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Rivers of Light


Since it's opening Animal Kingdom has been a daytime park. Not anymore. Rivers of Light has transformed Animal Kingdom into a park that is something special after dark


The Tree of Life makes a beautiful backdrop to the Rivers of Light show at Animal KingdomRivers of Light is breathtaking - Photo by Brett Svenson


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, dancers, and music.

The Theater

The Discovery River Ampitheater is pretty cool looking - Photo by Rich Ramos


The Discovery River Amphitheater in Asia seats around 5,000 people.

The best seats are reserved for those that have a dinner package or FastPass+. Those with a dinner package receive front and center seats in the portion of the theater near DinoLand U.S.A.


Those with a FastPass+ will access their prime seats near Expedition Everest in Asia. Guests with either type of reserved seating should get to the theater no later than 25 minutes before the show starts.

The Preshow

There isn’t a specific preshow. However, if you listen carefully, you can sometimes hear the animals represented in the show (elephant, owl, and tiger) off in the distance.

Sometimes the Cast Members who are selling headbands, wands, and other light up merchandise will entertain the crowds in their section. Many of the items they sell are Made with Magic, which are light up accessories that change color with the show.

Dinner Package

Reserved seating is available to those guests that reserve the Dinner Package. To reserve a Dinner Package, you choose from one of the following restaurants-

  • Tiffins
  • Tusker House Restaurant

Is the seating worth it? Well, you get a great seat without having to wait an hour. Plus, you don’t have to use one of your three FastPass+ options for the day. So, if you’re asking Dad, he says go for it!

The Show

Amazing water projections of monkeys at Rivers of LightThe water projections are awesome - Photo by Brett Svenson


Here’s a basic overview.


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.

Fun Facts

The owls in Rivers of Light represent the skyOwls represent the sky - Photo by Rich Ramos

  • 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.


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

Dad’s Attraction Information Table


Rivers of Light

Description: Nighttime entertainment show (without fireworks.)
Height Requirement - none Fastpass:Yes Length of Ride: 15 minutes
Type of ride: Sit down show
Best time to ride: Get to the theater early, seats fill quickly

Dad's Ratings

3 3 4 4 4

Other Information:


Dad's Simple Fun Magic Guide to Walt Disney World Planning


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.