Avatar: Flight of Passage in Pandora at Animal Kingdom – an epic ride, but one that is known for its crazy long lines.
IMO, no ride is worth a 3-hour wait (or 2-hour wait, for that matter). Not only is that crazy, but there’s a huge opportunity cost there – everything else you could have done with your 2-3 hours of park admission if you choose to wait in these lines.
My goal is for everyone that reads this blog post to understand it entirely, let it sink in, and then (energetically) promise me that you will not wait in over a 60-minute line for Flight of Passage on your Disney World vacation!
Strategy #1: Get a FastPass Reservation
Stick with me, even though this first one is incredibly obvious. If you’re rolling your eyes because you DIDN’T get a FastPass, keep the faith that there are more strategies for you ahead.
However I do have to go over this strategy, as some people still think FastPass costs extra, isn’t included, or they don’t understand that every person gets FastPass reservations. These are all not true, so now we can move on.
We’ll start with the easiest and best way to get on Flight of Passage, which is to have a FastPass reservation made before arriving at the parks.
The problem is that some people are staying off-property and only have 30-day booking, and for the most part cannot score a FastPass reservation due to them already being gone well in advance.
The only people with the luck of having a guaranteed FastPass are those that are staying on Disney property or other eligible hotels for 60-day booking – and some of these people aren’t even getting them at the time of writing this.
If you’re using your free time to read a Disney blog on strategies, you are probably already pretty aware of most of this, so let’s move on to one of the most common FAQs I receive:
Even if your FastPass reservation is later in the afternoon/evening, attempt to modify it.
Here is what I hear a lot. People say “Ok, I got a FastPass because I had a 60-day booking, but I couldn’t get one until 7 or 8 pm. I know I can use FastPasses throughout the day after my first three – so am I supposed to wait in standby all day and then wait for these FastPasses to be eligible?”
First, congrats on being ahead of the game. The shocking majority of people are not aware that you can continue to get one FastPass at a time after the first 3, so your awareness is a plus for you.
Here are my thoughts on locking down a late Flight of Passage FastPass reservation:
Grab it even if it’s late.
You’ll then check back right around 30 days before the day of your FastPass, give or take seven days on each side.
This is when people are canceling their packages and therefore dropping FastPass reservations. I say give or take a week because some people will do it a few days before the deadline, some the same day. And usually the Disney system takes about 48-72 hours to clear our FastPasses anyways even after the hotel reservation has been cancelled, so it’s to your benefit to keep checking a few days after the 30 days.
I don’t necessarily recommend this technique because it’s time-intensive (you’re talking a potential of 12-14 days searching for FastPasses, and you’ll get addicted and thus waste a lot of your time to do other things with your life), they’re still not that easy to come by this way, and there are better ways.
What you SHOULD do is use the modify technique to try to move it up earlier in the day, although I would not spend too much time on this if your group of people is 5 or more (it’s just harder to find this many at once).
By modifying and looking for earlier times, you’re hoping to cash in on FastPasses that are floating around in the system. It happens, and there are techniques to help it happen a lot quicker (hint, hint).
But if you’re not using great strategies or your group is large, or it’s a busy day – I wouldn’t depend on the modify method. Unless you know what you’re doing, and have Line Hacks 😉 I go over extreme strategies for using only FastPass on vacation in my signature guide/course, so of course, I think you should get this to best prepare for lines and such on your vacation. But no worries, if you’re like “UGH, I’m NOT buying a guide!!!”, I’m still covering all of the strategies here.
Tip: if you did get a FastPass but it’s later in the day and therefore prohibiting you from picking up more FastPasses, you need to plan on getting to Animal Kingdom early and have a strategic plan for the rides you don’t have a FastPass for. Then it’s not that big of a deal!
Ex: let’s say you’re holding a Flight of Passage FastPass later in the day, I recommend having your other two for Kilimanjaro Safaris and Kali River Rapids (if you are planning on the water ride, otherwise get Expedition Everest).
Arrive before opening, hit Navi River Journey, then book it to Expedition Everest for 1 or a few more rides (depends on crowd levels/time of year), then over to Dinosaur, followed by other rides in Dinoland USA. Spend the day in between FastPasses catching shows, meeting characters, and doing all other activities.
Now, let’s move on to what you’re going to do if you didn’t score a FastPass at all. You have three options.
Strategy #2: Rope Drop Flight of Passage
Rope drop is the accepted term for a strategy that entails beating the standby line by being one of the first people on the attraction when it opens in the morning.
It is typically accepted as the most efficient alternative for those who can’t score a FastPass. And many think it’s the only, but that’s not true as we list other strategies below.
Most people will participate in rope drop because they must do the attraction on vacation…but some people will rope drop even though they have a FastPass because they love it and want to do it twice that day. Understandable if you’re an early bird.
I’m personally pretty biased against rope drop for super popular rides, which at time of writing is Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom and Slinky Dog Dash at Hollywood Studios. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom can fall in this category too, but I find that one is getting to be a bit more casual as time goes on.
Why am I not a huge rope drop fan? You have to be up EARLY. You can probably by now tell that my mind works very economically, and I don’t want to risk giving up sleep that will keep my batteries full for a great day at the parks for one attraction.
Also, some people act poorly at rope drop. It shouldn’t be a deciding factor, but I’m not interested for this reason too. I’m not going to push kids, I’m not going to cut in line, and I’m going to wait patiently in my place in line. Sadly, this often won’t work out well. So, I have a very low tolerance for rope drop for the more competitive rides.
This is an opinion though, and many people are up anyways at 7 am or earlier. Let’s move on.
I WILL rope drop many other attractions though, but I consider it just being there are park opening, as it doesn’t require a fight: Big Thunder Mountain or Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom, Frozen Ever After at EPCOT, Expedition Everest or Navi River Journey at Animal Kingdom. I’m just not a fan of the Flight of Passage or Slinky Dog Dash rope drop. And definitely won’t be a fan of the Star Wars one either :/
However, there are smart ways to rope drop, and it’s a great strategy if you don’t mind being up early. Some people even love the thrill of rope drop!
A significant thing to know about rope drop is that often the attraction will open even earlier than the park open time.
For example, let’s say the park opens at 9 a.m. and you’re heading to Flight of Passage. They may open the ride as early as 8:30 am, and then this is the official line start.
So if you weren’t prepared for that time as the actual opening and don’t get there early enough for that, you’re now screwed as if you’ve prepared just for the 9 a.m. opening. And it happens often. Lines will have grown substantially in those 30 minutes.
This said, a good strategy for Flight of Passage rope drop is to be there 60-75 minutes before park opening during low to moderate crowd times, and 90-100 minutes during busy and holiday season.
I do encourage people to get good sleep the night before rope drop (duh) or plan on taking a noon-ish break back to the hotel or elsewhere that day. You don’t want your kids or yourself to turn into sociopaths come lunchtime.
Another huge rope drop advantage: if you do it properly, you’ll usually still have a decent amount of time to hit other attractions before stand-by lines build. Yay!
Note on rope dropping on Extra Magic Hour Mornings
I know some people are wondering about Extra Magic Hour mornings and how rope drop strategy works for these days.
Rope Drop for Extra Magic Hour mostly works the same as a regular day – you just may be able to shave off a little bit of time or see a bit of a shorter line since the general public is excluded. I still wouldn’t cut your arrival time by much though – plan on an hour before opening.
If you are eligible for EMH mornings and wondering if you should rope drop those days, YES! Take advantage of this perk, especially since once you’re off the attraction, you should still have a decent amount of time to hit other attractions during EMH.
Strategy #3: Get in line if it’s ABOUT to start raining (least recommended strategy)
This strategy is the least recommended, as it doesn’t necessarily save you a wait, but it is one for those of you who despise the rain and don’t intend on going back to your hotel if the weather was to get bad.
One thing you can do if you’re very weather alert and know when a storm is possibly coming (hint: you can do this by looking up at the sky frequently) is to get in line for Flight of Passage when the rain is about to hit.
I don’t recommend getting in line if it’s over 90 minutes, because that’s way too long to wait for anything.
But if the posted wait is 90 minutes or less, and you hate the rain and don’t want to be outdoors or stand in some gift shop, may as well consider getting in line for it then. You now have protection from the rain, and you’re getting an ROI out of it.
Again this isn’t a strategy to minimize wait, but it’s just a thought I wanted to throw out there.
Strategy #4: End of Night Strategy (my favorite strategy if you don’t have a FastPass!)
Alright, End of Night Strategy is my absolute favorite strategy there are a few reasons for this.
End of night means that you get in line the very last minute the park is going to close – and yes, you can do that for most attractions at most points of the year (holidays and some attractions will vary, so you may want to ask a cast member what time the queues will take people until).
Let’s say Animal Kingdom closes at 9 p.m. – this strategy means going to the stand-by entrance around 8:55 p.m., confirming with the lovely cast member that he/she is taking people in the queue until 9 p.m., and then you get in line at 8:59 or 9 p.m.
Because they’ll take people until 9:01 strikes! And I mean get in line last minute – not 8:45 pm. Wait until 8:59 pm.
Why is this such a great strategy? Unless you’re at the front for rope drop, this will be one of the shortest waits of the day.
And WAIT, there’s even more reasons it’s great.
The second is that you are 100% maximizing your ROI (return on investment) for your ticket cost in the park.
Since you are getting in line at the very end of the night for Flight of Passage (or any other ride), no other attractions are now open, the park is closed, and you are not wasting any of your ticket cost/time in line since there isn’t anything else to do. You are being EFFICIENT! Which makes me VERY happy.
You cannot get this efficiency as you would for say, rope drop, so the end of this night strategy is excellent. And you don’t have to be there at the buttcrack of dawn. Or, you just get to maximize your morning hours doing other things! Win, win, WIN.
Ready for this? There’s a THIRD benefit to end of the night strategy.
I love End of the Night Strategy in general, but this one really works great for Animal Kingdom.
This is for two reasons.
One is because Rivers of Light is not one of the must-do shows at Disney World, it’s the one you can skip. This strategy doesn’t work so well at other parks like Hollywood Studios, where you will be missing Fantasmic! and/or the Star Wars fireworks.
You don’t have a major decision to make here unless you’re dying to see the Rivers of Light show (hint, Flight of Passage is better).
Second is that Pandora after dark is incredible, and a completely different experience than daytime. It’s an attraction itself.
So not only are you going to get a shorter wait on Flight of Passage, but you’re then spilling out into Pandora after park close and get to experience this with minimal people around! Cast Members will typically not start pushing people out of the park until about an hour after the official close, so you now have prime photo-taking and observation time. It’s just cool to be here at this time.
Now, the downfall to End of Night Strategy is if something were to happen to the ride and it goes down while you’re waiting. And doesn’t come back up.
You’re then pretty much screwed if you only have a non-park hopper ticket and/or not willing to come back to Animal Kingdom. They’d give you a FastPass to redeem for the next day or possibly next few days, but this doesn’t help if you’re not planning on coming back.
So this is a risk you have to take. I say it’s worth rolling the dice though, as the attractions are designed to work, not fail.
Final Bonus Strategy
You learn how to milk day-of FastPasses and score things like Flight of Passage while you’re at the parks because you’re exposed to intricate and expert strategies. About 2% of people fall into this group.
Cue my bias towards my guidebook/system that teaches these strategies, gives daily park plans and itineraries, and more. Get the Line Hacks system if you haven’t, or at least consider adding it to your Disney planning arsenal.
We have daily success stories of people scoring things like Flight of Passage FastPasses, and we have a 99.7% satisfaction rate. And join us in the group!
Let me know your thoughts or questions on how to ride Flight of Passage without the long wait!