In less than a month Disney’s Animal Kingdom will debut a new nighttime show – Rivers of Light. To put this in proper context – Rivers of Light will be what Fantasmic is to Hollywood Studios and Illuminations is to Epcot – an iconic performance associated with one park and providing vacation memories for generations to come. As the anticipation builds for its arrival, let’s take a look at what we know about Rivers of Light to date, question and answer style.
What exactly is “Rivers of Light”?
Here’s the official description from Disney: “Rivers of Light” is a nighttime spectacular unlike anything ever seen in Disney Parks, combining live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery. The show will magically come to life on the broad, natural stage of the Discovery River, between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest. During the show, a pair of mystical hosts come to the river bearing gifts of light and set out from the shore on elaborate lantern vessels for a dramatic dance of water and light to summon animal spirits. With the storytellers as guides, the wonders of “Rivers of Light” builds to a stunning crescendo.
It’s important to note that there is no mention of fireworks in the show description, as they would undoubtably cause stress to the many species of animals housed inside the park.
When will “Rivers of Light” debut?
The first official presentation will be on Earth Day, April 22, 2016. However, there’s rumors of a few special performances on the two nights leading up to April 22. These have been described as an after hours preview event for an additional fee. It’s unclear if these will be restricted to annual pass holders, DVC members, media and travel industry professionals, or even happen at all. There’s been nothing confirmed by Disney at the time of this post.
How many performances will there be each night?
It’s expected that there will initially be 3 shows each night. A schedule of 2 or 3 shows will likely remain intact throughout the summer in order to meet demand. As with all outdoor shows, weather conditions could result in cancellations.
What time will the shows take place?
Rivers of Light is a nighttime experience, but wether or not that means dusk or absolute dark remains to be seen. When factoring in the longer days of summer the first showing could possibly happen at 8:45, but 9:00 seems more likely.
On the back end, Disney has stated that the park will be open as late as 11:30 on some nights, which seems to suggest 11:00 as the final showtime of the night.
That leaves the second show – which for the sake of crowd turnover would fall evenly between shows one and three – likely 10:00.
Is there a dedicated viewing area?
Yes indeed. A big part of the Rivers of Light construction has been the addition of natural stone like amphitheater around the Discovery River area that will serve as the show’s stage. The whole design and look of the seating is intended to appear as if it’s been around for decades. It’s important to note that in order to fully see and experience the show, Guests will need to be inside the amphitheater. However, elements of the show can be seen – although parts may be obstructed – from outside of the amphitheater seating.
What is the seating capacity?
The amphitheater will reportably have a seating capacity of approximately 5,000. By comparison the seating for Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is approximately 6,900.
Will FastPass+ and Dining Packages be available?
Yes, both are expected. In fact, leaked reports tie dining packages to Tusker House, the soon to open Tiffins and even Flame Tree Bbq. We would expect that Yak and Yeti would also have a dining packages available. However, nothing has been officially announced or confirmed by Disney. It’s also likely that these will not be available initially and will be gradually rolled out.
In regards to FastPass+ the likely scenario is that one show – presumably the last one – would be for walk ups only and thus have no FastPass option.
That’s the basics as of this blog post, but we’ll continue to report on Rivers of Light as more details are confirmed.
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