The Latest News about the Rivers of Light


Several weeks ago, Disney confirmed that the Rivers of Light nighttime spectacular will be debuting at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on Earth Day, April 22nd, as previously rumored. In the days since that announcement we’ve gotten an up close look at the costumes as well as some of the floats that will be used during this nightly spectacular. However, though we have plenty of information about the actual Rivers of Light show itself, Disney is holding back some key details that should have been released by now. With less than three weeks to go before this show’s big debut, here’s what we’re still wondering… 1. How late is Disney’s Animal Kingdom going to stay open? Image: Disney If you navigate to Walt Disney World’s official park calendar right now and select April 22nd (the opening day for Rivers of Light), you’ll notice something very curious: Disney’s Animal Kingdom is still set to close at 6:30 PM. This seems a little odd considering Rivers of Light is supposed to be a nighttime show, and the sunset doesn’t even occur on this date until 7:56PM in central Florida. While we fully expect Disney to change their hours between now and April 22nd, it seems ludicrous that with less than three weeks before this major new show is set to debut, we don’t even know how late the park is going to be open on its first day of evening operations. Which brings us to our next query…

2. How many showings of Rivers of Light will there be per night? 

Disney Several weeks ago a technical glitch with the My Disney Experience app allowed guests to see available reservations for a Rivers of Light dining package that was not formally announced yet (and actually still isn’t confirmed as of this writing). However, according to this leaked information, Rivers of Light was to have three performances per evening, which led us to speculate that this show was either really short, or Disney’s Animal Kingdom was going to stay open really, really late. In the weeks since this glitch was first revealed, we’ve heard nothing about how many shows per night guests can actually expect. Three seems like a very high number (even Fantasmic over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is only performed twice per night during the busiest peak seasons) but the uncovered reservation text looked very official, and the corresponding dinner reservation times seemed to give this leak some credibility.

3. How is FastPass+ going to be handled? 

Disney Right now, FastPass+ is used for all of Walt Disney World’s nighttime spectaculars (though it is ending at the Magic Kingdom soon for Wishes), so it seems like a no-brainer that Rivers of Light would have some kind of FastPass+-specific seating. However, with only a few days to go before this show is set to make its big debut, we can’t help but wonder exactly how Disney is going to handle FastPass+ reservations in the early days of this event. Will FastPass+ reservations just appear one day? Will Disney announce when they will be available ahead of time? Guests will likely be clearing out their FastPass+ iteneraries to make sure they are able to see this show as soon as possible, and though we are closing in on the final days before this show opens, it would be great to at least know when FastPass+ reservations will be able to book for eager guests.

4. Will there be special showings for Annual Passholders?

Rivers of Light

Several unofficial sources have gone on record saying that there will be special previews shows for Cast Members, annual passholders, DVC members and even unaffiliated guests willing to pay a premium.

WDW has cited an internal Cast Member document that states that there will be an April 6th Cast Member preview for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Cast Members only, and that other employees will be able to check out other Cast Member previews on April 8th, 9th, 12th, and 13th.


In addition, there will be an upcharge preview event available exclusively for annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members that will happen on April 15th. Finally, the report says that there will be two regular, non-upcharged Annual Passholder and DVC preview nights on April 16th and 17th. While these dates are subject to change (we’ll discuss that point a little more in just a moment), it seems that Disney is indeed hoping to give Cast Members and Annual Passholders a chance to beat the opening day crowds with early showings of this spectacular.

5. Is a delay possible?


Though several sources have reported on the preview dates mentioned above, others are suggesting that there actually might be a delay in the “official” opening, even if these preview days do happen as intended. And while it’s odd for such conflicting reports to arise, every day that goes by without Disney making an official announcement, updating the hours on the official Disney website, or confirming anything regarding this show is another day that a delay seems increasingly likely.

So what could possibly cause a delay in the official opening of this show (especially if these previews and technical rehearsals go off without a hitch)? Well there’s always the “technical difficulties” option, but what we think is more likely is a logistical hiccup with the evening operations set to roll out when this show opens. From what we’ve seen (and heard) this show is about ready to go, but it certainly seems possible that other components of the evening entertainment planned for this park (including the nighttime Kilimanjaro Safaris, and the Tree of Life: Awakenings show) might not yet be ready, even if the show is, which would force Disney to delay this show until later this spring.

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