It’s fair to say that some Disney movies can leave you feeling pretty magical, perhaps even leaving you with a strong desire to be able to fly! And the good news is you can fly at Walt Disney World – and there are many ways for you to achieve a power many would consider to be unnatural (no, it doesn’t involve turning to the dark side – yes, phew indeed!).
Spaceships seem to be the most common method of aerial transportation at the resort, however, there are other means, such as sky banshees, pirate galleons, magic carpets and, of course, flying elephants. So, here are a variety of different ways you can ‘fly’ at Walt Disney World – including all their pros and cons (yes, of course there are cons to flying – because if you can get seasick on a seabound pirate ship, then a flying one might leave you hating all things fairy dust!).
5. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is home to a wealth of experiences made famous in the faraway galaxy, but none are quite as iconic as one of the themed land’s two main attractions, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. This motion simulator lets you to take control of the fastest ship in the galaxy, and you’ll feel the ‘force’ as the ship blasts off into hyperspace, taking you on an interactive smuggling mission, courtesy of Weequay pirate Hondo Ohnaka.
Several motion simulators have been mounted on a turntable to make this ride possible, while the table rotates periodically – this technology allows you to feel like you’re really on board the fastest ship in the galaxy, and one of the best parts is that you can take on one of three roles during this ride: pilot, engineer or gunner. One downside is that it can be a pretty bumpy ride if whoever’s piloting the ship doesn’t possess Solo-esque skills (whether that’s you or someone else).
Just remember that this is no galactic excursion – there’s danger everywhere. So, will you bring the ship back in one piece? We’ll never tell you the odds. But if you’re the gunner, you might want to make sure you shoot first…
4. Avatar Flight of Passage
The faraway galaxy isn’t the only one you can visit at Walt Disney World – why not head to the tropical exoplanetary moon of Pandora, from James Cameron’s epic sci-fi film Avatar? If it’s thrills you're after, look no further than Avatar Flight of Passage, a 3D simulator that places you on the back of a banshee. Surrounded by a ‘wrap-around’ screen, and with all-new footage filmed specifically for the ride, you’ll pass over some truly remarkable sights as your banshee tears through the high winds of Pandora.
You’ll wing through mountainous valleys, and swoop low to skim across glassy lakes, navigate through dense jungle, flirt with herds of majestic wildlife, and be just as playful with mighty waves. There is, however, a downside, with anyone who experiences a fear of heights and motion sickness being vulnerable to an unpleasant experience, though there is a pre-recorded warning in the queuing system.
Either way, you’ll likely be doing some screaming – whether it’s out of pure joy, or complete terror. So you won’t be the only banshee on this ride.
3. Peter Pan’s Flight
“Wendy, I can fly!” Those are the words you’re likely to shout out with joy as you take to the skies aboard a magical pirate galleon suspended on an overhead rail system. This classic attraction features some truly stunning set pieces, as you visit iconic locations from the classic movie, from the scintillating skyline of London all the way to the epitome of imagination, Neverland.
As for its swashbuckling animatronic characters, from Peter Pan to Captain Hook, they look like they’ve stepped right out of the 1953 film. Another positive is the ride’s queuing system, which sees you pass through the Darling residence and its nursery, where Tinkerbell and Pan’s sneaky shadow can be seen. On the downside, the ride is perhaps a little too short, with its concluding set piece, Pirate’s Cove, feeling like your adventure is just getting started.
Some adults might find the ride a little boring, though, especially considering that it is tailored towards children or fans of the boy who never grew up. Nevertheless, Peter Pan’s Flight will leave you never wanting to grow up!
2. Soarin’ Around the World
For something a little less thrilling and more peaceful, then be sure to check out Soarin’ Around the World (which takes a lot less than 80 days, just to avoid any confusion). The flight motion simulator at Epcot uses a mechanical lift system that poses as a hand-glider, and a ‘wrap-around’ domed IMAX screen not unlike Avatar: Flight of Passage, to truly immerse you into several aerial locations around the globe (six continents, to be precise).
While somewhat peaceful, there is also an exhilarating feel to this airborne expedition. Your hand-glider will pass over iconic locations – both natural and artificial, but beautiful all the same - including the Swiss Alps, Sydney Harbour and Mount Kilimanjaro, the Great Wall of China, the Egyptian Pyramids and the Taj Mahal. Ain’t no mountain high enough for this ride! There’s also upbeat music throughout, and a pre-ride quiz, courtesy of Play Disney Parks mobile app.
There are no major cons to this attraction, but for people wanting something a little more thrilling, then Avatar: Flight of Passage is probably more up your alley. With that said, this is certainly a good way to whet your appetite for something a little more ‘out of this world’.
1. Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
There's no surprise that another Star Wars-themed attraction has made this list, especially considering the faraway galaxy features all kinds of spacecraft. In this case, it's a Starspeeder 1000, which you'll board after meeting squabbling droid-duo C-3PO and R2D2 in a rather immersive queuing system. This ride is a 3D flight simulator of the vintage kind, equipped with the aforementioned audio-animatronics and a 'real' cockpit.
Once you take off, it's into hyperspace you go, where you'll experience a wealth of iconic landscapes and battles, all the while encountering equally iconic characters that span several movies, whether it's Return of the Jedi or The Rise of Skywalker. While a deeply immersive and unforgettable Star Wars experience with lots of twists and turns, one of the downsides lies in those two latter words:.
Being an 'old school' simulator, anyone prone to motion sickness or migraines should board the Starspeeder with caution. And no one will find your lack of faith in Star Tours disturbing, should you decide to forego this ride and opt for something less rickety.
These aren’t the only ways you can fly at Walt Disney World – there’s also Astro Orbiter, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Space Mountain, Mission: SPACE and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, but we wanted to give you some handpicked attractions that allow you – and your imagination – to truly defy gravity! But then, no matter where you are at the resort, you’ll always feel like you’re walking on air (but that’s probably because the cast members imbue your footwear with fairy dust on arrival…).