Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream
Review of Na'vi River Journey at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
3.75 (out of 5)
For this month’s Rode It! Loved It! review, let’s revisit an attraction inspired by the characters and storyline featured in the top-grossing movie now playing in theaters.
Most theme parks keep their visitors on edge. The bright lights, shrill screams of roller coaster riders, blaring music, and clanking sounds of wildly whirling mechanical thrill rides help create a hyper-charged atmosphere. Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Florida’s Walt Disney World, however, is unlike most theme parks. Its atmosphere isn’t hushed exactly. But, by celebrating nature and the animals with which we share the planet, it instills a calming effect on those who enter its gates.
We may not share the planet with the invented animals featured in the park’s Pandora – The World of Avatar, but it is rooted in the same kind of reverence for nature that inspires the rest of Animal Kingdom. Depicting the fictional moon in a distant solar system that is the setting for James Cameron’s crazy-popular Avatar movies, Pandora invokes a sense of wonder. The mysterious land is packed with things to discover including majestic floating mountains and strange, interactive plants.
Most story-based rides up the anxiety quotient by putting passengers in faux danger. A benign excursion inevitably goes horribly wrong, and park visitors’ lives typically hang in the balance amid an onslaught of thrills. But the Na’vi River Journey, one of Pandora's two featured attractions, is the anti-thrill ride.
I don’t mean that as a knock. It may be the most gentle, serene, and optimistic ride in all of parkdom. It is also one of the most lovely.
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