OpEd: This Is the Only Disney World Ride Worth the 120-Minute Wait

animal kingdom tree of life
Credit: Theme Park Tourist, Flickr

Lines, queues, wait times–whatever you want to call them. Only a few minutes on social media are needed to see the time lost waiting to enjoy favorite rides and attractions is one of the banes of a Disney Park guest’s existence. This year has proven that guests are even willing to pay over $100 per family to gain access to a shorter wait time.

How can one tell when the wait time is too long? Well, that is the ongoing debate among Disney Fanatics.

animal kingdom tree of life

Credit: Brian McGowan, Unsplash

Most people will probably say that, in most cases, any wait time over 90 minutes is not worth waiting for. But I would argue that, at the end of the day, the answer is mostly understood to be, “It depends.” It depends on the experience. It depends on the listed wait time and it depends on the guest’s situation.

For example, someone who has small kids and only gets to visit Magic Kingdom a few times a year might say a 45-60-minute wait for Peter Pan’s Flight is worth it, whereas a local Annual Passholder might pass knowing they can always come back another day.

But I believe there is one attraction at Walt Disney World that is absolutely worth waiting over two hours to experience, and that is Avatar Flight of Passage at Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Here are a few reasons why:

Avatar Flight of Passage is the Best Ride Currently at Walt Disney World

avatar flight of passage

Credit: Disney

There is hardly anything at Walt Disney World–and Universal Orlando Resort–that can compete with Avatar Flight of Passage.

Joe Rohde and the other Walt Disney Imagineers set a new ride standard that can still stand toe to toe with newer rides like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. For those who have not yet experienced Avatar Flight of Passage, imagine if Soarin’ and Star Tours had a Pandoran baby and gave it steroids.

avatar flight of passage concept art

Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World’s official website describes its E-ticket attraction as the following:

Amazing Aerial Adventures Await

Board your own mountain banshee and embark on a thrilling expedition, where interstellar explorers like you get an up-close look at this moon’s incredible landscape.

Bonding with a banshee is a crucial step in the life of a Na’vi hunter on Pandora—and flying on the back of one of these powerful creatures is an important rite of passage.

Now, as a visitor to Pandora, you finally have the chance to test yourself like a Na’vi!

Briefing videos, akin to the ones guests would find before DINOSAUR and the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, build the suspense. You will even feel the banshee breathing as you find yourself whisked away through jaw-dropping scenery! But it is the culmination of the journey guests go through once they step in line–which brings me to my next point.

The Standby Line is Part of Pandora’s Complete Guest Experience

avatar flight of passage

Credit: Disney

Instead of taking guests out of the land’s immersion, Walt Disney Imagineers integrated Avatar Flight of Passage’s standby line into the Pandora experience. Perhaps it was to make the most of the relatively small space that was previously Camp Minnie-Mickey, or an attempt to make what they knew was going to be an extensive wait time all the more tolerable.

Once you step through the line entrance, you will climb deeper into the wilderness and closer to the floating mountains before you are led into a cave. Inside the cave, you find Na’vi cave paintings and other artwork.

neytiri riding a banshee/ikran, avatar the way of water

Credit: 20th Century Studios

Those cave paintings feature the Na’vi’s connection with the ikran (mountain banshees) as well as the Na’vi’s recordings of their relationship with humans.

Your short walking tour of the cave transitions into the old human complex–remember, guests visit the Valley of Mo’ara decades after the events of James Cameron’s first movie–and come close to reclaiming nature before moving into the new human complex.

avatar flight of passage

Credit: Theme Park Tourist, Flickr

Disney World guests come face to face with a full-size Avatar in its incubation tank, as well as full-scale representations of the Na’vi and the banshees compared to humans. Finally, after all of that, guests are briefed, scanned, linked to their own Avatar, “and, uh…fly.”

And just to be clear, the Lightning Lane–formerly the FastPass+ lane–does not let you experience any of that.

Standby is a Must for First-Timers

neteyam riding banshee/ikran, avatar the way of water

Credit: 20th Century Studios

I can understand why people more familiar with the attraction would want to skip the visual show. But to all guests looking to experience Avatar Flight of Passage for the first time, do not short yourself on this experience.

From being able to place your hand over a Na’vi’s on the cave wall to feeling the banshee breathe against your legs as you watch a sunset over an alien sea, and all of the jaw-dropping heart-racing excitement in between, Avatar Flight of Passage is worth the wait.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and may not be the sentiments of Disney Fanatic as a whole. 

About T.K. Bosacki

Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, TK Bosacki is a professional writer, amateur adventurer, and lifelong Disney Fanatic. His Disney Park days include Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Nomad Lounge. He believes in starting at the Canada pavilion (IYKYK), and the Monorail is superior to all Ferry Boats.

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