Flight of Passage: plus size and accessible information
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
The ride I get more questions about than any other is Flight of Passage. While Disney World is extremely plus size friendly overall, Flight of Passage, the flagship ride in Animal Kingdom’s Pandora, has been a problem for larger plus size guests. Plus size people are very concerned about whether or not they will fit. I don’t have a magic formula that will tell guests if the ride will work for them, but I hope that this information will help plus size guests have a better understanding of the entire process. Please note that all images are screenshots from my 2019 video on Flight of Passage, which can be viewed below.
What is Flight of Passage?
It is a 3D simulator ride, based on the movie Avatar, in which you “ride” a banshee (a kind of flying dragon). The ride is extremely immersive. Riders sit on individual ride vehicles similar to motorbikes, with their feet on the floor. Padded back and leg restraints come from behind, holding you in place in a forward-leaning position.
The ride vehicles tilt forward and back, and side to side, to simulate the movements of flying. These movements follow the action on the 3-D movie screen in front of the riders. The movements are smooth but some guests report motion sickness.
Images ©PammiePlusParks. These images are screenshots from a video filmed by PammiePlusParks and remains the intellectual property of PammiePlusParks.
Will I fit?
The good news is that most people have nothing to worry about! About 80% of people who try the ride, do fit.
There are many factors involved in whether or not people fit this ride. Weight, height and calf thickness, but also fullness of thigh, length of leg, length of torso, fullness of bust and physical ability to straddle the ride seat and sit in the required position all play a part on how the ride’s restraints fit each person’s body.
Some tips to try:
1. Wear leggings or bring a plastic bag to sit on, to ensure you can slide forward on the seat. The seat and leg restraint padding have a silicone finish that loose clothing can grab onto and inhibit your ability to slide all the way forward.
2. Walk as far forward as possible before sitting and sliding as far in as possible.
3. Once seated, go up on your tip toes so that the leg pads can hit at the narrowest part of your leg, especially if you have larger calves.
Those who don’t manage to ride tend to fall into three categories: larger plus size people, over about 350 lbs; very tall people (a 6’6” friend rode it recently with no problems); and very muscular people whose calves are too large for the leg restraints.
However, these are very loose guidelines. Fit depends on body shape and body geometry. A 350 lb person over 5’8” with legs that are slimmer, might have no issue fitting, whereas a 290 lb person who is 5’ tall and carries most of their weight in the belly might not fit.
Because there is no scientific formula to help you figure out if you will fit, it is always worth trying both the tester seat at the front of the ride, and the ride itself. It's much better to give it a try and make a discreet early exit, than to miss out on a great ride.
I suggest you try the tester seat out front if you don’t have a Fast Pass. The tester seat is a little bit smaller than the actual ride seats. If you are close to fitting on the test seat, you may find that the ride seats will work for you.
I don’t normally speculate about rides, but in the case of this particular rumor, I’ve heard it from enough Cast Members and heard enough first-hand accounts of guest trying the ride multiple times that I believe there may be some truth to it.
Word has it that as seats need servicing, they are removed, brought to the workshop and engineers tweak the restraints slightly to make them a little bit more accommodating, before the seats are returned to the ride.
According to the rumor the seats aren’t being altered in any pattern and there is no way for the Cast Members who work on the ride to determine which seats have been recently serviced and tweaked.
I’ve had several guests tell me that the ride didn’t fit them on Monday, but when they tried again on Wednesday, the ride worked for them. I’ve received literally dozens of reports like this, which has led me to believe there may be truth to the rumor.
Again, this is just a rumor and, even if it is true, Cast Members are not aware which seats have been tweaked and which have not.
Making an Early Exit
If you do have to make an early exit, it is done very discreetly. There are 16 ride vehicles: 8 each in two adjoining rooms, which are dimly lit. As everyone is busy getting seated, a Cast Member will discreetly check restraints on every vehicle. If your restraints need a little push to get them to lock, the Cast Member will crouch down and quietly assist you. If the restraints cannot lock on your vehicle, the Cast Member will quietly signal that you need to follow them.
The Cast Member will lead you behind all the ride vehicles and out the room. If you quietly follow the Cast Member out and don’t make a fuss, it is very unlikely anyone will even notice you got up and left. Just outside of the exit you’ll find a Cast Member who can direct you to a nearby bench where you can sit and wait for the rest of your party.
Often the Cast Member just outside of the ride room will arrange for you to get one or two Fast Passes to make up for not riding, and they will give the same Fast Passes to all the other members of your party when they exit. Please do not count on this, because the Fast Passes are not always offered, but do enjoy them if they are offered.
The walk into the ride from the Magic Band touchpoint is long and on an incline, but is fully accessible to ECVs and wheelchairs. There are three ride chambers, some with stairs to enter and exit. If you have difficulty with any of this, please speak to a Cast Member, who can direct you to an appropriate queue or elevator.
Wheelchair users must transfer from their chair onto the ride vehicle, which is shaped like a motorbike. However, you do not swing your leg over as you would on a real motorbike.
There is a transfer wheelchair available. Please speak to a Cast Member before you join the queue, and they will be able to give you more information.
The pre-ride show uses light and sound effects that could be overwhelming for guests with sensory issues. During the ride, guests experience air, mist and scents blown through the room.
The vehicle itself slightly expands and contracts, giving you the feeling that you are riding on the back of a living, breathing animal.
The movie screen in front of you is 3-D, so you will be wearing 3-D glasses. The glasses can be worn over your own eyeglasses.
Audio description for the blind is available. However, unlike most rides it is not done via the devices you can get from Guest Services, but rather by having your earbuds or headphones plugged into the front of the ride vehicle. Make sure you talk to a Cast Member beforehand to be set up for this, but it is worth it as the audio description is evocative and perfectly timed with the motions of your ride vehicle.
My thanks to Jennifer Morash for this information. Her full account of being visually impaired at Disney is here.
I have tried this ride twice, and both times, my calves, but not my torso, have been too large. On my second attempt, the restraints for my back and right leg locked without issue but the restraint for my left calf did not lock even after a push from the Cast Member. By all accounts, it’s a great ride, and I encourage everyone who wants to ride it, to give it a try. The Early Exit process was discreet and painless.