More than five years after Walt Disney World celebrated the opening of Pandora: The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom, it’s remained a popular spot for guests, despite the fact that there are only two rides in the land.
Along with the fan favorite attraction, Flight of Passage, Pandora also includes Na’vi River Journey, a less intense journey through Pandora that’s suitable for all ages.
It’s a relaxing boat ride that also features some of the most stunning and impressive scenery thanks to the bioluminescent forest and the unbelievable Na’vi shaman audio-animatronic — seeing her in action alone is totally worth the ride.
If you’re ready to sivako (or “rise to the challenge” in Na’vi) and explore Pandora, keep reading for our guide to Na’vi River Journey.
Na’vi River Journey Quick Facts
Description: Na’vi River Journey is a gentle boat ride through the bioluminescent rainforest from the Avatar franchise. During your trip, you’ll become acquainted with the wildlife and vegetation that grows in the world created by director James Cameron and see one of Disney’s most impressive animatronics yet: the Na’vi shaman at the end of the ride.
Be sure to look up and all around you during the journey — this ride is filled with fun details and special effects you won’t want to miss.
You can find Na’vi River Journey in Pandora. Once you’ve entered the land (from the Discovery Island side) you’ll head straight back to find the entrance to the queue. Here’s the location on the map.
How to Ride Na’vi River Journey
Since Pandora is still relatively new, lines here can get pretty long and stay that way throughout the day. Like many other attractions in the park, the lines are usually at their longest in the afternoon.
If you’re planning to use the Standby Line, you may want to plan to join the queue in the first hour after park opening for the shortest possible wait.
Even though Flight of Passage is far and away the most popular ride in Pandora — and even in Animal Kingdom as a whole — waits here will usually exceed one hour on most days.
Eligible guests can also ride Na’vi River Journey during Early Theme Park Entry.
Do I Need to Use Genie+ at Na’vi River Journey?
If riding this attraction is important to you, it’s not a bad idea to make it one of your first selections of the day. Many guests ride Flight of Passage and then immediately head to Na’vi River Journey, so the line can be pretty long even early in the day.
Those who want to check out both rides may want to grab an Individual Lightning Lane for Flight of Passage along with a Na’vi River Journey Lightning Lane around the same time of day, or head straight for Flight of Passage at rope drop while making Na’vi River your first Lightning Lane selection of the day, so you can head there when you get off the first ride.
Don’t forget to check out our Animal Kingdom touring strategies for more Genie+ advice.
Rider Switch/Child Swap
You can use Rider Switch for Na’vi River Journey. Rider Switch is Disney’s system that allows guests with small children to take turns riding bigger rides, while another person/people wait with the little one.
Remember that there is no height requirement here, and guests of all ages are welcome to ride.
If you’re the adult waiting with the child who’s skipping out on this one, there’s plenty to keep yourselves occupied with in the area. You might want to grab food at the land’s quick service restaurant, Satu’li Canteen, or just explore the area — there are so many cool details to take in!
What to Expect When You Ride
The queue for Na’vi River Journey isn’t quite as impressive as the one for Flight of Passage, but it’s still pretty and well-themed. And while it does start outdoors, much of it is in the shade or under cover until the line winds indoors.
After you’ve made your way through the first part of the queue, admiring the lush vegetation that Pandora has to offer, you’ll end up under a crafty structure that feels authentic to the Na’vi. Walk through a cave and you’ll finally be inside, in the boarding area for the ride.
Unfortunately, there is no interactive queue available here, but there are a lot of details to take in and enjoy.
You ride in a boat that is made to look like it was crafted by a Pandora resident on Na’vi River Journey. Each ride vehicle has two rows that can fit about two to three adults per row.
These vehicles are similar to those you may have ridden in on rides like Pirates of the Caribbean, just with an Avatar-themed flair. There’s a good view in each row, but it could be argued that the front row offers the best view.
Guests who are using wheelchairs or ECVs must transfer to the ride vehicle. You will need to step down into the boat in order to board, but Cast Members can supply a transfer device that might help the process go more smoothly.
Handheld captioning is available for guests with hearing disabilities, along with audio description.
On the Ride
Warning: If you want a spoiler-free first ride on Na’vi River Journey, you might want to skip this part!
Now that you’ve started acclimating to Pandora and all it has to offer, it’s time to board your boat to get to know the world of Avatar a bit more intimately as you take a trip down the Kaspavan River.
If you’ve ever been in Pandora at night, you know about the bioluminescence, but if you haven’t, you’ll get to experience it here in all its glory.
As you float through the forest, you’ll see all kinds of wildlife native to the area, from insects to viperwolves to direhorses… and some will even be hopping around above you, so make sure your eyes are peeled all around you to catch all the little details.
After you pass the waterfall, you’ll come face to face with the Na’vi Shaman of Songs — one of the largest and most advanced animatronics that Disney Imagineering has ever created. This is the highlight of the ride for so many people, and once you’ve seen her, you’ll understand why.
Then, you’ll float through a cave and end up back at the docks to exit your boat and go back to exploring Pandora.
Is Na’vi River Journey Kid-Friendly?
The ride is one of Animal Kingdom’s most kid-friendly ones — children and even babies of all ages can experience this attraction, since there is no height limit.
The boat moves smoothly and the ride itself is actually pretty calm and peaceful, with no scary or surprise elements. It’s dark, but everything is illuminated by the bioluminescent features.
We have a full guide on several other things that might scare little ones at WDW.
If you’re traveling with a stroller, you’ll have to leave it behind before joining the queue for this attraction. There’s a designated area right outside of the entrance to the ride to park your stroller.
Be sure to bring anything valuable with you, like cell phones, keys, and wallets. And since Florida weather can also be unpredictable, you may want to cover your stroller before heading in, too.
On May 27, 2017, Na’vi River Journey officially made its debut — the same date the entire land of Pandora opened to the public.
In 2011, the addition of Pandora to Animal Kingdom was first announced, and the name of this attraction was revealed a few years later, during the 2015 D23 Expo.
In April 2017, about a month before both the land and attraction opened (alongside Flight of Passage), Disney teased a first look at the massive Na’vi Shaman of Song audio-animatronic that is beyond impressive. At the time, Disney even called it “the most complicated audio-animatronics figure ever created by Walt Disney Imagineering.”
There’s no denying that for a boat ride, Na’vi River Journey is stunning and captivating.
Other Fun Details
- Pay attention before you enter the queue. To the right of the entrance, you’ll see large footprints on the ground. These are full-grown Na’vi footprints (and they’re huge).
- The song the shaman sings in the ride was written for the original Avatar movie by linguistics consultant Dr. Paul Frommer — the man who created the Na’vi language. He has posted the lyrics to the song on his blog.
- The Na’vi shaman animatronic is almost 10 feet tall, which is the average height of those who live in Pandora.
The following products and services give us a commission on sales.
Get our free Quick Start Guide
Have our guide delivered right to your inbox with our 6-step Disney World planning process to make it less overwhelming. Snag our free guide ➡️
Take our course
Check out our course that will help you learn all about Walt Disney World planning with dozens of videos and downloadables for each step along the way. Get access now ➡️
Our recommend travel agency
We partner with Small World Vacations, Diamond Level Authorized Disney Vacations Planners in business since 1996. Get a quote now ➡️
Want to stay deluxe on a moderate budget?
It’s 1 of our top fave ways to save! By renting DVC points, you can stay in deluxe accommodations for a fraction of the price. Check availability ➡️
Private car service
Quicksilver Tours will transport you in style. They assist with luggage at the airport, provide car seats, and include a free grocery stop. Book your car ➡️
Need a stroller, wheelchair, or scooter?
Buena Vista Scooters is a company with a great reputation who offers in-person resort drop off and pick up of strollers, scooters, and wheelchairs. Book your rental ➡️