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Rivers of Light to open on Earth Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom


Although we’ve known for some time that Disney’s Animal Kingdom was shooting for April 22nd, aka Earth Day, as the official opening for “Rivers of Light,” the new water and light pageant that is coming to a newly constructed stadium around Discovery River, it is now official. A press event has been announced for the days leading up to the 22nd, so there’s a good chance the show will soft open a few days ahead of the official date.

The park was dedicated on April 22nd, 1998 and has long lacked the ability to keep guests entertained beyond dusk, when the animals all go back to their homes. Rivers of Light is just one part of a strategy by Disney to make Disney’s Animal Kingdom a true full day park. Of course, they’re keeping with the theme of the park – nature.


According to Disney, the show will “depict an ancient lantern festival guided by two storytellers who call forth four animal Spirit Guides: an Asian Tiger, Tropical Turtle, African Elephant and Great Horned Owl. These Spirit Guides return at different points during the show to lead the audience through their journey through the Rivers of Light.”

“Moving fountains, water screens, laser projections, lighting effects all come together to creat something special,” said show producer Michael Jung. “I hope the guests take away the beauty of what nature means, how important it is to us, how it effects us.”

I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Michael Curry can do with the puppet design. I’ve also previously really enjoyed Michael Jung’s work for Disney Cruise too.

Right now the plan is for there to be three showings of Rivers of Light a night to handle anticipated crowds. Expect there to be Dining packages like with Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Fastpass+ access as well. In fact, they might pull a trick from Disney California Adventure and make every show only for Fastpass+ holders. Of course, in DCA, you have to show up at the park to get a Fastpass, at DAK you can reserve them online up to 60 days ahead of time. That’s a huge advantage for resort guests over day guests who want to see the show.


If you want to learn more about Rivers of Light, Disney is having a live chat on March 8th at 1:15pm EST featuring Michael Jung and Mark Renfrow from the show’s creative team.

Previously: Construction Update from Rivers of Light, More about Rivers of Light with Imagineer Joe Rohde.