Disney Pulled its Sensational New Light Show Days Before its Debut. Will it Ever Open?

Disney Pulled its Sensational New Light Show Days Before its Debut. Will it Ever Open?


Disney Pulled its Sensational New Light Show Days Before its Debut. Will it Ever Open?

Right now nighttime operations are in full swing at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but unfortunately without what should have been this evening expansion’s headlining attraction: the Rivers of Light nighttime spectacular. This ambitious nighttime spectacular was supposed to debut over two months ago, and while everything seemed to be going well in the run up to its opening day, the production ran in to some unexpected technical difficulties only days before it was set to premiere and was delayed until further notice, with no new launch date provided.

Unfortunately, in the two months since Rivers of Light was initially delayed, updates have been few and far between from Disney in regards to this upcoming show. So what is going on? Here’s what we know right now.

1. Rivers of Light has not been cancelled…yet

Rivers of Light

Image: Disney

Disney parks (and Walt Disney World in particular) have an unfortunately long list of projects that were announced but never finished and quietly cancelled without an official announcement or acknowledgement. Which is why ever since the delay of Rivers of Light was confirmed, many fans have been (justifiably) concerned that a similar fate would befall Rivers of Light, and this show simply wouldn’t ever make it to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. However, the good news is that we can say with 100% confidence that this worst possible outcome most certainly hasn’t happened yet. So how do we know this? Simple: the Rivers of Light attraction page on Walt Disney World’s official website continues to function.

Though official updates on this show’s progress have been few and far between, when Disney cancels a project one of the first things that happens is the official webpage mysteriously vanishes. Disney pulled the official event pages for Club Villain and Disney After Hours, which were cancelled earlier this year, without making one mention of the end of these events using official channels. Fortunately, since the Rivers of Light page still exists, that means Disney hasn’t cancelled the project quite yet.

Image: Disney

However, while we can say with complete confidence right now that Rivers of Light has not been cancelled yet, that doesn’t mean that Disney won’t change their minds at some point. We’ve had reliable rumor sources in the past for pretty much every upcoming Disney project,but news on Rivers of Light has been strangely nonexistent since its delay earlier this year, which is disconcerting to say the least. And when you consider that Disney promised official updates on Rivers of Light back in May, and thus far none have materialized, and you’d be forgiven for assuming Disney had given up on this show. However, there are a number of other things to consider as well that should give hope to those wanting to see this show in the near future.

2. Some big parts of Rivers of Light are completed and do work

Image: Disney

Only days after the Rivers of Light delay was confirmed earlier this year, Disney’s Animal Kingdom held a special after-hours event for VIP guests and members of the local media that included several elements of Rivers of Light, which were shown to be working perfectly. While we don’t know exactly what issues are causing the delay, we know that a number of the floating barges are in complete working order, and the production team’s projection and water effects have all been tested thoroughly, which is a good sign.

The current show occupying the Discovery River means testing is no longer going on during park hours (before the delay it was not uncommon to see a barge or two on the river during the day), but we would assume that work is going on after hours to ensure that this show is ready to go sooner rather than later. And speaking of positive signals, here’s another one…

3. The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic is only scheduled through the beginning of September

When it debuted earlier this year (to a decidedly mixed response from guests) Disney made it very clear that The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic was going to be a temporary show that was just filling the gap until Rivers of Light was ready to go. And if you check the current schedule on Disney’s official show page, The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic currently has no times scheduled after September 5th, which is just under two months away.

Of course, this ending date can’t quite be treated as gospel just yet, as Disney schedules change very quickly. For instance, Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is often scheduled for one showing per night months in advance, but as updated crowd data becomes available, Disney will then schedule double showings during crowded seasons. Disney could currently be planning on ending The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic on September 5th, but as the situation evolves they could opt to extend it later on.

Unfortunately, there’s also another possibility that could explain this closing date that doesn’t have anything to do with the opening of Rivers of Light: Disney could also be drawing back evening operations after the summer. As we mentioned previously, crowd levels after 6pm at Disney’s Animal Kingdom have been tepid at best so far this summer, and it would be entirely possible for Disney to look at the lukewarm response to this park’s evening entertainment offerings and decide to cut back on evening hours and entertainment during the fall and winter months, potentially until Rivers of Light or Pandora: The World of Avatar (whichever is ready to go first) finally opens.

Image: Disney

This year has brought some big triumphs to Walt Disney World, including the blockbuster Frozen Ever After and Soarin’ Around the World attractions. However, despite these positive developments, the delay of Rivers of Light has been really disappointing, and Disney’s lack of updates regarding this project has been worrying to fans.

What do you think is going on with this project? Do you think we’ll see the debut of Rivers of Light soon?


Don Korta
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