Moana’s Journey of Water is now officially open at Walt Disney World! This virtual queue guide covers how to access the attraction, which does not always have a standby line and never has a Genie+ Lightning Lane. Plus, strategy for success, when to incorporate it into your EPCOT itinerary, avoiding crowds, and the time we recommend doing the attraction for the best experience.
For starters, Journey of Water Inspired by Moana (or Moana’s Journey of Water, as we’ll call it for simplicity’s sake) is the first Walt Disney World attraction based on Moana. “Attraction” might be a bit deceptive here–this is a walk-through water exploration trail rather than a ride. Although technically human feet are the OG ride vehicles, and still pretty state of the art.
Moana’s Journey of Water is an experience where guests interact with magical, living water in a beautiful and inspiring setting at the front of EPCOT, between the Living Seas and Land pavilions in the World Nature section of the park. Moana’s Journey of Water consists of a lush environment that engages and educates guests about the water cycle and how it sustains our world, and is punctuated by a larger-than-life Te Fiti figure with Spaceship Earth in the background.
Walt Disney World regulars are likely already familiar with virtual queues (VQ), and might’ve groaned a little bit (or a lot bit!) when hearing that Moana’s Journey of Water will use a VQ rather than a standby line. Virtual Queues they’ve been used in the past at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and in the present at TRON Lightcycle Run (see our guide to that) and Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind (see our guide to that).
Well, breathe a sigh of relief. The virtual queue for Moana’s Journey of Water is not like those. No setting an alarm for 6:59 am (well, you’re probably still want to do that for Cosmic Rewind), syncing clocks, using speed strategy, and worrying about whether your fingers were fast enough. No being forced to try again in the afternoon, hoping for better luck. There is no failure here. The virtual queue for Moana’s Journey of Water is easy.
Let’s quickly cover how the Moana’s Journey of Water VQ will work…
Walt Disney World has indicated that a virtual queue may be available to join after guests enter EPCOT. The virtual queue will remain open until it reaches capacity or is no longer needed to be used for that day.
You can join the virtual queue in the My Disney Experience app. It works the same way as any of the other virtual queues, with buttons all over the place in the app. The hamburger button on the bottom right accesses a virtual queue tile, and you can also find it on the Tip Board, when searching for Moana, etc.
The virtual queue for Moana’s Journey of Water doesn’t start at 7 am, but rather, at around the time that EPCOT officially opens for the day…but only if it’s busy. This is a need-based virtual queue, meaning that if demand isn’t high, a standby line is used. Or, you walk right in without waiting in any line at all.
To that point, you can determine whether Moana’s Journey of Water is using a virtual queue by checking those spots in the app. If there’s no button to join the VQ, it’s using a standby line. Just be prepared for the possibility in the morning of the virtual queue not being activated when you check, but being in use when you arrive.
So if you’re making the long trek from Frozen Ever After or Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, you might want to check again while en route…unless you like criss-crossing the park only to be disappointed. (For this same reason, you should be checking wait times somewhat-regularly when criss-crossing EPCOT, as ride downtime can be similarly frustrating.)
Anyway, Moana’s Journey of Water is open daily from park opening until park closing at EPCOT. Normally, this means 9 am until 9 pm, but there are some nights on busier days when EPCOT will be open until 9:30 or even 10 pm. In which case, so too is Journey of Water. Likewise, if EPCOT starts doing 8:30 am openings again, so too will Journey of Water.
Using the My Disney Experience app, each guest can join the Journey of Water Virtual Queue once per day during regular park hours. The Journey of Water Virtual Queue is separate from both the Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind and TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queues. Joining one or both of those does not prevent you from joining the others, so long as you’re eligible.
In order to be eligible to join the Journey of Water virtual queue, guests must have already tapped into EPCOT. Although Walt Disney World indicates that you must be “inside” EPCOT to join the VQ, that’s technically incorrect. As with all virtual queues at Walt Disney World, it’s not geofenced.
So long as you tapped into the park, you can join. This distinction probably isn’t applicable to many guests, but we could envision a use case where Crescent Lake or Skyliner area resort guests entered via International Gateway for Early Entry, and took a mid-morning break after that for breakfast, pool time, or whatever. They or anyone else would be able to join the VQ from outside EPCOT…so long as they already entered the park for the day.
Although Moana’s Journey of Water just officially opened and, as such, it’s premature to draw sweeping conclusions about crowd patterns and demand, it has been open for almost a full month for previews and soft openings. During those, lines and wait times peaked relatively early in the day.
In the evening hours, Moana’s Journey of Water was typically much less busy and often not using a virtual queue at all. That makes sense to some degree, as usually the front of EPCOT usually clears out as guests head to World Showcase for the evenings. We’d expect this trend to continue, with the wait time for the virtual queue peaking between noon and 1 pm.
Moreover, we’d expect the wait times to gradually decrease for Moana’s Journey of Water once the ‘new attraction smell’ wears off. Again, this is unlike Cosmic Rewind or TRON Lightcycle Run, as those are rides and this is a walk-through. Even though it’s relatively low-capacity, there will be much less interest in it over time. By contrast, those are headliner thrill rides that are must-dos for the vast majority of guests visiting Walt Disney World.
Our expectation is that virtual queue wait times for Moana’s Journey of Water will die down about a week after it opens, spiking again for the peak holiday dates around Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. It’ll likely continue using a virtual queue for the remainder of this year, but it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if it stops being used entirely by mid-January 2024.
With that out of the way, let’s turn to strategy. First of all, we would NOT recommend wasting precious time during Early Entry at rope drop or Extended Evening Hours to experience Journey of Water unless your kids are diehard Moana fans and you want them to be able to enjoy the experience relatively crowd-free. That’s a great opportunity for fun photos, and without a bunch of other kids in the background.
Obviously, you know what’s best for your family and if that type of thing is high-priority, do Moana’s Journey of Water during these exclusive hours. You’ll be rewarded with nice lighting (on both ends) and devoid of crowds.
For everyone else, the opportunity cost of prioritizing Moana’s Journey of Water is too high. We mention this because some of you are going to see these screenshots with 500+ minute wait times and think that this is suddenly the most popular attraction at Walt Disney World. It is not. Those are the virtual queue callback times from opening day; if there were a standby line and it were any other day, there’s no way the wait would be that long.
At EPCOT alone, the following are all still more popular than Moana’s Journey of Water:
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
Soarin’ Over California
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
Frozen Ever After
All of those should be prioritized in your plans above Moana’s Journey of Water.
To that point, our updated 1-Day EPCOT Itinerarycovers one optimal approach for experiencing the entire park, including Moana’s Journey of Water. That also works really well with the currently lengthy virtual queue return times for the water exploration trail, but you’ll need to adjust accordingly as those die down.
That’s our zig when they zag strategy for EPCOT, a counter-intuitive approach that’ll have you doing things in the opposite order of most other guests. That includes Moana’s Journey of Water, and pretty much everything else in World Showcase and Worlds Nature, Discovery and Celebration.
That plan also doesn’t require purchasing Genie+ or taking advantage of Early Entry or Extended Evening Hours. All of those things can enhance your day at EPCOT, but they’re not strictly necessary. And most don’t have any bearing on when we recommend doing Moana’s Journey of Water, anyway.
To that point, the best time to experience Journey of Water is at night. We really like the sunset-to-dusk-to-nighttime transition, but spending an hour or so inside the walk-through is probably overkill for most guests. So evening is our main practical recommendation.
This is because Imagineering does artificial lighting really well, and that’s on full display in Moana’s Journey of Water. The light fixtures offer a soft, warm light; focal points have a wider variety of colors and are evenly lit; the water itself is cooler colors; mercifully, they don’t overdo it with deep blues everywhere.
The end result is an experience that, like so many things at Walt Disney World, is much better at night. Moana’s Journey of Water absolutely nails the artificial lighting, with a serene and moody quality. While enjoyable during the day–especially the 47 weeks of the year when Florida is hot–you absolutely must do Moana’s Journey of Water at night. It’s stunning when illuminated, and with Spaceship Earth’s Beacons of Magic dancing in the background.
Ultimately, Moana’s Journey of Water is an excellent addition that embodies the spirit of EPCOT Center and its edutainment roots. The water exploration trail is wonderfully executed and much more fun than I expected. It’s one of the best additions at Walt Disney World in recent memory for what it is. Granted, ‘what it is‘ is a walk-through–and that’s less exciting to most guests than a roller coaster, boat ride, or trackless dark ride that scurries around in front of screens. But don’t underestimate Moana’s Journey of Water or dismiss it as “only” a walk-through, either.
Conversely, do not overestimate the virtual queue for Moana’s Journey of Water. It’s easy. It’s worth giving some thought to how you’ll incorporate it into your plans for a day at EPCOT, but absolutely not worth any lost sleep or stress. The chances of being shut out of this VQ are minimal–there’s a significantly larger possibility that it won’t be in use at all during your visit. Don’t let the high wait times scare you–the stakes are low here!
Have you done Moana’s Journey of Water? Did you use the virtual queue earlier in the day or walk into the water exploration trail later in the day? If you’ve experienced Journey of Water, when do you think is the best time of day to do it? Where does this rank among the EPCOT overhaul additions for you? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? 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!