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Rivers of Light and More to Debut on April 22 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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Have you been impatiently waiting for the brand new Rivers of Light nighttime spectacular slated to take place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Well, I’m happy to tell you your wait is almost over. This fantastic nighttime event is slated to begin on April 22, which is fittingly the park’s birthday, as well as Earth Day! But that’s not the only thing that’s slated to debut! Many of the other fantastic nighttime elements are also going to premiere that day as well!

First things first…let’s talk about the coolest thing — Rivers of Light. The show, which is set on the Discovery River in the Asia section of the park will feature two storytellers who guide you through an ancient lantern festival. These guides will call forth four animal Spirit Guides that will include a Tropical Turtle, an African Elephant, an Asian Tiger, and a Great Horned Owl. The Spirit Guides will also help to lead the audience through their journey through the story. This mystical show will combine water and fire effects like never before.

Disney also released this fantastic video to showcase what we can expect to experience in this brand new beautiful and touching nighttime event. I’m telling you…you are not going to want to miss this!


But, as I mentioned, it’s not just Rivers of Light debuting on April 22. Guests will also be able to experience the Tree of Life Awakening. Each night, throughout the evening, the Tree of Life will undergo an extraordinary awakening, as animal spirits are brought to life by magical fireflies that open a window into the body of the tree. The fireflies will reveal wonderful stories and enchanting moments.

Tree of Life - Rivers of Light

Are you ready to go on a nighttime safari on Kilimanjaro Safaris? Beginning April 22, you’ll be able to! The classic park attraction, will for the first time offer hours into twilight thanks to lighting that mimics sunset.

Brand new lively entertainment offerings will also be available to Guests in both Discovery Island and Africa. The Discovery Island Carnivale will dance its way through the island, gathering Guests to a street party across from Flame Tree Barbeque. Over in Africa, The Harambe Wildlife Street Parti will include a number of musical acts and acrobats.

Finally, yes, of course there will be new food and beverage offerings including specialty popcorn and beverage containers themed to the lotuses and lanterns in the nighttime show.

This spring, Animal Kingdom is going to be THE hot spot to be! I know I can’t wait to finally experience the wonder and majesty that is Disney’s Animal Kingdom at night!



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Rikki Niblett

I am a co-host of the Be Our Guest Podcast and do lots of other fun Disney stuff all around the interwebs! You can follow me on Twitter or Instagram at @RikkiNibs or on Facebook at

19 thoughts on “Rivers of Light and More to Debut on April 22 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • When we did our ADRs at 180 days, AK was only open until 5pm. Now it is open until 8pm during our trip (6/15-23/2016). I am going to have to move stuff around to see Rivers of Light. However, without a schedule for Rivers of Light and the rumored ADR’s available, I don’t know what to do or when I’ll be able to figure it out and still be able to adjust my current plans. Thanks for your insight!

  • As others have stated would love to know thoughts on whether fast passes will be available. Also curious as to when they will update the AK park hours.

  • Will there be FastPass+ for these events do you know?

  • Do you expect any impact on or lower crowds at other parks on the 22nd?

  • Our last night is April 13th. If we can’t see River’s of Light, I’m hoping at least for a soft opening of the Night Safari. Please WDW T.T

    Happy they’ve extended HS StarWars Symphony Fireworks, but was REALLY hoping to see some of new stuff at AK.
    We’re doing Epcot Dessert Party at night after our AK day… at least we have a back-up plan so we won’t be too disappointed.

  • Any words on the HOURS of operation and time of the show? According to the official hours, AK is still set to close pretty early in late April and May?
    What time will the show be taking place? What time will the night safari be operating?

    • Sunset is 7:55 on the 22nd so it’s gotta be after that. I’m hopeful that they don’t restrict it to certain days of the week to start out with, my expected AK day is the 2nd of May and I’d rather not shuffle my whole trip to find a day I can see the new show that I’m not really willing to miss. My 1 previous day at AK convinced me that I really like that park and the idea of a Disney evening there is REALLY exciting, I love the parks at night. Expedition Everest after dark anyone?

      • It is suppose to be 2-3 times every night according to other sites. As far as hours go Disney usually updates hours a few times with the last update usually coming out some in the middle of the month before. AKs hours will more than likely be extended to at least 10:30.

      • Civil twilight is at 8:21, Nautical twilight (the point at which you can no longer distinguish the horizon) is at 8:50. My guess is that they will pick 8:30 until civil twilight gets close to that time, then change to 9. Or maybe just start out at 9, since that will take them through the longest day of the year.

  • So no announcement yet about Kiffin’s opening that same day/night?

    And anything about dining packages with RoL? (they seem inevitable)

    • Tiffins is slated to open in the summer. No word on dining packages yet, but I’ll post when I find out!

      • Wow, can you tell I’m an Alabama fan? I said “Kiffin”, but at least you know what I meant.
        I had thought they might open together.

      • Yeah…hopefully it will be considerably more elegant and tasteful than “Kiffin’s” would be?

      • OK Keith, I’m guessing you’re from either Los Angeles or Knoxville! Lane is not very popular in either place.

      • Nah Nicholas, I’m from Virginia and just don’t think much of Lane. No worries…at least you’re not from Florida :^)

      • Haha! I got the gist. 🙂

        And I too thought that Tiffins might have opened at the same time. Guess it needs a bit more “cooking” time. 😉

      • But I remember the restaurant name bc of Van Tiffin and Leigh Tiffin 🙂 Remember “the kick”? Roll Tide!

  • Well, I’m very excited about it, but will be crying on my morning flight home on April 22. 🙁 Would anyone care to conjecture at whether there will be previews on the days leading up?

    • There have been rumours, but there could be cast previews, AP previews, media previews and all sorts of other pre-openings so no-one knows for certain.

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