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#VISITPANDORA - ‘Na’vi River Journey’ - August 2017

1708_Avatar_RiverAdding to Disney’s Legacy of Boat Rides

NRAA17_logoOne of the best parts of Pandora—The World of Avatar is how the land transforms into a bioluminescent forest at night. However, the days run long in Florida during the summer months, and Disney Imagineers wanted to make sure all guests have the chance to see Pandora’s “glow,” no matter what time they visit. 

“Na’vi River Journey” satisfies that requirement with a tranquil, family-friendly indoor boat ride through a darkened, shimmering Pandoran jungle. After winding their way deep into the bowels of Pandora’s mountain range, guests board boats to begin a 4.5-minute journey to encounter the wildlife of this alien world in what Walt Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde calls “a sweet, lyrical adventure.” The ride combines atmospheric physical details—moving, spinning, glowing plant life—with media screens; the screens blend seamlessly with the physical surroundings, so when creatures or Na’vi appear upon them, the images feel like they’re in the real space with you. 

The entire ride funnels toward an encounter with the Na’vi Shaman of Songs, who sings a peaceful tune to guests as they complete their journey. This highly articulated audio-animatronic is nearly 10 feet tall and displays lifelike movements in seemingly every conceivable feature—from the blink of an eyelid to the twitch of a cheek to the flowing gesture of an arm or hand—and “each one of these carries an emotion she’s capable of conveying,” Imagineer Joe Rohde says. 

“Na’vi River Journey” is the latest boat ride to join Disney’s illustrious catalog of similar attractions that trace their lineage back more than a half century to Walt Disney himself. 

“The core experiential values of ‘Na’vi River Journey’ are the same as its parents and grandparents, but it’s a more sophisticated example,” says Joe Cashman, WDI production designer for the ride. “‘Na’vi River Journey’ is a combination of almost every trick in our bag. There was a lot of playing with different combinations of elements to come up with the right balance of ingredients.”