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Disney's Rivers of Light to open Feb. 17; Wishes to close in May

February 9, 2017, 10:16 AM · Walt Disney World's long-awaited new night-time show, Rivers of Light, will debut a week from tomorrow, Feb. 17, at Disney's Animal Kingdom. But that's not the only change in evening entertainment at the Orlando-area resort.

Disney also announced today that its current Magic Kingdom fireworks show, Wishes, will close and be replaced by "Happily Ever After," a new fireworks production that will include castle projections and laser effects.

Rivers of Light originally was to debut in April of last year, but Disney delayed the premiere until May, then eventually canceled it. Disney tested the show for cast members last November, then finally did a public rehearsal of the performance this week. This week's performance was shorter, at about 14 minutes, than some of the previous rehearsals, but still remains longer than some of Disney's other night-time show, including IllumiNations, which clocks in around 12 minutes.

If you want a reserved seating for Rivers of Light, Disney is now offering dining packages at Tiffins and Tusker House that include premium seating for the show. Prices start at $67 for adults at lunch and dinner at Tiffins and $39 for breakfast and $52 for lunch and dinner at Tusker House.

As for the MK fireworks, Wishes has been running at the Magic Kingdom since 2003, replacing the original Fantasy in the Sky fireworks, which debuted with the park in 1971. The show's final date will be May 11, with Happily Ever After starting the next evening, May 12. The new show will include continue to feature music from multiple Disney films, as well as Tinker Bell flying across the hub. Here's the tease:

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Replies (9)

February 9, 2017 at 12:49 PM · I'm going to reserve my judgment until I see the final product, but I'm not super stoked about Happily Ever After. I have a feeling that this is something they can hype up and advertise, but will ultimately be an inferior product.

Now that WDW seems to be celebrating "The Year of a Million Cutbacks", I'm concerned that this show is going to focus more on projections and lasers and less on fireworks as a cost cutting maneuver. My favorite place to watch Wishes is undoubtedly from restaurants or a Magic Kingdom area resort. How about those people who are at the end of Main Street? Will they get an inferior view if the emphasis is on projections?

I felt very similar about Star Wars Symphony in the Sky. The fireworks were great, well timed with the music, and could be well viewed from many angles. Meanwhile, the current show has extremely limited quality viewing angles and very few fireworks. In addition, an emphasis on projections really diminishes its impact on repeat viewings.

I'm not opposed to change, but I think they're losing sight of why people like the nighttime spectacles in the first place. The added effects should be enhancements, not replacements. In sum: Disney, Keep it simple, stupid!

February 9, 2017 at 12:37 PM · Disney used projections to enhance the fireworks for the 60th anniversary of Disneyland, and it was a great show.

I'm always stoked about new stuff. Our Fall Orlando trip is shaping up nicely!

February 9, 2017 at 1:22 PM · Can't wait to see Rivers of Light, but my favorite is still World of Color at California Adventure
February 9, 2017 at 2:49 PM · Holy Guacamole! How many developments can Disney announce in a week. Is there ANY news about Toy Story at DHS?
February 9, 2017 at 2:54 PM · To answer Jeffrey, if they go with a Disney Dreams-type of show (which i highly doubt, though), the show will likely be enjoyable from the end of Main Street. Plus, it's not because the show is projection-based that you get sick of it after a number of viewings. If it's a good show, it'll be a good show after you saw it numerous times. I saw Disney Dreams 30+ times and still got shivers and tears until the last one. Not to mention that projections can "easily" be updated in time or to fit seasonal events.

Though, knowing the loving of americans for fireworks, i really don't think they'll put the emphasis of the show on projections.

February 9, 2017 at 9:22 PM · I am very excited about this. I have been waiting for Wishes to get replaced for about six years now. Technology has really come a long way since Wishes debuted. I saw Disneyland Forever a year and a half ago, and that shows proves how far Disney can push fireworks entertainment today. Now I don't think this will be as good as Disneyland Forever because I think they are waiting for Disney World's 50th anniversary to pull that trigger, but I do think this will be a much better upgrade from Wishes.
February 9, 2017 at 11:08 PM · I just saw Wishes in December and was wincing at how bad it needed to have been replaced. For some reason, I remember enjoying the "Once Upon a Time" show that played afterwards a lot more.
February 10, 2017 at 7:11 AM · Wishes is an excellent fireworks show and will be missed. It was well choreographed to the music.
February 10, 2017 at 8:35 PM · I'm 1000 % SURE that the new Show also will be well choreographed to the music.! Hey we talking about DISNEY, The epitome for PERFECTION for me!

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