It may be overshadowed by its more thrilling cousin, Flight of Passage, but Na’vi River Journey is just as impressive – albeit in different ways. We recently discovered this attraction for ourselves, and have compiled some facts and tips about this ethereal treasure in Pandora – World of Avatar.
10. River Oasis
When you’re looking from a bit of a break from what can be an overwhelming area of the park, Na’vi River Journey is a perfect option. It’s family-friendly, and lets you unwind and relax for a few gloriously peaceful moments. Plus, unlike Flight of Passage, there’s no risk of motion sickness here, so all guests can enjoy! Or rather, most guests: currently, guests in a wheelchair must transfer to enjoy this attraction.
9. Advanced Animatronics
The highlight of Na’vi River Journey comes at the end of the ride, when guests encounter the Shaman of Songs. She’s the most advanced audio-animatronic that Disney’s ever created, and the Imagineers outdid themselves here: she’s utterly life-like, and moves more gracefully than any robot has a right to! You’ll be captivated, we promise.
8. Haunting Lyrics
Die-hard Avatar fans may recognize the language used by the Shaman of Songs when she sings at the end of the ride. The lyrics are, of course, in Na’vi, which is an actual language created by an actual professor in California – Dr. Paul Frommer. Full lyrics to the song – and their English translation – are available online.
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7. Look up, Look Waaay Up
Make sure you look all around you, including above you, to take in all of the sights of Na’vi River Journey. Thanks to fantastic technology like semi-transparent video screens and video projections, the rainforests of Pandora come alive around you with practically every alien creature that appeared in the movie. You’ll see viperwolves, woodsprites and countless others here, mingling with the enchanting glowing plants. It’s a feast for the eyes and ears!
6. FastPass+ Tips
Currently, it’s not possible to choose a FastPass+ for both Na’vi River Journey and Flight of Passage in the same day, which means you have a tough choice ahead of you! We recommend saving your FastPass+ for Flight of Passage, as it is known to have lines exceeding 4 hours. Lines for Na’vi River Journey won’t be this long, but it’s still best to head directly there when the park opens, to avoid the worst of the lines.
5. Extra Magic Hours
If you’re staying at a WDW resort, then you can arrive in the park an hour before other guests, during Extra Magic Hours. This is a great idea for Pandora in general, but especially if you haven’t managed to snag a FastPass+ for Na’vi River Journey (or Flight of Passage). Check online or with your resort for Animal Kingdom’s exact hours the day you’re visiting, as these change, and make sure you’re ready to enter the park as soon as Extra Magic Hours start – then make a beeline for Pandora!
4. Ride At Night
Yes, this directly contradicts the previous tips, but if you can stand waiting in line, or if you manage to get a FastPass+ time after dark, then it’s definitely worth riding Na’vi River Journey at night. There’s something decidedly magical about floating through the glowing rainforests on the ride, and then walking out into the bioluminescence of Pandora at night. It provides a sense of continuity and immersion that you won’t find elsewhere on property!
3. To Know or Not to Know
Na’vi River Journey has been criticized for not including any storyline or Na’vi guides to explain what guests are seeing throughout the ride. True enough, if you haven’t seen the movie Avatar, you won’t know exactly what you’re seeing – or why – so if this is important to you, best to watch the movie in advance. But we found the ride to be so visually stunning and mesmerizing that it could stand on its own; you will definitely be enveloped in the world the Imagineers created, even if you know nothing at all about Pandora!
2. Easy-to-Follow Directions
Pandora is a feast for the senses, but for first-timers, it can take some time to find your way around (we speak from personal experience!). So here are some quick tips for finding Na’vi River Journey. When you enter Pandora, walk straight past the giant spitting/steaming plant on your right, past the restrooms on the left, and past the hard-to-miss drum circle on your right. The entrance to the ride is now right in front of you – if you find yourself under the floating mountain, you’ll know you’ve gone too far.
1. Something Old, Something New
Na’vi River Journey is an interesting blend of old and new technology. While it incorporates futuristic technology such as advanced animatronics, video screens and projections, the ride vehicle is as simple as they come: a natural-looking raft forming a boat, the likes of which have been used in theme parks for decades. In a way, this attraction is both a nod to Disney’s past, and a glimpse of its technology-driven future.