With only a few days to go before the grand opening of Pandora – The Land of Avatar, Disney has been conducting a number of technical rehearsals for this new land, allowing hundreds of guests to visit at a time while they test rides, procedures, and other facets of this new land before its grand opening on May 26, 2017.
During one of these technical rehearsals we got the opportunity to check out the new E-Ticket attraction, for this new land, Avatar – Flight of Passage. And we can confidently say that this attraction is unlike anything else at Walt Disney World. If you are planning on checking it out sometime soon, here’s everything you need to know.
1. You’re probably going to wait a long time in line
Though the jury is still out regarding whether Pandora – The World of Avatar will be a hit or not, Disney is expecting big things from the Avatar – Flight of Passage ride specifically, and has made what is almost certainly the longest queue in Walt Disney World history (which is split between inside and outside areas) to cope with this.
The actual ride capacity has been estimated to be around 1500 guests per hour, which isn’t too bad (it’s in the same ballpark as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad) but because interest in this new land is likely to be high, Disney is preparing for a lot of interest in this new land, and it has been estimated that the labyrinthine queue (which is expertly themed and has a lot to look at ) can hold an over four hour wait time.
There’s also the issue of downtime. Like any new ride (especially those that use new technology), Avatar – Flight of Passage will likely encounter a number of issues in its opening weeks. During our recent visit, the ride was down for nearly an hour, which sent the line for the FastPass+ queue (the only queue that was being used) out of the building and backed up nearly 1000 feet away from the entrance.
Though we absolutely recommend Avatar – Flight of Passage (more on that in a minute), keep in mind that if you are going to try to experience this attraction any time in the near future, chances are good you’ll wait at least two hours or more, unless you sprint for it right at park opening or are visiting during Extra Magic Hours.
2. The restraints are a little restrictive for guests with certain body dimensions
The main ride vehicle for Avatar – Flight of Passage is a “link chair” that looks a little bit like the middle part of a motorcycle, with a seat that you can straddle. Unlike other attractions, this ride has automatic restraints which are built in to the seat and engage automatically right before the ride begins. These restraints secure your legs and back, and you’ll definitely feel some pressure when they engage.
And while the ride experience should be comfortable for most, we have seen some guests not be able to ride because of body dimensions. Much like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey over at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the ride vehicles aren’t very accommodating for larger guests, which could be an issue. As of right now it doesn’t look like there is a modified seating option available, which is a bit of a disappointment, and is hopefully something they address in the future.
SPOILER WARNING: Though we’ve refrained from discussing the actual ride experience on this first page, we will discussing what happens during this ride in general terms on the next page, so if you want to experience this attraction with absolutely no knowledge of some of the ride elements, turn back now!
3. The ride experience is a lot like Soarin’, mixed with Star Tours
As mentioned previously, the ride system allows guests to board a “link chair” in a special room (with eight across) that is positioned in front of a screen. Once the restraint system is engaged, guests will “link” with their Avatar, and they’ll see the world of Pandora come to life on the giant screen before them.
Once the ride begins, the seats detach from their base, moving from side to side in time with the film to simulate flight. And while the 3D glasses help the guests to feel like they are swooping and diving while flying around Pandora, the actual movement is rather slight, which should hopefully minimize incidents of motion sickness.
During the flight, guests will go past several scenic locations, and the ride also uses water and smell effects to help immerse guests in the experience. While we won’t go into specifics here, just know that this alien world feels just as lifelike inside this attraction as it does in the larger Pandora – The World of Avatar land outside.
4. There’s not much story to worry about
One of the concerns that many had about Pandora – The World of Avatar when it was first announced was how much focus there would be on the story of the film, which isn’t one that many may still be familiar with almost a decade after the film was first released. However, the good news here is that the “story” of this attraction is mainly conveyed through the queue (and two pre-show rooms) and the actual ride itself requires no real knowledge of the Avatar films or franchise. So if you’ve ever felt lost on Star Tours or Frozen Ever After because you weren’t immediately familiar with these films, you can rest easy knowing that this attraction requires absolutely no knowledge of really anything Avatar-related in order to enjoy it fully.
Avatar – Flight of Passage is a technically impressive, unique, and is easily the best new attraction Disney has debuted in the past decade. While new rides like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Frozen Ever After have been impressive in some respects, but disappointing in others, Avatar – Flight of Passage is really the total package, and is definitely worth stopping by Pandora – The World of Avatar for the next time you are at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Are you going to check out this new attraction on your next visit to this park?
-Originally published in: Theme Park Tourist by Amanda Kondolojy May 15, 2016
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