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Accessible Attractions | Avatar Flight of Passage

June 13, 2017

Pandora - The World of Avatar

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!


The Basics

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.


Queue

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.

Transfer Assistance

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.

Pre-Show

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.

Ride Vehicle

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 Link Chair

Overall

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.

We are looking forward to visits to the world of Pandora but would love to hear about your experience. Did you think the transfer was easy? What tips do you have? You can find more of our accessible attraction reviews here.

Accessible Disney Attractions - Avatar Flight of Passage

  • William P
    July 8, 2017 at 10:54 am

    I have an above the knee amputation on my right leg…would I still be able to ride with only one leg? I am not far enough along to have a prosthetic

    • Melissa
      July 14, 2017 at 7:41 am

      I am not sure. I would talk with a Cast Member outside of the attraction. I’m sorry I can’t be more help!

  • Deborah Sain
    June 27, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    This is very helpful info but I do have a question. I have very big legs with huge calves and thighs. Would someone like me be able to ride this attraction? Do your legs have to fit in to any devices that huge legs could not fit in? Thank you for your help.

    • Melissa
      June 30, 2017 at 9:49 am

      The test seat outside has the restraints that are used so you can try them out beforehand. Just talk to a Cast Member. I have heard that some people went on the attraction even after the test seat didn’t work but it did work out on the actual attraction. I know they’ve made some adjustments.

      • Deborah Sain
        June 30, 2017 at 9:55 am

        Oh, thank you soooo much! That is very helpful information. I hate getting on rides only to have to get back off because of my legs. I sure appreciate your time and help.

  • Paul
    June 27, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    This was an extremely helpful review. As a C6/7 quadriplegic, I had all bit given up on even attempting this ride, but having seen the transfer chair, i might actually give this a try. My biggest concern is the low back rest given my lack of trunk control (paralyzed from mid-chest/shoulder blades down) and lack of grip in my hands. You mention you should be OK if you lean forward, but does the ride ever tip you backwards, like you are flying upwards? I like the look of the wrap around chest pad to keep you in place horizontally. How aggressive is the movement of this ride? By the way, love your site, you’ve one a great job with it!

    • Paul
      June 28, 2017 at 10:14 am

      One other question. Does the entire platform move or are there any areas of the room that stay level? Do you know if you would be allowed to just put on the headset and stay seated in your wheelchair on a level surface at the back or sides of the room?

      • Melissa
        June 30, 2017 at 10:00 am

        The ride tips forward and side to side but not backwards. There is one part where your banshee lands for a bit but it didn’t make me feel like I was going backwards. The movement felt pretty smooth to me, it wasn’t jerky or too fast. I don’t have any paralysis in my chest but it’s still weak so a sudden movement would have been a problem.

        I’m pretty certain the entire room moves some. I’m not 100% sure but they take the transfer chair out of the room and bring it back in which leads me to believe it does. And you do have to be on the ride vehicle, they wouldn’t allow someone to sit in the back.

        Let me know if you have any more questions! I know it can be nerve wracking at times when attractions are new and you don’t know what to expect.

        • Paul
          June 30, 2017 at 11:16 am

          Thanks again for the additional info. We will be there August 1, so I still have a few weeks to decide if I’m going to try this ride out. My wife is convinced that I will die on the ride, but I am reasonably certain that I will survive, possibly even uninjured. My biggest concerns are falling backwards given the low back rest (which sounds like it might not be such a big issue) and keeping my butt on the seat (which also might be OK given the lateral chest supports and leg restraints). Perhaps I could get a cast member to duct tape me in place (only half joking – I’m pretty sure that would work)!

          After posting my question, I found a video on YouTube that shows the movement of the ride platform. The movement is pretty aggressive. The entire platform seems to move up and down significantly but on the plus side the tilting forward and backwards and right to left doesn’t seem too bad (although it is hard to tell without actually being on the ride). If anyone is interested in seeing it, the video is titled “4K Avatar Flight of Passage Full Ride Pandora The World of Avatar DAKTP Orlando, FL” and if you watch it from 11:05 to 15:37 you will see the movement i’m talking about (unfortunately I don’t think I can post the link here).

          I’m hoping that the cast members will let my wife go on the ride first then report back to me before I make my final decision to go on.

  • Jennifer Hardy
    June 14, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Thanks for such a great review! I saw you while at the park today in passing. My mom was admiring your cool chair.