Firstly, it has to be said that this is so difficult to directly compare as although both rides that simulate flying they are very different. So to compare the two I shall compare different aspects: queue, ride vehicle, visuals & atmosphere, immersion. Then for each, I’ll pick a winner!
Flight of Passage
In the queue of this ride there are lots of elements where you can use the Disney Play app to interact and play games, such as scanning objects to initiate different games with other people in the line. The line is very beautiful and goes through different areas like the outside rockery and waterfall, which then takes you into some caves where you can see mysterious Navi cave paintings. After the caves you enter a bioluminescent area where there are native plants to Pandora- this area is stunning. Towards the end of this section you go inside the abandoned RDA research bunker, this is where you can play the final game of the app- you find different areas of the science lab.
There are lots of interesting experiments and moving things to look at inside; including the amazing Avatar figure that floats and moves inside a long glass tube. When exiting this part you merge with the fast pass line and go into the most boring pre-show ever with an uninspiring scientists acting as host to the experience!! This is the only section of queue that let really lets it down. Having said that it is a lovely queue to walk through, a fast pass is still the best way to go with standby waits still well over an hour most days.
This begins as you pass through several switchbacks outside behind the Millenium Falcon, there isn’t much to see in this area but again you can use the Disney Play app to scan crates at the start to find out their contents. You do get some great close up views of the Millenium Falcon but you see the same things several times.
Once you enter the hanger building you start to see lots more, the queue snakes round and gradually up through the hanger. There is an engine inside that it seems like it is being worked upon as it keeps turning on and failing, you can also hear the voices of workers. There’s lots of detail in the things to see- such as a small green bike, that if you use the Disney Play translator comes up as LMA, a reference to Lights, Motors, Action which once stood in this area. There aren’t many interactive items in this area.
After passing out the hanger you enter another corridor where you get a view of the top of the millenium falcon, there are several announcements in this area about ships entering and leaving the star port.
The next room has the best animatronic I have ever seen, he sets the mission that you are going on in the ride, this lasts around 3 minutes then finally you enter the Millenium Falcon!
You collect coloured job cards and go through into the Falcon’s chess room (look out for Porg nests). After a few minutes (sometimes less) you are called for boarding, take your photos quickly!!!!
They are both immersive lines but FOP has more detail and things to look at that will keep everyone entertained with things to see and do with the Disney Play app.
Flight of Passage
There are a series of chairs in a row, which you sit on like a bike. This doesn’t look very effective as you are supposed to be linking with your own Avatar (we’ll discuss this more later). The restraints on the chairs come up from behind and are quite tight on you, as the ride is being loaded the seat tickles you tummy and back.
One cool feature is the feeling on your inner legs of the banshee breathing. The bikes also spray water at you during the ride when over the sea and blows air at you as you are flying. The whole row of chairs rock and tilt with the visuals to give heightened senses.
This is the cockpit of the Millenium Falcon. It has 6 seats (3 rows of 2 seats), each pair has a different job: front= left/right & up/down pilots, middle= gunners, back= engineers. You get a good view from all the seats and the windows are not actually the screens (these are outside the ride vehicle) so you can see a better 3d appearance without 3d glasses. The whole cockpit also reacts to what is happening so when the pilots bang into walls, the ride reacts and slightly jolts you (nothing too severe but enough to feel it). Inside the cockpit there are various buttons to push and levers to move, these do actually affect the ride unlike those on Mission Space. The inside is highly themed and there is lots to see.
Flight of Passage is alright but the vehicle is a bit boring and the seats can be uncomfortable if they are too tight. Smuggler’s Run is amazing and feels like you are actually in a ship’s cockpit.
Visuals & Atmosphere
Flight of Passage
This has a huge 3d screen, this means you have to wear 3d glasses which can lead to some distortion when not looking directly at things so you have to turn your head. However, the landscapes you see are exactly like the ones in the film. Some of the visuals look slightly too animated, I know they all are but some are more realistic looking than others.
The overall view is breathtaking and is helped by the wind and sprays which complement what you are seeing on screen. The musical score in the background also helps to give an inspiring and euphoric feeling.
The screens for this are much smaller, which means that you don’t see as many people, vehicles or the same scale as FOP but it is realistic to the ride experience. When you ride different times, there are elements of the theme and plot that are the same but there are also subtle changes each time based on how you perform as a team doing your jobs. The quality of what you actually see can change slightly based on your role but not to a great degree because you might be focused on looking at the buttons press rather than what is happening in the ride.
Flight of Passage has a large scale and stunning visuals. Smuggler’s Run is less reliant on the visuals but great in the way it can change each time.
Flight of Passage
This ride has a lot of amazing details that make you feel like you are flying on the banshee as the room moves, the breathing, the air blowing in your face. It is very clever how it makes you feel like you are flying down with the tilting seat and wind blowing in your face gives a great breathtaking rush. Other details like water splashing in your face as you go past sprays helps further develop this feeling.
Depending on how well you do, there can be a lot of banging (and banging and banging). Basically your whole experience can be worse if the pilots don’t know how to control the ship. With having different people doing different jobs, you are all engaged in the story line; however, if you are the gunner or engineer it isn’t as fun you can just jab buttons and don’t need any particular skill. The ride is best if you are in there with your own group of friends or family.
FOP is very immersive in the world of Pandora. Smuggler’s Run has great movement but unless you are the pilot it can feel like you don’t really need to be there.
Flight of Passage amazing ride, stunning to look at, you feel like you are actually there until you look to the left or right and realize that everyone else is riding the same banshee, despite in the link chamber you all having different Avatars….a bit of a ride plot hole and does spoil the premise of the ride rather a lot (unless we’re all crammed on the back of the same banshee).
Smuggler’s Run is another amazing ride, let’s face it you go inside the Millenium Falcon and fly the Millenium Falcon; however I feel that the other Star Wars ride will be even better than this.