Disney Imagineers Give First Look at New Epcot Moana Attraction

Something is stirring at Epcot, and a certain favorite princess is involved! Earlier this week, the Imagineers at Disney teased the first look at Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana. The new walk-through attraction will take guests on a magical journey through the cycle of earth’s water, all while featuring special appearances of Moana and her friends throughout in the form of carvings in the rocks and waterways. Reid Ekman, Lead Concept Designer at Walt Disney Imagineering, explains the inspiration behind the project.

Designed for all ages, Journey of Water will allow guests to explore and engage with water as it travels from our skies to our oceans and back again. Walt Disney Imagineering partnered with artists and cultural consultants from Walt Disney Animation Studios to bring this experience to life, and our team tasked themselves with capturing the beauty of the natural water cycle within the attraction. We were also inspired by Moana’s fierce determination to protect her environment – her bond with water is unique, and we are excited for guests to learn about the importance of water and experience its playful personality just as she did.

The Imagineers also provided a few behind-the-scenes looks at the development of the upcoming scenery. Jim Towler, pictured below, can be seen sculpting Moana out of foam. This will serve as an example for the team as they plot and plan the layout of the attraction before it begins official construction. Ekman gives a brief explanation of how many steps go into creating such an immersive and magical experience.

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Jim Towler from disneyparks.disney.go.com

Once the pose of the character is defined, sculptors add detail and texture until the emotional expression of the carving is just right. We then do a paint study and often create full-scale samples to test final materials and carving techniques. This process ensures the production and creative vision for the experience align.

The team also showed a mock-up of the entrance to the attraction, which will have Moana’s iconic spiral to mark its entrance. Fans will be able to recognize the design and know exactly where to go. It’s a delicate balance between the fantastic and the real!

The Power of Water

Walt Disney Pictures

Since she was a little thing, Moana has always felt a call to the sea. The plucky young princess set off from her island home in order to find out what was making the fish go scarce. With the ocean itself as her guide, Moana was able to team up with the demigod Maui in order to restore balance and save her people. The film premiered in 2016 and has since become a fan favorite among many for its beautiful animation, catchy songs, and daring hero of a princess.

Creating an attraction about the water cycle seems like a job that is perfect for Moana. After all, she just doesn’t have the power of water, she’s practically best friends with it! While the approach has less fireworks and dancing characters, it sounds like a more calm and relaxing way to pass the time while you’re recharging your batteries before the next ride. Fans can take in the natural wonder of water, while feeling closer than ever to the princess herself.

It’s certainly an exciting time for our project team as these elements are coming together on site now and in the coming months! Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana will be brought to life within World Nature – the EPCOT neighborhood dedicated to understanding and preserving the beauty, awe, and balance of the natural world. Moana is the perfect role model to inspire us to protect and conserve water and guide us through the Journey of Water.