Disney previewed Rivers of Light, Animal Kingdom’s new nighttime spectacular, to the public for the first time on the evening of February 10, 2017.
The show’s official debut is February 17th with shows just about every other day from then through the end of March before shows are most nights in April and then on 99% of nights in May and June.
Showtimes aren’t available for dates past then, but the show will assuredly be scheduled at least once nightly in June and August before perhaps going back to an intermittent schedule in September, though Avatar should continue to boost crowds enough that Rivers could feasibly be scheduled every day.
For the time being, my advice is to do what you can to see the show. FastPass+ is available though they are very limited in number and should be booked as part of your initial three selections. The number of day-of Rivers of Light FastPass+ cancellations remains to be seen, but the capacity is far less than Fantasmic and the demand for Animal Kingdom’s other attractions is far lower than at Epcot or Hollywood Studios, which means people are less likely to cancel Rivers of Light for another attraction elsewhere in the Park. In other words, if you have IllumiNations FastPass+ booked but Soarin’, Test Track, or Frozen becomes available, then you may cancel IllumiNations in favor of the ride, thus opening up IllumiNations for someone else to take. At Animal Kingdom, it’s currently unlikely anyone with Rivers of Light is going to cancel their FP+ in favor of Everest or Safaris, let alone Primeval Whirl or DINOSAUR.
Rivers of Light Dining Packages are also available for meals at Tusker House and Tiffins, with details available here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/animal-kingdom/rivers-of-light-dining-package/. The Dining Package guarantees a seat in the reserved section on the DinoLand side for the show. At Tusker House, the Dining Package is $7 more per adult and $5 more per child than simply booking a meal without the reserved seat. In a lot of situations, seven bucks seems like it would be worth the peace of mind in knowing that you’ll have seats. That would also open your FastPass+ selections up so you could book three early and then make subsequent selections throughout the afternoon and early evening. Since Rivers of Light is typically scheduled around close, it would be difficult or impossible to make another FastPass+ selection after the show should it be the third of your initial selections.
I have more thoughts on the Tiffins Dining Package as part of this Avatar announcement post, but basically, you can get your money’s worth fairly easily or even come out ahead if you’re planning on ordering the more expensive items as you can choose any appetizer, entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic drink for the $67/adult price. The Wagyu Striploin alone costs $53, so it’s easy to spend another $14 across the other three items included with the fixed price meal.
While Rivers has not yet debuted, it’s hard to imagine that seeing the show in standby will be a viable alternative with what should be 80% of the theater’s capacity given to FastPass+ and Dining Packages. If you’re interested in the show, pay the money to save hours in line at Tiffins or Tusker House or book the FastPass+.
As far as the show itself is concerned…it’s not without its issues…and how much those perceived problems affect your enjoyment of the overall production is a matter of personal tolerance.
But the first eight minutes of the 15-minute show in particular are mesmerizing – after that…you might argue that it peters out a bit…
But I think these images speak for themselves. The show is so beautiful. So vibrant. So full of life…
That it’s only marginally important that the show lacks a coherent storyline or lacks the crescendo towards a suitable climax and finale. At least until the temperatures heat up and the evenings remain comfortable, I would only skip Rivers of Light if you have something considerably better to do. You never know what you might like.
A few more pictures: