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All in the Details: Storytelling at Rivers of Light’s Discovery River Amphitheater

Jennifer Fickley-Baker

by , Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

We’re closer than ever to the debut of “Rivers of Light,” the newest nighttime offering that’s set to debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on February 17. Today we have a fascinating peek at the intricate details of the show’s Discovery River Amphitheater to share with you.

Rivers of Light’s Discovery River Amphitheater

The amphitheater, which was designed for “Rivers of Light,” offers much more than seating for the show – it was actually designed as a key part of the show’s storytelling. According to our friends at Walt Disney Imagineering, the amphitheater is split by the Discovery River, which forms two “villages” on the two separate embankments – The Serka Zong Marketplace and the Discovery River shoreline. As guests at the show, you’ll be seated in one of these areas and “welcomed” into the village.

Rivers of Light’s Discovery River Amphitheater Rivers of Light’s Discovery River Amphitheater

If you stop and examine the smaller details of the Discovery River Amphitheater, you’ll find fascinating detail inspired by Nepalese culture and architecture influenced by some of the most sacred places in the Eastern World. For example, the two gated portals marking the entrances to the amphitheater boast painted lotus flowers, an important symbol throughout Asia that represents enlightenment (The lotus is also an important symbol you’ll see during the “Rivers of Light” show). The doorways themselves are marked with skydoor icons that protect the inhabitants from evil spirits.

Rivers of Light’s Discovery River Amphitheater

Other elements found in Discovery River Amphitheater were inspired by some of the most revered places in Nepalese culture. Tiered stacked stones were influenced by those at Pashupatinath Temple in Nepal. You’ll also find colored prayer flags, garlands, lanterns and bells which are common in high altitude Nepalese Villages along the Kali Gandaki River. Metal poles that are covered in tangled wire, lights and signs are symbols of modern life in Nepal.

Keep your eye out for a pole that includes a large parasol, which represents wisdom, compassion, and protection.

For more on “Rivers of Light,” check out our list of related posts:


  • This comment is for Ann Aleixo, who posted yesterday. According to other blogs that I have read, the 1st show is at 7:15pm & the 2nd show is at 8:30pm. If you do not arrive in Orlando until 1:45pm & dinner is at 4:15pm, you might be pushing it. Best of luck & have fun!

  • I am really excited about seeing the show on our upcoming trip in March!

    I was lucky to secure an ROL dinner reservation at Tusker House on the evening of our arrival.

    I am a bit confused as far as the showtime that night. We arrive on March 11th. My reservation reads 1st show. Is there more than one show that day?

    We land in Orlando at 1:45 & our reservation is for 4:15. I hope we make it.

    Is there any leniency period? I know that Tusker House is way back.

    Knowing the showtime on the evening of 3/11 would be helpful in planning.

    Also I understand we need to go to Dinoland. Will the show let out in Asia?

    Just getting our ducks in a row!!

    Still cannot believe this is ready for our March visit!!!

  • Booked my fastpass today!! Can’t wait to see it!

  • As passholders , we were invited to preview the show last Saturday , Feb.11 , at the closing of the park.
    Despite some minor technical problems , it was absolutely amazing !! Kudos to the Imagineers for the design of the amphiteatre , also. You feel yourself like part of the show no matter where you’re seated ( difference with Fantasmic , that does not allow that kind of experience unless you’re really close ). We’ll keep on visiting !!

  • Too early to start but at a later date this would make a educational backstage tour that highlights the meanings symbols, culture and mechanics of how this production is staged. Can’t wait to see it next month.

  • I love this kind of posts and I can’t wait to see the show in November – if it’s available as I know times are yet to be announced for this far ahead in the future. I love the fact that even the amphitheatre is part of the story! I’m very excited!

    • Thanks, Oliver. There are a lot of exciting details to learn about with this show. Stay tuned for more updates this week.

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