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Rivers of Light

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Rivers of Light is a nighttime show at Disney's Animal Kingdom in the Walt Disney World Resort. Rivers of Light will be located in the park's Discovery River lagoon between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest.[2] The show will feature water, mist screens, floating lanterns, lights, fog, projection mapping and live performers.[3] and incorporate the park's Tree of Life into the show.

The show was first announced as part of the park's expansion plans, which includes Pandora–The World of Avatar and a nocturnal version of Kilimanjaro Safaris, in October 2013.[4][5] Construction began in 2014.[6] The show was originally set to premiere on April 22, 2016, Earth Day and the park's 18th anniversary.[7][8] However, on April 5, 2016, it was announced that the show had been delayed and would not be able to meet the April 22 premiere date.[1][9][10][11][12]

The show will only be able to seat 5,000 guests, giving it the smallest capacity of Walt Disney World's night-time shows.[13]

A portion of the show was previewed to media on April 19, 2016, when it was also announced that The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic, a limited-engagement show based on the 2016 live-action film, would fill the space of the delayed Rivers of Light night-time show, presumably until the latter show is ready.[14][15]


Around 10 minutes prior to the show, a preshow of sorts takes place in the Discovery Island trees on the far side of the lagoon with fireflies glowing and the shadows of animals walking through the trees. Four lotus floats also begin moving into a starting position.

At the start of the show, two lantern sailboats arrive, each carrying a shaman storyteller and their apprentice. On the Asia side is Aditya and Ketu, representing the element of fire. On the Dinoland side are Aseema and Ambu, representing water. These characters never speak a word, and instead communicate through music, dance, shadow puppetry and magic. A narrator then explains the lantern festival pageant we are about to witness.
Of all the gleaming planets in our vast universe, it is only here on Earth that water and light harmoniously unite to create the wonder of life. We most graciously welcome you to a timeless celebration of water and light with roots as far reaching as time itself. Here, where the forces of nature meet in harmony, the spirits of the animals are free to dance together in the night sky creating Rivers of Light. We are united in this special place to celebrate the magnificence and wonder of all living creatures, for in life we are all one.

The music builds and four Animal Lantern floats arrive, a Tiger, a Sea Turtle, an Elephant parent and child, and a Great Horned Owl. As they move along the lagoon and the four lotus floats start to unfold and shoot water jets, the Animal Spirits inside the lanterns begin to emerge and take to the sky. This sets the stage for the last float to arrive, the giant Temple Lotus. The five lotus fountains begin to dance with the animal spirits, who are called into action by the shadow puppetry of the shamans.

After the Dance of the Lotuses, a journey through the natural world begins, set to the original song "We Are One". The sequence starts as Aditya plays his horn to call the Tiger, who leaps onto the lagoon and roars, starting a journey through jungle environments. Aseema sends the turtle spirits onto the lagoon to take us through the ocean. The Elephant spirits appear to start off a trip through the African savanna, featuring a Lion and Cheetah chase. Finally, Aseema sends the Horned Owl to travel to North American mountain tundra and polar regions and the song concludes over a montage of animal families.

The music begins to rise again with a score inspired by Transformation and the Rivers of Light, the aurora borealis, begins to take shape as countless animal spirits dash into the skies, concluding with the breach of a humpback whale. The show enters its finale, the music becomes more ethereal and a starscape of animal constellations begins to take shape. The narrator returns for concluding remarks.
Within each of us is a light. A light that shines in all living things. Here where fire and water bridge the earth and sky, our light rises on the wind to join the stars. As we journey on this great earth, may we remember the light we share. May we celebrate our bond with the natural world and the wonders that flow on Rivers of Light.

The animal spirits return to their lanterns to become part of the starscape and a tower of torches emerges from the Temple Lotus to dance with the fountains of the four smaller lotuses for a final reprise of "We Are One".


Rivers of Light was initially conceived of as a nighttime parade by Steve Davison through the streets of Animal Kingdom, but this concept was shelved due to the costs of infrastructure alterations necessary for visibility and movement. [16] In the wake of World of Color, the concept was revisited as a show for the Discovery River Lagoon.

Walt Disney Imagineers and Disney Creative Entertainment designed the show along with longtime collaborators Michael Curry, Don L. Harper and Mark Mancina.[17]


Concept Art


  1. 1.0 1.1 Smith, Thomas. "Update on Nighttime Experiences at Disney’s Animal Kingdom"..
  2. "Not just Avatar taking shape behind walls of Animal Kingdom", Orlando Sentinel (August 16, 2015). Retrieved on August 16, 2015. 
  3. "New Details Released on ‘Rivers of Light,’ Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom", Disney Parks Blog (August 16, 2015). Retrieved on August 16, 2015. 
  4. Garcia, Jason (12 October 2013). "Disney details "Avatar" land for Animal Kingdom". Retrieved on 12 October 2013. 
  5. Slater, Shawn (2 May 2014). ""Rivers of Light" Nighttime Spectacular Coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom".. Retrieved on 10 July 2014.
  6. "Star Wars Land Coming To Disney Parks, 4 Star Wars Attractions Detailed, And More – D23", (August 15, 2015). Retrieved on August 16, 2015. 
  7. Fickley-Baker, Jennifer. "First Look: ‘Rivers of Light’ To Debut April 22 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom"..
  8. Ferrell, Ian. "Source Confirms Rivers of Light Soft Opening & More Details - Ride Vine"..
  9. "Disney: 'Rivers of Light,' other Animal Kingdom attractions delayed". Retrieved on 5 April 2016.
  10. "Rivers of Light and nighttime attractions delayed". (en-US) Attractions Magazine. Retrieved on 5 April 2016.
  11. "Opening date delayed for Rivers of Light, nighttime experiences at Disney's Animal Kingdom". (en-US) Inside the Magic. Retrieved on 5 April 2016.
  12. "Rivers of Light opening at Disney's Animal Kingdom postponed". WESH. Retrieved on 5 April 2016.
  13. Munarriz, Rick (12 March 2016). "Is Disney World Making a 5,000-Seat Mistake?"..
  14. "Disney previews 'Rivers of Light,' announces 'Jungle Book' show". Retrieved on 20 April 2016.
  15. "Disney’s Animal Kingdom Awakens at Night With New ‘Jungle Book’ Show, Parties & Attractions Starting Memorial Day Weekend". (en-us) Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved on 20 April 2016.
  17. "Rivers of Light debuts April 22 at Disney's Animal Kingdom". (en-US) Attractions Magazine. Retrieved on 9 April 2016.

v - e - d
Disney's Animal Kingdom logo
The Oasis
The Oasis Exhibits
Discovery Island
Tree of LifeIt's Tough to Be a Bug! • Discovery Island Trails
Festival of the Lion KingKilimanjaro SafarisPangani Forest Exploration TrailsWild Africa Trek
Rafiki's Planet Watch
Wildlife Express Train • Conservation Station • Habitat Habit!Affection Section
Expedition EverestKali River RapidsMaharajah Jungle Trek • Flights of Wonder • Rivers of Light
DinoLand U.S.A.
DINOSAURFinding Nemo - The MusicalFossil Fun GamesPrimeval WhirlThe Boneyard PlaygroundTriceraTop Spin
Disney's Animal Kingdom LodgeDisney's Coronado Springs ResortDisney's All-Star Movies ResortDisney's All-Star Music ResortDisney's All-Star Sports Resort
Former Attractions and Entertainment
Camp Minnie-Mickey • March of the Art-imals Parade • Pocahontas and her Forest Friends • Discovery River Boats • Lucky the DinosaurTarzan Rocks!Journey into the Jungle BookMickey's Jammin' Jungle ParadeThe Jungle Book: Alive with MagicThe Lion Guard AdventureVal the Velociraptor
Pandora: The World of Avatar

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