Rivers of Light
By James | Last updated August 23, 2023
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Disney’s “Rivers of Light”, the new nighttime water show opened on February 17, 2017 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom after a long delay. It takes place once or twice in the evening at 7:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., on weekends and select nights.
The show takes place on the Discovery River lagoon and features floating rafts and Chinese junks, live performers, special lighting including lasers and images projected onto mist water screens all choreographed to a new musical score.
Unlike most other Disney parades and shows, Rivers of Light does not include any Disney characters but instead echoes the spirit of Animal Kingdom through the diversity of our planet and our relationship with it featuring Asia, Africa and North America.
In deference to the animals of the park, there are no giant firework displays, instead as the name suggests, Rivers of Light uses fire, light and water to provide the main effects.
Rivers of Light Show
The show last around 15 minutes and starts with large lotus flowers drifting into view, changing colour and later in the show, morphing into fountains. They are followed by shaman characters on Chinese junk style boats decorated with Chinese lanterns.
Four large illuminated rafts featuring animals and their young, tigers, elephants, turtles and owls come into view, looking like they are taken straight out of a Tiffany catalogue.
Other wildlife images are projected onto large arched curtains of water and the sails of the junks.
In the grand finale, a large blazing tower rises from one of the lotus flower rafts.
The entire show is accompanied by an original sound track with narration as the various elements of the show glide and pirouette serenely around the lagoon.
Supporting the show is a range of themed food items and merchandise including a popcorn bucket, souvenir cup and drink topper that all light up, modelled on the Lotus Flowers that feature so heavily in the show.
Discovery River Theater
There is a special 5,000 seater amphitheatre style stadium viewing area (split in two) facing the Discovery River and to guarantee a seat you can either book a FastPass+ or buy a special dining package which includes premium reserved seating.
There are two entrances into the amphitheatre, one near Expedition Everest in Asia and one in Dinoland.
FastPass+ guests can only use the Expedition Everest entrance and standby guests can typically only use the Dinoland entrance. Both entrances can be used by guests with a dining package.
Even with a FastPass+ or a dining package you need to arrive a good 5 to 10 minutes (longer is recommended) before the start of the show to be admitted.
Whilst the show can be seen from a few other locations around the lagoon, it is staged to play specifically to the amphitheatre which is where you will get the best experience.
Rivers of Light Dining Package
The Rivers of Light Dining Package is available for a meal with a non-alcoholic drink at either Tusker House (breakfast, lunch or dinner character buffet) or Tiffins (lunch or dinner) restaurant.
Adult prices for Tusker House are $39.00 for breakfast and $52 for lunch or dinner. Children (aged 3 to 9) prices are $24.00 and $32.00 respectively.
For Tiffins, prices are adults $67.00 and children $26.00.
All prices exclude taxes and gratuities.
History of Rivers of Light
Originally announced in 2013 as part of turning Animal Kingdom into a full day park with evening entertainment, it was meant to debut on Earth Day, April 22, 2016 but was cancelled due to unspecified technical problems.
It was then thought it would arrive around Memorial Day but it wasn’t until November 2016 that Disney ran a series of cast member previews and even then it still did not open.
As a stop gap, Disney put on a new show called “The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic” but it only ran for a few months during the summer of 2016.