Flight of Passage is a motion simulator ride in the theme park attraction Pandora: The World of Avatar.
The ride recreates a flight through Pandora on the back of a Banshee. Disney described the ride at D23 2015 as "a birds-eye view of the beauty and grandeur of the world of Pandora on an aerial rite of passage." The ride has been referred to by Disney as an "E-ticket attraction", a term used to describe major attractions at Disney parks, and "the centerpiece of Pandora".
In the attraction, guests are lead through a cave entrance with Na'vi paintings on the walls. This leads to a former Resources Development Administration mining facility now used by the Pandora Conservation Initiative's Mountain Banshee Project for research purposes. Guests are then moved to the Genetic Matching Room, where they're scanned and matched to an avatar after undergoing decontamination for Pandoran parasites.
The Avatar Program technology was advanced by the PCI. Instead of linking through a unit to their own specific avatar made using their own genetic information, guests have genetic material collected through the GMR. This material is then matched to a pre-existing avatar that shares genetic similarities. Guests are then lead to the link chair room, where they're linked to said avatar that's already in flight on the banshee.
Guests are guided through the decontamination and genetic matching process by PCI scientist Dr. Stevens. He also explains more about the technology used to link the guests to their avatars and how they're researching the banshee, a Pandoran keystone species , to measure the recovery of Pandora's ecosystem. Guests are also introduced to Dr. Jaclyn Ogden, the PCI scientist and banshee researcher that restarted the Avatar Program and created the link chair system. Through a video shown by Dr. Stevens, Dr. Ogden explains the significance of the Iknimaya Rite of Passage that guests are about to experience and shows them the boarding & safety procedures for the link chairs.
After the queue area, guests are lead to the Link Chamber and seated in the link chairs, forty-eight in total, that allow them to feel the movement of the banshee that their avatar is riding. After being linked, passengers are guided by a more experienced banshee-riding Na'vi flying ahead of them. Guests also get to face off against a Great Leonopteryx. Sights seen during the ride include the floating mountains, the ocean, a stampede, flying under a wave, and a beautiful ending overlook. Other Na'vi are seen throughout the ride. Other effects felt during the ride include a mist effect when nearing a waterfall, forest smells in a rooftop canopy, perfume-like smells near bioluminescence, and other smell effects for the ocean and a stampede.
A video from the ride was shown briefly at D23 Japan 2013. Another preview of the attraction was shown during the television airing Disney Parks Magical Christmas Celebration program on December 25th, 2016, previewing the ride system with similarities to another Disney aerial ride attraction, Soarin'. When Disney told James Cameron that they wanted to do a banshee ride, Cameron described what he wanted from it as "Soarin' Over Pandora", evoking Soarin' Over California at Disneyland. The ride incorporates other familiar technology from other Disney rides, including smells and mist effects.
The Good Morning America preview of the ride showed off special 3D goggles developed for the attraction, which are larger and have lighter lenses than goggles for similar rides. The ride was described on the Nightline preview as a "virtual reality experience". A leaked screenshot of a video of Imagineers testing Flight of Passage showed that early in development, ride vehicles were intended to actually resemble banshees with two people seated per vehicle.
The prototype for the ride was developed in Glendale, California, which Na'vi language creator Paul Frommer rode. He also advised on the spoken Na'vi used on the ride. Jon Landau had rode "a couple hundred times" during the attraction's development and turned in notes proposing changes.
- Production Company: Walt Disney Imagineering, Weta Digital, Lightstorm Entertainment
- Sr. VFX Supervisor: Richard Baneham, Lightstorm Entertainment
- VFX Supervisor: Thrain Shadbolt, Weta Digital
- Compositing Supervisor: Sam Cole, Weta Digital
- CG Supervisor: Pavani Rao Boddapati, Weta Digital
- CG Supervisor: Daniele Tosti, Weta Digital
- Actors: Alison Blanchard as Dr. Ogden, David Danipour as Dr. Stevens
- Executive Producer: Amy Jupiter, Walt Disney Imagineering
- Show Programmer: David Lester, Walt Disney Imagineering
Flight of Passage quickly became one of the most popular rides in the Animal Kingdom park at Walt Disney World as a whole, with huge praise from parkgoers. More than four million people have ridden Flight of Passage since its debut and it has been the top-rated ride in Walt Disney World in Disney's guest surveys. The ride has also experienced massive wait times since its launch, ranging between two to six hour waits for guests without FastPasses. One of the longest recorded wait times for Flight of Passage was six and a half hours, beating out previously recorded five hour wait for Soarin' Over California in Epcot. The ride has kept consistently long wait times for a year after its release. This makes the ride an outlier, as newer Disney theme park attractions usually adjust to a normal, lower wait time after the initial buzz dies down.
The ride won the Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement: Attraction and 2018 VES Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project. It was nominated for the 2018 Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement for Animated Effects in an Animated Production, which was won by Disney-Pixar's Coco.
Flight of Passage is also popular enough among Disney fans to warrant fan-made merch based on the attraction, including candles meant to evoke the scent of the ocean used during the ride.
- PCI scientist lockers in the queue area include various books, including Jane Goodall's Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey and Douglas Adams' The Salmon of Doubt.
- One of the ride theaters features a set of three red handprints with the initials JC, JR, and JL. These handprints belong to James Cameron, Joe Rohde, and Jon Landau respectively.
- The company that shored up the walls of the RDA structure that guests walk through is mentioned as JC Shoring, with the number 081654 below it. August 16, 1954 is James Cameron's birthday.
- A hidden prolemuris can be seen during the ride holding a distinctive hoop earring; this is a reference to Joe Rohde, the lead Imagineer for Pandora: The World of Avatar known for wearing earrings collected from his world travels in his left ear.
- Richard Baneham, Thrain Shadbolt, and Daniele Tosti previously worked on the first Avatar film. Baneham was a co-director and VFX supervisor, Shadbolt was a VFX supervisor, and Tosti was a senior technical director respectively.
- Starting February 2018, warning cards are given to guests before they go through the Flight of Passage queue, explaining more about the nature of the ride and encouraging those with motion sickness, fear of heights, & other conditions that might be affected by the experience not to ride. The safety information was originally given verbally to each guest by Disney Cast Members during Link Chamber loading. This changed to a card format to avoid guest confusion before they enter Flight of Passage itself. The card also mentions size/shape restrictions for the ride vehicles; guests can test a practice vehicle at the queue entrance to make sure they'll fit comfortably. There are no restroom facilities in Flight of Passage and groups need to stick together through the entire queue.
- The attraction has four theaters with six rows per theater that can seat eight riders per row, seating 192 riders in total at one time.
|Pandora: The World of Avatar|
|Attractions||Flight of Passage · Na'vi River Journey|
|Refreshments & Vendors||Pongu Pongu · Satu'li Canteen · Windtraders · Colors of Mo'ara|
|Lore||Valley of Mo'ara · Pandora Conservation Initiative · Alpha Centauri Expeditions · Kam Demarco · Marshall Lamm|
- Flight of Passage queue