Disney’s Animal Kingdom is literally building the case for being a full-day theme park experience. We’ve seen how the AVATAR themed land is coming together to provide guests an exciting new world to experience when they visit Animal Kingdom. But while that shall undoubtedly be the new main draw once it opens in 2017, Rivers of Light the nighttime experience that comes to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2016 is potentially a game-changer for the theme park as well. It provides Animal Kingdom with that potentially must-see show that guests are known to wait for at Disney Parks across the globe. The show will feature “live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery” that if the concept art is to believed will likely even include projection mapping on the Tree of Life itself. It should make for an incredibly riveting experience despite a show that likely will forego fireworks entirely so as not to upset the park’s animal inhabitants. Of course it takes a ton to go from a concept image to a fully realized vision within a theme park and so we set out to take a look at what Disney has done so far to prepare for the nightly entertainment to come.
One look at the Google Earth capture above taken earlier this year and you’ll see just how large the footprint is for the new nighttime viewing areas being built on the banks of the Discovery River and along the shores between Expedition Everest and Discovery Island. What you may not immediately notice is just how much these banks on the edge of the river have been expanded to accommodate the large amount of guests who will want to have a spot in the prime viewing location for the experience.
This image captured just last year shows just how expansive the changes have been, reducing the river’s size rather substantially. Of course when Rivers of Light debuts next year it will be as if it had always been this way. These satellite images give us a great sense of the scope of the project but we grabbed a few more photos to give you a real sense for the project in its current stage.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is getting its nightly gathering place and though it looks mainly like moved earth, there are signs of progress. From the enlarged river banks to the stone theming that can be seen on them in our photos above, even at these early stages the show is beginning to come together. And that’s exactly how I’m feeling about Disney’s Animal Kingdom as a whole, it’s about to hit its stride as a Walt Disney World theme park.