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Animal Kingdom is home to one of the most popular movies Disney has to offer: Avatar. This movie earned a private little world in Animal Kingdom known as “Pandora” and has two major theme rides. The main attraction is the Flight of Passage, a simulation similar to Soaring. The other interest is the Na'vi River Journey, a much more family-friendly ride for guests of all ages.
The Na'vi River Journey officially debuted in Disney World on May 27th, 2017. This opening coincided with the opening to the entire land of Pandora. The opening of Pandora in 2017 was long awaited as the expansion of Animal Kingdom was first announced in 2011.
Na’vi River Journey Ride Information
Tourists could enjoy the ride by going through the Lightning Lane if they had purchased the Genie+. If this is not an option, the wait times are typically between 45 and 70 minutes. Guests can use a rider switch, allowing guests with small children to take turns riding the ride. This ride does not come with a single-rider option, just the standard and Lightning Lane. Single-Rider lanes typically allows riders to skip to the front quickly if they are not traveling in a large group. The vehicles can hold up to eight people, two rows per boat. The ride takes about 4.5 minutes, and there is no height requirement. Finally, there is wheelchair access, audio description, and handheld captioning available to those who need it.
Overview of Na'vi River Journey in Animal Kingdom
The Na'vi River Journey takes guests on a calm boat ride through the world of Pandora. The passengers board reed boats and immediately see a Na’vi warrior as they start their mystical journey. After the warrior grants access, the passengers enter Pandora's glowing bioluminescent rainforest. This forest is illuminated by colorful exotic plants and creatures native to Pandora. the animals and the Na’vi are both moving towards the Shaman, a detail hard to pick up on. After traveling through the forest, the passengers then encounter the Shaman of Songs. The Shaman is singing a song steeped in Na'vi culture filled with positive energy. The song tells the story of the sacred bond that the Na'vi and humans share with nature.
Disney’s Animatronic Shaman of Songs
The Na'vi Shaman is one of the most important Na’vi in the village, along with the chief. The Shaman is always a Na'Vi female who lives along the Kaspavan River in Pandora. She is known for her legendary songs, which tell the story of the critical bond between Na'vi life force and nature.
The Na'vi Shaman is a giant animatronic, one of the largest Walt Disney Imagineering has ever produced. This is not the first animatronic at Disney, its predecessors being the Hall of Presidents and the Enchanted Tiki Room. These animatronics used pneumatic movements triggered by pre-recorded sounds. The Shaman, on the other hand, uses more advanced technology, like servos and electronics, that makes the Shaman much more fluid and lifelike. This animatronic comes at a high price, being a multi-million dollar project. While at the end of the attraction, she is easily the highlight as she concludes the ride singing.
Waiting in Line
Those who decide to ride the Na'vi River Journey can stand in a fantastic queue—managed by Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE), an eco-tour company that brings humans to Pandora. The Expedition had created a pathway and load station within the queue structure. Furthermore, the rafts were made with Na'vi techniques, bringing people an immersive experience. However, there aren't any interactive activities for guests during the queue for the Na'vi River Journey. Despite this, the wait can be pretty stunning and worthwhile for tourists to take in the breathtaking sights of Pandora.
A lot of the major attractions at Disney offer a photo pass opportunity. However, the Na'vi River Journey does not come with an on-ride photo. Furthermore, no flash photography or video is allowed, similar to other rides in Disney.
Is it Kid Friendly?
While Disney World is known for being geared toward kids, there are rides at the theme parks that kids tend to avoid. This is typically different from them as it is a slow ride. Furthermore, as stated previously, there are no height restrictions, so guests of all ages are allowed on this ride. However, the passage does take place mainly in the dark, so if your child is afraid of the night, there might be better options than this ride, despite the lights from the bioluminescent forest. If your child decides the ride might be too scary by the time they get to the boat, there is an exit available that guests may use without going on the ride. If you are still determining if your child will be scared throughout the experience, you could always take a virtual boat ride through YouTube.
Hidden Easter Eggs
If you know Disney, you will know that the Walt Disney Imagineers like to put small details throughout the parks about different movies. It could be a hidden Mickey, Pascal hiding by the tower in Magic Kingdom, or this case, a reference to Pandora. At the entrance to the queue, if you look to the right, you will see a set of large footprints that are full-grown Na'vi footprints.
There are many exciting details related to the Na'vi River Journey and Disney.
James Cameron's film “Avatar” inspired the Na'vi River Journey.
The River Journey queue includes textiles and totems that are precursors to the adventures awaiting them along the ride.
This is the second boat ride attraction in the history of Animal Kingdom, the other being the “Discover River Boats.”
Florida can get extremely hot, and the Na'vi River Journey is an excellent way for guests to cool off in the air conditioning.
Animatronics sometimes fail; if the Shaman malfunctions, she is taken out of view for repairs while a screen projects her in an animated form. Disney was prepared for malfunctions, this time by building the Shaman on a platform that can be lowered for repairs without interfering with the surrounding features of the ride.
If you go through the ride and notice you do not encounter the Shaman animatronic form, you could ask a Cast Member for a return time. They are not obligated to do so, but some grant the request. This allows you to skip the line after the engineers fix the Shaman.
The Shaman is similar to Trader Sam from the Jungle Cruise, which inspired the Na'vi River Journey.
The Na'vi River Journey is one of the main attractions tourists are excited about when visiting Disney's Animal Kingdom's Land of Pandora. While not a thrilling ride like the Flight of Passage, it does allow riders to be immersed in the world. Since it is a slow-moving boat attraction, it is geared towards tourists of all ages and can accommodate groups of up to eight people since the boats may hold three to four adults in each row.