Animal Kingdom’s new nighttime show is a spectacle of lights, color, water and music. Just as fireworks have always been the perfect way to end the day at the Magic Kingdom, at Animal Kingdom River of Lights is a magical way to say goodnight.
Thank you to Disney for inviting me to attend opening night of River of Lights.
Once a daytime-only park, Animal Kingdom is expanding its hours by offering new experiences after dark. The newest nighttime attraction is River of Lights, a 15-minute show of lights and water presented on the edge of the Discovery River in a 5,000-seat amphitheater.
Animal Kingdom River Of Lights
The show begins as lotus flowers drift into view. The pretty pink blossoms are soon joined by a ship and floating animals. Throughout the show, the floats spin and twirl across the river to a choreographed dance that includes water and fire.
Unlike the loud fireworks and upbeat music of the nighttime shows at Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom River of Lights has a softer, quieter feel that both suits the park’s ambiance and doesn’t intrude on the animals’ who live there. But it is no less filled with color and light.
One of my favorite aspects of the show were the animal scenes projected onto the mists of water. The effect is done like the use of mist to project scenes during Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios and World of Color at Disney’s California Adventure. What made these scenes so memorable is that they are all clips from Disneynature films. My daughters enjoyed pointing out the various movies they recognized during the show.
River of Lights is performed on select nights and showtimes vary seasonally. On busy nights, guests will have the opportunity to catch two performances.
Animal Kingdom After Dark
Animal Kingdom River of Lights isn’t the only fun happening at the park after dark. The park that once closed at 5 pm now offers a variety of activities for the family to enjoy in the evenings including dance parties, thrilling rides in the dark and more. The current lineup of nighttime excitement includes:
- Kilimanjaro Safaris after dark
- Nighttime rides on Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids and more
- Tree of Life awakening after dark
- Fine dining at Tiffins
- Harambe Wildlife Parti
- Discovery Island Carinvale
Of course, the new after-dark experiences will be even better with the opening of Pandora – The World of Avatar this summer.
If you haven’t visited Animal Kingdom in a while, now is a great time to plan a visit. Make sure you take a Kilimanjaro Safari during the day too so you can meet the newest addition to the elephant family, baby Stella. Then take a nighttime safari to check out the evening animals before settling down to watch Animal Kingdom River of Lights.