Getting higher in the list, another obvious pick, this being the newest ride at Animal Kingdom- big surprise. But I am going to be brutally honest on this one – after I rode this attraction for the first time I did not know if I was ever going to go on it again. (And for once, this had nothing to do with my vertigo…)
Flights of Passage is a 3-D flight simulator in the new Pandora area of Animal Kingdom. It has been loosely compared to Soarin’ Around the World in its design. The flight simulates riding on a banshee over the Valley of Mo’ara in Pandora. The ride vehicle is similar to a motorcycle in design and there are seating restraints that come up against your back to secure you onto the “Banshee”. You are wearing glasses and the vehicle is lifted as you are lowered to an angle so that you can fully see the screen in front of you. If you don’t look to your left or right, you are totally immersed (look left or right and you can see several stories of people wearing goofy glasses)! The visuals are amazing, and the effects make you feel like you are really riding an animal – you can even feel the ‘Banshee’ breathing on your legs, in the way you might if riding a horse.
I was really nervous going in for the first time. I had heard that many people were getting sick on this one and I did not relish the thought of being dizzy for the rest of the day. I did not have a fast pass – my first mistake – and there was about a two and a half hour wait. Yes, I said over two hours, and this can be a short wait for this ride. I was just not going to do it. My husband, (who was unable to ride due to size restrictions that he has since conquered), made the point that it was a new ride, I would want to see the queue, I would be hanging around for that long somewhere, I have video on my phone to watch. And so, I caved to the pressure – my second mistake – and jumped into the line.
The queue is remarkable, beautiful landscape outside, incredible detail throughout, leading to total immersion. But as I moved through, I started to think that this must be the absolute longest queue in the history of the world. I really never thought it was going to end. You start out in some amazing caves, wander through until you reach a military style bunker, then you are kind of going in and out of Pandora at night, and then through a laboratory with a super cool animatronic of an Avatar in suspension. But did I mention that I thought it was never going to end. The majority of the queue is in caves and a bunker, so you have the feeling of being far underground. Even though I am not claustrophobic, I was getting that way by the time I reached the end of the queue. Every time we went around a corner I thought we were going to be at the end of the line…but it just kept going.
When I did finally reach the boarding area, I was very tired and ready to be done. The linking up to an avatar was really cool, lots of interaction with the video screen. But when I experienced the ride, quite honestly, I was not incredibly impressed. The visuals were beautiful, but I didn’t understand why everyone thought the ride was so amazing. I met up with my husband and said I didn’t really care if I ever ventured to the Valley of Mo’ara ever again.
After we arrived home, I was reading some things about the attraction (I did not want spoilers and had not seen too much ahead of our trip) and started thinking – I wonder if something could have been wrong with my ride vehicle. I didn’t feel the affects as much as people were describing in the reviews.
This past July we were at Animal Kingdom with the kids and we did have Fast Passes for the ride. I had promised our girls that I would be riding. It was a completely different experience. Not only was it more fun to experience with other people – but the ride seemed so much better. We were able to pretty much walk straight on to the boarding area. This time, I could experience all the effects – and when your ride vehicle is moving in the way it is designed – it changes the ride tremendously!! It was incredibly fun and although I won’t be able to ride multiple times in a row (this last time, it did make me just the slightest bit dizzy after one ride) I will be riding it every trip from now on (when we have acquired Fast Passes, of course.)