Imagineers share inside look at details of upcoming ‘Moana’ attraction at EPCOT

BAY LAKE, Fla. – Where Innoventions West once stood at EPCOT, there now resides a construction site. Though park guests may still miss the departed showroom, or at least its air-conditioned interior in this summer heat, Walt Disney Imagineering seems optimistic that it can get you excited about the outdoors attraction currently being built there: Journey of Water, inspired by the film “Moana.”

Imagineers on Thursday shared news of the attraction’s continued development on the Disney Parks Blog. According to Imagineering Lead Concept Designer Reid Ekman, both his team and a crew of artisans are officially in mock-up mode and have begun sculpting the rockwork for Journey of Water, what’s planned to be an “immersive exploration trail” meant to teach guests about the water cycle.


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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.

Lead Concept Designer Reid Ekman, Walt Disney Imagineering | Disney Parks Blog, Aug. 25, 2022

Fans will recognize familiar shapes and characters incorporated all over the walk-through attraction, Ekman said. At the moment, much of that sculpting work is still in its early stages.

“As part of our design process, Imagineers create models, mock-ups, and maquettes to bring our beloved characters and stories into the parks in sometimes unexpected ways,” Ekman said. “…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.”


A behind-the-scenes look for World Princess Week of Principal Dimensional Designer, Jim Towler, sculpting the foam maquette of Moana for Journey of Water. (Walt Disney Imagineering)

The picture at the top of this story serves as a sample of the look Imagineers are going for with regard to the attraction’s scenery, a mountain-like form thoughtfully decorated with foliage, a realistically-rocky paint job and a movie reference, Moana’s spiral.

Compare that to the pre-paint picture below, and you’ll get an idea of how much artistic talent goes into turning foam, concrete and fiberglass into a new Disney attraction.

Natasha, an Imagineer, tends to the rockwork at Journey of Water. (Walt Disney Imagineering)

More updates on Journey of Water will be issued in the coming weeks and months, Ekman said.

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