3 Reasons to Be Excited About The OTHER New Ride Coming to Walt Disney World This May – Na’vi River Journey

Excitement is really starting to build for the May 27th opening of Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and most of fans’ enthusiasm has been centered around Avatar – Flight of Passage, the thrilling new attraction that will harness cutting-edge ride technology to deliver a completely unique attraction experience unlike anything else at Walt Disney World.

However, even though Walt Disney World fans are understandably excited for this exciting new attraction, there’s another ride coming soon to Pandora – The World of Avatar that you shouldn’t forget about: Na’vi River Journey.

Though this attraction will use a familiar boat ride system (similar to what is in use at Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s a Small World, and countless other Walt Disney World attractions), this new ride will also be using some new technology all its own in ways that will push the boundaries of what this kind of ride can be. And here’s how:

1. Using projection in new ways

Image: Disney 

Projection technology has been behind a lot of the innovation inside Walt Disney World attractions, especially during the past decade. From transforming Cinderella Castle every night during the Once Upon a Time nighttime show to giving Anna and Elsa expressive faces on Frozen Ever After, projection has come a long way in the past few years. And it looks like we are on the cusp of another innovation with Na’Vi River Journey as well. 

During a recent video preview of this new attraction, Disney showcased a new projection technique that will bring some of Pandora’s most exotic creatures to life in this ride. Guests will be able to see creatures in the background of the attraction interacting with real-life objects closer to the ride vehicle. 

Image: Disney

This type of combined effect will help deepen guests’ perception of the attraction around them, hopefully creating a world that feels both large and immersive. Though other boat-ride attractions around Walt Disney World do a great job at making guests feel connected to the world around them, this new ride will literally use its walls to connect guests with the larger world of Pandora in a unique way that simply hasn’t been attempted before. 

To truly appreciate this effect, one only needs to look as far as a classic boat ride like It’s a Small World. While guests on this specific attraction are often in awe of the cute little dioramas singing along to the music, it’s easy to tell where the ride ends simply by looking around for the walls. However, Na’Vi River Journey will create a sense of depth with these new projection effects that will hopefully extend the setting beyond its physical barriers, and truly transport guests to a whole new world. 

2. The most advanced animatronics you’ve ever seen

Image: Disney

As mentioned previously, projection technology has brought a new life to audio animatronics at Walt Disney World. Now characters like Doc from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Elsa from Frozen look just as they did in their respective animated films with the help of high-resolution projection technology. However, while this effect is quite impressive when you are trying to bring animated characters to life, when you’re talking about live action characters like those found in 2009’s Avatar film, you simply can’t use the same technology to bring these characters to life in a convincing way. 

However, Disney has proved itself up to the challenge, and last year we were able to check out footage of an animatronic of the Shaman of Songs character, who is a revered member of the Na’vi people of Pandora, and will be a big part of the Na’vi River Journey. You can check out the video below:

As you can see, this cutting edge animatronic uses intricate physical machinery to achieve a truly stunning and lifelike effect unlike anything else at Walt Disney World. Though the technology inside this animatronic builds on techniques that have been in use for more than six decades, this is the most detailed audio animatronic we’ve ever seen, and should be quite the sight to behold when guests are first able to board the Na’Vi River Journey in May.  

3. A ride for the whole family

Image: Disney

Of the four Walt Disney World parks, it could be argued that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the least friendly for families with small children, as many of its rides, including Dinosaur, Primeval Whirl, Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, and the upcoming Avatar – Flight of Passage all cary hefty height restrictions. However, unlike all these attractions, Na’Vi River Journey will have no height restrictions whatsoever, and will be suitable for the entire family. 

The only (small) issue here is that based on what we’ve seen this attraction can get quite dark in an effort to highlight the bioluminescent landscape of Pandora. But as long as you have little ones who don’t mind the moody atmosphere, this should be a great addition to the lineup at Disney’s Animal Kingdom that can be enjoyed by every single guest.

Image: Disney

Though we simply cannot wait to check out Avatar – Flight of Passage, we’re equally excited to check out the Na’vi River Journey, which looks like a really interesting evolution of the boat-driven dark ride, and will employ loads of new technology to bring guests that much closer to the world of Pandora. Are you excited to check out this new attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom when it opens in May?

-Originally published in Theme Park Tourist By , Saturday, March 18, 2017 05:24




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