March 8, 2016, 4:12 PM ·
The unmistakable trend among new attractions at Disney theme parks over the past many years has been toward rides and shows based upon characters and franchises from movies and television series. By basing a new attraction upon existing IP [intellectual property], Disney can take advantage of fans' existing emotional relationship with characters and situations to help drive interest for a new ride or show. Simply put, by starting with existing IP, Disney gets a head start with fans and doesn't have to build a relationship from scratch. (To be fair, Universal does the same.)
Still... many Disney fans have wished to see the company try to do something original in the parks again. They've written online in countless discussion threads that they want to see Disney develop a new attraction that's not based on existing IP. Well, it seems that they're about to get their wish.
With Rivers of Light, the new nighttime spectacular debuting next month at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney appears to be ignoring its catalogue of animated hits to tell an original story that evokes tribal legends and classic myth. Playing on the Discovery River near Expedition Everest, Rivers of Light calls four Animal Spirit Guides — an elephant, owl, a tiger, and a turtle — whose spiritual journeys frame the production, which will feature water screens, physical props, and lighting effects. In this new "making of" video from Walt Disney World, production designer Michael Curry talks about the construction of the spirit guides for the show.
Rivers of Light debuts officially on April 22 — the 18th anniversary of Animal Kingdom's opening.