Learn how to ride Avatar Flight of Passage before the park officially opens without having a fast pass, extra magic hours, or an early breakfast reservation! I’m also sharing how to ride both Pandora rides within 30 minutes of the park being open + a schedule to go on all of the rides at the Animal Kingdom before 2 PM!
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Flight of Passage is one of the best rides at Walt Disney World (you can read my review of Avatar Flight of Passage review here)–it’s truly spectacular! I’m never able to get fast passes for it (it’s practically impossible!) and I refuse to wait in the ride queue for two+ hours while I could be going on other rides. We also tried waiting until the end of the night but that wait time was always really long too. After not being able to experience it for over a year, we decided to try another way to ride it.
A big thank you to Serena who runs the Instagram account, LivingByDisney, for teaching us how to get on Flight of Passage before the park opens! Make sure you check out her account for more Disney World park tips!
This guide will show you how to ride Flight of Passage before the park officially opens or how to ride both rides in Pandora within 30 minutes of the park being open! In addition, it will also tell you which three fast passes you should book in advance + how to schedule in the rest of the rides in order to ride all of the most popular rides in the park by 2 PM!
List of the Most Popular Rides at Animal Kingdom:
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Na Vi River Journey
- Kilimanjaro Safari
- Expedition Everest
- Kali River Rapids
- Primeval Whirl
- It’s Tough to be a Bug
This whole theory and ride schedule is based on starting the day off with riding Flight of Passage and Na Vi River Journey so let’s discuss both rides and make sure you want to ride them.
What Kind of Ride is Avatar Flight of Passage?
Flight of passage is a realistic 3D flying augmented reality simulator experience where you connect with your avatar and fly on the back of a banshee above the visually breathtaking landscape of Pandora!
Is Avatar Flight of Passage a Roller Coaster?
No, the Avatar Flight of Passage ride is not a roller coaster but it’s definitely a thrill ride that makes you feel like you’re flying pretty fast during the ride. I would say it’s like Soarin (the ride at Epcot) on steroids!
Is Avatar Flight of Passage Scary?
There are some parts of the ride (fighting another banshee and simulated drops) that are a little intense but I wouldn’t say that it’s scary. If you tend to get motion sick easily (like me) you can always close your eyes during the intense moments and it definitely helps that they blow air on you during the ride!
Avatar Flight of Passage Drops
There are a couple of moments during the ride while your banshee is flying that it will soar and dive so it feels like you are too. You’re strapped into Avatar Flight of Passage ride vehicle seat so it feels like you’re dropping too but if you close your eyes it won’t feel so intense. In reality, your seat isn’t really moving like that it just feels like it is because of the images you’re watching.
What Kind of Ride is Na’Vi River Journey?
Na Vi River Journey is a 4 1/2 minute dark boat ride that winds its way through the beautiful caves and bioluminescent rainforest of Pandora! The ride is very calm and it’s perfect for a break from the heat and sun. It’s especially great for kids because there’s no height requirement!
Does Na’Vi River Journey Have a Drop?
No, the Na Vi River journey ride doesn’t have a drop, it’s a very smooth, slow, and relaxing ride. It’s not very thrilling but the layout of the winding glowing bioluminescent rainforest more then makes up for the lack of thrill.
Is Na’Vi River Journey Inside or Outside?
The Na Vi River Journey ride is all located inside. It doesn’t go outside into the Pandora world.
Is Na’Vi River Journey a Wet Ride?
No, you won’t get wet on the Navi River Journey. There are no drops and it’s not fast enough to cause any splashes or waves. You definitely don’t need a poncho.
How to Ride Avatar Flight of Passage and Na Vi River Journey Without Fast Passes
Now that we’ve gone over both Pandora rides, let’s talk about how you can ride the Pandora Flight of Passage before the park officially opens or experience both rides without having fast passes and within the first 30 minutes of the Animal Kingdom being open!
Of course, if you are one of the lucky few who can get the elusive Pandora fast passes then book em’ and run! If you’re like me, a person who can’t seem to book fast passes for Flight of passage to save her life then this is exactly what you should do to get yourself on the ride!
To walk right on to Flight of Passage before the park opens you’ll need to be at Animal Kingdom for rope drop!
What’s Rope Drop?
Rope drop is when the cast members drop the rope at the front gate of the park and let people into the park before the park officially opens. I bet that you’re surprised to learn that rope drop happens before the park officially opens. Am I right? I was very surprised to learn this!
While planning your Disney World trip, you’ll probably check the park hours and see that Animal Kingdom opens at 9 AM. So you plan to arrive in the parking lot or by bus at 8:45 AM and arrive at the front gate by 8:55 AM. That sounds reasonable, right? However, you walk up to the gate and see that it’s already open and people are already in the park before 9 AM! What the heck!?
That’s right, the park officially opens at 9 AM but the front gate rope drop happens between 8:05 AM – 8:20 AM. (Of course, the time could change but that’s been my experience!) Most people who arrive at the park for Animal Kingdom are there so they can be first in line to ride Avatar Flight of Passage without any wait.
Rope Drop Ride Schedule
This is exactly what you should do to ride Avatar Flight of Passage before the park opens or to ride both rides in Pandora within 30 minutes of the park opening.
- If the park is scheduled to open at 9 AM then you should arrive in the parking lot no later then 7:20 AM.
- Walk up to the front gate and get in one of the lines in front of the turnstiles. You will wait here for about 45 minutes. Be ready to move in case they drop the rope early.
- You will know that rope drop is about to happen because there will be an announcement over the PA system that welcomes you to the park.
- As soon as you get into the park, walk briskly and head straight to the tree of life and then hang a left or just follow the crowd. Please don’t run! Rookie mistake- Don’t stop to take pictures of the Tree of Life! I know it’s beautiful but you’ll have plenty of time to do that later.
- You’ll be stopped at the entrance of Pandora where you’ll wait for about 5-10 minutes for the cast members to drop this rope.
- Once they drop the rope, the cast members will lead you through Pandora. If you’re going on Flight of Passage then stick to the right. If you want to go on Na Vi River Journey then go to the left. Once everyone is lined up you will enter the queue for Flight of Passage.
- If you’re within the first 100 people (like we were) in line then you will pretty much walk right onto Flight of Passage before the park officially opens.
What Should You Do After Flight of Passage?
We entered the AFoP queue at 8:43 AM, walked into the passage theater by 8:47 AM, got on the ride at 8:50 AM, and were done and walking towards Na Vi River Journey by 9:04 AM. That’s what I would recommend you to do also. We only had to wait for less than 10 minutes in the queue to get on the Na Vi River Journey and it’s a very quick ride so you *should* be able to complete both Pandora rides by 9:30 AM which is only 30 minutes after the park officially opens!
What Fast Passes Should I get For Animal Kingdom?
If you are able to get a Na Vi River Journey or Avatar Flight of Passage fast pass then thank your lucky stars! If you can’t get it then I would highly recommend getting to Animal Kingdom at rope drop so you can knock out these rides first.
After you knock out two of the most popular rides in the park by 930am-10am you’ll want to make three fast passes on My Disney Experience app for the next most popular rides. By this time the park will be getting busy and the wait times will be getting high.
I would recommend getting fast passes in advance for:
- Kilimanjaro Safari (keep in mind that this ride is 30 minutes long and plan accordingly!)
- Expedition Everest
- Kali River Rapids (especially if you’re going while it’s hot out because it will be popular)
Try to schedule these fast passes for between 10 AM-2 PM to maximize your time in the park and knock out as many popular rides as possible.
The rides with the shortest wait times that I wouldn’t waste a fast pass on:
- Primeval Whirl
- A Bug’s Life
- Character Meet & Greet
- Stage Shows
I don’t consider the shows or character meet and greets to be a ride but they do offer fast passes for them. I wouldn’t waste a fast pass on any of the shows either because it’s not necessary to get a good seat.
Animal Kingdom Tiered Fast Passes
Animal Kingdom does their fast passes in tiers. That means that you can book three fast passes in advance but only one can be a Tier 1 fast pass (Only one of the Pandora rides) and the other two have to be a Tier 2 fast pass.
As soon as you scan your band for the third ride that you used a fast pass for you can book a 4th and a 5th fast pass on the app if you’d like. There might not be much less but you never know what will pop up! It doesn’t hurt to check!
Ideal Ride Schedule
If I could create the perfect ride schedule this would be it!
- 8:30 AM – 9 AM: Avatar Flight of Passage
- 9 AM – 9:30 AM: Na Vi River Journey
- 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM: Wait in line for Dinosaur, Primeval Whirl, and Bug’s Life while the lines are still short. If you can’t fit them all in then fit them in between the other rides that you have fast passes for.
- 10:30 AM – 2 PM: Go on the three rides that you have fast passes for. Ideally, that would be Kilimanjaro Safari (between 9:40 AM – 10: 40 AM), Expedition Everest (between 11:10 AM and 12:10 PM), and Kali River Rapids (between 12:45 PM and 1:45 PM). Fit in any other rides or shows that you would like to do if you have time.
- Eat lunch at 2 PM.
- After lunch, take pictures in front of the Tree of Life, go in the gift shops, and go to the character meet and greets.
What Time Will You Be Done?
If the park officially opens at 9 AM (it could open earlier) and you get to Animal Kingdom at 7:30 AM for rope drop then you should be able to:
- Ride both Pandora rides by 9:30 AM
- Use your three fast passes and then wait in line (in between the fast pass rides) for the other three rides from 9:30 AM-2 PM
- Take a break for lunch at 2 PM (I highly recommend the Tusker House (buffet) or Satuli Canteen (quick service)!)
- After you go on all the rides and eat lunch, you could go head to another park or go back to your hotel for a break or power nap if you want to come back to the park later that night to watch the Rivers of Light show at 9 PM in the open air theatre (across from Expedition Everest).
If you follow the ride schedule then you should be able to ride all of the rides at Animal Kingdom by 2 PM. Depending on how busy the park is you might finish a little bit earlier or a little bit later.
Tips For Riding The 8 Most Popular Rides at Animal Kingdom By 2 PM
- Do not attempt to rope drop the Animal Kingdom if it is a day that has Extra Magic Hours. There is no rope drop on these days, they just let everyone into the park. If you’re not staying on property then you should only try the rope drop strategy on a regular hours day because the hotel guests will get into the park earlier than you. If you are staying on property then you only need to arrive 30 minutes prior to the EMH opening time at 8 AM.
- On a regular park day, make sure you arrive at the park 90 minutes before Animal Kingdom “technically” opens. You don’t want to be stuck at the back of the line at the Pandora rope drop, that will throw your whole ride schedule off!
- If you’re staying on Disney property you can book your fast passes 60 days in advance, for everyone else it’s 30 days in advance. So plan accordingly.
- Always check for Avatar Flight of Passage fast passes first. If you can’t get it then look for Kilimanjaro Safari, Expedition Everest, and Kali River Rapids fast passes.
- When planning out your fast passes, keep in mind that Kilimanjaro Safari is a 30-minute ride! We had to run from Kilimanjaro to Everest and it was close! We were 5 minutes late but they still let us on the ride. Good to know that there is a few minute buffer if you’re running late.
- As soon as you get off Flight of Passage, head to Na Vi River Journey. Then hop over to Dinoland U.S.A and wait to go on Primeval Whirl and Dinosaur. You could also go on It’s Tough to be a Bug while you pass through Discovery Island or wait until later.
- If you’re not interested in some of the rides you could try to fit in some of the shows or meet some characters. Don’t waste a fast pass on either option though.
- Pack granola bars or nuts to snack on so you can wait to eat lunch until later in the day when the rides get really busy. You may or may not have time for a breakfast break.
- If you complete all the rides and want to try for more fast passes you can book two more once you use your first three.
- Wait until after you go on all of the rides to take pictures!
I hope this guide helps you to plan your day at Animal Kingdom! If you complete the challenge, make sure you take a victory picture like my husband did below!
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