Could This Beloved Entertainment Return to Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to some of the most exciting entertainment at the Walt Disney World Resort.

From iconic fan-favorites like the Festival of the Lion King show in Africa to the frightening with It’s Tough to Be a Bug on Discovery Island, and of course, the newly reimagined Finding Nemo – The Big Blue…and Beyond, Animal Kingdom’s shows are among the best at Disney World.

Animal Kingdom

Credit: MyNews 13

Like the other three Disney Parks, Animal Kingdom has lots of upcoming changes announced with some coming very soon, and others coming (maybe) sometime in the distant future.

One of the changes coming later this month to the Disney theme parks is that a relatively new show has already been scheduled to close permanently. Disney KiteTails only debuted on October 1, 2021, for the 50th-anniversary celebration of Walt Disney World, and according to Disney’s website, the show is already approaching its closing date.


Credit: Disney

When the show closes later this month, we’ve already joined other Disney fans in speculating what could be coming next. Some of our speculations take us over to EPCOT, where we wonder if the jet skis used in KiteTails could be used to bring back a former nighttime fireworks spectacular.

As for Animal Kingdom though, we have to take a look back at the show that was performed in the Discovery Island Lagoon prior to the launch of Disney KiteTails, and that show is Rivers of Light.

Rivers of Light had multiple updates to the show during its run at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but Disney described the most recent version as:

….the next chapter of this beautiful nighttime pageant unfolds, telling the story of our connection with animals and the emotions and milestones we all share in our journey through the great circle of life. This reimagined version of the show introduces additional, stunning imagery and familiar animal characters from Disneynature films, along with a colorful tapestry of classic moments from Disney animation.

The show did not reopen following the closure of the entire Resort at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Disney did not officially announce its permanent closure. It is possible the Rivers of Light was put on an indefinite pause due to staffing challenges following the pandemic, and that staffing was better off being allocated to other events specific to the 50th anniversary the following year.

As such, it would not be surprising to see Rivers of Light return to Animal Kingdom after KiteTails comes to an end later this month. Of course, without an official announcement from Disney, we are just dreaming. We will continue to monitor the entertainment lineup in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, though, and will share further details as we have them here on Disney Tips.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."