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How Long Should You REALLY Wait for Walt Disney World's Best Attractions?

Every second at Walt Disney World is precious. The opportunity cost of wasted time is outrageous. Those extra few minutes are lost moments you could have spent on a ride or watching a show or shopping or… Well, it’s a long list full of regrets.

Each time you pick an attraction at Walt Disney World, you should do a bit of math in your head. Is the time investment worth the reward? In many cases, the answer is yes, but you’ll also find that some rides aren’t the best use of your time. Today, I hope to help you with those calculations. Here’s an evaluation of whether five Disney attractions are worth the wait of their long ride queues.

Peter Pan’s Flight

Image: DisneyLet’s start with an easy one. Peter Pan’s Flight is an original Disneyland attraction. On the park’s opening day, this ride thrilled theme park tourists with its clever mimicry of the sensation of flight. In 1955, the attraction stood apart from its peers as a hallmark achievement in Imagineering, a demonstration of the genius of Walt Disney and his troops.

Peter Pan’s Flight has also stood the test of time. The fact that it’s still in operation today is a credit to its genius. So much of the attraction is wonderful. I’m a huge fan of the bright colors and immersive nature of the set pieces. I really feel as if I’m living vicariously through the characters in the story of Peter Pan.

Image: Disney

Despite all the praise, Peter Pan’s Flight is a hard no. The line for this attraction rarely dips under 30 minutes. Most of the time, it hovers around an hour. Contrast that to the length of the ride. It’s about 150 seconds from start to finish, making it one of the shortest rides at Walt Disney World. An hour’s worth of waiting for barely two minutes of attraction time isn’t a tremendous ratio.

Avatar Flight of Passage

Image: Disney

Now let’s do a super-duper hard one. Avatar Flight of Passage is quite possibly the greatest theme park attraction in operation today. The revolutionary sensation of flight on an alien monster called a Banshee is breathtaking and a bit surreal. The immersive nature of this augmented reality ride plays with your head, making you feel like a native of Pandora.

The tone of the attraction is even brilliant. At times, it’s an adrenaline rush, while it’s fanciful in nature during other instances. You’ll feel a wide range of emotions as you soar through the air. It’s the ultimate in escapism at Walt Disney World, a park predicated on the concept.

Image: DisneyThe catch is that the wait-time for Avatar Flight of Passage is borderline unprecedented. Even today, a wait-time of 150 minutes is normal. Four hours isn’t that unusual. While Imagineers were forward-thinking enough to build a line queue that entertains for that long, it’s still a staggering amount of time to spend at one ride, and the situation isn’t helped by the fact that the ride lasts only four minutes and 30 seconds. That’s a ratio of about 30 minutes of wait-time for every minute of ride-time, which is pretty lousy.

I’m firmly of the opinion that you should never wait in the standard line for Avatar Flight of Passage. Either get a FastPass for it or arrive first thing in the morning, preferably during Extra Magic Hours. I just don’t think that any ride is worth a wait of 150+ minutes, even one as impacting as this attraction.

Na’Vi River Journey

Image: DisneyAnd here’s the divide. In every way, Avatar Flight of Passage is superior to Na’Vi River Journey save for one external factor that’s beyond the control of either one. The demand for Na’Vi River Journey is much lower while the throughput is much higher. Ergo, the wait-time for Na’Vi River Journey is always much more reasonable.

Also, Na’Vi River Journey is a very good ride. If it were the only attraction anchoring Pandora – The World of Avatar, the expansion would seem underwhelming, but people would still feel largely satisfied. The features of the themed land itself combined with the unmistakable quality of the river ride are enough to justify the existence of Pandora. Avatar Flight of Passage is the cherry on top or maybe the pudding after you’ve had your meat.

The complexity here is that the wait-time for Na’Vi River Journey is usually an hour or less. Meanwhile, the ride is almost six minutes long. That’s ten minutes of wait-time for every minute of ride-time. That’s three times as good as Flight of Passage and just a great value overall. For a new ride, Na’Vi River Journey offers surprisingly good bang for the buck.

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