Flight of Passage, the headlining E-Ticket of the upcoming Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, will allow guests to ride on the back of a Banshee, and we have a full walkthrough of the ride’s queue.
Flight of Passage is 3-D simulated flight over Pandora’s colorful landscape. Guests soar around floating mountains, plunge through ancient caverns and skim across roaring oceans, culminating in an encounter with the fiercest king of the air, the Great Leonopteryx that boasts a 45-foot wingspan.
“In Flight of Passage, the sensation of flying is really visceral, really believable,” said Joe Rohde, Walt Disney Imagineering portfolio creative executive. “Not only do you have the more obvious aspects of flying – the swooping and curving – but we’ve put in crosswind, air density and banking.”
The journey begins in the queue as guests begin an uphill trek around a massive root structure, over a land bridge above waterfalls to a totem garden. Meandering passageways lead to a cave-like structure where the great–winged banshees, or Ikran as the Na’vis call them, are celebrated in paintings and totems. Next, guests enter an old, once abandoned RDA facility with a laboratory partially restored. Here, there are scientific experiments in progress with references to habitat restoration, the ecosystem, water purification and the connection of all living things.
Next stop is the genetic matching room where explorers are scanned and genetic material is sampled to connect them to personal avatars in preparation for a flight experience. Once matched, adventurers board link chairs, don flight visors and prepare for the flight.
Finally, guests will have a chance to fly on the back of a Banshee, which represents an important rite of passage in the Na’vi mythology. After entering a state-of-the-art theater, each guest straddles a single-seat simulator (like a motorcycle) that delivers a realistic sensation of riding a living creature. Guests will experience the movements of flight and even feel the banshee breathing beneath them.
The ride transports explorers through the alien world of Pandora, offering lifelike encounters – splashing whale-like creatures, blowing wind, roaring banshees, and a threatening encounter with a flying predator. The 4-minute flight through the sci-fi world of bioluminescence and floating mountains is orchestrated to a musical score recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra.
“All of the mechanics behind it, all of the engineering, all the stuff that goes into the imagery is amazing,” said James Cameron, whose blockbuster film AVATAR inspired Disney’s new land. “You know, riding the Ikran is a thrill. You’re going to plunge. You’re going to dive. You’re going to swoop. It’s like dreaming with your eyes open.”
Avatar Flight of Passage will be a FastPass attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Guests must be 44 inches or taller can ride. The 12-acre Pandora – The World of Avatar will officially open on May 27. For a preview, watch our full walkthrough of the Flight of Passage queue and preshow: