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All in the Details: Creating ‘Rivers of Light’ Animal Spirit Guide Floats

Jennifer Fickley-Baker

by , Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Moments ago during our #DisneyParksLIVE stream, we shared a new behind-the-scenes look at the Animal Spirit Guide floats that will serve as a guiding force in Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s first night-time show, “Rivers of Light.” We wanted to share the video with you again right here, so you can head “backstage” again to see how these amazing floats were created.

The show celebrates the magic of nature coming to life and starts with an ancient lantern festival that draws out four Animal Spirit Guides – an Elephant, Owl, Tiger and Turtle. These animals take shape as larger-than-life lantern floats, some of which measure 15-feet-tall and 30-feet-long, and were designed to look as if they were created centuries ago. As you can see in the video below, Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment, with Michael Curry Design, used innovative LED technology to illuminate the animals from within that suggests not only color, but changes in movement as the show progresses.

Keep your eye on the Disney Parks Blog for more updates on this amazing show!

See the posts below for more about Rivers of Light:


  • We are Arriving on the first weekend in May. We were able to book Be Our Guest lunch reservations and Fast pass for all of our favorites. The only thing missing Is Rivers of Light! We would very much like a reservation either alone or with a dining package. it is frustrating that halloween stuff is up, but a show that opens in 19 days is not. We work full time, and are afraid of missing the window. Can you provide any insight?

  • Hi Jennifer, I share in the excitement with others who’ve posted here. I also have all of the same questions about when will we know more given we all know the go live date of 4/22. Could you tell us why the information is on hold? That may alleviate some of the growing frustration. Thanks.

  • What will happen if you have already booked your dinner at Tusker House or Yak & Yeti and either or both become part of the dinner package? Will it automatically be added to your dining plan or will you have to cancel and hope to get your time slot back in order to get the package?

  • Would really love to know showtimes. It’s very difficult to plan our days and dining without having any idea of what time(s) this show will be.

  • Will there be a dessert party option ?

  • Will be at Disney World first week in May. When will ROL and late hours be listed on my Disney Experience? It’s very frustrating when the opening date is April 22 and you can’t fast pass it and the hour of operation have the park closing early. If you are offering a new experience don’t announce it until you are ready to offer it to the people visiting it.

  • When will the nighttime attractions like ROL be listed in the MY Disney Experience App and website. We are going May 2nd but there is still no extended park hours listed. I thought surely with ROL opening April 22-23 that the park hours would at least already be updated. March has the park open until 7pm but May is only until 6pm.

  • Please for the love of Mickey let us know when we can book FP. I am going to AK on the 22nd and am super excited to see this that night for their opening. I hope they announce FP soon so I can attend with my family! Thank you very much!!!

  • For those of us waiting for details and dates to be posted, will that be here on the blog? Or should we be monitoring other sources? We are visiting in May and are very excited to experience the Rivers of Light. It looks awesome!!!

    • The opening date for the show is April 22. The F&B team is still establishing dates and details on dining packages. We’ll share that when it’s ready.

  • I was told the dinner package would be at Tusker, but that dates had not been established. With the opening of Rivers coming on Earth day, is there a potential release date for dining packages?
    I have read the other posts, so just looking to see if anyone knows approximately when reservations will be open.

    • The F&B team is still establishing dates and details on any “Rivers of Light” dining packages. We’ll share that info when it’s ready.

  • Kevin, please spare a thought for those who don’t stay on Disney property (we’ve bought a home in the area as we love it so much) and have to put up with Fastpasses only 30 days in advance when passes for most of the popular attractions have been taken (for example, in our 6 weeks at Disney since the ride opened, we’ve never scored a fastpass for SDMT!).
    In reality my only option here is to book a dining package, so at least that will put me on an equal footing to everyone else 🙂
    Bring it on, because this looks like a great thing to experience

  • I agree with the others. We are expected by Disney to plan our dining 180 days in advance and pick our fastpasses 60 days in advance. It is frustrating to not have any information on these things. It is also frustrating to keep having to check numerous times per day because you never know how Disney works. So any information about dining packages and fastpasses would be great. I am coming in May and for my 30th birthday in July and would like to plan out my Animal Kingdom days further.

  • “Rivers of Light” looks amazing!!! Will there be any preview events?? My family leaves on the 22nd and would love a chance to see the show. Thanks!!!

    • No word on preview events. The show starts April 22.

  • These floats look amazing! I cannot wait to see this show. What a great addition to Animal Kingdom this is going to be!

    • I totally agree! I can’t wait to see it myself!

  • While I loved learning about how the show came to be and all of the different elements we will see, I am also disappointed that we did not get any planning information.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Katee. The details of FastPass+ and dining packages are still being carefully finalized. We hope to have a detailed update to share soon.

  • With so much emphasis on pre planning now with Fast Pass plus and dining reservations being essential then we need more information about dinner packages and fast pass availability. I travel in May and would like to alter my plans to accommodate this show.

    • Totally understandable! We hope the details of FastPass+ and dining packages can be finalized soon so we can share that with all of you for planning purposes. Please keep checking back. 🙂

  • any idea when the late nights going to be it frustrating trying to plan the trip for may and not knowing

    • These details are still being worked out. Please stay tuned. We hope to have an update soon.

  • I second Jeanne’s comment. Useful planning information would have been greatly appreciated.

  • I agree with Jeanne Lundeen. I am visiting the parks July 23 through July 30 2016. I have already made all my dining reservations. Animal Kingdom park times have not been updated and I am curious how the fastpass distribution is going to work? I currently have a dining reservation at the Yak & Yeti for the latest time possible. I would like to make the reservation later but can’t until the hours are moved back which I am assuming is going to happen. Will Rivers of Light have a fastpass? Will Animal Kingdom go to a tiering system because of Rivers of Light; HOPE NOT!

    • Yes, there will be both dining packages and FastPass+ for “Rivers of Light.” We hope to have an idea on timing soon.

  • I agree Jeanne. There was no information released for guests and what were the “one or two surprises” we were suppose to be told? Very disappointing live chat.

  • While the presentation was informative, many of us are very disappointed that no information was giving about reserving dining packages and FP+. When will this be available?

    • Both dining packages and FastPass+ will be available for “Rivers of Light.” We hope to have details and dates to share soon.

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