Tag Archives | Attraction News

Na’vi River Journey Canoe Ride

At the recent D23 (Disney’s official fan club) expo in Japan, it was announced that the still under-construction Pandora section of Animal Kingdom will include a family-friendly canoe ride called the Na’vi River Journey.

Na'vi River Journey

Na’vi River Journey will open with Pandora – The World of AVATAR in 2017 within Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

This new attraction will allow park visitors to get an up close and personal view of the environment and creatures first introduced in the Oscar-winning 2009 film, Avatar. As guests venture down the sacred river during the Na’vi River Journey, they will be cast in purple and blue hues as the bioluminescent rainforest springs to life around them. The journey comes to an end upon encountering a Na’vi shaman, who has a strong connection to the life force of the Pandora landscape. She will be sending positive energy throughout the entirety of the rainforest with the music she makes, a portrayal that rings true with the spirituality of the Na’vi people originally presented in the film.

Though the details surrounding Animal Kingdom’s Pandora are rather elusive, a 2017 opening date can be expected for the Na’vi River Journey, along with the rest of Pandora. Disney originally announced the Pandora Project in September of 2011, with construction beginning in early 2014.

Also recently announced for Pandora is an attraction called Avatar Flight of Passage, an experience meant to simulate flying with banshees (if you don’t remember, those are the giant dragon-like creatures the Na’vi people fly around with). Speculation has run rampant around this ride, with some saying that the technology employed with be similar to what Universal Studios used for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction. Guests with young children will probably be more apt to ride the Na’vi River Journey — the banshees and technology used for Avatar Flight of Passage does not sound like it is geared towards younger children.

Other Animal Kingdom attractions that are currently being worked on are Rivers of Light (the Animal Kingdom Equivalent to Magic Kingdom’s Wishes firework show or Hollywood Studios’ Fantasmic), a nighttime version of Kilimanjaro safaris and live performances on the park’s Discovery River.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: If you’re staying on Disney property, be sure to book those fast passes early! Resort guests get first dibs on fast passes up to 60 days before their hotel check-in date, while annual pass holders don’t get access until 30 days before their visit. In the past, when Disney has opened new attractions (most recently, Mine Train at Magic Kingdom), the queues have been outrageously long, with wait times regularly running higher than two hours on particularly busy days. Folks who purchase day passes have virtually no chance of snatching up the limited number of fast passes offered for these new, big ticket attractions such as Na’vi River Journey, so odds are, they’ll have to endure the lengthy wait. Resort guests, take advantage! Animal Kingdom has limited ride offerings as it is, so these new additions are bound to be swarmed!


Aquatica’s Tallest and Newest Slide Set to Open May 9

Ihu Breakaway FallsIf you are looking to breakaway this Spring, SeaWorld Orlando’s Aquatica theme park will be the place to go. Opening May 9, the newest tallest water slide is set to open. Whoo hoo Ihu! This new attraction will provide guests an experience many have never had before. Ihu’s Breakaway Falls is the only multi-drop tower slide of its kind in the southern United States. Clearly a “must-do” if you have plans to visit SeaWorld this year.

Visitors to this Orlando theme park will climb the stairs watching the riders ahead of them drop. Once you are at the top, there is only one way down! There will be four tubes, three of which are called “breakway boxes.” The fourth option does not include the floor drop, but provides all of the other thrills.

The breakaway riders will stand in a box and will drop from the 80-foot-high platform going down in the clear tubes. Looking down, there is absolutely nothing to see! Once the floor disappears, you’ll drop at the rate of 20-24 feet per second for about 40 feet. Moving at about 16 mph, guests will then slide around 360-degree spirals. While it may take a long time to go up, the trip down will take place in about 20 to 30 seconds.

To be able to experience this new attraction, you’ll need to be at least 48 inches tall. You’ll need to have a lot of nerve too! This ride brings a whole new level of thrill to Aquatica Orlando.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Purchase your tickets early for some of the best savings. As of the end of February, Disney has raised their park tickets, and SeaWorld is sure to follow. Look into multi-park passes so you can experience Aquatica at a discounted rate compared to a single day theme park ticket.

New Attraction Coming to Orlando:

New Attraction at Busch Gardens Coming This Spring

This Spring travelers to Central Florida will be able to experience many new attractions. One of the most exciting new-comers will be Falcon’s Fury at Busch Gardens in Tampa set to open May 1 (or soon thereafter). It will be one of the first of its kind, and tourists and thrill-seekers will “flock” to this Florida theme park to try it out.

Falcons Fury

Rising 335 feet up in the air, the Falcon’s Fury ride will be North America’s largest drop tower! At the top, you’ll be able to see everything in the theme park, from above. Falcon’s Fury is higher than the SheiKra roller coaster! Once riders get to the top, their seats will pivot 90 degrees so that you’ll be facing downward to the ground. Then you and 31 other passengers will drop vertically traveling downward like a falcon at 60 m.p.h. with a 3.5 G force! A thrill for any ride enthusiast.

If you’ve been to Busch Gardens before, you might remember the portion of the theme park where this new ride will be. Currently, Timbuktu is the surrounding land, however, the entire area is being re-themed into an imaginary land called Pantopia. Falcon’s Fury will be the main attraction in this new land, and will be supported by all new food and shopping venues, as well as a renovated indoor theater. Other existing rides within the land of Pantopia include The Scorpion, the Phoenix and the Grand Caravan Carousel.

Pantopia - new land at Busch Gardens

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Busch will not be using Quick Queue (its front-of-line ticket option) for Falcon’s Fury at first. If riding this new attraction is the main reason for visiting this theme park, skip this additional cost. If visiting later in the Spring or Summer, be sure to see if Busch Gardens begins accepting Quick Queue for this new attraction. Until then, plan your day around this ride as lines are sure to be long, especially when it first opens and on the weekends.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: The new land of Pantopia is a very interesting concept, which is worth reading before visiting this Central Florida theme park. Find out how to unlock Pantopia before you arrive. You’ll have a better understanding of the lay of this new land to help make the most of your theme park visit.

Year End Review

As 2010 comes to an end, it’s time to look back at this year’s high points for Orlando tourism. It is also a good time to look ahead at what 2011 will bring. Despite a tough economy, people are still finding a way to make the most of their vacation dollar. Tourism in Central Florida is alive and well (but could be better).

The park that wins top spot this year would have to be Universal Studios with the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Starting June 28, Universal’s attendance rose over 30% over the summer. Area businesses also saw an increase as tourists came from all over the world to experience this series of books and movies come to life in the form of a theme park. Universal will continue to benefit from this addition in 2011 and beyond.

Walt Disney World will forever be the main attraction in the Orlando area. It is hard to beat generations upon generations in love with ‘the mouse.’  It seemed to me that Disney spent most of 2010 following the ‘out with the old’ philosophy. Goodbye Power Rangers, High School Musical, Peter Pan & Captain Hook (in the Electrical Parade), and a few other features. Disney is in the midst of its largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history, but most of these new experiences will not be open until 2013. Look for more goodbyes as they make room next year. Another addition in 2012 includes a family-suites hotel – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

Sea World suffered tragedy this year with the loss of a trainer in their killer whale show. The show, having to be altered to not allow trainers in the water with the mammals, has diminished the excitement once generated by this feature. SeaWorld’s annual revenue is estimated to have shrunk from $1.4 billion a year ago to $1.2 billion this year. They are now eliminating jobs and restructuring for long-term growth.  Look for SeaWorld to revamp their killer whale show and be as entertaining as ever in 2011.

Busch Gardens has not suffered as greatly as its sister park and continues to work on Cheetah Run as well as a ‘cheetah-like’ coaster called Cheetah Hunt. This addition is scheduled for spring 2011 and should get the attention of roller coaster enthusiasts.

Legoland is coming to Central Florida! Redeveloping Cypress Gardens, this theme park will be a great addition to the family-oriented theme park corridor. It is scheduled to be open in October of 2011.

With OIA reporting that the number of airline passengers is up from previous years, our hope is that visitors will continue to come to the Orlando area to spend their vacation. Let’s ring in a new year with cash registers ringing! Let 2011 produce an even better year for Central Florida tourism!