PHOTO: Walt Disney World Resort's Animal Kingdom Rivers of Light Show. (photo by Erik Yates)
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is undergoing a massive change.
This summer, it becomes the home to the newest destination in the Universe: Pandora. As Disney prepares to unveil the World of Avatar, they are also bringing a ton of new options to the rest of Animal Kingdom, the biggest of which is the nighttime events.
Every Disney park has a nighttime show or spectacular—something that caps off the day for guests. However, that has been lacking at Disney’s Animal Kingdom until now.
Disney has unveiled their new Rivers of Light, which takes you on a journey across the Pandora planet in a dazzling array of light, water and special effects.
Rivers of Light mixes numerous aspects to create a show that revolves around the connection between humans and nature while journeying through the night and into the water and sky. Animal-shaped lanterns float across the water and change color to the music as they intertwine with lilies that spray water and change color as well.
There are even some fire elements and live actors.
The show makes use of the lake around the Asia area of the park while utilizing a new Amphitheater for specialized seating.
Unfortunately, the show sits low in the lake. Because of the trees and everything else in the park, you probably won’t be able to see the performance unless you have a seat in the amphitheater . However, once there, there really isn’t a bad place to sit: The barges and floats move all around the lake to give a great look at what’s happening.
You’re going to want to arrive at least 30 minutes before the show time in order to get a seat. As all Disney shows do, they fill up rather quickly and are insanely popular.
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So is the performance any good? Of course it is; Disney is known for their extremely high quality shows and rides.
That said, it isn’t as good as some of the other parks' nighttime offerings. It’s pretty to look at and the music is flat-out amazing, but you don’t really feel a connection to anything happening here—no characters or anything that moves us. It’s not as inspiring as it feels it could have been.
By all means, do not skip it, though. Flaws aside, Rivers of Light embodies everything that Animal Kingdom stands for: It is a completely family friendly affair, with no scary moments for kids. (In most other Disney shows, fireworks are involved, which can sometimes be startling for smaller children.)
This performance only uses a few moments of fire, and those aren’t accompanied with a loud bang.
With the addition of Pandora: World of Avatar, Animal Kingdom needed something to keep people in the park past sundown. Harambe Street Party, the ever-changing films on the Tree of Life, the nighttime safari on Kilimanjaro Safari’s and now Rivers of Light do an excellent job of making Animal Kingdom a rounded experience.
Avatar will definitely be something guests stick around to see, so the extra after-dark entertainment is a great touch. Rivers of Light is playing on select nights at Animal Kingdom Park, and FastPass is available.