Walt Disney World Resort kicked off its seasonal promotion with a flurry of announcements on April 20, letting guests know what they can expect during the peak season. The transition to add a variety of night-time entertainment at Disney’s Animal Kingdom begins this Memorial Day Weekend with the introduction of a new, limited-engagement show inspired by the live-action film “The Jungle Book.”
As announced by the Disney Parks Blog, “Jungle Book: Alice with Magic” will be Disney’s Animal Kingdom night-time show set against Discovery River. It will employ music and special effects that draws from both Disney’s new film and the classic songs, now showcasing an Indian influence.
Disney’s introduction of the “Jungle Book” show as the park’s limited-engagement show means the debut of Rivers of Light, Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s new signature show, has again been delayed. Described as an illuminating musical experience, Rivers of Light (ROL) will celebrate the magic of animals, humans and the natural world with a blend of performers, floating lanterns and theatrical animal imagery.
ROL had already been delayed once, from Earth Day (the park’s anniversary) to an anticipated mid-to-late May start. While Disney has not addressed the specific reasons for the way, unofficial fan site WDW Magic has speculated the delay is in part due to operational challenges with some of the show’s barges, which should move autonomously thanks to a localized GPS system. Disney now says that Rivers of Light is “currently in development with a premiere date to be announced soon.”
That said, other elements of the park’s night-time offerings are moving forward with the Memorial Day Weekend timing: including the new awakening ceremony for the Tree of Life, night-time version of Kilimanjaro Safaris, new entertainment, and the park’s popular attraction remaining open for a different after-dark experience.
What follows is an overview of what to expect when Disney’s Animal Kingdom begins its summer 2016 season.
The Tree of Life Awakens: The Tree of Life, the park’s icon and its thematic heart, experiences an “awakening” at various times during the evening thanks to some high-tech projections of nature scenes. During these approximately three-minute experiences, flickering fireflies will awaken the animals – Disney’s website provides examples of a doe, two hummingbirds, and a fox – spirits that have been carved into the tree’s towering. The experience visually covers the Tree of Life with vivid colors and spirited animation, while its messages underscores the balance and harmony that exists found in and between all things.
Kilimanjaro Safaris After Dark: Disney’s Animal Kingdom extends the hours of Kilimanjaro Safaris well into in the evening hours. Special lighting, that creates the illusion of a sunset, will enable guests to see the savanna and its animals well into the night. Guests who tour during the night will have a different experience than during the day, the night-time experience allowing them to focus on the animals’ unique vocalizations. Kilimanjaro Safaris also introduces two new species: African wild dogs and hyenas.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom will also feature night entertainment in Harambe, located in the Africa area of the park, and at Discovery Island. At the Harambe Wildlife Parti, guests will be able to enjoy African music, the area’s local foods and drinks, and explore the local marketplace. The Discovery Island Carnivale will take place when the sun sets, featuring a Caribbean street party with Latin and world-beat rhythms that features music, dancers, stilt walkers, food and more.
Tiffins, a new signature restaurant at Discovery Island, will open for both lunch and dinner. Featuring a menu said to be “inspired by the world travels of the park’s creators,” the eatery will serve both omnivore and vegetarian items that reflect dishes and flavors found in Africa, Asia and South America. Tiffins and its Nomad Lounge will also serve wine, handcrafted cocktails, and non-alcoholic beverages that reflect these geographic influences. “Tiffin,” for those wondering about the name, is an Indian English word meaning midday meal or type of container used to carry food while traveling.
The attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will also remain open with the park’s extended hours. Guests will be able to experience Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids in darkness or be immersed in the full neon-color excess of the midway games and attractions in DinoLand, U.S.A.