Na’vi River Journey is a water dark ride manufactured and designed by Walt Disney Imagineering and is located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The attraction opened on May 27, 2017, and is located in the Pandora-The World of Avatar area of the park. I was fortunate to experience this attraction during my trip in February. In this review I will be describing the ride experience as well as giving my thoughts on it.
This attraction is located on the left hand side of Pandora, closer to the bridge that goes to Discovery Island. The ride does not have a sign, but rather an emblem to enhance the immersive environment of the land. The entrance will be to the left of the emblem. It’s a small entrance, but if you are waiting stand-by you will enter on the left side. If you have a Fastpass+ reservation you will enter to the right.
If you choose to wait in the stand-by line, you will enter the main queue area to wait. This queue is nowhere as immersive or elaborate as Flight of Passage next door, but still has some cool woodwork that is intertwined throughout the queue. After waiting in the main queue area, you will enter a small cave which takes you to the main loading station. This is where you will be grouped into one of the two rows and board your boat for your river journey!
After setting off on your journey, you will float among some caves where you see a holographic image of what seems to be a Na’vi warrior. You will then come across some bio luminescent plant life along with some creatures who run among them. Then you will see some creatures hopping on leaves above your head. You will then come across some bio luminescent plant-like creatures that are above your head. Little creatures then will be following one another on a screen heading towards the Shaman of Songs, this is where your boat was also going. This is where you come to the best part of the ride, the Shaman of Songs animatronic. This is by far the best animatronic I have seem to date. The motions are extremely fluent and lifelike, and is just a pleasure to see. After the animatronic, this is unfortunately where your short four minute river journey ends. You will then unload and exit down a path back into Pandora.
My Thoughts: Despite having a very short length, I thought Na’vi River Journey was a very good dark ride. Is it Disney’s best dark ride, no, not even close. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t good though. This attraction does a great job immersing you in the environment it wants you to be in. When I was riding this attraction, I did feel like I was in a completely different world of bio luminescent plant and animal life. Although I felt the ride defiantly should have been longer and could have used some more animatronics and other effects, it is a good ride for what it sets out to be!
Tips: This attraction normally sees pretty long wait times being that is in Pandora. River Journey normally sees wait times of up to 70-90 minutes on a normal day, and 100-150 minutes on a busy day. The ride is not worth that long of a wait, so in order to avoid these wait times, ride first thing in the morning for a shorter wait or use Fastpass+. My suggestion is if you are doing one day at the park is to ride Flight of Passage very first thing being among one of the first in line, then go on NRJ as everyone will be at FoP. For Fastpass+, it all depends. If you want to ride Flight of Passage twice, do what is said above and book a Fastpass for FoP. If your only insistent on getting on FoP once, you can rope drop FoP, wait for a little bit in the queue line, and ride. You then can book a Fastpass for NRJ later and come back when everything else has a long wait!
Final Thoughts: Na’vi River Journey is not one of Disney’s best dark rides by a long shot. Though it is still a highly immersive dark ride experience with one of the best animatronics Disney has created to date. Ride it if it has at most a 30 minute stand-by wait or with Fastpass+!