Florida Travel

Disney’s Animal Kingdom delays opening of nighttime attractions

“Rivers of Light” will combine live performances, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery as a pair of mystical hosts comes to Discovery River bearing gifts of light.
“Rivers of Light” will combine live performances, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery as a pair of mystical hosts comes to Discovery River bearing gifts of light. Disney Parks

The much-anticipated extension of Disney’s Animal Kingdom into the evening hours with new or upgraded attractions has been postponed, with no new date announced.

Disney announced on its blog Tuesday that the new nighttime experiences that had been scheduled to debut April 22 — including a light and water spectacle — would be delayed. More information will be released in mid- to late May, Thomas Smith, editorial content director for Disney Parks, said on the blog.

The delay will “give the team more time to bring these innovative experiences to life in a way we know will exceed our guests’ expectations,” he wrote.

This is just so frustrating and disappointing.

Jessica Mingoia, park guest, commenting on Disney blog

Animal Kingdom is Disney World’s youngest park — April 22 will be its 18th anniversary — and it has the shortest hours. The main attraction set to open on that date was Rivers of Light, a show set on the Discovery River near Expedition Everest. The nighttime show will be a combination of live music, floating lanterns, water screens and animal imagery.

The Tree of Life near the center of the park has gotten a makeover so that at night, “animal spirits appear and enchanted fireflies reveal stories of wonder,” Disney said.

Kilimanjaro Safaris will be extended after dark, and nocturnal animals including hyenas and African wild dogs will be added.

Combined, those attractions are supposed to give the park a nightlife and visitors a reason to be there after dark — a sort of gateway into 2017, when the new Pandora land based on the movie Avatar is scheduled to open with more attractions. However, all of those — and the extended hours — were postponed.

It is rare that a theme park, especially a Disney park, announces an opening date, then delays it, and the announcement provoked anger or disappointment among many fans who commented on the blog.

“This is just so frustrating and disappointing. We planned a trip for May, being told the show would be open for a few weeks at that time,” Jessica Mingoia wrote. “I love Disney, but I’d rather they had said ‘coming soon’ rather than ‘opens April 22nd.’ 

Shawn Getter wrote that her family had made plans to visit on her daughter’s birthday. “She was so excited (as were we all) to be able to experience something so special as a new show or new ride opening during that time. Now she is heart broken.”

  Comments