Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Pictures & Assessment: Moana’s Journey of Water Exemplifies EPCOT Edutainment!

Journey of Water Impressed by Moana is a brand new water exploration path, formally opening in October 2023 as one of many ultimate items of the EPCOT overhaul. This Walt Disney World attraction overview shares our ideas on the expertise, night time pictures, comparisons to different points of interest, and commentary about the way it suits into EPCOT.

Let’s begin with some fast background for many who are unfamiliar with Moana’s Journey of Water within the EPCOT’s newly-rebranded World Nature space, which is devoted to understanding and preserving the sweetness, awe, and stability of the pure world. Along with Journey of Water Impressed by Moana, World Nature contains The Land and The Seas with Nemo & Buddies pavilions.

Moana’s Journey of Water is actually on the outer fringe of World Nature, and the bottom of the walkthrough abuts World Celebration. Most of that space of EPCOT continues to be behind a sea of development partitions, and would be the final space accomplished. That features CommuniCore Corridor, which is actually the one factor of substance left to debut after Moana’s Journey of Water. The remainder of World Celebration is principally simply bushes and stuff.

Turning to the overview, there are loads of alternative ways to method Moana’s Journey of Water and opinions of it might (and can) differ broadly based mostly on the context and concerns. Usually, we overview issues in a vacuum. Which is to say that the encircling circumstances, development, and operational realities are ignored.

That is how Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has been our #1 attraction Walt Disney World (technically, tied for #1), regardless of it utilizing a digital queue, having frequent downtime, and different frustrations. Identical goes for TRON Lightcycle Run scoring nicely regardless of being a clone that took manner too lengthy to construct.

Our common view is that every one of those variables can inform views and shade opinions, however they’re extra worthy of dialogue previous to opening. A primary-timer strolling into Magic Kingdom right now most likely gained’t care how lengthy TRON took to construct–it’s immaterial to them. However somebody who visited the park final October whereas it was one way or the other nonetheless underneath development and missed it would really feel in a different way.

In any case, we do wish to briefly handle a couple of such concerns with Moana’s Journey of Water…

The primary is just about the identical frustration followers have confronted with all current Walt Disney World additions: development length. Journey of Water was introduced over 4 years in the past, and like the remainder of the EPCOT overhaul, it has been suffering from delays. A few of that is attributable to the pandemic, closure of the parks, and the plans for World Celebration altering in consequence.

Although Moana’s Journey of Water just isn’t a part of World Celebration, it’s shut sufficient to the central backbone that it completely has been impacted by that. Frankly, whereas 4 years is manner too lengthy to construct an interactive water walkthrough, a lot of the blame for the delay is attributable to the uncertainty with World Celebration and the CommuniCore development.

Regardless of it being practically completed for months, I think Walt Disney World has hesitated in opening Moana’s Journey of Water because of the development partitions across the Big EPCOT Filth Pit™️. That’s as a result of there seemingly had been/are operational issues about crowd movement via this space as soon as Moana’s Journey of Water opens.

Particularly, the large query marks with Moana’s Journey of Water are hourly capability, overcrowding, and the place to place the standby line amidst the ocean of development partitions surrounding the Big EPCOT Filth Pit. The present hall is already cramped because of the development, and there’s not a ton of house for a bodily standby line on this space till extra partitions come down.

Hopefully, these are solely points within the near-term. In the event you go to within the subsequent couple months, you would possibly encounter chaos and crowds that shade your opinion of Moana’s Journey of Water, and decide that it’s “not price it.” In the event you go to in 2024, you would possibly encounter zero crowds or development partitions, no line by any means, and a very snug expertise.

On the subject of the placement of Moana’s Journey of Water relative to World Celebration, there are additionally everlasting concerns. One of many complaints we’ve heard on this entrance is that the walk-through destroyed the symmetry of the previous Future World–particularly, the Innoventions or CommuniCore buildings.

In the event you take a look at an aerial earlier than/after view of World Celebration, you’ll see that is true. The buildings behind Spaceship Earth had been beforehand excellent symmetrical, and that has been carried over on the opposite aspect, with the reimagined Connections Cafe and Creations Store. In the meantime, the Moana Maze and CommuniCore Corridor aren’t.

This can be a bizarre one. After I’m navigating a theme park, I’m not excited about aerial symmetry. As a lot as I favored parts of the previous central backbone and Innoventions, its symmetry was not one of many issues that made me a lifelong fan. Perhaps I’m only a simpleton, however the symmetry complaints strike me as a ‘Very On-line’ perspective, and one that might solely come to thoughts when idea artwork or overhead pictures. Is anybody truly pondering this whereas strolling via the park? (Perhaps I’m the minority.)

I’ve many complaints about World Celebration (many!), however symmetry just isn’t certainly one of them. Not solely that, however I believe complaining about Journey of Water changing symmetrical buildings requires taking a really idealized and even summary view of EPCOT and ignoring what it was truly like in 2019. Innoventions might have been symmetrical, nevertheless it additionally had severe lifeless mall vibes. One thing needed to be completed.

I don’t assume the World Celebration plan was the very best, or perhaps a good “one thing” given the 4 years it took to perform. However we’re beginning to veer off into reviewing that as an alternative of Moana’s Journey of Water. I’ll simply say that I’d’ve liked to see a extra bold plan that had a counterpart to Journey of Water on the opposite aspect of Spaceship Earth. How cool would it not have been to have a water exploration path right here, and an interactive fiber optics walkthrough reverse it?!

With all of that out of the way in which, let’s flip to the substantive overview of Moana’s Journey of Water in isolation. From my perspective, this walkthrough is a wonderful attraction that exemplifies the spirit and authentic mission of EPCOT Middle. It was additionally very a lot wanted.

As a part of the overhaul, there have been a lot of issues which have tried to strike the correct stability between edutainment and mental property, appeasing each diehard EPCOT Middle followers and informal company anticipating to see characters. I’d argue that no different addition accomplishes this in addition to Moana’s Journey of Water.

Journey of Water is an ‘edutainment’ attraction at its coronary heart, strolling company via an atmosphere that engages and educates company in regards to the water cycle and the way it sustains our world. In basic EPCOT vogue, it does so by each exhibiting and telling.

For many who wish to have enjoyable or be taught by doing, merely work together with the water shows all through the expertise. You could not essentially be taught in regards to the water cycle in a tutorial method, however Journey of Water nonetheless informs and engages in essentially the most basic sense, and may act as a basis for understanding how water ‘works’ for youths.

You would possibly even say that there’s a little bit of studying by osmosis for youths in exploring Moana’s Journey of Water. It jogs my memory of taking part in with LEGOs or Zelda Tears of the Kingdom, for instance, which may train structural engineering, utilized physics, and problem-solving abilities. Considerably related thought right here.

For many who wish to good ole usual e-book data, there are graphics all through Moana’s Journey of Water that educate in regards to the water cycle. These share the important hyperlink we’ve got with water throughout our planet, and encourage the essential function all of us share in preserving this life-giving and life-sustaining treasured useful resource.

I’ve seen some Walt Disney World followers criticize these placards and, frankly, I can’t perceive why. Studying signage has been a staple of EPCOT Middle since I used to be a child. All this does is add a layer of depth for many who wish to be taught extra, or in much less of an summary method. I can not fathom how this can be a damaging–you’re free to disregard these graphics if you happen to don’t wish to learn or are illiterate. Nobody goes to drive you to be taught something–that is nonetheless America!

My greatest shock was truly how a lot Journey of Water leans into edutainment and away from the animated film characters. Though it options mental property, Journey of Water is simply Impressed by Moana. Apart from the doorway and the towering Te Fiti determine, the references to Moana are minimal–largely simply Easter eggs carved into the rockwork. You could possibly undergo a lot of the walkthrough with out ever realizing it’s associated to Moana in any respect. (I do know the pictures right here recommend in any other case, however that’s as a result of I targeted totally on the photogenic parts, that are these that includes Moana stuff.)

This is among the most pure incorporations of mental property into EPCOT in years, with Moana being an natural match for this expertise. If something, Moana is a little bit of a pretense–a conduit for “tricking” youngsters into studying in regards to the water cycle, having enjoyable, and taking part in with water.

In the event you advised me that Imagineering conceived of this as an IP-free water exploration path however might solely get funding with Moana connected, I’d imagine you. It very a lot appears like an genuine EPCOT expertise, fairly than a thinly-veiled excuse for extra characters and movies within the park.

As a lot as I like Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, this nearly feels just like the reverse of that. Whereas the queue and preshows of Cosmic Rewind do an excellent job of weaving collectively a story framework that makes the attraction a believable match for EPCOT, it’s nonetheless shoehorned. It’s a matter of creating lemonade out of lemons, and to their credit score, Imagineers did an admirable job with making the Wonders of Xandar really feel “shut sufficient” to an EPCOT pavilion.

Against this, Journey of Water is an EPCOT Middle attraction at its coronary heart. It’s completely at house within the former Future World, and appears like an natural match to the park. If something is shoehorned in, it’s the Moana references. Journey of Water might drop these with out dropping something. (In fact, nothing is shoehorned into this–the characters and the edutainment high quality meld flawlessly with each other.)

Not solely that, however Journey of Water appears like the proper outside counterpart to each the Land and Seas pavilions, showcasing the intersection of the 2. It’s a wonderful approach to spherical out the World Nature neighborhood, and makes for the proper little self-contained space. Journey of Water is actually a greater counterpart to these pavilions than no matter was beforehand inside this space of Innoventions.

With that mentioned, Moana’s Journey of Water is fully separate from these pavilions when you’re contained in the water exploration path. It’s secluded from each World Celebration and Nature, and the one time you see the remainder of the park is when Spaceship Earth is completely positioned as a backdrop. I’m positive one thing might be mentioned in regards to the symbolism of this man-made image of the Water Planet juxtaposed towards the (additionally man-made) model of earth’s water cycle. However actually, I simply assume it seems cool.

To that time, the structure and staging of Moana’s Journey of Water is superb. Initially, I used to be skeptical about this being a self-contained space fairly than a water space you can come across whereas strolling via EPCOT, however they made the correct name. (This isn’t a path that you could minimize via to get from level A to B in EPCOT. It’s a horseshoe-shaped path, with the doorway and exit in the identical common space.)

A number of of the interactive areas characteristic Spaceship Earth as a backdrop, and are completely picturesque in consequence–rather more photogenic than they’d be in the event that they had been merely water options and rockwork. After all, there’s the Te Fiti in the direction of the tip, the reveal of which with Spaceship Earth within the background is about as a lot of a ‘wow-moment’ as you can presumably get from a walkthrough path.

Talking of the rockwork, it’s very properly completed. Imagineering has grow to be extremely adept at designing rockwork within the final decade-plus, with Automobiles Land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Pandora – World of Avatar, and even areas of New Fantasyland coming to thoughts as exemplars. Most of that is attributable to Imagineer Zsolt Hormay, however I’m not sure whether or not he was concerned with Journey of Water. Regardless, the rockwork in Journey of Water is nice.

One other factor Imagineering does nicely is lighting, and that’s additionally on full show in Moana’s Journey of Water. The sunshine fixtures provide a delicate, heat mild; focal factors have a greater variety of colours and are evenly lit; the water itself is cooler colours; mercifully, they don’t overdue it with deep blues all over the place.

The top result’s an expertise that, like so many issues at Walt Disney World, is significantly better at night time. Moana’s Journey of Water completely nails the factitious lighting, with a serene and moody high quality. Whereas pleasurable in the course of the day–particularly the 47 weeks of the 12 months when Florida is sizzling–you completely should do Moana’s Journey of Water at night time. It’s beautiful when illuminated, and with Spaceship Earth’s Beacons of Magic dancing within the background.

From my perspective, the largest query mark within the medium and long-term is interactivity. Moana’s Journey of Water has options which might be eerily harking back to these present in interactive queues at Walt Disney World from the final decade. In the event you’re unfamiliar with these interactive queues–precisely. Most of them had been disabled way back.

My concern is that Journey of Water will endure the same destiny. Already, my visits to the water exploration path have seen a number of stations quickly unavailable on account of points. In equity, that’s to be anticipated as a result of the attraction continues to be in previews, and Imagineering at all times has to work out pesky issues pre-opening.

Nevertheless it’s additionally not tough to ascertain a state of affairs the place park ops decides sure guest-triggered interactivity is extra bother than it’s price, or is inflicting pinch-points and crowding, and places them on a timer. That actually wouldn’t be the tip of the world, however it will make the interactivity much less spectacular.

With a lot gushing, it’s essential put Journey of Water Impressed by Moana in context to appropriately set expectations. As ought to be clear from the above, this can be a walk-through water path and never an enormous funds thrill trip or family-friendly darkish trip. Nobody ought to plan a visit round this, and it’s not practically nearly as good as Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and even Remy’s Ratatouille Journey. (It being a greater thematic match for EPCOT isn’t the identical because it being as huge of a draw.)

The factor is, that’s nice. Not all the things must be a blockbuster addition. Walt Disney World wants a greater variety of issues to do, and particularly tactile experiences the place individuals can actively play and have enjoyable. In that regard, that is an unimaginable addition. Past that, certainly one of Future World’s greatest points was that it was a concrete jungle with little shade, water, and lushness. This treatments all of these complaints, whereas additionally providing youngsters a spot to play and blow off some steam.

Really, it’s not simply youngsters–it’s adults, too. I had a blast exploring and photographing Moana’s Journey of Water. Way more than I anticipated, the truth is. My view on this beforehand was that it will (most likely) be a wanted addition to EPCOT, even when it didn’t attraction to me, personally. Because it seems, it does attraction to me personally. My group of associates had a blast going via on a Saturday night time at EPCOT, taking within the views, partaking the interactive options, and seeing each other get hit by the water.

Beneath are extra pictures I took of Moana’s Journey of Water in the course of the daytime, sundown, nightfall, and night time. Its look and ambiance change tremendously over the course of the day, and I’d suggest visiting in the direction of the start of the morning and finish of the night if in any respect doable.

Suffice to say, Moana’s Journey of Water is a much-needed addition to the park that embodies the spirit of EPCOT Middle and its edutainment roots. The water exploration path is splendidly executed and rather more enjoyable than I anticipated. It’s among the best additions at Walt Disney World in current reminiscence (whereas including the compulsory “for what it’s” asterisk).

I can’t wait to do Moana’s Journey of Water once more, and I actually hope the group of Imagineers behind that is given extra tasks within the EPCOT portfolio. The at instances underwhelming overhaul is unquestionably in want of a part 2 already!

Planning a Walt Disney World journey? Study motels on our Walt Disney World Inns Critiques web page. For the place to eat, learn our Walt Disney World Restaurant Critiques. To economize on tickets or decide which kind to purchase, learn our Ideas for Saving Cash on Walt Disney World Tickets publish. Our What to Pack for Disney Journeys publish takes a singular take a look at intelligent objects to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Experience Guides will assist. For complete recommendation, the very best place to begin is our Walt Disney World Journey Planning Information for all the things you should know!


Are you excited for Moana’s Journey of Water? In the event you’re additionally an EPCOT Middle purist, are you apprehensive that this may match the park, or do you assume studying in regards to the water cycle makes this exploration path match? In the event you’ve skilled Journey of Water, what did you consider the attraction? The place does this rank among the many EPCOT overhaul additions for you? Do you agree or disagree with our overview? Any questions we will help you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even while you disagree with us–is each attention-grabbing to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas under within the feedback!

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