Fun Facts About Avatar Flight of Passage
Pandora – The World of Avatar became a worldwide sensation once it finally opened in the summer of 2017. The themed land garnered headlines for its breathtaking immersive technologies. While the Floating Mountains were a triumph of Imagineering, the E Ticket attraction is what has proven to be the most attention-grabbing element. It has sustained two-hour lines for more than a year, signaling its intense popularity. Here are a few amazing facts about Avatar Flight of Passage.
Disney Planned for Huge Lines!
One of the quirks of Pandora is that Imagineers worked on it for roughly six years. With an unprecedented amount of prep time, these works experienced a rare amount of strategizing. For several years, they knew that the E Ticket attraction at the new themed land would mimic the unforgettable flight sequence from the first film, Avatar.
The source material inspired Imagineers to create something novel. The downside revealed itself early in the process, though. Park planners understood that their marvelous new ride would have lackluster throughput. In other words, it would service fewer guests per hour than Disney’s standard ride apparatus, the Omnimover.
To negate guest frustration, Imagineers planned a different form of entertainment. They would create a ride queue experience unlike any other. In fact, this line would reveal centuries of Pandora history.
The Best Line Queue Ever!
How does the line for Avatar Flight of Passage achieve this lofty goal? The first aspect is the exterior line queue, which takes place in full view of the outside wonders of the themed land. As you approach this section, you’ll have a breathtaking view of the Floating Mountains and other Imagineering feats.
When you enter the building, you’ll slowly learn the history of the RDA facility, at least if you pay attention. The setting is technically a Resources Development Administration (RDA) mining facility. You saw one of these in Avatar. It’s what the evil corporation utilized as its base of operations. The difference is that you’re several hundred years in the future now. The RDA is a thing of the past.
When you walk through this part of the line, you’ll see what the facility looked like, but you’ll notice that it’s desolate now. Vines and trees grow on and even through the walls. Abandoned for many, many years, the RDA base displays little but cobwebs and other natural plant life.
As you go deeper into the area, the scenery will change. You’re on a planet with unique habitation, and the vegetation here is a scientific marvel. Once you exit the human-created parts of the region, you’ll enter a space that’s au naturel. Bioluminescence is on full display as brightly lit plants provide the background. Then, you’ll enter a darker region where the bioluminescence manufactures an eerie glow.
Finally, you’ll reach the critical part of the line. You’re almost ready to ride Avatar Flight of Passage. Before you board, however, the wait queue shows how Alpha Centauri Expeditions has brought the facility back online. They’re restarted the Avatar program for different, better reasons.
As you appreciate their work, you’ll come face to almost-face with an eight-foot-tall alien that’s currently in a stasis pod. It’s one of the creatures who make your visit to Pandora possible. And its realism will take your breath away.
Each stage of the ride queue tells a story about the history of Pandora. Even today, when the ride wait times are a more modest 90 minutes or so on most days, you’ll still have plenty of time to savor the subtle storytelling. What Imagineers have done with this line is the gold standard in passing the time at a Disney theme park.
This Ride Will Find Your Genetic Match!
No, it’s not a My Heritage type of deal where someone traces your routes or takes a DNA sample. Disney does want to connect you more to your Banshee host, though. The way that the ride achieves this goal is through the Genetic Match program.
While you watch some instructional videos about ride safety, Avatar Flight of Passage performs a body scan on you! Don’t worry. You don’t need a lead shield or anything. It’s largely cosmetic. The ride wants to match your physique with the right avatar. Once it finds a genetic match, you’re linked together.
Disney was forward-thinking about the Genetic Match program. It’s not the same on each ride. You’ll get a different avatar the next time that you get in line for Flight of Passage. Theoretically, the type of avatar that you get impacts your ride some. That’s how much Imagineers have worked to make every aspect of the attraction special and unique.
Disney’s First Augmented Reality Ride
You’re undoubtedly familiar with the ride mechanic of Avatar Flight of Passage. The “ride cart” is like an exercise bike that’s still in the box. There’s the bike itself plus a protective cover; it’s there for theming purposes. You’re supposed to feel like you’re on a futuristic vehicle, but the facing of the cart also vaguely resembles a banshee’s head.
Once the ride begins, you won’t think about the ride cart much, though. Disney has created its first true augmented reality (AR) attraction. Rather than build a giant ride track that mimics the sensation of flying through the skies of Pandora, Imagineers chose to simulate the experience instead. Their use of AR means that the attraction has a smaller footprint, allowing it to share space with Na’Vi River Journey. Yes, Disney hosts the two main attractions at Pandora – The World of Avatar in the same centralized location.
The immersive elements of the ride mean that once you put on the glasses, you forgot about the bike. Instead, you get the sense that you’re flying on the back of a winged monster, a majestic creature that rules over the heights of Pandora. None of this would be possible without the AR.
Since Avatar is one of the most technically stunning movies ever made, the production that put 3-D cinema on the map, Disney wanted its ride to share similar visual qualities. No amount of paint could create a sky that mimicked the Pandora from the films. CGI programming in a ride, however, could make Pandora every bit as breathtaking as the movie version. Actually, Disney’s version is a bit better since technology improved exponentially from the movie’s release in 2008 until the ride’s introduction in 2018.
Once you put on the goggles, you’re seeing the most beautiful version of Pandora yet created. AR enables this dazzling perspective. You’ll witness many of the creatures seen in the movie. Your banshee will almost touch the ground while you travel through the forest, and then you’ll explode through the trees into the blue skies above. It’s the most immersive ride that Disney has ever built, and the explanation for its realism is (perhaps paradoxically) its artificial staging.
Avatar Flight of Passage is more than just the most innovative ride in the world today. It’s also the one that hints at the future of Disney Imagineering. Just as gradually transitioned from hand-drawn animation into CGI, they’re currently taking steps toward AR as the future of ride design. This attraction is the first step toward a great, big beautiful tomorrow at Walt Disney World.
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