found out some tantalizing new details about Animal Kingdom’s upcoming expansion Pandora – The World of Avatar. The 2017 Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World Guide features a page about the Avatar-themed land opening next year at Animal Kingdom, including descriptions of the land’s two major attractions.

Read on for Birnbaum’s descriptions of AVATAR Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey, plus five new details that we learned about Pandora – The World of Avatar.

AVATAR Flight of Passage (FP+)

The crowning jewel of Animal Kingdom’s newest neighborhood, AVATAR Flight of Passage invites daredevils to take a scenic trip to Pandora on the backs of a flying Mountain Banshee. The intense journey takes place in a cutting-edge, simulator-like environment and offers much more than a thrill a minute. Guests are treated to a bird’s-eye view of all the sights, sounds, and smells of the majestic moon that the Na’vi call home.

A high-flying “E-Ticket” experience, Flight of Passage is a most realistic, immersive experience. It is not recommended for guests with motion sensitivity, heart conditions, fear of heights, or any other physical issues. This experience is quite popular, book a Fastpass+ assignment if you can. For height requirements, visit”

Na’Vi River Journey (FP+)

A musical voyage into Pandora’s bioluminescent forest, this trip is as calm and family-friendly as they come. The adventure begins as guests board canoes and venture down a mysterious, sacred river hidden within the rainforest. The grandeur of Pandora is revealed as canoes float past exotic glowing plants and an array of amazing creatures, include native humanoids known as Na’vi. The journey culminates in an encounter with a Na’vi shaman, who has a deep connection to the life of Pandora and sends positive energy into the forest with her music. Na’vi River Journey is generally appreciated by guests of all ages (through timid tykes who are spooked by darkness may find parts of this expedition unsettling).”


FastPass+ will be available for both rides

Considering that there will be major interest in both new attractions, it makes sense that Disney would include FastPass+ for them; although, this is the first time that we’ve gotten confirmation that Animal Kingdom will have two new FP+ rides added to the lineup next year.

AVATAR Flight of Passage Concept Art

AVATAR Flight of Passage will be an intense thrill ride

When rumors started swirling around the Avatar expansion, this ride was described as “Soarin’ Over Pandora,” since it would utilize a similar ride system to Epcot’s Soarin’. Even in its new “Around the World” configuration, calling Soarin’ a thrill ride is a stretch. At most, it offers mild thrills that is approachable to the whole family.

That’s not what is described here. AVATAR Flight of Passage is an “intense journey” that is “more than a thrill a minute.” This is in line with what I heard from Imagineers at D23 last year, with Flight of Passage being pitched much more as a thrill ride. Disney will probably achieve this through a combination of ride vehicle, which will make you feel like you’re riding on top of a living mythical creature, and ride video, which could include much more intense movement and sense of speed.

Disney expects high demand for AVATAR Flight of Passage

Considering it’s being described as “the crowning jewel” of the new Animal Kingdom expansion, Disney has a lot of confidence that this will be the ride that draws crowds in the most. Birnbaum already describes the not-yet-open ride as “quite popular.” That all signals that this is Disney’s next major E-Ticket attraction. All you need to do is look at Frozen Ever After, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, or Radiator Springs Racers in California Adventure to see what that means for lines: they are going to be long, especially at first. Whether that’s entirely due to demand or capacity (or most likely a combination of both), this means that booking a FastPass+ appointment for Flight of Passage will likely become a big priority next year for families visiting Disney World.

Avatar - Na'Vi River Journey at Animal Kingdom

Na’Vi River Journey will be family friendly… mostly

A canoe ride through a mystical, glowing forest sounds like a nice laid back alternative to riding through the skies on a Banshee. Na’Vi River Journey is aimed to appeal to all ages as a much more approachable ride, but Birnbaum gives one good exception: little kids afraid of the dark. Since it is set in nighttime, children with that particular fear might be “unsettled” by the journey, so parents should take note of this when planning their Disney World trips.

Expect a Mid-to-Late 2017 Opening

Even though it seems like we’ve been hearing about the Pandora-themed land at Disney World for forever (it’s actually been since 2011), we’re finally approaching the opening date. At D23 last year, Imagineers were saying that Pandora – The World of Avatar was tracking for a 2017 opening. Birnbaum’s “Hot Tip” description of the timeline puts that in the latter half of the year; however, it could be earlier or later depending on how long construction takes.

New Avatar Details Emerge at Animal Kingdom

What do you think of these new details? Are you excited for Animal Kingdom’s new Avatar expansion? Let me know in the comments below!


James is a lifelong Disney Parks fan. While at the parks, he loves finding new details, learning more about Disney World history, and taking pictures. His favorite WDW attractions include Spaceship Earth, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.
James is a filmmaker and writer based in Los Angeles.

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