Rivers of Light: Worth the Wait?

Animal Kingdom has long struggled with being labeled a half-day park. It is like the middle child who is constantly ignored and put to the side. Well that is no longer the case, this park is about to become one of the hottest theme parks around. One of the elements being used to push this park to new heights is the addition of a new nighttime show.

Rivers of Light has been in the works for several years. After what seemed like a year of delays (oh wait, it was a year of delays) the show finally debuted mid-February. It takes place on the river and stadium seating was added next to Expedition Everest and the Finding Nemo theater. There are typically two shows each night, the second being much less crowded. FastPass is available as well as dining packages with priority seating. The show currently runs on select nights, but I believe once Pandora opens, it will become a nightly show.


Due to the nature of the park, this show does not use any firework elements at all. It relies heavily on water, laser, and lighting effects. When I read the official announcement of the opening date, I jumped on MyDisneyExperience and booked a FastPass the moment I could. The FastPass was for the first showing of the night. The show started at 8:30, I entered the FastPass area around 8:00. There was quite a few people there already, but I asked one of the Cast Members if there was a seat available for one person closer. She had me follow her and she actually seated me in the VIP seating section on the very front row. Magical moment! I got my camera ready for the show and waited for it to begin. The next portion of this post will be reviewing individual pieces of this show.

The Story | Is there a story? Not really. But that is the beauty of this show. It fits in so well with the overall idea behind Animal Kingdom; that is to experience the beauty of the world around us. There is no beginning, middle, end, or climax. There is no voiceover or singing. So do not go in expecting to be wowed by a storyline like Fantasmic! or Wishes. If you watch the show with an open mind and respect for what Animal Kingdom is, it will help you appreciate the show the best you can.

The Effects | This show uses a variety of effects and props to tell the story. It includes lights, lasers, water scrims and projections, lotus flowers with fountains, fire, animal floats, boats, and storytellers. The show is visually stunning, you will not know where to look because there is so much to take in. It does a great job of really captivating you and help you understand the world around you. While all the effects seem like they won’t work, it oddly does. They compliment each other. The effects are a major reason I want to see this show again.

The Music | The music concept reminds me a lot of Illuminations, very unique. It is a beautiful score that truly helps bring the show together. Again, there is no lyrics or voiceover to tell a story, so you have to appreciate the music for what it is, simple and beautiful.

Overall Thoughts | This show fits perfectly into Animal Kingdom. The naturalism and simplicity of the show all work in favor of the park and really does provide the perfect ending to a day at this park. While I wouldn’t wait more than 30-45 minutes for this show, I will be sure to see it again during future visits.

Have you seen the new show yet? If so, what did you think?



As a little girl, I went to Disneyland a few times, but my true love of Disney sparked my freshman year of college. I had the chance to do a quick weekend trip to Disneyland with two friends. During this trip, I fell completely back in love with the entirety of the Walt Disney Company. It was then a few months later, my family ventured to the opposite coast and visited WDW. Here I met a CP, who inspired me to start my own Disney Journey. A few years later, I can’t get enough of Disney (ask anyone who knows me)!

I have been extremely blessed to become a Disneyland AP holder, Walt Disney World AP holder, go on a Disney Cruise, and visit Hong Kong Disneyland. In 2018, I will be visiting Disneyland Paris. I plan on eventually visiting Tokyo Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland.

I love all things Disney food, Disney merch, and Disney entertainment. You can usually find me in the park, drinking a coke and waiting for a show or parade. If you ever see me, be sure to say hello! I love making new Disney Friends.