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Na’vi River Journey adds music, energy to Pandora – The World of AVATAR

Thomas Smith

by , Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

We have some updates on the expansion of Pandora – The World of AVATAR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Back in August, at the 2015 D23 Expo, we were excited to unveil the name of the new AVATAR-themed land and one of its attractions. Now we have more news coming out of D23 Expo Japan, where Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, shared more about the expansion.

Pandora – The World of AVATAR will bring a variety of new experiences to the Park, including a family-friendly attraction called Na’vi River Journey. The adventure begins as guests set out in canoes and venture down a mysterious, sacred river hidden within the bioluminescent rainforest. The full beauty of Pandora reveals itself as the canoes pass by exotic glowing plants and amazing creatures. The journey culminates in an encounter with a Na’vi shaman, who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora and sends positive energy out into the forest through her music.

Na’vi River Journey will open with Pandora – The World of AVATAR in 2017. Keep watching Disney Parks Blog for more information as the land and its attractions come to life.


  • Simply stunning. I know we’ve been shown a broad-brush painting here, but what I see so far is breathtaking. It showcases a level of practical detail which surpasses even “Journey to the Center of the Earth” in Tokyo DisneySea. I’m encouraged by this attraction, as well as the recent “Radiator Springs Racers” out at Disneyland — screens have swallowed up my daily life and I come to Disney to get away from them. Thankfully, Disney does “real” worlds better than anyone. We are in capable, confident hands here.

  • @8 Kimberly — lol.

  • Simply CAN NOT wait. AK is a half day park for us. This will add to it. Looks amazing!

  • Animal Kingdom will be well served by having a family dark-ride which is hopefully as detailed and as beautiful as Pirates. I am looking more forward to this ride than the Flight of Passage screen-based ride.

  • Sounds like a nice family attraction for this park!

  • I can’t wait until it opens, this will be my fairy-tale come true.

  • Are the “canoes” going to be wheelchair accessible or will the guest have to transfer?

  • Richard, guests still paddle the canoes themselves at Disneyland. There are CM guides onboard of course! They were real taskmasters, too.

  • Well said Scott – I couldn’t have expressed it any better myself. My feelings have also been swayed about Pandora. We are planning a big trip next year to see the completed Disney Springs and any other changes at the Parks since we last visited. We are already talking about at least a week in 2017 when Pandora opens. Who knows? By then we could be looking at only a year away from Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land at Hollywood Studios (or whatever its name is then).

  • I’m sure this will be beautiful, but really wish they would have left it generic creatures–such as dragons, etc. Disney could have made their own land and it been unique and fantastic. I know we are conservative, but my kids can’t watch Avatar–because of the adult themes. And to me Avatar is “dated.” I realize they are coming out with a new one–but it is not the classic that Star Wars is (for instance).

  • I hope it will be wheelchair friendly!!

  • I CANNOT wait for this ride to open! I remember when DAK opened, there was a boat ride along the river as only a few things were actually there. This is before the Expedition Everest opened, and there was much more “open space” where you could really see the amount of property available for the Disney Imagineers to dream up new projects. What a imaginative idea to bring the Fantastical World of Pandora to all of us! I will be there!

  • its another pirates of the caribbean.

  • I’m so excited!!!! I can’t wait!!!

  • It looks very cool.

  • I had mixed feelings when I first learned of Avatar coming to AK (my favorite park) But now I fully embrace the theme and concept. Both Animal Kingdom and the movie Avatar attempt to teach their audience to coexist with nature. Nature does not need to mean Earth. Avatar was nothing but a huge metaphor for everything we as humans have done wrong on Earth and then repeated on a distant planet.(History repeating itself over and over) I completely agree with Kimberly when she said that AK was meant have fantastical animals as well. This will help express the idea of a symbiotic relationship between humans and other creatures. With that in mind, what better way to share this concept with a little fantasy/sci fi from James Cameron and a little Pixie Dust from Walt Disney! I can’t wait for Pandora to open!

  • I can’t wait to ride it for 2017! This is awesome! I love it!

  • @Deborah, is part of the reason it is beloved because it’s so quiet and bereft of guests? Things like this will keep DAK operating. Remember the dragon on the signs–fantastical animals were part of the original plan.

  • Did James Horner work on any music for the specifically for the attraction before he died?

  • Noticed a typo in previous post. I CAN’T wait for this to open, not I CAN wait. Oops!

  • Can we cultivate a population of dinoflagellates in the water so that the boats naturally leave a bioluminescent trail? Or at least find a way to fake it with LEDs? 😀

  • I can wait for this. This is being treated like a natural environment like the others I love so much at Animal Kingdom. We are hopeful that our family can enjoy this ride. Is it known if it has boats that have an easy entry or transfer without stepping up or down. Pretty sure we wont be able to enjoy the new Frozen ride if it is the same as the old ride and are disappointed. However in recent years with the changes Disney made we have returned to Jungle Cruise and are hopeful that they will keep those with physical challenges in mind for this one. It looks so beautiful.

  • There is no way they would allow guests to row the canoes themselves.

  • Looks great. Amazed by this process, looking forward to 2017

  • This doesn’t fit with my beloved Animal Kingdom. I wish this was actually a separate park and not part of AK.

  • I can’t wait for this to open!

  • Should be pretty cool!!

  • Do we know whether the guest will row the canoes themselves or are they mechanically propelled?

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