Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been building up to the spring 2016 season for several years now, as that was the projected opening date not only for the Rivers of Light nighttime spectacular, but also the start of several other nighttime-specific activities at this park. Unfortunately, Disney blindsided fans several days ago when it was revealed that Rivers of Light will not be opening as planned, and has been delayed for the foreseeable future. No immediate reason for the delay was given, but Disney has promised fans an "update" on the project next month.
Not only this delay a bummer for those who had planned Walt Disney World vacations this spring (and early summer) specifically to see the show's debut, but it also has had far-reaching implications across the park. Here are just some of the side effects that the delay of this show has had around Disney's Animal Kingdom...
1.Nighttime attractions are ready to go...but still just a dream
The biggest immediate side effect of the delay of the Rivers of Light nighttime spectacular has been the subsequent delay of every other nighttime activity that was also planned to launch at Disney's Animal Kingdom alongside this new show. From the Tree of Life Awakenings projection show to the numerous street parties and concerts around the park, and even the nighttime version of Kilimanjaro Safaris, pretty much everything has been pushed back to an unknown launch date because of the Rivers of Light delay.
This is especially sad for those who have been able to walk around this park in recent days, as new signage, light fixtures and stages have all popped up all around the park in preparation for the switch to evening operations. However, unfortunately, all of these new structures and improvements aren't going to be used any time soon, as Disney has confirmed that it will not be opening any of these new attractions (or extending hours past 6:30PM) until there is a nighttime spectacular available to anchor the park's new evening identity. And interestingly...that may not have to be Rivers of Light, at least in the short term...
2. Rumors surface about a temporary Rivers of Light replacement
While we have been hoping that the delay for Rivers of Light may only be a few months, a new rumor implies that Disney may be preparing for the worst-case scenario: a long-term delay. Recent reports have surfaced that Disney is considering fast-tracking a temporary show to replace Rivers of Light while whatever issues are causing this delay are ironed out. Of course, the implication here is that the wait for Rivers of Light could be months or even a year, as it seems doubtful that Disney would invest time, money or resources in a temporary show if the delay was truly as short as we were originally hoping.
WDWMagic has recently shed additional light on these rumored developments, reporting that that a trusted source has indicated that an interim show is indeed being considered by top Disney brass. This temporary show could use the currently functional elements of Rivers of Light, (which reportedly include the high definition projection systems, water fountains, and live actors), but leave out the floats, which have largely been blamed for the unexpected delay of this show. Of course, the result would be a show similar to World of Color, which uses projection and water effects to create a dazzling evening spectacular every evening at Disney California Adventure.
In an interesting twist to this rumor, it has been added that the live-action version of The Jungle Book (which smashed expectations during its first weekend in release with a $100 Million opening in the US) is being floated as a possible theme for a temporary show. However, instead of quickly creating a whole new show from the ground up, Disney could also present a "lite" version of Rivers of Light, with some portions of the show working while Disney continues to work on getting the nonfunctional elements in order.