This week, when there was no mention of Rivers of Light at a Disney press conference highlighting new summer offerings speculation swirled that the problems with the show were deeper than previously understood. That was confirmed late last night when Disney quietly announced the opening of a new show in Animal Kingdom, and it wasn’t Rivers of Light.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Awakens at Night is going on as planned with a new Jungle book themed show. AK Awakens will also feature a sunset safari, street parties and other special entertainment. At the center of the celebration will be a replacement show featuring a live musical celebration of the release of Disney’s new film, The Jungle Book.
Construction on the Rivers of Light show venue is complete and looks great. Disney has also been running rehearsals. However, reports are that they continue to have trouble with the system that controls the floats used in the show. Apparently, troubles are deep enough that Disney has opted for a plan B for the summer season.
We expect Rivers of Light will eventually make its debut, but there is no word on when. With the roll out of the Jungle Book show it almost certainly won’t be this summer or even this year. If Disney opts to stick with plan B through the summer (which I expect) and Animal Kingdom hours are cut back to their normal off season/winter schedule after the busy summer season (which I expect), I wouldn’t be surprised if Rivers of Light debuts next Earth Day, April 22, 2017.
Animal Kingdom Awakens at Night will begin Memorial Day Weekend. Details of the new show and other new summer offerings continue below.
From Disney writer Jennifer Fickley-Baker
Starting this Memorial Day Weekend, guests will be able to enjoy Disney’s Animal Kingdom in a whole new way – after the sun goes down! Whether it’s riding Kilimanjaro Safaris at sunset, venturing down Kali River Rapids at twilight, dancing alongside African performers in Harambe, or reveling in a live musical celebration of Disney’s hit film “The Jungle Book,” park guests have a lot to look forward to.
Here’s a taste of what to expect:
The Tree of Life Awakens Disney Parks Blog author Thomas Smith previously shared the first look at this amazing sight, in which the park’s iconic Tree of Life undergoes an extraordinary “awakening.” You can expect to see animal spirits come to life throughout the evening by magical fireflies. Each scene appears to emanate from within the tree itself and reveals stories of wonder.
Kilimanjaro Safaris After Dark Guests can enjoy Kilimanjaro Safaris in the evening hours, thanks to special lighting that will allow guests to explore the savanna – and its inhabitants – well into the night.
Harambe Wildlife Parti Guests can turn into “party animals” at the Harambe Wildlife Parti and enjoy lively African music, exotic foods and drinks, and explore the local marketplace.
Discovery Island Carnivale On Discovery Island, guests can join the local community in their celebration of their love for nature in this party that features music, dancers, stilt walkers, food and more.
Tiffins Guests can enjoy the park’s newest eatery, Tiffins, for both lunch and dinner. Check out this previous post for a peek at what to expect from the menu.
Nighttime Attractions The park’s attractions, now operating in the nighttime hours, will take on a whole new life. For the first time, guests will be able to experience the thrill of attractions like Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids – surrounded by darkness. They’ll also be able to enjoy colorful midway games and attractions in DinoLand, U.S.A.
“Jungle Book: Alive with Magic” Show For the summer, Discovery River will become the stage for a limited-engagement show inspired by Disney’s hit live-action film “The Jungle Book.” “Jungle Book: Alive with Magic” is filled with music and special effects that celebrates the new film and the classic songs, now infused with an Indian influence.
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12 Things You Should Really Know About Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite parts of Walt Disney World, and I’ve spent enough time there over the years to know what things other guests might be missing. For a park so rich in detail, it’s important to really take everything in and know as much as you can about it before your trip.
1. Getting there early
As with any Disney theme park, it is important to get to Disney’s Animal Kingdom early. This park closes earlier than all the others, so to get the most into one visit you’ll want to be there right when the park opens. Arriving early to the park also gives you a chance to hit some of the more popular attractions before the park gets too crowded as it eventually will later in the day.
2. Importance of seeing the animals
I know this might sound crazy, but when you visit Animal Kingdom, be sure to actually see all of the animals. It’s easy to overlook this part of the park with all of the rides and shows, however seeing the animals at Animal Kingdom is completely different from your local zoo. There are numerous walking trails and exhibits, in addition to the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction that allow you to have close up views of the animals, and these experiences should not be missed.
3. Different experiences each trip
Speaking of animals, the animals in the park can actually help provide you with a different experience each trip. Do not blow off the safari because you’ve done it before, you never know what animals might be out in the savannah this time that were feeling a little too camera shy on your last trip. This is especially true if it’s been a while since your last trip, as different animals might have been added to the attraction as well.
4. Don’t forget about Rafiki’s Planet Watch
A lot of guests forget to visit Rafiki’s Planet Watch simply because it is a bit out of the way from the rest of the park. Don’t let this discourage you from visiting though. Hop on the Wildlife Express Train and head up to Rafiki’s at least once per trip. Up there, you’ll find a petting zoo, along with character meet and greets, and viewing areas of the behind the scenes portions of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
5. Backstory of Dinoland USA
Dinoland is sometimes disliked because guests feel that the area’s theming is too tacky and does not belong in a Disney park. I used to be one of those guests, who would simply disregard the area as a tacky carnival. There is actually a lot of fun details in Dinoland though, and once you understand the backstory the whole area will make a lot more sense. I’m not saying you have to like it, but I am suggesting that you make an effort to learn the backstory, either before your trip, or by asking cast members while you’re there, and simply giving this part of the park a chance.
6. Some of the best food
When you think of which park has the best food, your mind might immediately jump to Epcot. Don’t be so quick to kick Animal Kingdom out of the running though. Especially in terms of quick service restaurants, Animal Kingdom has some of the most unique (and delicious) options, and they’ll only be increasing in the coming year or so as the new expansions open.
7. Disney’s Worldwide Conservation Fund
Whenever asked if I would like to donate to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, I always make sure to do so. The money you donate goes directly towards non-profit organizations that are working to protect and improve the lives of animals all over the world. The best parts? Disney matches whatever you contribute, and covers all overhead costs of the organization, meaning your money will double in value and go directly to a specific fund rather than to paying electric bills or accountants.
8. Wilderness Explorers
The Wilderness Explorer program is a great way for kids (and adults) to get a little more out of their visit to Animal Kingdom. The program, based on the hit Disney film “Up!” allows guests to complete challenges and earn badges throughout the park by learning about animals and different parks of the world. It’s a great interactive learning opportunity to keep focused on completing something while walking through the different areas in the park.
9. Shopping opportunities
Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite places to go shopping. The different areas of the park have so much to offer in terms of unique merchandise, and all of the Animal Kingdom themed items at Discovery Island are great as well. Animal Kingdom can also be a nice place to shop as it is typically not as crowded as say the shops on Main Street USA, or Mouse Gear at Epcot. And you won’t be able to find some specific merchandise like the Yeti or Dinosaur themed items anywhere else at Walt Disney World.
10. Photo ops
Whether you’re simply using the PhotoPass service to get some family photos in front of the Tree of Life, or you’re a professional photographer, the theming and décor of the different parts of Animal Kingdom have a lot to offer in terms of photography. Don’t feel limited to the Tree of Life and Expedition Everest, each part of the park has numerous photo ops if you’re feeling creative.
11. Live entertainment
Keep an eye out for all of the live entertainment in Animal Kingdom. There are live musical performances such as the Festival of the Lion King, and Finding Nemo the Musical, as well as educational productions like Flights of Wonder, and even numerous types of street performances throughout Discovery Island, Asia, and Africa. If you’re not tied down to ride-only attractions, there can really be so much else to see and do in the park.
Animal Kingdom has some specific expectations regarding the safety of the animals that guests should be aware of. For one, you won’t see any lids for cups, or plastic straws in this park, because they can be harmful for the animals and Disney isn’t taking any chances that trash will end up near where they live. In addition, you should understand how important it is not to feed the animals—they have their own food, and should not be eating yours, which is more than likely not super healthy for them.
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