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Na’vi River Journey in Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom

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Location

Pandora: The World of Avatar

Restrictions and access

None; FastPass+ eligible; doesn’t have a single-rider line.

Na'vi River Journey's queue at Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Na’vi River Journey’s queue at Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Two-sentence insider summary

Enter a Na’vi-built boat fashioned out of reeds and slip down the sacred Kaspavan River at night for a gentle, serene, and totally immersive journey through the heart of the Mo’ara Valley’s bioluminescent forest. After getting a chance to witness nearly all of Pandora’s various lifeforms, guests are treated to a magical ending: watching the Shaman of Songs radiate positive energy out into the heart of the forest.

In-depth: The queue

Although nowhere near as involved – or as long – as Avatar Flight of Passage’s, Na’vi River Journey’s queue nonetheless manages to have a few hidden details within its otherwise-straightforward (and switchback-heavy) queue. Guests work their way through a ceilinged outdoor area that is littered with the Na’vi’s ever-present totems and textiles – setting the stage for the shaman’s mystical introduction in the ride proper – before finding themselves at the boat launch.

Perhaps the single most impressive detail of the entire experience – and, quite possibly, in all of Pandora: The World of Avatar – is the presence of a map of the Kaspavan River on the ceiling. Not only does this give passengers an idea of the ride’s fictitious topography, it also provides an extra treat at night: the map lights up with representations of the area’s wildlife, tracking them (in an almost Harry Potter-esque fashion) as they move in “real time.”

In-depth: The ride

River Journey’s ride experience is just as simplistic as its queue. Passengers sit back, relax, and take in all the beauty of Pandora at night. Along the way, more and more Na’vi come out in what is some type of musical ceremony, which explains both the Shaman of Song’s presence and her singing.

The real draw here, for die-hard Avatar fans and general theme park junkies alike, is the presence of nearly every single creature introduced in the 2009 film; given the dark ride’s ability to control the environment and its clever incorporation of screens, everything from woodsprites to viperwolves to the Na’vi themselves are present and accounted for. It’s enough to justify the double-dipped presence of the bioluminescent forest at night (which is, of course, also able to be experienced outside in The World of Avatar after the sun sets).

If there is a drawback, beyond the lack of any sort of complexity in the narrative or the queue experience, it is in the throughput of the attraction. Only able to sit eight people at a time (at most), and only launching two boats simultaneously, River Journey just may have the far longer wait time than Flight of Passage day in and day out; consider this the same scenario that befell Hogsmeade when it first opened in 2010, where it wasn’t unusual to find Ollivander’s Wand Shop with a longer wait than the headlining ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

Fear factor

0 out of 5. Designed for relaxation and families, there is absolutely nothing in the attraction that can even possibly be misinterpreted as being scary.

OI fun fact

Check back again at the end of May.

Touring tip

Both Na’vi River Journey and Avatar Flight of Passage are in Animal Kingdom’s FastPass+ Tier 1, which means you’re only able to make a reservation for one of the attractions.

Na’vi River Journey – photo gallery

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