Rivers of Light Misses Its Press Event; Will It Miss Summer, Too?

April 18, 2016, 3:00 PM · Whatever's wrong with Rivers of Light that caused Disney World's planned new night-time show at Animal Kingdom to miss its debut this week, it doesn't appear that it will be fixed anytime soon.

The Walt Disney World Resort is hosting a big media event this week, which had been planned to show off Rivers of Light and tease everything else coming to the resort this summer. However, Disney announced earlier this month that Rivers of Light would not debut as planned on April 22, leaving the media event without its highlight.

When it announced the delay, Disney promised an update on the show by mid-May. However, the company dropped a hint today that the delay on Rivers of Light might not be a brief one.

In its main press release for its #AwakenSummer publicity campaign, Disney omitted any reference to Rivers of Light. Disney's release mentioned extended evening hours for Disney's Animal Kingdom, the new night-time projection show on the Tree of Life, the night-time safari on Kilimanjaro Safaris... but no Rivers of Light, leaving the previously aggressively-hyped show conspicuous by its absence.

It's not as if Disney takes a conservative approach to including new attractions in its publicity. Especially when the company takes on the expense of flying hundreds of reporters and bloggers from around the country and putting them up free at Disney World for a week's worth of photo ops, interviews, food and drinks. The company's hyping several other upcoming attractions — including the new Frozen overlay of the old Maelstrom ride in Epcot and a new Star Wars-themed fireworks show at Disney's Hollywood Studios — that don't have firm opening dates. So Rivers of Light's absence from the press release might suggest that Disney management is not exactly confident that the show will make its debut this summer after all. (h/t)

Update: [4/19] Disney announced that Rivers of Light will be replaced this summer by a Jungle Book-themed show on the Discovery River: "Jungle Book: Alive with Magic."

More from the "Awaken Summer" Event:

For More on What's Coming This Summer:

Replies (16)

April 18, 2016 at 3:13 PM · I wonder how many people have booked vacations in the summer planning to go to see the new show and will be disappointed by what looks like technical issues, I am sure it was never visioned to happen but I wonder just how many people have their fingers crossed it will be open soon, with Disney not saying much makes me think it could be late 2016 before it starts.
April 18, 2016 at 3:24 PM · Somewhere, a family canceled its Dollywood vacation after the Lightning Rod delay... to go to Disney for Rivers of Light instead...

This family should post its future vacation plans online, so the rest of us will know what to wait to see.

April 18, 2016 at 3:33 PM · I heard that they are now planning to incorporate the new Jungle Book movie, anticipating that it is going to be a big success. I don't have a source, though.
April 18, 2016 at 4:11 PM · Word is one of the lantern boats sank and possibly caught fire beforehand, per cast member reports. A few tweeks need to be done, indeed.
April 18, 2016 at 7:14 PM · Word is that one of the lantern boats sank and possibly caught fire beforehand during a rehearsal two days before cast previews, per cast member reports. So yes, some tweaks in the show are needed.
April 18, 2016 at 9:28 PM · Rivers of Light has been in development for at least 3 years. No way would they'd get so close to completion only to throw it all away for some tie-in.

Regardless of how it turns out, I'm sure the show will be great and I hope Disney can iron out the issues soon because initial turnout is going to be off the charts, assuming results similar to World of Color.

April 19, 2016 at 3:53 AM · Our passes expire on the 11th next month so we booked a trip with some family members and friends to go down one last time, and were excited when we learned about the opening of Rivers of Light, and kind of bummed when it was cancelled, but that just means it free's up more time to go hit other attractions. I'm sure it'll be amazing, and I'm sure Disney has very good reasons for delaying.
April 19, 2016 at 5:20 AM · Didn't look at any of the comments but


April 19, 2016 at 6:06 AM · Can we coin the phrase Disneypointment, for disappointment you feel specifically due to the Disney corporation. I feel in the coming months that this could be a useful phrase
April 19, 2016 at 9:13 AM · For a show that is supposed to be completely original, it's hard to believe that "The Jungle Book" would be the delay. If something caught fire, that would certainly warrant such a delay. We just have to wait until Dis opens their mouth to find out...
April 19, 2016 at 9:39 AM · If Disney opened a show that was not perfect everybody would take to the Internet to slate them for a poor performance, people have come to expect quality and perfection from everything that Disney does. I think they are right not to go ahead with the show until they are happy that it meets the high quality of other Disney shows. Ask yourself which is worse a few month delay for an amazing show or a rush job to open an inferior show with issues. Yes it is disappointing for people who were planning to see it in the next few months but as people keep being reminded on here don't plan on seeing a new attraction in its first few months of operation, because as shows and attractions become more technical these issues are going to crop up and even an official opening doesn't guarantee an attraction will be running on any given day. I will look forward to seeing Rivers of light when we visit next year. Hopefully by then all the bugs will have been ironed out and I can watch a truly spectacular show that will be memorable for all the right reasons.
April 19, 2016 at 10:55 AM · The original debut date must have been an optimistic one. Disney was hoping to have a new attraction for summer that could take some of the thunder away from Kong. I agree with SimonJohn, better to do it right than to rush it and present a disappionting show.
April 19, 2016 at 1:33 PM · @Sarah,

Jungle Book isn't the reason for the delay there are tech issues with barge navigation. But apparently they are looking at Jungle Book for a quick fix so they can relay more on projections and less on barges.

April 19, 2016 at 1:39 PM · The Jungle Book had a huge opening weekend for an April release, but there is no relationship with the show at Animal Kingdom.
April 20, 2016 at 9:49 PM · Rumor that I have heard is the technology that they are using to coordinate the barges/floats is not to their liking. Its using wireless feeds and GPS. It is a lot of new technology and they want it to be perfect. The video that I have seen of the sneak peek was breath taking!
April 21, 2016 at 8:13 PM · If Disney history stays true we will be stuck with the cheaper "temporary" Jungle book show for at least ten years or more if it proves popular.

The temporary Camp Minnie Mickey with its Lion King show of old parade floats proved popular enough for Disney to not spend money on an E-ticket and themed land for almost two decades it opened in 1998.

I would not doubt for a second that WDW would just keep Jungle Book summer nights if it proves popular as it will be less money to run and easier to market and sell merch for. It won't be the first time that they showed amazing concept art and under delivered like Western River and Beastly Kingdom

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