of considerations. However, if your child is fine with all of the listed considerations, then this ride gets a full out of 5.
Check out the full Parents Guide to Pandora – The World of Avatar here.