Rivers of Light - Time for a reevaluation?

cjkeating

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
In the post COVID era we've seen numerous changes to nighttime entertainment at WDW.

At Magic Kingdom Enchantment was generally regarded as inferior to Happily Ever After which has now returned.

Epcot has tried to find a worthy replacement to Reflections of Earth failing with Harmonious and doing better with Illuminous after Epcot Forever had numerous returns.

Hollywood Studio's had a modest update to Fantasmic! which is likely how the show will remain for the next decade.

MK never had a nighttime parade return or Once Upon a Time and DHS has settled for a small minimal pyro clip show on the Chinese Theatre.

There are no signs of any additional offerings at any of these parks whilst people complain how busy the parks are even at night especially MK and DHS.

As a huge fan of Animal Kingdom I just rewatched this amazing video of Rivers of Light by @Cliff and I wonder if it's time for a bit of a reevaluation of the show? Cliff did a great job capturing the essence of the show both in its panoramic moments as well as its close up details.



Yes the show had flaws, the entire show had to be rewritten due to the failure of the 100 individual floating lanterns so many show elements were revealed earlier than they intended, yes the main screen was susceptible to wind and perhaps because of many of these factors and others the finale was never a big a wow moment as some people wanted. But the show did a lot right and less than 10 years later I can't see post-COVID Disney ever attempting something like this and getting it so right?

It fits the theme of the park perfectly, it had no visual intrusion during the day, it had an original score, it had live actors, it could be reset quickly to allow for 2 or 3 shows a night, it had lots of great technology that (when it worked, perhaps a bit ambitious at the time...) was ground breaking and delivered great moments. Most of all it kept people in the park at night, yes it didn't keep the 40000(?) people in the park who watch Happily Ever After each night but 10-15,000 people in Animal Kingdom each night is 10-15,000 people not at the other parks

I'd encourage anyone who has seen the show to watch it again and give it a second chance or if you've never seen it watch and think how well this show fit the park versus most other night time spectaculars and how different the experience of DAK would be if it was still running.

Rivers of Light is long gone and I think it is widely accepted we won't see a night time offering until DAK has further expansion but isn't it such a waste that a park that used to have a night time offering now closes at 6/7pm each day dumping its visitors on the 3 other parks? It seems like such an error when capacity feels so restricted at WDW in the Genie+ era.
 

Worldlover71

Well-Known Member
I saw RoL once in 2019 and enjoyed it. However, I remember thinking at the time that it would not be a must-do each trip. Little did I know that it wouldn't even be an option!

The problem with any nighttime show at AK is that they need to keep the noise and light levels down for the sake of the animals. This makes those WOW moments the OP mentioned difficult. I think it's fine if the nighttime offerings here are smaller and quieter than at the other parks. The way to keep people in this park is to have more rides that can stay open after dark. The questions is, is this even desirable to the WDC? Right now, people pay full admission but the company saves money by keeping the park open for fewer hours than at the other parks. Crowding doesn't seem to be their top concern.
 

Chef Mickey

Well-Known Member
I wanted to like it, but it’s a terrible show. Disney has struggled with nighttime shows for a while. Everything they’ve done is a mashup or a poor concept like RoL.
 

Mark Dunne

Active Member
In the post COVID era we've seen numerous changes to nighttime entertainment at WDW.

At Magic Kingdom Enchantment was generally regarded as inferior to Happily Ever After which has now returned.

Epcot has tried to find a worthy replacement to Reflections of Earth failing with Harmonious and doing better with Illuminous after Epcot Forever had numerous returns.

Hollywood Studio's had a modest update to Fantasmic! which is likely how the show will remain for the next decade.

MK never had a nighttime parade return or Once Upon a Time and DHS has settled for a small minimal pyro clip show on the Chinese Theatre.

There are no signs of any additional offerings at any of these parks whilst people complain how busy the parks are even at night especially MK and DHS.

As a huge fan of Animal Kingdom I just rewatched this amazing video of Rivers of Light by @Cliff and I wonder if it's time for a bit of a reevaluation of the show? Cliff did a great job capturing the essence of the show both in its panoramic moments as well as its close up details.



Yes the show had flaws, the entire show had to be rewritten due to the failure of the 100 individual floating lanterns so many show elements were revealed earlier than they intended, yes the main screen was susceptible to wind and perhaps because of many of these factors and others the finale was never a big a wow moment as some people wanted. But the show did a lot right and less than 10 years later I can't see post-COVID Disney ever attempting something like this and getting it so right?

It fits the theme of the park perfectly, it had no visual intrusion during the day, it had an original score, it had live actors, it could be reset quickly to allow for 2 or 3 shows a night, it had lots of great technology that (when it worked, perhaps a bit ambitious at the time...) was ground breaking and delivered great moments. Most of all it kept people in the park at night, yes it didn't keep the 40000(?) people in the park who watch Happily Ever After each night but 10-15,000 people in Animal Kingdom each night is 10-15,000 people not at the other parks

I'd encourage anyone who has seen the show to watch it again and give it a second chance or if you've never seen it watch and think how well this show fit the park versus most other night time spectaculars and how different the experience of DAK would be if it was still running.

Rivers of Light is long gone and I think it is widely accepted we won't see a night time offering until DAK has further expansion but isn't it such a waste that a park that used to have a night time offering now closes at 6/7pm each day dumping its visitors on the 3 other parks? It seems like such an error when capacity feels so restricted at WDW in the Genie+ era.

O my! I listen to this music on my way to work, the songs very emotional, I miss ROL, it was a perfect end to a great day, but this new lot in charge don’t seem to do anything unless it makes money! The creativity seems to be slipping these days, AK has a large half size stadium doing nothing, I say bring it back In some way , the music was very good , we saw it a few times or they could add a kinda fountain show. Disney world of colour maybe , not easy as it can’t be a loud Show, but it would be better than nothing
 

Disone

Well-Known Member
I loved the original Rivers of Light; I thought it was better than Happily Ever After.
You won't be the only but I can't join you on that one. It was a nice show be definitely not HEA or FANT!
The problem with any nighttime show at AK is that they need to keep the noise and light levels down for the sake of the animals. This makes those WOW moments the OP mentioned difficult.
This point is often repeated. But it betrays the fact that plenty of zoos across the country do fireworks. The world renown San Diego zoo does fireworks on the 4th of July. In fact just down the road in Tampa Busch gardens does fireworks nightly during summer.

This is one of those things I feel Disney put in a PR release that the general Disney foamer really took at face value but honestly I suspect its just a reverse justification for not spending the money.

When the park first opened it did not have air conditioning because "you were on a Safari adventure" or "it was part of the authentic experience" or "African safaris do not have air conditioning".

And now the park has air conditioning. In fact it had air conditioning a few short years after it opened. The mythology on this is that Joe Rhode didn't have the budget he wanted so he cut the air conditioning, made up the story, and use the money saved by not installing air conditioning on plussing countdown to extinction. He knew a short time after the park would open the operations budget would have to splurge for installing the AC. The buildings were built the code so they already had the air ducts in them but operations would have to actually purchase the air conditioners. Who knows how true that is but that's the story I heard. Regardless there are plenty of zoos around the country that do fireworks. I think Disney's animal Kingdom could too. Maybe just low lying ones and pyro. Doesn't have to be the big mortars.
 

networkpro

Well-Known Member
In the Parks
Yes
We loved Rivers of Light. We actually had reservations for the ROL dessert party before Disney cancelled it along with our reservations. The kite show that occupied the theater after ROL was dreadful at best.

That desert party was great. Much better food options than Tomorrowland Terrace's "Treats and Seats" with quite a few savory options and the seating for the show wasn't a sea of iPad and children on shoulders. The stadium seating is more preferable to the mosh pit of the plaza.
 

UNCgolf

Well-Known Member
You won't be the only but I can't join you on that one. It was a nice show be definitely not HEA or FANT!

This point is often repeated. But it betrays the fact that plenty of zoos across the country do fireworks. The world renown San Diego zoo does fireworks on the 4th of July. In fact just down the road in Tampa Busch gardens does fireworks nightly during summer.

This is one of those things I feel Disney put in a PR release that the general Disney foamer really took at face value but honestly I suspect its just a reverse justification for not spending the money.

When the park first opened it did not have air conditioning because "you were on a Safari adventure" or "it was part of the authentic experience" or "African safaris do not have air conditioning".

And now the park has air conditioning. In fact it had air conditioning a few short years after it opened. The mythology on this is that Joe Rhode didn't have the budget he wanted so he cut the air conditioning, made up the story, and use the money saved by not installing air conditioning on plussing countdown to extinction. He knew a short time after the park would open the operations budget would have to splurge for installing the AC. The buildings were built the code so they already had the air ducts in them but operations would have to actually purchase the air conditioners. Who knows how true that is but that's the story I heard. Regardless there are plenty of zoos around the country that do fireworks. I think Disney's animal Kingdom could too. Maybe just low lying ones and pyro. Doesn't have to be the big mortars.

Fireworks are very bad for the animals (they're even terrible for a lot of household pets); I don't think that's up for debate. The fact that other places still do them isn't a justification for Disney to join in.
 
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SaucyBoy

Well-Known Member
In the Parks
No
Yes. It really was one of the best shows WDW has ever done. I think if they had been able to get the center mist screen to work better and added some umph to the finale, it would have done better. I hope the concept is revisited in the future because it was the perfect show for Animal Kingdom; a park that's still criminally underrated.
 

Figments Friend

Well-Known Member
I liked this show, and was glad to see it before the Shamans and Acolytes were removed.
A terrible blow to the show story, and a stupid mistake.


RoL was unique and fit the Park and that particular setting well.
I will agree that it needed a little ‘something more’ for the finale, but what we ended up with was no slouch when conditions with right and everything was in harmony.
A shame the original concept with the floating lanterns could not have happened.

-
 

Disone

Well-Known Member
Fireworks are very bad for the animals (they're even terrible for a lot of household pets); I don't think that's up for debate. The fact that other places still do them isn't a justification for Disney to join in.
Sure but I didn't argue that fireworks are good or bad for animals. I do argue that fireworks are completely possible in animal kingdom Park. Because they are. Especially low lying fireworks that are ground-based and pyro.
 

UNCgolf

Well-Known Member
Sure but I didn't argue that fireworks are good or bad for animals. I do argue that fireworks are completely possible in animal kingdom Park. Because they are. Especially low lying fireworks that are ground-based and pyro.

I don't think they ever suggested it was impossible to do them -- just that they didn't think it was a good idea (and they're right).

They can do something more interesting than a fireworks show anyways; DHS, EPCOT, and Magic Kingdom already have fireworks.
 

Disone

Well-Known Member
I don't think they ever suggested it was impossible to do them -- just that they didn't think it was a good idea (and they're right).

They can do something more interesting than a fireworks show anyways; DHS, EPCOT, and Magic Kingdom already have fireworks.
Well considering that early in their history they did in fact do fireworks when the parking lot. They only did it once and the guest feedback wasn't great. Imagine that.

They did try to do something different than the shows at DHS Epcot and Magic Kingdom, we're talking about that right now. And clearly it failed. And what would it take to bring it back?

My answer is fireworks.

You support the no fireworks choice and I get that. And credit to you , you have a holistic reason. You truly believe it would be disruptive to the animals.

I don't believe it would be destructive to the animals. I believe there are too many other places that do this without harm to their animals. I'm not proposing happily ever after in animal Kingdom Park. But a fantasmic! level fireworks finale in rivers of lights finale, would be a nice punch to the show. Just ground-based flares. A couple pyro effects. Things the animals aren't really going to see nor hear no more than the noise and light that rivers of light was already producing. It needed a stronger finale. And the whole they can't do fireworks because of the animals, that's truly overstated.

And I do understand on that last point we disagree.
 

The Empress Lilly

Well-Known Member
After being a 9to5 park for two decades, for a few years DAK was such a delight at the evening. Gorgeous, atmospheric, mysterious, grand and intimate at once.

The non-IP tree projection, Pandora in the dark and RoL added so much to the park. RoL was flawed, majorly, but it never rubbed me in any wrong way and also did many things right. I took to it the way one does to a kid who fails but who tried.
 

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