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All in the Details: Creating ‘Rivers of Light’ Costumes

Jennifer Fickley-Baker

by , Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

If you tuned into our live chat with “Rivers of Light” creatives Michael Jung and Mark Renfrow earlier this month, then you got an exclusive first look at two storyteller characters – Aseema and Aditya – who will appear in the park’s amazing new nighttime show. I have to say, these storytellers and the amazing costumes they wore were even more exquisite in person than the video could show!

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The costumes were designed by Irina Kruzhilina, a New York-based costume designer working alongside Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment. The four human characters costumes in the show include: a pair of mystical storytellers and their acolytes (students). Each duo makes a ceremonial entrance at the top of the show in each of their respective village amphitheaters. They then make their way down to the water, where they set out on elaborate lantern vessels.

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The four costumes combined feature 81 different embroidery motifs, 180 different fabrics and more than 250 various bead designs. Because the two storyteller characters, Assema and Aditya, transcend time and location, inspiration for the costumes was drawn from Native American, European and Far Eastern cultures. If you look close enough, you’ll notice that some beading appears as if it was handcrafted from stone and metal centuries ago – but the same costumes also feature modern glass work, blending time and culture together. The costumes for Ambu and Ketu, the acolytes, reflect the clothing of their teachers, but is more conducive to that of an apprentice with pants and sashes.

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Will you see “Rivers of Light” when it opens at the park? Tell us in the comments section below.

For more about “Rivers of Light,” visit the posts below:


  • I just got off the phone with a Disney World planner and she told me the opening date is no longer 4/22/16…What is going on? There is nothing posted to say there was a delay. We are coming in May and I would like to finish my plans. Was she correct?…Please help!

  • We had already planned 4/22 as our day for AK before the Rivers of Light opening announcement. We already have fast passes and dining reservations. Will we be able to convert our reservation at Tusker House to a dining package?

    The window for fast passes for non-Disney hotel guests will open on 3/23 and they are still not available yet. We are paying extra to stay at a Disney Hotel for all the extra benefits that gives us. We are going to loose that benefit in a little over a day. I had to upgrade our tickets to park hoppers and add more days than I know we will use just to make sure we have a chance to see the show whenever we can. Another additional cost. I am very disappointed that you announced a date before you had everything in place.

  • Like everyone else, I am excited to see this show and share the experience with my family. But each day that passes with no new information diminishes the excitement and adds frustration. We’ve been AP holders for years now and come multiple times each year. But we have been forced to plan further in advance for every trip but that’s hard to do when Disney doesn’t give us the information we need to do this.

  • We will be there in June, I cant wait to see this, it looks like it will be amazing!
    Patiently waiting on the times the show will take place and hoping we can get a dining package.

  • I can’t wait to see this… in September!

  • Why is there no response to all of these understandable and very reasonable inquiries?
    Many of us have trips booked soon after the much publicized April 22 debut, yet no information is being provided as to how we can secure dining packages or fastpasses.
    Very frustrating and most unDisney-like. ?
    Advising guests to simply “keep checking” the blog so near Disney’s advertised debut date is no help! Please provide the information we are asking for so we can book this event.
    Thank you.

  • I agree with everyone else — when are you going to know what is going on?? I’m sorry Mickey — you know I love you. But we’re just now getting new hours for the end of March in Magic Kingdom. and this HUGE new show in Animal Kingdom doesn’t even have hours yet. But I need to make Fast Pass reservations 2 months out, and dining 6 months out? C’mon– if we have to plan ahead, you at least need to set us up for success by providing adequate data so we an make wise choices. Okay– maybe not 6 months out– but, this is really too close to be considered fair.

  • I’m among those that are anxiously waiting to see if we’ll have the opportunity to view this amazing show! All of the detailing is absolutely gorgeous, from the costumes to the concept itself. I hope the show is pure magic! This is the only aspect of our trip that my husband is really excited about, so I have also been checking many times a day for details about when FP+ and dining packages will be available. Please let us know as soon as you are able–even if it’s a couple weeks away from being able to book, even if it won’t be bookable until after the show debuts, I would much rather know this than bug the cast members on the phone line and refresh the website every day afraid I will miss it. I hope everything is going well and the creators are excited about sharing their amazing show, I’m sure something this big has to have some stress for everyone involved. We can’t wait to experience Rivers of Light!

  • I am beyond excited about seeing ROL with my family in April. Can’t wait to see all of the work that’s been put into the show.
    However, I’m quite frustrated at the lack of information available to guests trying to plan for this show. There’s only been rumors about preview parties, dining packages and FP availability – but there’s no concrete information as to when or how we can make these reservations. Each and every time I call any of the WDW numbers all I get is “keep checking the blog” and “reservations will be available soon”. Please make some type of announcement so that I, and I’m sure others like me, can get some sleep and not have to check the website each and every night for possible changes.

  • I too am interested in fastpass availability, extension of hours and seeing the show. I do not want t leave it to chance with only 5,000 seats available and as many have seen, without a fastpass, good seating fir shows a Disney are scarce. It used to be that if you arrived earlier, you could get a good seat…not anymore. Prior to the announcement, we already had AK visit planned on the 22nd. We would love to see the show and are afraid even though we planned far in advance, that we will either miss the fastpass or not even be offered a fastpass (may be offered to VIPs or media or other). I hope this doesn’t happen.

  • I’m so relieved to see I’m not the only one waiting for FP+ and/or a dining package to be released. we arrive the first week of May and we know it will be open then, it I’d like very much to be able to see it since we don’t get to Disney very often. Just anxiously awaiting word so I can lock in our plans!

  • “Will you see “Rivers of Light” when it opens at the park on April 22?”

    I’ll be there in May and if you ever release FP+ or dining packages, then yes, yes I will. Otherwise, no.

  • I can’t wait to see this. I’m hoping to book a dining package, but I can’t seem to do that yet. Is there a time when this will be open for booking? It looks like it will be an amazing show, and Animal Kingdom at night will be spectacular!!

  • I am very much looking forward to Rivers of Light, but am wondering when dining FastPass+ and dining packages will become available and when the park hours will be updated. I have been watching the Disney Parks Blog and checking the website several times a day since the live chat a week ago. Could you please provide a date when I will be able to book FastPass+ or a dining package? Thank you.

  • As frustrating as it is to not know all the information in advance regarding this show, it might be fun just to go early and see what you see. Plan your meal “early” the day you visit AK, and arrive in the viewing area around the lake to grab a great seat “early.” Planning out every little thing in advance is great (from an efficiency standpoint), but it might be fun just to WAIT and SEE. No matter how much you complain, Disney is going to release information on their timetable, not yours so relax and enjoy your trip away from reality….that’s what Walt Disney World is all about. In a culture of NOW, NOW, NOW…just be patience. It will all work out in the end.

  • The show looks beautiful.
    I agree with so many other comments – PLEASE make dining and FP+ information available ASAP. We are well within 60 days of travel and we truly want to see if we can make a ROL package or FP+ happen. If we can not, we just want to know before we travel.
    I’m trying to “lock in” like we are supposed to…. 🙂

  • I am chiming in, as well, to see when FP+ and dining reservations will be available. Park hour updates would be helpful too. I know we are all BEYOND excited for this beautiful show! I can’t stress that enough. We are just so frustrated that we have gotten nothing except “I don’t know”‘s and “check back soon!”‘s. We have been checking and calling and emailing and we aren’t getting anywhere. Just help us out a little bit here, please! Thank you.

  • Yea hopefully I’ll get to see it… It may be next year until you release fastpass and dining package info. Why give away behind the scenes of a show that i am “hopefully” going to see? I want useful information so I can plan 180 days in advance as this is what Disney wants me to do. I was not appeased by your video last week either.

  • I will side with my fellow posters here, and voice my frustration at not having anything concrete to book in order to see this new show… no dining packages or fast pass availability to help with the planning, and this event is supposed to happen next month! Yikes!

  • When will FP+ reservations be available? I wanna be able to plan my vacation for that day!

  • You know, a week ago we were told there would be details for Rivers of Light in the Live Chat, which didn’t materialize, and we have been trying to get enough information to plan it into our trip ever since. It looks like it will be a beautiful event, and I really would LOVE to see it. All we know is that it is supposed to debut April 22, so we should be able to, since our trip begins on April 23. However, even though there have numerous rumors as to when there would be availability, so there is NO information on the website, or from either the Cast Members answering the reservation lines on how to book dining packages, or FP availability, or for that matter, new park hours. Please give us the info we need so we can book this event….

  • With the opening of this event a month away and Disney’s 180 ADR and 30/60 fast pass policy I am wondering, along with thousands of other guests, when Disney plans announcing to their guests when ROL dining packages and fast passes will be open for booking.

    The complete lack of important guest information this close to opening is ridiculous.

    Please do not respond with the rote comment to keep checking the blog

    We want tangible answers.

  • I’d like to see it. Though I’m not sure if I will side no dining packages or fastpasses have been released and my trip is in a month.

  • I sure would love to see it when it opens but that is at the very end of my trip. I am in on the edge of my seat waiting to be able to book a fast pass or a dining package. Is there any idea yet when that will be?

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