Be warned there will be a few spoilers in this post…
It’s been no secret that I am not a huge fan of the movie, Avatar. It’s a beautiful movie from a scenery aspect but has a very predictable story line that at times is long and slow. I have also felt like Disney missed the mark by making it an entire land in Animal Kingdom. To me the area could have been better served by adding North American story lines like Brother Bear, Bambi, and Pocahontas; but I am not the Imaginear. I must say that though in terms of rides/attractions Disney certainly hit MOST of the marks I look for in a great attraction with Avatar: Flight of Passage (FOP) and technology wise finally come close to what the “dark side” (aka Universal Studios) of Orlando has been offering now for over 7 years with the Forbidden Journey. But before I tell you more about the ride itself, let’s discuss the journey to get on this attraction which starts WAY before ROPE DROP.
There are 3 things that you need to know about Flight of Passage before you arrive, motion sickness is REAL, wait times are UNREAL and getting a FastPass is DIFFICULT.
Motion Sickness is REAL
Guests need to beware and respect the “Motion Sick” warning to this ride. Flight of Passage last 4 minutes and you no not want to feel sick for 4 minutes (and probably the rest of the day). So if you are prone to motion sickness, like Mr. Grumpy, you might want to take precautions or skip FOP because the combination of the movement of the vehicle and the action on the screen might be too much for you. But what is worse than motion sickness…
Wait Time in UNREAL
The worst thing about Flight of Passage is the wait time, I have seen it posted 15 minutes after park opening at 3 hours and later in the day at 5 hours. Let me assure you from talking to people in that line and experiencing it that guests WILL wait 5 hours to ride Flight of Passage so that line will not go down until park closing, but what makes this wait really frustrating is that obtaining a….
FastPass is DIFFCULT
A FastPass is hard to get for FOP, even if you are able to book at the 60 days. If you are waiting until the 30 day mark, a FastPass is pretty much not going to happen. Animal Kingdom is on a tiered system FastPass system and both the attractions, Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey, in Pandora are Tier 1, so you are going to have to stand in line for one of the rides in Pandora.
Honestly, until the opening of Toy Story Land in 2018 and Star Wars in 2019 I do not see wait times coming down anytime soon nor the availability of a FastPass. So how do you combat the wait time and no FastPass? Book your vacation through me and I will be happy to share my tips on how you can to ride both Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey BEFORE the park officially opens and NOT use a FastPass in what I am calling the Na’vi Shuffle. I have spent months stalking trip reports for tips on how it can be done, and I HAVE DONE IT. Now you have used my vacation planning expertise and have made relatively in one piece to Flight of Passage…
You can expect stunning views of the floating mountains as you venture through a bioluminescent rainforest that is taking over the ruins of the abandoned RDA building. I will say that Imaginears have done an amazing job bringing Pandora to life. It is beautiful to the eye and you will feel like you have entered another world. Don’t be afraid to stop and take pictures while you are in line, there are lots of beautiful selfie spots (or maybe you have made great friends with the people with you in line for the last 5 hours since you did not use my complimentary traveling planning services). Once have made your way through the rainforest the line will then enter a cave adorned with Na’Vi paintings and then into the abandoned RDA building and now research laboratory of the humans who’ve settled on Pandora. Here you will fine various experiments showing how the study of Pandora wildlife is progressing, including a suspended animation of a Na’vi avatar inside a giant, water-filled tube. Most disappointing for me during my whole journey through the queue was that I was constantly moving and not being able to focus on the small details built into every Disney attraction that brings the experience to life. Disney does an amazing job keeping you stimulated as you spend 5 hours in line.
Once you are though the queue, you are lead into a 16 person chamber to prepare for your flight. There are actually 2 chambers, with 2 different videos and interactions. Although I experienced both chambers my first 2 flights on FOP, but the 3rd flight I only was in the first chamber and walked through the second. I am not sure why other than I am guessing it is a crowd manage technique.
When you are done preparing for your flight you are lead into a room with what looks like 16 stationary bicycles without pedals and handed a pair of 3-D googles and to board the “bike.” Once all preparations are done for your the room goes dark, there’s a flash of light, and you become “linked” to the Na’vi surfing a banshee and flying through Pandora. The ride is beautiful, similar to what you would experience on Soarin’ but more intense.
Disney technology has caught up to Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter in terms of motion simulator, but Universal will always have the edge with Forbidden Journey and Escape from Gringott’s in my opinion. Why? There is no storytelling with Flight of Passage, nor with Na’Vi River Journey which for Disney is a huge let down and disappointment because to me Disney is stories and beloved characters. Again, I reference back to why Disney should have gone with the beloved stories of the Americas. None of the scenes from the screen playing in front of me could I relate back to the movie, Avatar which makes me not vested in a story line with the banshees.
Will I ride Flight of Passage again? Of course I will, it was beautiful and FUN to feel like I was flying but only if I can get a FastPass and not have to get up so early. There are other rides in Animal Kingdom that I would prefer to wait for or use a FastPass for, because they don’t leave me emotionally empty wanting more.
Remember that when you book your Walt Disney World Vacation with me, I will give you my honest opinions as well as help you successfully do the Na’Vi Shuffle without waiting in 2-5 hour lines!