Na’vi River Journey is a slow moving boat ride in Pandora – The World of Avatar. This post will cover the wheelchair accessibility of the attraction. Plus our thoughts on the need for a transfer and why a lot of wheelchair users were disappointed.
Disclosure: I am an ambassador for WHILL. I was given a Model M demo unit to try out in the Disney Parks. As always, all opinions are my own!
Location: Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Height Requirement: No Height Requirement
Accessibility: Must Transfer from Wheelchair/ECV.
Who Should Ride: Slow moving, family friendly attraction
Since we had a FastPass for Avatar Flight of Passage we jumped in the standby queue when the wait time was reasonable. It was at night so there were some pretty cool things to look at in the outdoor portion. Once inside, the queue is a giant switchback. Luckily it is pretty wide so making the turns wasn’t too big of a problem. The line also moved at a slow pace which helped.
Once you meet up with the FastPass line you are indoors and in the air conditioning. You’ll come to a Cast Member who will ask how many you have in your party. Let them know that you will need the transfer device to board. They will take you over to the unloading area.
Transfer Device and Ride Vehicle
As I mentioned, you will board the boat in the unloading area. It’s next to the regular boarding spot but it’s a much wider space. It’s also nice that you don’t have anyone standing over you. The Cast Member stressed that we could take our time so I didn’t feel rushed at all.
To make the transfer easier, pull your wheelchair as close as you can. There is a small gap between the loading area and the boat so make sure your front wheels are secure. After I got close enough, Andrew helped me over to the top step. The transfer device makes the side of the boat a little higher so that part was easy.
There are three steps on the transfer device which means it’s four slides to get into the boat. Andrew helped with my legs and guided my upper body. As far as boat attraction transfers go, this one was easier than others. Once your journey is complete you will unload in the same area using the same transfer device. Your wheelchair will be kept in that same area.
Before Na’vi River Journey opened a lot of people were disappointed with the news that a transfer would be required. I know I was but I wanted to wait until I experienced the attraction before coming to a conclusion. Am I disappointed? Sure. Anytime an attraction is described as gentle and slow I hope that a ride vehicle is available to accommodate wheelchairs. Do I understand why Disney made the decision not to include one? I’m trying.
Pandora as a land is pretty small. Both attractions are housed in one show building, which I didn’t know before I visited. The boats in Na’vi River Journey travel along a narrow, curvy path which could be due to the amount of space they were given to work with. Both of those facts could have led to the need for smaller boats. Do I know for sure that any of this is the reasoning behind the exclusion of a wheelchair boat? No but I am going to keep trying to find an answer. I’m like a kid that just keeps asking why, why, but why!? 🙂 Ultimately, whatever the reason is, you have to decide for yourself whether or not you think it’s a disappointment.