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NEWS: New Experiences Debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Long gone are the days when Disney’s Animal Kingdom closed at 5:00 pm. (Anyone else remember those days?) Disney’s Animal Kingdom park comes alive at night with a fantastic nighttime show along with great experiences throughout the park. This weekend, the debut of an updated Rivers of Light show, along with more magic at the Tree of Life will debut. Catch all the details below!


Here are all the details from Disney Cast Member Shawn Slater:

“Rivers of Light: We Are One” debuts this weekend at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as the next chapter of this beautiful nighttime pageant unfolds, telling the story of our connection with animals and the emotions and milestones we all share in our journey through the great circle of life. This reimagined version of the show introduces additional, stunning imagery and familiar animal characters from Disneynature films, along with a colorful tapestry of classic moments from Disney animation.


Also starting this weekend, the Tree of Life awakens each evening with a new story inspired by this summer’s release of “The Lion King.” Moments from Simba’s journey are depicted in a beautiful artistic style, set to an evocative musical score comprised of new arrangements of familiar tunes. And all summer long, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is celebrating “The Lion King,” from the Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party and unique photo opportunities to the ever-popular “Festival of the Lion King” and special décor throughout the park.

Now more than ever, it’s a great time to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom to take in the magic of nature and feel the love for “The Lion King.”

Disney’s “The Lion King,” directed by Jon Favreau, journeys to the African savanna where a future king must overcome betrayal and tragedy to assume his rightful place on Pride Rock. Utilizing pioneering filmmaking techniques to bring treasured characters to life in a whole new way, “The Lion King” roars into theaters on July 19, 2019.

Here’s a look at the upcoming film:


RELATED ARTICLE: 9 Must-Do Night Experiences at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

by Mike and Jamie Sylvester

Animal Kingdom’s additions of night experiences prove that wilderness and exploration never cease! You can head to Animal Kingdom now and enjoy night experiences that will bring out your adventurous side in so many wild ways! Here are our 9 must-do night experiences at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom theme park.


1 – Pandora – The World of Avatar

The new land, the largest expansion in the history of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, is based on Oscar-winning filmmaker James Cameron’s record-breaking box-office hit, Avatar, which was released in 2009. The film was insanely popular, mostly due to Cameron’s amazing special effects. The land is an amazing spectacle of Disney Imagineering, creativity and story-telling. As you explore the vibrant terrain sprawling beneath mountains that appear to float in the sky, you’ll see waterfalls cascading down the mountainside into meandering streams and pools, and then you’ll discover two thrilling new expeditions: Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. Grab a bite to eat at the quick-service restaurant, Satu’li Canteen or grab a drink and snack at Pongu Pongu. At night the land transforms into an entirely new experience. The bioluminescent plants of Pandora illuminate the land at night, giving breath-taking views of the Pandora landscape that are completely different from the daytime experience. You don’t want to miss Pandora after dark!

Photo Credit: Disney Photo Snapper.

2 – Rivers of Light

Rivers of Light is here! Read all about the amazing nighttime show here! This long-awaited nighttime entertainment was scheduled for the summer of 2016 but had some hold-ups. The show debuted in February 2017 and the wait was worth it! This is a remarkable water show with incredible floats, lights, and lasers displaying the beauty of all things living! Animal Kingdom can’t bring fireworks to the park for the sake of the animals present, but the lighting effects are said to rival that of Illuminations at Epcot. You don’t want to miss this!

3 – Tree of Life Awakenings

You may have seen the projection show on the Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom known as “Celebrate the Magic”. Well, now Animal Kingdom boasts a projection show on the iconic Tree of Life known as “Awakenings”. After night falls, be sure to look to the Tree of Life for a beautiful display of vibrant colors and incredible animal artistry. Thankfully, this show takes place every 10 minutes until the park closes so you’ll have several opportunities to see the Tree of Life awaken if not just once – but twice!

Photo Credit: Disney Photo Snapper

4 – Expedition Everest

If you were terrified to ride Expedition Everest before, chances are riding it in the dark will step up that notch of fear in the pit of your stomach. When riding Expedition Everest at night, it feels like you are experiencing a completely new attraction versus riding it during the normal daylight hours. With the darkness surrounding you, you’ll feel like you are going higher, faster, and well – slightly more out of control, as you try to gather your bearings. Plus, no one put the Yeti to bed so he is still angry and on the loose, tearing up the track!

5 – Kilimanjaro Safaris

Take a ride in an open-air vehicle to spot majestic animals of all sorts. The bumpy ride and exotic surroundings will make you forget you are in the Animal Kingdom theme parks and not off exploring Africa! At night, however, Kilimanjaro Safaris turns into a nocturnal hot spot. The animals seem to enjoy the late hours at Animal Kingdom as well, as they are very active in the dim, yet illuminating lighting provided. Catching the Safaris before the animals are tucked into bed for the night is definitely a nighttime must-do at Animal Kingdom!


6 – Discovery Island Carnivale

When the sun goes down, the party begins! You might try to stop those hips from swaying, but we suggest you don’t fight the urge! Join in this lively street party with dancing and excellent entertainment located close to the Tree of Life on Discovery Island. Musicians, stilt-walkers, and vibrant costumes will have you snapping pictures and joining in the fun jamboree. There are usually a couple of street parties per night so be sure to check the times guide to catch the party.

7 – Donald’s Dino Bash Evening Dance Party

A super new experience is waiting for you at Dinoland U.S.A. Donald Duck has taken over the land with a celebration with prehistoric elements in a new and exciting new character meet and greets. The evening boasts a dino-riffic dance party with Chip ‘n’ Dale! They’ll get you dancing and grooving! You won’t want to miss it!

Every night, Chip and Dale dance the night away with guests during Donald’s Dino-Bash! Photo Credit: Disney/Matt Stroshane

8 – Nomad Lounge

All that dancing likely made you thirsty! Head to one of the newest additions to Animal Kingdom – Nomad Lounge. This lounge is known for their specialty cocktails and exotic appetizers from around the world. Neighboring the newest restaurant, Tiffins, Nomad Lounge is the perfect way to enjoy some of the great selections at Tiffins in a lounge style, small plate, atmosphere. With non-alcoholic beverages, cocktails, wine, beer, small plate appetizers, and the incredible “Taste of Tiffins” dessert – there is something for everyone at this popular new lounge.

9 – Kali River Rapids

Are you ready to end your night with a big splash? Then you’ll want to take a ride on the Kali River Rapids! In the dark, this ride is dimly illuminated but still leaves a sense of wonder for what’s ahead. Travel down the water in the massive river raft and expect that you’ll be the one that gets drenched or at least mostly wet! Just think – you won’t need a shower before bed after all.

What is your favorite must-do night experience at Animal Kingdom? We’d love to hear from you!

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About Chad & Cindy Nykamp

After years of multiple Walt Disney World vacations, Cindy and Chad's dream of living in Orlando came true in 2010. After friends and family made them their go-to-people for Walt Disney World advice, Cindy and Chad launched in August 2015 to share their knowledge and love of Disney. Chad and Cindy have been Disney World Annual Passholders for years, DVC members, together have raced more than 70 runDisney races, and particularly love cruising on the Disney Cruise Line. Chad and Cindy also regularly represent at Walt Disney World media events. While attending these events, they get an insiders view of all the new things that have come to Walt Disney World. These experiences have helped them gain knowledge and expertise they happily pass on to their followers. They still can't believe how lucky they are to have such an amazing opportunity and will continue to share Disney with anyone who will listen!