To Banshee or Ride with C-3PO, That is the Question
Planning a trip to a galaxy far, far away? WDW has choices to do just that. Until the recently opened Galaxy’s Edge, Animal Kingdom’s land of Pandora has been the must-see area due in part to the spectacular experience of the Flight of Passage ride. Over in Hollywood Studios, the Star Tours ride has continued to evolve adding characters and settings from the more recent Star Wars movies so that each ride features different scenarios. So which ride is a more far out experience?
Flight of Passage
As I deal with this infirmity, I’ll admit that I have yet to keep my eyes open for the entire duration of this ride. I can’t handle the backwards section of Expedition Everest or the inversion of Rock N Roller Coaster, but I love Flight of Passage. The format of being seated on a banshee, strapped in with the glasses really focuses the rider solely on the land of Pandora. Yes, I have to close my eyes when my banshee swoops downward, but the slight spray of cool mist and the lovely sea breeze allow me to continue to enjoy the ride until my equilibrium recovers. The ride is smooth and the rider is securely tied to the banshee. Larger riders can fit (my son is 6’5” and 300 pounds).
The walk to the actual ride is long and once inside the building, typically resembles the inside of an underground bunker. There is a pre-show, where riders are scanned for parasites and matched to an ikran or banshee. When the match is made, the rider moves into a room, mounts what looks like a motorcycle without wheels, puts on 3-D glasses and is enclosed in their banshee. The transformation into one of the Na’vi takes place on your screen and then your flight begins. The colors and physical effects are totally different than any other ride at Disney; however, if is always the same ride, the same pre-show, but having ridden this ride 8 times as of this writing, each time I ride there are sights I notice that I didn’t remember from the flight before.
As per usual, Disney rides exit through a gift shop. The big draw in Pandora is to make a personal banshee to ride on your shoulder or take home in a box from Tatooine Traders. Expensive but oh so cool. Tons of other souvenirs of your visit are available.
I have not had any motion sickness issues with this ride. The format of rows of seats allows the rider to have a peripheral view of the sides of the ‘ship’ and the other guests onboard, which, for me, eliminates that sense of dizziness. While less abrupt in shifts than Dinosaur, Star Tours does have quick, jerky motions and a sore back or neck will not find comfort here. Disney, again, takes a rider’s size into consideration, and larger riders can fit in these seats.
The walk to the ride is also long, but there are so many artifacts, androids and movie props along the way that the walk can be almost as enjoyable as the ride itself. After being escorted to a shuttle, the rider stores any loose objects under the seat and puts on a seatbelt. The pre-show is the same on each ride with C-3PO accidentally piloting your tour, but from there, the ride can be a combination of several scenarios. After take-off, there are two possible scenes and, after jumping to light speed, another four possible scenes. So the combinations mean the rider never knows where the tour will go. A cool aspect of each ride is the realization that one guest is actually a Rebel Spy. A hologram from Admiral Ackbar or Princess Leia, Yoda, or even BB-8, will announce and show a pic of the rebel. It’s always great fun if a member of your family is selected.
From the end of the ride (be sure to return your glasses), the rider enters the gift shop. The main draw is make your own light saber. This may now be less crowded as Galaxy’s Edge will also feature a build your own light saber.
So which ride do you choose? You do both. Flight of Passage is still a tough FP+ to get. If you are coming up on your 60 day selection window, I suggest you work backwards from the last day of your trip to try to secure a FOP FP+. In the past, Star Tours has been a pretty easy FP+, but now that Galaxy’s Edge is open, riders who can’t get into the new ‘land’ may flock to Star Tours to get their Far, Far Away fix.