Disney characters are coming to 'Rivers of Light'

April 22, 2019, 12:11 PM · A new version of the Rivers of Light nighttime light show is coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom this summer, Walt Disney World announced today.

The new version, Rivers of Light: We Are One, will add Disney characters to the performance, with "a colorful tapestry of classic moments from Disney animation" projected during the show.

Rivers of Light has included Disney IP from its beginning more than two years ago, but it's been non-fiction IP from the studio's Disneynature films, which, frankly, the majority of fans probably never recognized as Disney. As much as I and other fans adored this show for its original story and themes, many Walt Disney World Resort visitors insist on seeing familiar Disney characters in every ride and show at the parks.

So Disney acquiesces. Some fans who love what Disney creates with original IP will protest, but it is because the majority of fans (most of whom never post online) want the familiar characters that Disney added The Three Caballeros to Epcot's Mexico pavilion, Frozen to Norway and is bringing Ratatouille and Beauty and the Beast to France. It's why the Guardians of the Galaxy are taking over the old Universe of Energy pavilion and California Adventure's Tower of Terror.

Disney gave Rivers of Light more than two years to become that kind of familiar IP for its theme park fans, as other original attractions eventually became. But apparently, the company has decided that the show needs a boost from its fictional IP to get there. The Disneynature imagery will remain in the show, but we will find out starting Memorial Day weekend what other stories and experiences this new production will deliver.

In the meantime, enjoy our recording of the original version of Rivers of Light.

For official tickets to Walt Disney World and other area theme parks and attractions, please visit our new Orlando area attractions page.

Replies (6)

April 22, 2019 at 12:27 PM

I never saw this, but my understanding was that it was a dud from day one. Epcot opened sans Disney characters, and they eventually put them in, same with the original DCA. I guess people cannot get enough of the characters.

April 22, 2019 at 2:34 PM

We all knew it was gonna happen eventually. I'm just surprised they did it so fast despite cutting the actors last year.

April 22, 2019 at 3:13 PM

It's quite a poor show ... so hopefully this will give it a bit of oomph.

April 22, 2019 at 3:41 PM

Happy Earth Day Birthday for Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park! My main gripe with Rivers of Light is the relatively narrow pathways being used to empty and then refill a 5,000 seat amphitheater- especially when there was ample time to plan around this issue and plenty of experience from decades of being forced to deploy backstage areas at the Studios for Fantasmic! to draw from. Now DAK is old enough to drink so Jambo!

April 22, 2019 at 7:02 PM

The thing is, it's all very well trying to be 'pure' and not include the characters but this is Disney and the characters are it's USP. If you don't use them, what's the point of it being there?

April 23, 2019 at 2:02 PM

Wait... did we ever get the full show they originally promised 3 years ago? Or did I completely miss that?

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