Avatar Flight of Passage is one of the new attractions in Pandora – The World of Avatar. This post will cover what wheelchair users need to know before they leave on their exploration. I have to admit I was really skeptical before we experienced this attraction. But we loved it so much we went back to experience it again.
Disclosure: I am an ambassador for WHILL. I was given a Model M demo unit to try out in the Disney Parks. As always, all opinions are my own!
Location: Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Height Requirement: Guests must be 44in (112cm) or taller
Accessibility: Must Transfer from Wheelchair/ECV. If you are using an ECV you much transfer to a standard wheelchair then to the ride vehicle. (More on that below)
FastPass+: Available and Strongly Recommended
Who Should Ride: This is a thrill ride and some guests may experience motion sickness. The seating and restraints of this attraction may prohibit Guests of certain body shapes or sizes from riding.
We had FastPasses and since the wait times are so long right now, we didn’t experience the standby queue. Part of both queues are outside and are similar. It’s a winding path that is mostly uphill. I was using the WHILL so I didn’t have any issues but I might have needed a little help in my manual wheelchair.
If you are using the standby queue be prepared to have to sit on an incline. You might also get caught in a rain shower or in the sun. The standby queue is going to be a lot longer as well but will have a lot more to look at once you are inside.
It didn’t take long to get through the outdoor portion of the FastPass queue when we visited. The path is a little bumpy but it’s a lot smoother once you get inside. But there is still a lot of inclines.
When you get to the second touch point for your FastPass, as Cast Member will ask how many are in your party. You’ll get sent to one of two lines. Wheelchairs and ECVs will line up on the far right. When you get to the end of this line you’ll need to let a Cast Member know that you’ll need assistance transferring. It is also where ECV users will have to transfer to a manual wheelchair.
There is a special wheelchair/transfer device that you can use that can make getting onto the link chair (ride vehicle) easier. Make sure to let a Cast Member know that you need it before you enter the pre-show. We had two different experiences when we visited. The first time they brought the wheelchair out to me, I transferred next to the queue, and they took my wheelchair to an area next to the exit. At the exit, I transferred back into my wheelchair and a Cast Member took the transfer chair back.
On our second visit, when we told them we needed the transfer chair we were immediately taken to the room where the transfer chairs are stored. I was able to transfer in private setting. My wheelchair then stayed in that room. We were led back out to the queue, experienced the attraction, and then were brought back to that room to transfer back.
The second experience was much nicer and I hope it is the norm. The first time we visited there were two ECVs and another wheelchair ahead of us so I think they just got a little overwhelmed. You have to remember that this is new for the Cast Members too. Just be patient and vocal about what you need.
The preshow area is where you will be linked with your Avatar. You’ll be given a number to stand on in the first room. Make sure you can see the screen so you get the full experience. The transfer chair will need to be pushed by someone in your party but it was pretty easy to maneuver through the preshow area.
The ride vehicle for Flight of Passage is a link chair. There is one set up right outside of the entrance of the queue if you want to get familiar with it before your experience. It doesn’t have the restraints but you can get a good idea of how to transfer. Cast Members are there too if you have any questions.
This is where the transfer chair makes a huge difference. The foot rests position your legs so they easily slide through on each side of the link chair. It can also be raised up so you slide over the top of the chair. This means there is no gap between the link chair and the transfer chair. This makes sliding onto it easy.
Once I was on the link chair I just needed a little help scooting my hips forward. After I was all set I made sure my feet were all the way forward and leaned forward into the seat. I also used the handles in the front to make myself feel more secure. If you don’t have a lot of torso control, as long as you can lean forward you should be okay. Gripping the handles isn’t necessary and you don’t have to put any pressure on your arms. Everyone is different so take your time to get comfortable. I didn’t feel rushed at all and the Cast Members were very patient and helpful.
Restraints come up behind your legs and your back. I couldn’t feel the ones on my legs but they were secure the whole time. I didn’t feel any movement. The back restraint is on your lower back. My back is pretty sensitive from surgeries but it didn’t cause any problems. I could feel it but there wasn’t a lot of pressure.
Avatar Flight of Passage is a thrill ride so be prepared. I don’t want to give too much away but you will feel like you are moving and flying. I was a little worried about motion sickness but it wasn’t an issue. Just make sure you feel comfortable before you begin your flight.
It’s hard to put into words how I felt about Avatar Flight of Passage. I was fully prepared to be disappointed with the transfer process. But it was so much easier than I thought it would be. And I really wasn’t prepared for just how much I would love this attraction.
As a wheelchair user you can become used to your movement being restricted and dependent upon your chair. Flight of Passage allowed me to feel like everyone else for a few minutes. It also gave me a sense of movement and freedom that I was not expecting. In the movie, when Jake first connects to his Avatar he can’t wait to move, run, and feel his feet beneath him. I never thought an attraction would allow me to have that same emotional experience. But there I was, flying.