Flight of Passage

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Attraction History

The genesis of the attraction that would eventually become Flight of Passage began when approached James Cameron with the idea of creating banshee ride for Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s planned Avatar land. Cameron was intrigued, saying “When they told me, they wanted to do a banshee ride, I said I wanted it to be Soarin’ over Pandora.”

According to Imagineer Joe Rohde, work on Flight of Passage began in 2012. To help create the attraction Disney was joined by James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment, and Welta Digital, who helped with the attraction's visuals. Under the direction of Rohde, Amy Jupiter and Lightstorm Entertainment's Richard Baneham, a team of hundreds of artists contributed to the attraction's VFX production. As the ride's queue and main show templates were being designed, the team turned to Weta Digital to execute their plans. According to Jupiter:

“Everything you see in the attraction’s main show was original to this production. We were fortunate to be able to use the model and texture assets from the first film during our templating/visualization process. We were also able to use animation cycles for our BG characters.”

Unlike other motion-simulator/film hybrid attraction’s such as Epcot's Soarin, on Flight of Passage guests wear 3D glasses. Jupiter noted that:

We needed to develop glasses that functioned with a 160-degree field-of-view screen. Typically, theatrical or cinema glasses only support 90-degree field of view. We also wanted as little visual intrusion of the glasses [as possible] as we wanted folks to have as natural a stereo experience as possible. We opted for as translucent a frame as we could get, along with as much clear filter as we could afford. Essentially, we wanted the glasses to disappear

With the use of 3D glasses, it became imperative that the physical movements of the attraction aligned with what guests see on the screen. This meant that the ride animators and template artists often worked together in real-time. Furthermore, in order to keep the illusion intact, Rohde stated that the team refrained from using any gimmicky 3D effects that would bring attention to the physical elements of the ride.

Although Pandora- The World of Avatar was initially announced in. It was not until the D23 Expo in 2013, that guests first got a glimpse of Flight of Passage. At this time, although the attraction was not named, Joe Rohde told guests that one experience would allow them fly on the back of a banshee [1].

It was not until the 2015 D23 Expo that Flight of Passage's name was announced [2]. At this time, new concept art of the attraction as also shown, and guests were promised that the new attraction would be an adventure unlike anything that came before it.

Attraction Plot

Fun Facts and Trivia


  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3fkuaQNGHI
  2. https://insidethemagic.net/2015/08/d23-expo-2015-avatar-ride-flight-of-passage-named-for-walt-disney-world-animal-kingdom-getting-nighttime-entertainment/