Ever since Pandora – The World of Avatar opened at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, Avatar Flight of Passage has become one of the most popular rides in Florida. Unfortunately, with great popularity comes great lines and long wait times. It’s been several years since Flight of Passage opened, but at times the ride still sees wait times of multiple hours!
Despite all the changes Disney World has implemented since reopening, one constant that remains is the incredible popularity of Flight of Passage. While the ride is worth the wait, why wait if you don’t have to? Here are some strategies you can use to shortcut the long wait times for Avatar Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, all updated for the new normal of Genie+ and paid Lightning Lane at Walt Disney World.
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Avatar Flight of Passage Basics
Before we get into the details about how to avoid long wait times on Flight of Passage, it’s good to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into. Avatar Flight of Passage is one of two rides in Pandora – The World of Avatar, a land that opened in Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2017. The attraction stands as one of the most innovative thrill rides ever created. The best way to describe it is a combination of Soarin’ and Star Tours.
On Flight of Passage, you ride a banshee, a winged dinosaur-like creature native to Pandora – the world featured in James Cameron’s 2009 movie Avatar. Unlike ride vehicles you’re used to, you sit on a motorcycle-like vehicle that truly gives you the feeling that you are riding a flying banshee. The four minute ride features thrills and surprises you’ll never forget. If you like thrill rides, you’ll love Flight of Passage. And even those who aren’t the biggest thrill ride fans often find themselves really enjoying Flight of Passage.
The ride has a height minimum of 44 inches tall. Most children will hit that requirement right around ages 5-6 years old. Of course, always gauge your child’s comfort level with thrill rides before taking the plunge with younger ones. The ride isn’t as overwhelming as most Disney roller coasters, but you will sit on a different banshee from your children, meaning they will be separated from you which may matter if they are scared.
Since the ride is such a hit, you’ll want to ride it as many times as possible. With the advent of Genie+ and Lightning Lane, it’s important to understand that there are now two different ways to access Flight of Passage.
Two NEW Ways to Ride Avatar Flight of Passage
Disney World looks a lot different since it reopened its castle gates to the public in July 2020. And with the introduction of Genie+, Disney fans have had to throw out everything they once knew about Fastpass+ and replace it with the new set of rules that Genie+ brings. Genie+ gets pretty complicated (but we’ve got you covered with our best tips), but thankfully how you access Flight of Passage remains relatively simple.
To ride Flight of Passage you either use: 1) a standby line or 2) the Lightning Lane.
Standby Line. The standby line is exactly what it sounds like and what Disney goers have stood in for many decades. Anyone can get into this line, and everyone gets to ride as long as they are willing to wait. Flight of Passage rivals Rise of the Resistance for longest standby wait at Walt Disney World. Waits push 90 minutes at certain times of the day almost every day, while on busy days you might see wait times of over two hours!
Lightning Lane. Lightning Lanes were introduced with Genie+, Disney’s Fastpass+ replacement, on October 19, 2021. What used to be the Fastpass line for attractions has been rebranded into the Lightning Lane and is a way to access many rides with much shorter waits.
For the majority of attractions at Walt Disney World, you can access the Lightning Lane by purchasing Genie+ for $15 per person per day. However, Flight of Passage is not included with Genie+. Instead, Flight of Passage is one of the eight Disney World attractions that require you to buy Individual Lightning Lane access. In other words, you pay a separate fee (separate from both your ticket cost and Genie+ cost if you choose to buy it) to access Flight of Passage’s Lightning Lane. You can purchase Individual Lightning Lane access regardless of whether you have purchased Genie+. Currently, Individual Lightning Lane access for Flight of Passage costs $14 per person but we expect that cost to continue to rise.
Ways to Ride Flight of Passage Quickly Using Lightning Lane
At Disney World, you’ll want to know how to experience one of Disney’s best attractions without a long wait. You’ve got multiple options to consider. You’ll have to weigh whether paying for Individual Lightning Lane is worth the time you save. Let’s break down the different ways you can cut down on your wait time, starting with the pay to play option.
Purchase Lightning Lane Early in the Morning
The easiest way to avoid a long wait at Flight of Passage is to pay for Individual Lighting Lane access. Since Individual Lightning Lane access is limited every day, the wait times when you buy Lighting Lane at Flight of Passage are generally very short.
Still, there are some things you need to know if you plan to purchase Lightning Lane access. Lightning Lane slots often sell out quickly in the morning. That means you’ll need a plan to make sure you secure one!
As with anything park related at Disney World in this day and age, you will need to begin by making a park reservation. That park reservation must be for Animal Kingdom if you want to ride the attraction before 2:00pm (see this guide to making Disney World park pass reservations for all the details). If you are planning to park hop to Animal Kingdom after starting at another park you will only be able to purchase Lightning Lane times for Flight of Passage that are 2:00pm or later.
If you’re staying at a Disney World on-property or partner hotel, you will be eligible to purchase a paid Lightning Lane to Flight of Passage (and all other Individual Lightning Lanes) starting as early as 7:00am. Eligible partner hotels include Shades of Green, the Walt Disney World Swan, Swan Reserve, and Dolphin.
If you are staying in one of these hotels and act quickly right at 7:00am, you should be able to make a booking for Flight of Passage without issue. The windows offered will be one hour long. You can choose your own time throughout the day, subject to park hopping limitations.
If you are staying off-site, however, you can only purchase paid Lightning Lane selections at park opening, generally 8:00am for Animal Kingdom. At that point, there will definitely be limited paid Lightning Lane windows left to purchase for Flight of Passage, with most remaining times in the afternoon or evening.
If you are off-site, make sure you act very quickly when Animal Kingdom opens (you don’t have to be present or scanned into the parks to do it). Once sales open to all, individual Lightning Lanes to Flight of Passage sell out very quickly. In fact, they may even be sold out before off-site guests even have a chance to buy them during busy times of year. To maximize your chances of snagging a Lightning Lane, dust off your fastest finger and be ready to purchase the moment the clock ticks over. Disney generally syncs its clocks to time.gov, so you can have that open on another device to help with the timing.
Unfortunately, what this all boils down to is if you must ride Flight of Passage (just like with Rise of the Resistance), you seriously should consider staying on-site. The fact that you need to pay an upcharge to stay on-site to ensure the ability to pay another upcharge for the Flight of Passage Lightning Lane is not lost on us. We don’t love the system but it is what it is.
Snag a Lightning Lane Reservation for Flight of Passage When You’re Already in Animal Kingdom
But if you don’t book a Lightning Lane reservation first thing in the morning, all hope is not necessarily lost. One insider tip that people don’t know about is that Disney World sometimes releases Lightning Lane reservation inventory during the day. That means while you’re already in Animal Kingdom, there’s a chance that Flight of Passage Lighting Lane availability might become free sometime during the day.
In practice, what you’ll need to do is constantly search for and refresh Lightning Lane (both the individual and Genie+ versions) reservations on your My Disney Experience app on your phone. In fact, you should pretty much do this all day! If you diligently search, you’ll often find your hard work being well rewarded. If you are trying to get a Flight of Passage Individual Lightning Lane after there’s no more availability, make sure you check throughout the day. If you see availability pop up buy it immediately! Very few will be lucky enough to snag these drops, but there’s always a chance if you’re fast fingered.
The most efficient way to check if something drops for a given attraction is to click on the attraction on your Tip Board in My Disney Experience. Then click on the “LL” icon, this will refresh your tip board but have the attraction you want at the very top. If a Lightning Lane slot has become available you’ll be able to click on it. This is something you should constantly be doing in line for rides you really want to use the Lightning Lane for because you never know what E-ticket attractions will become available. The strategy works for all rides that have Lightning Lane access (whether it’s via individual purchase or Genie+) and in all four Disney parks, not just Flight of Passage.
The timing of these Lightning Lane drops changes all the time, though it’s a good force of habit to check on the hour. So make sure you are searching diligently all day, because when the Lightning Lane drops happen the reservations go fast.
Tips to Minimize Your Wait for Flight of Passage in the Standby Line
If you plan to wait standby for Avatar Flight of Passage, don’t worry! We have tips to help you minimize your time in line for that too.
Choose the Best Day of the Week to Visit Animal Kingdom
It’s important to remember that even despite all the changes these past few years, you still want to pick the ideal day of the week to go to Animal Kingdom. Naturally, you’ll want to visit Disney World during off-peak times if you can. But even if you can’t go at a low crowd time of year, it helps to pick one of the relatively lower crowd days of your trip to try a popular ride.
If Flight of Passage is a priority for you we highly recommend making a Disney park pass reservation to visit Animal Kingdom on a weekday. On weekends, local annual passholders have a significant effect on crowds and wait times but on most weekdays (especially outside of the holidays) wait times at Animal Kingdom are very manageable. While locals won’t prioritize Flight of Passage like out of town guests, if they see a short wait time they’ll still queue for the standby line so you want as few people in the park as possible.
On-site Hotel Guests Should Rope Drop Animal Kingdom to Minimize Flight of Passage Wait Time
Since everyone needs to use the standby queue, rope dropping is still the most reliable way to minimize your wait time on Flight of Passage. There is, however, one huge difference to rope dropping these days. On-site and partner Disney hotel guests now receive Early Theme Park Entry, a half hour head start on the rest of the crowds (temporarily changed an hour long from December 19, 2021-January 3, 2022 for the busy holiday period). If you are not staying at one of the Disney resorts or partner hotels, you will be kept in a separate corral while on-site guests stream ahead of you. This is a big game changer.
Regardless of whether you’re on or off-site, if you’re driving, plan to arrive at the Animal Kingdom parking lot gates at least an hour before official park opening. That’s when they generally let cars begin parking, though you may want to ask cast members at your hotel if there have been any updates if you’re staying on site.
If taking buses to Animal Kingdom, line up at least an hour and a half before park opening if you want to be one of the first in line at Flight of Passage. Buses still don’t seem to be operating at full capacity so expect to wait longer if you’re not toward the front of the bus queue.
You should also familiarize yourself with the new contactless security scanners at Animal Kingdom. Most guests no longer will need to wait for their bags to be checked. Remove any metal objects you have from your bags while you wait in line. When you get to the new contactless scanners you will be asked to hold these items out in front of you while you walk through. You may be asked to step aside for further screening of your bags but most people get to walk straight through!
After you have gone through security and tapped in, the crowd will be separated into two lines. On-site and partner hotel guests will have their MagicBands scanned and be held in one corral while off-site guests will be held separately. Thirty minutes before the official opening of Animal Kingdom, on-site guests will be allowed to enter the park.
If you are on-site and are entering during Early Theme Park Entry, we recommend you go straight to Flight of Passage. You should experience some of the lowest wait times on Flight of Passage for the day. However, if you are off-site, we actually recommend you find another time to wait standby for Flight of Passage. There will be too many on-site guests ahead of you: better to wait until later in the day when the park has cleared out.
Consider Other Low Wait Times to Ride Flight of Passage
If you miss or don’t have access to Early Theme Park Entry, don’t worry. There are still a few other options for standby riders to experience lower waits!
Due to the limited number of attractions and lack of nighttime activities at Animal Kingdom, the park clears out much earlier than the other three theme parks. In fact, many people will begin at Animal Kingdom and park hop after lunch. Towards the end of the night or sometimes even during the middle of the day you may see wait times at Flight of Passage dip to 50 minutes or even 25 minutes. If you see a Flight of Passage wait time of 20 minutes, it’s essentially a walk on. Go ride!
Towards the end of the night Flight of Passage wait times are much shorter these days, so that’s a good bet for a low wait time as well. And if you visit on a weekday like we recommend, some days the park won’t be crowded at all at the end of the night. We’ve spoken to readers who experienced Flight of Passage three times within an hour. Keep an eye on the Tip Board section of your My Disney Experience app. If you see a manageable wait time for Flight of Passage, be sure to take advantage of it.
If you plan to wait until the end of the night, remember you just have to get in line before Animal Kingdom officially closes. So if it closes at 10:00pm, just make sure you get into line a few minutes beforehand and you’ll get to be one of the last guests to experience Flight of Passage that night. The wait time will likely be inflated so don’t worry too much. The line should be the shortest it’s been since rope drop in the morning.
Utilize Rider Switch
If you have young kids not yet ready to ride Flight of Passage, there’s one more option you should be aware of so that adults and older kids won’t miss out – Rider Switch! If you’re not familiar with rider switch, it allows a party of adults who have children who either cannot or will not ride a thrill ride to save time in line by not requiring them to queue twice. You can read more about how to use rider switch in general here. It’s important to note Rider Switch works with either the standby line or the Lightning Lane, depending on how you would like the first group of riders to enter.
For Flight of Passage, you can use rider switch to save time in line as long as you have a child who cannot be left alone and cannot ride. Tell the cast member at the front of the queue that you’d like to utilize rider switch. They’ll direct you to another cast member who will put the rider switch allocations onto the MagicBands of the party who will ride second. These rider switch passes are timed, so the second party can’t go in immediately. When it is time for the second group to return, they’ll automatically be directed into the Lightning Lane for a shorter wait.
After a recent update, you can now only have two people in the rider switch party. That means if you have an older child who’s riding Flight of Passage (and of course another child who is not), you can give your riding child the opportunity to ride twice. Just make sure to tell the cast member that the child will ride twice – they will be happy to oblige. That way the child gets to ride with Adult 1 and then ride again with Adult 2.
Note that if you’re buying Individual Lightning Lane access, you still need to purchase Lightning Lane access for everyone who wants to ride. However, you should be able to let the older child in the above example ride twice with rider switch (provided they purchased Lightning Lane access), they can ride when Adult 2 rides.
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About the author: Contributing writer Joe Cheung loves traveling with his wife and three children. He has been writing about using miles and points to reduce the cost of family travel on his blog asthejoeflies since his wife was pregnant with their first child. He loves traveling all around the world with a special place in his heart for travel to Asia and all things Disney. When he’s not writing, you can find Joe chatting about Disney World on the Disney planning podcast Disney Deciphered that he and Leslie co-host or chatting about miles and points on his other podcast the Saverocity Observation Deck.