It’s Derby time here in Kentucky. For those supporters listening as soon as this is released, this should be a good race, and I can’t wait to see if we will have another surprise winner like last year. For the rest of you, can you believe that race? Wasn’t it amazing? I can’t believe that horse won like that?! In either case, the Kentucky Derby is our annual Super Bowl. We get to host the biggest event in horse racing each year, and therefore it’s a part of life. Only around here is it normal to say we can’t do something because it’s Thurby, or Oaks Day (the Thursday and Friday before the Kentucky Derby on Saturday). It is part of our culture and part of our city, and such an amazing thing. Seeing that culture and immersing yourself in a world is the point of this next memory. The Na’vi River Journey is not a thrill ride, but it takes you into the world, into the jungle, and even into the home of these people. So let’s go experience it again together.
So as we get into today’s memory, you’ll need to imagine it’s a slightly gray and overcast Tuesday morning in December 2021. The clouds will end up burning off, and we’ll get that sun later, but for now, it’s a little gray outside.
We’ll join this memory as we just walked off our first ride on Avatar Flight of Passage, and we are giddy with excitement still as we are deciding on our next attraction. As we exit the gift shop, I’ve synced with the Touring Plans app, and it recommends we head to the River Journey. We ask a cast member, as it’s not obvious which way is the entrance to the attraction, and head over to get in line. The queue is covered by a thatched roof-like structure, with descriptions of the plants, and of the artifacts and culture of the Na’vi scattered around. I didn’t remember though, the sounds in the queue being so amazing, you’ll hear animals nearby, but never quite in sight. Listen as they run and call to one another, and even stampede a little bit. But the line moves quickly, and in a few minutes, we’ll be ready to board our little boat, they do fit 4 across, so I guess it’s not that little. Once inside, the boat quickly enters the water, and we’re off into the world of the Na’vi. The plants are vibrant and glowing, the animals walk nearby, and there are even a few Na’vi people there to talk to you or greet you. They do great things with scrims and projections to give you the feeling of depth and dimensionality, and you swear that the dear-like animal is right there. As you round the final bend, and the shaman is there, you finally see that amazing animatronic that is the next level of natural-looking art. The way she moves, sings, and acts is just so life-like, it’s awesome. This is not the most exciting attraction, but listening back I don’t think I gave it the credit it deserved. It is such an immersive experience that it really put you in the world of Avatar so much more than Flight of Passage does. I only wish it was longer. Once we exit though, the question is, what do we do next?
Again, this is a binaural memory, so you’ll definitely want to get your favorite headphones on for the best experience.