Magical Monday {Animal Kingdom’s Rivers of Light and Nighttime Magic}

The Disney Social Media Moms Celebration kicked off in Animal Kingdom on our very first night.  I knew we were in for a magical night when I spied this stunning sunset rainbow over Expedition Everest and the Tree of Life.

The evening started with a reception for the attendees in Harambe Market and then the families joined us afterwards for a fantastic dinner sponsored by GoGo SqueeZ. Since Honey and John were joining us later in the night, my sweet friend Dressing for Disney and her boys met us in the park and entertained Whit for me during the influencer event.  I tell you what, I’ve met the most incredible friends through a shared love of Disney (and Lilly in the case of Ashley)!

At our kickoff event, I met a few other bloggers, learned more about the grand opening of Pandora coming Memorial Day weekend and noshed on some incredible appetizers and cocktails all with a nod to Avatar.

This was the only pic I got of the baby and I the first night.  He’s my little sweets lover AND my dancer.  He loved dancing through the decades with me to the DJ.

After dinner and dancing, we were treated to a sneak peek of Animal Kingdom’s newest nighttime experience Rivers of Light!  This magical light and water show takes place on Discovery River.  It was captivating before we even made it into the seating area!

The highly anticipated new show celebrates the beauty of all living things – and it truly is beautiful.  The entire park seems to awaken with fireflies, lanterns, animals and people.


Some of the most beautiful pieces were the lantern light animal spirit forms of the Tiger, Turtle, Elephant and Owl.

In addition to the floating lanterns, Disneynature footage is projected onto screens made of water throughout the show.

I was so mesmerized with the show that I didn’t take in the story.  Regardless, the show is magical and beautiful and likely not like anything you’ve ever seen before!


Rivers of Light is not the only new nighttime experience at Animal Kingdom.  While there, you MUST do a sunset ride on the Kilimanjaro Safari (I would secure a fast pass), see the Tree of Life Awakening, check out the Discovery Island Carnivale street party, have a cocktail and appetizer at Nomad Lounge and do an evening whirl on Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids.

If you go:

  • Rivers of Light runs on select nights for approximately 15 minutes.  Check My Disney Experience or the Times Guide at the park.
  • Fast Pass Plus is available for Rivers of Light.  If you will be in Disney for 5-7 days and have a Fast Pass to spare, I would recommend using one through the end of 2017 while the show is still new.  That being said, I didn’t feel that there was a bad seat in the house and getting front row is not necessary.
  • There are also dining packages available for Tusker House and Tiffins and this is a great way to secure a spot for Rivers of Light.  Tusker House is one of our favorite character buffets on property as it features a fabulous selection of African and American foods.  You will also get to meet the characters in their safari gear!  We have not yet dined at Tiffins, but it looks incredible and receives fantastic reviews.  If you plan to eat at one of these restaurants regardless, I would go ahead and do the dining package. Keep in mind that you can also get the package on breakfast (Tusker House) and lunch, which is cheaper than dinner.  Doing this would mean you could use your three fast passes on other things.
  • Speaking of Fast Pass, if doing an evening at Animal Kingdom, I’d make my three for the Kilimanjaro Safari (right at sunset), Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids (because my fam LOVES water rides).
  • To get the most out of your night, book Tusker House for a late lunch and knock out a great meal and characters, do your three fast passes, relax with a cocktail and appetizer at Nomad Lounge and then end your evening at Rivers of Light and the Tree Awakening.
  • I find that night photos turn out much better on my iphone than my camera, for what its worth.
  • I would prioritize the parks nighttime shows in this order: 1. Wishes (soon to be Happily Ever After) fireworks at Magic Kingdom, 2. Star Wars Galactic Spectacular in Hollywood Studios, 3. Illuminations in Epcot, and 4. Rivers of Light in Animal Kingdom.  If you’re in town for a week and have kids older than toddlers, see all four!!!

The land of Pandora opens Memorial Day weekend and is likely to change EVERYTHING!!!  I can’t even imagine how spectacular it will be and how many more people will be flooding into Animal Kingdom at night after that!


As an independent consultant with Glass Slipper Concierge, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I offer concierge travel planning for Walt Disney World® Resort, Disney Cruise LineDisneyland® Resort, Adventures by Disney®, Aulani and other delightful destinations.
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