Pros and Cons of Avatar Flight of Passage
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, one attraction has risen above the rest.
No matter when you visit the park, the ride with the longest wait time is almost assuredly Avatar Flight of Passage.
You’ll invest a lot of your park time to experience this attraction. You may even be tempted to spend extra money for a Lightning Lane.
Are you getting your money’s worth and spending your time wisely when you take a Banshee flight on Pandora?
Here are the pros and cons of Avatar Flight of Passage. In an upset, this one possesses a surprising number of cons.
Let’s start with the reasons why Avatar Flight of Passage is well worth the time, aggravation, and (possibly) money.
James Cameron Midas Touch
When Disney announced that it would build Pandora – The World of Avatar, it didn’t even own the rights to the film franchise.
Instead, Disney officials chose to license Avatar from Fox. Then, Disney brought a ringer on board in the form of director James Cameron.
The man responsible for the story worked as a creative consultant on the project.
In fact, Cameron even seeded some ideas from Avatar: The Way of Water into the story of Avatar Flight of Passage.
Guests didn’t realize it, but when the attraction opened in 2017, it provided a sneak peek at a film that wouldn’t debut for another five years!
To a larger point, nobody at Disney could understand Pandora the way that its inventor does. So, Cameron’s presence amplifies the experience.
Once you board the odd motorcycle-looking contraption that’s the ride cart, the screen in front of you will flash.
Soon afterward, you’ll be flying above Pandora as you ride your mighty steed, a Banshee.
The story mimics one scene from Avatar, the moment when Jake Sully tames a Banshee. You’re doing the same as you explore the alien world.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that the instant you catch your first glimpse of Pandora, you’ll forget the outside world.
I know this for a fact because I’ve asked friends something after they’ve exited the ride.
Did any of them look around and notice the other guests in the theater as they went flying through Pandora as well?
Thus far, nobody has answered yes, at least not on the first ride.
The immersion proves so intense that guests must remind themselves to look away. Otherwise, they’ll never realize they’re riding a Soarin’ clone.
Line Queue Tells Its Own Story
Imagineers knew guests would stand in line for an extended time while waiting to ride Avatar Flight of Passage.
So, these design experts constructed quite possibly the most comprehensive line queue experience ever.
You can track a multi-generational story as you walk through the line.
The experience begins outside, where you’ll encounter the natural beauty of Pandora.
Once you enter the caves, you’ll see carvings that tell stories on the walls.
Gradually, you’ll switch to a former research facility that housed a militant branch of the Avatar program.
As you explore, you’ll encounter plants that have overrun the abandoned facility.
Eventually, you’ll reach the modern facility that houses the current Avatar science labs.
You’ll realize this when you approach the star of the line queue, a life-sized Pandoran test tube creation.
There’s so much going on here. If you don’t understand any of it, feel free to ask a cast member to explain what you’re witnessing!
What do all James Cameron stories have in common? They’re visually stunning.
The director certainly wasn’t going to allow a Disney attraction based on Avatar to fail this test.
The wonders of Pandora fly at you so quickly – and literally in some instances – that you’ll need multiple re-rides to appreciate most of it.
This one’s in the conversation for Disney’s most gorgeous ride…which is a debate we’ll have on MickeyBlog in a few days!
Objectively One of Disney’s Best Rides
Cast members often describe Avatar Flight of Passage as Soarin’ on Steroids.
That statement applies for good reason. Imagineers have taken the Soarin’ premise and expanded it with a highly detailed backdrop.
You’re gazing at the splendor of Pandora rather than a landmark on Earth.
Also, Avatar Flight of Passage performs tricks that Soarin’ doesn’t, especially the moment you sit on a perch in a cave and the instant you land your Banshee.
Disney has taken the best ideas of a remarkable attraction and elevated them. It’s a masterpiece of theme park design.
I’m a decidedly positive person as a rule. However, I don’t love Avatar Flight of Passage the same way that many Disney fans do.
Here are a few of the issues I have with the ride.
I’ve already discussed this, but let’s explicitly state the obvious.
Avatar Flight of Passage isn’t a new ride inasmuch as it’s a re-theme of Soarin’.
You can think of the situation as similar to Disney’s conversion of Maelstrom to Frozen Ever After or The Great Movie Ride to Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
The fact that Disney performed the change at a different park is irrelevant.
You’re experiencing the same concept, only with a different story. As an Avatar fan, I’m totally okay with that.
However, I struggle to evaluate a knockoff attraction among the best at Disney…even though everyone else does.
Uncomfortable Ride Mechanic
A few years ago, one of the discs in my back kinda…exploded. And I’ve got calcified bone spurs in my lower back to boot.
For whatever reason, Disney cast members turn into tormentors when they strap me into the Avatar Flight of Passage ride cart.
No matter how much I try to tighten my setup, the employee inevitably comes in and locks it in more.
This kind of harnessed motorcycle fit simply isn’t comfortable. I’d feel that way even if I didn’t have a back condition.
The setup feels anti-Talls, by which I mean those of us who are well over six feet in stature.
Wait Time Is Extreme
I’ve waited in line for four hours for this attraction, and I’ve ridden it twice in an hour during the pandemic.
So, I recognize that wait times vary depending on when you visit and how you approach the attraction.
For example, at Rope Drop or just before closing, you can shave more than 50 percent of your line time.
Still, I track Walt Disney World wait times weekly. Guests typically wait 90+ minutes to experience Avatar Flight of Passage.
Honestly, that’s a reasonable amount of time for objectively the most popular ride at the park by a substantial amount.
Even so, you’re missing a lot at Animal Kingdom as the opportunity cost for riding this attraction once.
Is the juice worth the squeeze? That’s for you to decide.
You Might Have to Pay to Play
Disney sells a Lightning Lane for this attraction, which still sells out regularly after six years in operation.
That statement alone underscores the popularity, lasting appeal, and overall perception of Avatar Flight of Passage.
In buying a Lightning Lane, you also solve the problem I just discussed.
When you pay to play here, you’ll board the ride MUCH faster, albeit at the cost of skipping much of the brilliant line queue.
So, those two cons are more of an either/or than two distinct complaints.
Presuming you don’t mind standing in line for 90 minutes or paying about $15 to ride faster, Avatar Flight of Passage’s cons drop to two.
Yes, the ride cart will remain uncomfortable for anyone tall, Pooh-sized, or unhappy about having lumbar support shoved into their backs.
Similarly, this attraction will always be a Soarin’ knockoff, albeit a superior version due to the visuals.
In combination, these statements tell the story of Avatar Flight of Passage.
Yes, there are cons, but none of them is enough to dissuade fans from riding one of Walt Disney World’s top attractions.
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Feature Photo: Disney