Cast members and their guests have been exploring the walkways and water features in Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana the past few weeks. While few official pictures and videos have been permitted, we’ve heard a lot of early reviews discussing EPCOT’s new walkthrough attraction.
Guests experience the Journey of Water attraction by walking through landscaped trails that follow the flow of the water cycle. Along the way, guests can interact with water in different ways – waving to create a wave, touching streams of water to create music, and more. Blog Mickey has a great overview of the experience.
That’s a quick summary of what Journey of Water is at its core. Now, let’s talk about that initial feedback.
Cast members and guests who have experienced Journey of Water have been split with their opinions. Some have praised the overall concept and the fact Disney has at least tried to bring back some form of “Edutainment” (an original EPCOT staple) through informational signs around Journey of Water’s trails. They enjoyed the lush landscaping and the opportunity to interact and cool off with water on a hot day. They liked how interactive the experience was without the use of MagicBand technology. They’ve enjoyed that it’s something new and different at EPCOT.
Others have pointed out that Journey of Water’s footprint near the center of EPCOT is prime real estate. Does a walkthrough attraction make sense in this location? Shouldn’t the center of EPCOT be home to a top-tier attraction? Would the whole concept, including the theming of Moana, make more sense in a different park?
Journey of Water is also a closed-loop attraction. There’s one entrance and one exit located on The Living Seas side of EPCOT. Guests hoping to cut through or enter from the main spine side will be forced to walk around. There’s no wandering in and out of Journey of Water. Once inside, you have to continue through to the exit. Whatever sits in this location probably should’ve been more welcoming to guests walking down the heart of EPCOT.
There’s also some real concerns about operations. Journey of Water can feel crowded extremely quickly. The areas where guests can interact with water are relatively small, which is a big problem at least until the initial hype of Disney opening something new wears off. Things can get backed up in a hurry while guests wait for their turn to wave at water.
Disney will have to limit how many guests can enter at once, which may only increase disappointment when guests get in and see what Journey of Water is.
Journey of Water offers several areas where guests can choose whether to stay dry or get wet. It’s nice having that option, but we fully expect those lines to blur when children are engaged with the water. If you’ve ever been near a splash pad you know exactly how things can go. Speaking of splash pad, the most harsh criticism we’ve heard is that Journey of Water is just a glorified splash pad with some educational signs tacked on to check a box.
Finally, there’s Disney’s marketing and how the massive construction timeline plays into the mixed reviews heard during early previews. Disney has hyped up Journey of Water over the past couple years as a massive addition coming to EPCOT. The attraction was announced in 2019 and was supposed to open in 2021. Delays have pushed that back to late Fall 2023. That long of a timeline for a walking trail with fountains will undoubtedly leave some disappointed.
Disney has been forced to try and ramp up excitement for Journey of Water because Walt Disney World doesn’t have any major projects coming in the not-too-distant future. That, perhaps unfairly to Journey of Water, has set some big expectations that a walkthrough attraction will always struggle to fulfill.
Should something different have gone in this space? Will Journey of Water disappoint a lot of guests who think it’s something different? Absolutely. But, Journey of Water is at the very least an improvement over the closed and empty spaces Disney had before they demolished Innoventions West.