Joe Rohde Explains Lack of Wheelchair-Accessible Boats on Na’vi River Journey in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Pandora: The World of Avatar Na'vi River Journey Boat Navi Disney's Animal Kingdom
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In a public conversation on Twitter, Walt Disney Imagineering’s Executive Designer Joe Rohde revealed some previously-unknown details about Na’vi River Journey at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Pandora: The World of Avatar Na'vi River Journey Boat Navi Disney's Animal Kingdom

When asked about the lack of wheelchair-accessible boats, Rohde explained that the attraction’s positioning within Pandora – The World of Avatar prohibited the possibility of the wider boats that would be needed.

Apparently, the queue for Avatar Flight of Passage is positioned over Na’vi River Journey in such a way that it affected the ultimate design of the ride.

Guests in wheelchairs/ECVs may transfer to the boats and experience the attraction, but may not take them onboard. (A special wheelchair is available to transfer guests onto the ride vehicles in Flight of Passage.)

Rohde also explained why the banshees are referred to as such as opposed to their Na’vi name, Ikran: simply because the banshee name was more popularly known. (In fairness, the name Ikran is used in the attraction, just not as commonly as banshee.)

And there you have it! Another lingering question solved!

MORE:

New Queue Re-Entry Pass Allows Guests To Leave, Re-Enter Avatar Flight of Passage Queue in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Pandora – The World of Avatar Official Album Now Available on the Play Disney Parks App

New Wheelchair and ECV Rental Station Now Located at Cirque du Soleil in Disney Springs

About the author

Matthew Soberman

Matthew has been a writer for WDWNT since June 2018. He probably should have realized he was a Disney Parks fan when he tried to make a model of the Horizons building in middle school shop class. (It didn't go well.) He is also a huge Muppet fan, and can also be found on ToughPigs.com. You can email Matthew at [email protected]

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Disdug
Guest
Disdug

Question solved. Are you kidding? These rides were designed from the ground up, so this reasoning does not stand. Admit it Joe, you screwed this up. To design an attraction at this time and miss such a massive detail is inexcusable. I have a son in a wheelchair who cannot transfer. In fact for him to do the slide transfer to the banshee is virtually impossible. I’m not writing this on his account as he does not care for the land and thus the attractions. I’m writing this because it irritates me to see an adult who uses excuses for… Read more »

KPTC
Guest
KPTC

We should probably have Joe Rohde executed for his crimes against humanity then, right? I bet he did this on purpose because he hates people in wheelchairs!

Jesus Christ, calm down.

TLW
Guest
TLW

Seriously, KPTC? Grow up. You sound exactly like the ones who think that, just because a statement or opinion is shared, it must be based on bigotry, hate, etc. Disdug said nothing of the sort but YOU had to make it about hate. Disdug is absolutely correct in his observation – the ride was designed from the ground up and SHOULD HAVE been designed with better accessibility for those who cannot transfer from their wheelchair and/or ECV. Disney has the money and the knowledge to do so – shame on them for not doing so.

Rachel
Guest
Rachel

i don’t think this explains anything. Some Imagineer he is…..can’t imagine a way around all of that. Its a shame its not more accessible. these are new rides….no excuses.

Ron Patterson
Guest
Ron Patterson

The only ride I can think of where you could take a scooter or a wheelchair on was universal of energy, I don’t see why this is a big issue, or why people are complaining about it. I think scooters are a huge issue in the parks, what’s next, why are the rides not hospital bed Accessible

TLW
Guest
TLW

Some of these are very old rides retrofitted to accommodate one staying in their own wheelchair. Some are very new – so why not this one? Your comment about hospital beds is ridiculous. I hope none of you or your children/spouses/parents ever have to deal with being disabled. If they do, contact me as I will see to it that they have someone in their corner fighting for them by simply being able to enjoy a ride in a park with their family and not having to wait outside for them and missing the enjoyment on their faces. The following… Read more »

Nic
Guest
Nic

There are so many attractions with wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) at WDW — The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, it’s a small world, Journey Into Imagination with Figment, Living with the Land, the Three Caballeros boat ride in the Mexico pavilion, Triceratops Spin, Jungle Cruise, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Toy Story Midway Mania….just to list a few. Maybe you don’t seen why people think this is an issue because it doesn’t impact you, but it impacts millions of others. My mother has been in a wheelchair for most of my life. It’s not much of a “family vacation”… Read more »

Someone
Guest
Someone

But maybe, in this case, it wasn’t easily able to be designed? It seemed Rhode was only given a certain budget and land for the project. By looking at his tweets and old news, Navi River Journey may have not even been an original plan. I get your frustration but maybe it was out of his hands. We don’t know the full details with a tweet simply saying it wasn’t possible.

John
Guest
John

I love Disney World. It is absolute magic, every second! And I have never said anything bad about it, I just can’t be unhappy there! But this, this is the first time I have been disappointed by Disney World. A HUGE part of the magic is that the parks are 100% thought out. There are tiny details that you or I may not ever think of. And another HUGE part of the magic, is that Disney World can be enjoyed be everyone. And this design flaw, is a violation of both of these aspects of the parks. It is totally… Read more »

Orthodad
Guest
Orthodad

I agree. I love the scope of Avatar, and I love the detailed engineering that went into the land and the rides. But, if wheelchair access was a priority, they could have done it. It’s not like the engineering for those boats is that complex…see Small World and Jungle Book. This was a message to disabled visitors about $ and priorities.

Jen
Guest
Jen

I would have to disagree with his reasoning for wheelchair access. My child is in a power wheelchair and is getting too big to lift and transfer to some rides. She absolutely loves Disney and feels included when she can just drive onto Winnie the Pooh, figment, small world, living with the land, toy story mania, etc. I don’t find any of these vehicles bigger than the other ones, they may have less seating to accommodate but that’s it. Winnie the Pooh is a much smaller vehicle than the pandora boat. Other than that Disney has been a wonderful place… Read more »

PriorSec
Guest
PriorSec

River Journey was clearly an afterthought and my guess is it was on the back burner when it comes to funding too. He can design a million amazing things but the bean counters are there too. That’s the reason we ended up with glow in the dark craft paint in Pandora instead of internally lit walkways. This may have been a mistake on his part but he is one part of a much, much larger operation and I think people are placing too much blame on him just because he’s a public figure. Disney Parks are taking the cheap way… Read more »