Friday, January 2, 2015

Animal Kingdom's Coming Night-time Spectacular: Rivers of Light

     Since its inception, Disney's Animal Kingdom has been the only park in Walt Disney World without a night-time show. In previous articles, I have written about how night-time spectaculars at the World are arguably the most important facet of the parks. The shows are inspirational, thought-provoking, tear-jerking, and bring together the themes of everything you learned and experienced throughout the day. Therefore, I have long advocated for the Animal Kingdom as a half-day park. While the attractions are incredible, the shows beautiful, and the music and atmosphere unique and wonderful, the park has lacked a uniting event to tie together all of the threads of a day at the park. It has lacked a reason to stay and spend time there. However, all that is about to change.
     Disney recently announced officially, and began construction on, a night-time show that will be in the realm of World of Color (at Disney's California Adventure) and Fantasmic!. However, the show will have its own identity, and will feature all new effects and elements that Disney has never done before. Below is the concept art that Disney has released to raise excitement about the coming show:

     Some have responded with skepticism about the show, saying that there was a reason there has never been a show. Animal Kingdom has always closed early because the animals in the park need to sleep. Also, a show with bright lights and loud sounds might disturb the animals. However, Disney officials have responded by saying that while the animals are on the savanna and in the exhibits during the day, they go inside to their enclosures at night and are well away from the front of the park. They also say that the show will be suited perfectly for the park that hosts it, implying that the show will be designed to accommodate nearby sleepy animals.  
     This show coincides with the scheduled opening of the Pandora at the Animal Kingdom. Disney is hoping that with these two additions, they will be able to create a reason to visit the park at night, and therefore keep it open longer. The show after dark, as well as the beautifully lit night-time area of Pandora should create plenty of draw to the park at night. One will also notice that the two lands toward the front of the park (Dinoland U.S.A. and Pandora) could both remain open after dark with no fear of disturbing animals. Maybe this was the plan all along...?
     The show will take place on the lake between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest. Construction walls are up around the Tree of Life, as well as around this lake. It is expected that the land around the lake will be expanded, and that trees and other view-obstructing structures will be removed, so as to make a viable viewing promenade. Cranes are up around the Tree of Life, with cherry-pickers being seen next to the tree at night. This leads me to think that the show will include lights and effects on the tree itself. Disney has said that the show will debut some time in 2016, which is interestingly before the scheduled opening of Pandora. Exciting things are afoot! 

Thank you for reading!

-William (