Journey of Water Inspired by Moana is a new attraction coming to Walt Disney World as part of Epcot’s Future World overhaul. This covers everything you need to know about it: target opening date, concept art, construction progress, and answers to frequently asked questions. (Updated June 13, 2021.)
For starters, a basic overview of Journey of Water Inspired by Moana (or Moana’s Journey of Water, as we’ll call it for simplicity’s sake). The attraction is the first Walt Disney World offering based on the Walt Disney Animation Studios hit film Moana, and will be an exploration trail rather than a ride.
This water maze will be an experience where guests can interact with magical, living water in a beautiful and inspiring setting. Moana’s Journey of Water will consist of a lush walk-through environment that engages and educates guests about the water cycle and how it sustains our world…
Next, let’s take a look at the location of Moana’s Journey of Water. There has been a lot of confusion about this, with some Walt Disney World fans believing it’ll be replacing Journey into Imagination for some reason. (Because both have “Journey” in the name? Perhaps since there’s already a water play area up by the Imagination pavilion?)
In any case, that’s not where Moana’s Journey of Water is going. Rather, the water maze will more or less replace half of Innoventions West, which will be demolished as part of Epcot’s central spine redesign.
Moana’s Journey of Water will be part of the new World Nature neighborhood. (As a reminder, Walt Disney World is eliminating Epcot’s Future World and replacing it with 3 new neighborhoods.)
World Nature is dedicated to understanding and preserving the beauty, awe and balance of the natural world. In addition to Journey of Water, it will include The Land and The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilions.
Above is concept art that Disney has released of the new-look Future World.
Essentially, Moana’s Journey of Water will be located between Spaceship Earth and the Seas with Nemo & Friends.
Above is a closer look with Moana’s Journey of Water outlined.
Based upon the concept art, it appears that the water exploration trail will be one way of accessing the Seas and Land pavilions from Spaceship Earth, with normal bypass pathways on each side of it for guests who don’t wish to partake in the play area.
Here’s some aerial concept art that offers an artistic perspective on the same area.
As you exit Spaceship Earth, you’ll have a view of World Nature and Moana’s Journey of Water to your right from Dreamers Point.
That puts the entrance of Moana’s Journey to Water pretty close to one of my favorite (now-extinct) ‘play areas’ in any Disney theme park, anywhere ever.
Here’s hoping that Journey of Water can live up to the legacy of the Epcot fiber optics. (Or more ideally, that these effects are relocated elsewhere, expanded and upgraded.)
Above is a look at progress one year ago on the area where Moana’s Journey of Water will be located. The area was walled off, with some site prep work having already begun. However, demolition of the Innoventions building was still in progress.
Below is the same view today:
In case you’re unfamiliar with Future World, what you see above behind the wall is all Spaceship Earth, its show building, corporate lounge, and post show. The Innoventions building has now been fully demolished–nothing else you see will be removed.
With the land fully cleared, foundations are being laid and construction on Moana’s Journey of Water is now vertical. It’s difficult/impossible to see from the ground, but if you follow the “Begin Your Journey” text on the construction wall up, you can see a bit of the equipment.
Above is a better view, albeit more distant.
Under the leg of Spaceship Earth, you should be able to ascertain some structural work taking shape. Our assumption is that this is for the signature rock-work in Moana’s Journey of Water–the mountain-like feature with cascading waterfalls.
This is probably going to come as a surprise to some of you, but I’m cautiously optimistic about Moana’s Journey of Water.
Epcot is unquestionably changing, and part of that entails becoming more “Disneyfied” in the process. Denying that reality is a recipe for constant disappointment. From my perspective, anything that manages to mesh with the park’s optimism, inspiration, and edutainment aims is on the right track.
While Moana’s Journey of Water is clearly not a blockbuster addition, that’s fine. Not everything needs to be. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a welcome addition.
One of Future World’s biggest issues was that it was a concrete jungle with little shade, water, and lushness. This remedies all of those complaints, while also offering kids a place to play and blow off some steam.
Morever, Moana’s Journey of Water is a logical transition to both the Seas and Land pavilions, making it a good “pathway” to those attractions. Offering a nice environment to educate kids about the water cycle while providing a fun gateway to this neighborhood of Epcot sounds like a win to me.
It’s certainly not my ideal walk-through attraction, but my generation’s version of EPCOT Center is long gone. I’ve accepted that and am satisfied with the potential Moana’s Journey of Water could offer as an enjoyable diversion that coalesces nicely with what already exists on this side of Epcot.
Plus, Walt Disney World could use some Moana. Right now, there’s a segment of Happily Ever After plus some flourishes at the Polynesian (don’t get too excited…we’re talking carpet designs).
There’s also a meet & greet in the queue for Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room during the Halloween and Christmas Parties. That’s about it.
Moana is one of our favorite modern animated films (that soundtrack!) and is deserving of more representation in the parks. Its popularity probably doesn’t justify an E-Ticket addition, but an interactive play area seems well-suited to the film.
For that, Adventureland or this area of Epcot were about the best-case locations. It should go without saying that Epcot is in more urgent need of new offerings.
Finally, the opening date of Moana’s Journey of Water. While a lot was planned to debut “in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary in 2021,” this was never one of those projects.
A debut date has never been announced for any of the central spine projects, but the internal timeframe has been the more nebulous “…beginning in 2022.” That was even before the closure of Walt Disney World.
It’s worth noting that during and after the closure, all construction stopped at Walt Disney World. Demolition of the Innoventions building didn’t resume until several months after Epcot reopened, and it was slow-going for a while.
Moreover, the plans for much of the Epcot overhaul have changed and been scaled back, with some components cut entirely. While we have every reason to believe that Moana’s Journey of Water is still happening, the finished product could look dramatically different than the concept art if Imagineering took the totality of the Epcot overhaul plans back to the drawing board. However, it’s always the case that what’s built differs from concept art, so nothing really novel or surprising there.
Our expectation is that 2022 is still the target opening for Moana’s Journey of Water. Given the current state of construction, previous delays, and the evolving nature of the Epcot transformation, we’re hesitant to make a prediction beyond 2022. Summer or beyond seems most likely, especially given that walkways around Moana’s Journey of Water will also need to be finished before it can open.
Ultimately, a lot could happen and change between now and 2022. It’s thus impossible to make any sort of credible predictions about the ultimate fate of Moana’s Journey of Water, including the precise date it’ll open, and what it’ll look like if/when it does. Either way, we’ll keep you posted with more updates about Moana’s Journey of Water as we learn more!
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
What do you think of Moana’s Journey of Water? Do you think this will end up being cancelled, or will go forward as planned? Does this concept art look appealing to you? Do you think this will be a solid addition to Epcot, or do you wish it were a ride being added elsewhere? Do you agree or disagree with our reaction/assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!