Rivers of Light

NOTE: While the seating area still exists, Rivers of Light stopped performances in 2020.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom used to be only a daytime park. Not anymore. Rivers of Light has transformed Animal Kingdom into a park that is something special after dark. The show is visually stunning. It’s centered around celebrating the beauty of nature as seen through special effects, videos projected onto water, illuminated floats, and music.

Rivers of Light

Before the show stars, four large lotus flowers float into the center of the lagoon. Two trade-type vessels start the show with a narrator telling about how Earth is the only place where light and water unite to create the wonder of life. Here, spirits of animals can dance free in the “Rivers of Light.”

After the introduction, four illuminated floats enter, which are the spirit animals: elephant, tiger, turtle, and owl. The music intensifies and there is a water dance featuring the animal floats and lotus flowers. The flowers literally dance with water to the music. Soon, video images of animals are projected onto screens of water and the music becomes more soothing. Balinese shadow puppets are used behind the sails of the trade ships to show the story of each of the animals.

The lotus water dance continues until near the end one of the lotus opens to a large centerpiece, which ignites in flames. A spectacular finale featuring all elements of the show leaves you feeling inspired. The animals and flowers remain illuminated on the water for a few minutes after the show ends. This is a great time to get a few pictures.

Rivers of Light is available on select nights. Available show times may change with the seasons.

Waiting Area

Even Crush thinks this sounds kewl, dude! So, where do you get in line? The standby line is located near DinoLand USA, but plan to get there plenty early.

Viewing Locations

The Discovery River Amphitheater is in Asia and seats around 5,000 people, making it one of the smaller venues at WDW for an evening show.

Fun Facts

The barges and boats float around the lake throughout the show. Photo by Cliff Wang

  • The animal floats in the show have significance. The elephant and calf represent Earth, the turtle and baby represent water, the Horned Owl and owlets represent sky, and the Asian Tiger represents fire.
  • In some cultures, the Aurora Borealis is known as the “Rivers of Light.” Animal Kingdom’s “Rivers of Light” ends with their version of an Aurora Borealis.

History

Rivers of Light opened February 17th, 2017, after being delayed for almost a year.

Dad’s Bottom Line

Since Disney’s Animal Kingdom doesn’t have fireworks, it’s the only nighttime entertainment option on a grand scale. The drawback is, the theater is relatively small. So, unless you want to wait in line for at least an hour, you will need to book a Dining Package or FastPass+.

It’s not overwhelmingly a “wow” show. They could use a few more floats. But it’s not bad. You should definitely see it at least once.