A Look at the NEW Animal Kingdom Nighttime Entertainment
The park—with its lush flora, winding streams, meandering paths, and a population of more than 1,000 animals—has always been an attractive family destination. With the new Animal Kingdom nighttime entertainment, Disney hopes that guests will stay longer in the park.
While waiting for the debut of Rivers of Light, guests can enjoy The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic show on the lagoon formed by the Discovery River. The show, which combines floating stages with live actors, music, and special effects, is a limited-time engagement highlighting Disney’s latest live-action film The Jungle Book. Though there’s seating in two amphitheaters with a total capacity of 5,000 guests, some of the viewing areas are partially obstructed. The 25-minute show offers Fastpass+ and is performed daily at 9 p.m. (and again at 10:30 p.m. if the park is open late). Even if you do have a Fastpass+ we recommend you arrive at least 35 minutes early. The show is nice but lacks the wow factor; we hope that Rivers of Light will be way more spectacular. * The final day of operation for The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic show was Monday, September 5, 2016
When the sun sets, the park’s iconic symbol, The Tree of Life, awakens. The 14-story-tall structure with a network of carved “roots” in the shapes of animals, comes alive as a sound and light show is projected onto its branches. Each show lasts about three minutes and comes with an original music score. This show is really lovely and well worth seeing.
The new nighttime version of Kilimanjaro Safaris allows you to explore the savanna and its inhabitants, thanks to special lighting. Disney has done an amazing job of replicating the sub-Saharan east-African landscape that guests can observe throughout the day. Special technology creates additional hours of twilight, making this attraction very beautiful at night. With the extended sunset and the addition of different nocturnal animals, such as painted dogs, hyenas, and wildebeests, the nighttime experience is fun. The ride path through the savanna is adjusted during sunset tours, and the trucks make longer stops, allowing guests more time to spot animals. Don’t expect to see lots of animals, though, and forget about taking pictures because they simply don’t come out, and the use of flashlight photography is strictly forbidden for obvious reasons. We recommend that you sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
Parties Are Part of the NEW Animal Kingdom Nighttime Entertainment
At night, Harambe hosts the Harambe Wildlife Parti, a lively street party with entertainment and musical acts by the Karibu Sisters, Muziki, and The Harambe Meetkats.
At Discovery Island, dancers, stilt walkers, and musicians take to the street for a nighttime dance party. The Viva Gaia Street Band! is the star of the Discovery Island Carnivale. The band is joined by dancers and musicians, including a Paraguayan harp player. The music and costumes are inspired by carnival celebrations from around the world.
Make sure to pick up a Times Guide to get the showtimes for all the Animal Kingdom nighttime entertainment.
If all this action makes you hungry, there is plenty of food available at Harambe Market. We love the setting, which is modeled after a typical real-life market in an African nation during the 1960s colonial area. Food counters Chef Mwanga’s Ribs Shop, Kitamu Grill, Famous Sausages, and Wanjohi Refreshment offer a variety of choices, and the marketplace has plenty of comfortable seating. Try the curry corn dog, grilled chicken skewer, or the ground beef kabob flatbread.
A new table service restaurant, called Tiffins, has indoor and outdoor waterfront seating. We love the Flash-fried Icy Blue Mussels and the Archaeologist Salad. The African Berber-Spiced Lamb Chop with Mustard Greens, Lentil Stew, and Mint Chutney made for a great entree. For vegetarians, the Roasted Market Vegetable Curry with Quinoa, Zucchini, and Lime Chutney brings a taste of Asia. For those with a sweet tooth, try the South American Chocolate Ganache. The presentation of all the dishes is absolutely beautiful, and the food is among the best available at Walt Disney World. Tables are very well appointed and the décor is stunning. The only downside is the price. Tiffins is expensive. Lunch or dinner will cost you at least $75 (plus tax and tip) for one starter, an entrée, a dessert, and one glass of wine. Tiffins is on the dining plan (2 entitlements) but does not currently offer any discount for Annual Passholders or Disney Vacation Club members. Tiffins does not accept Tables in Wonderland.
Adjacent to Tiffins is the new Nomad Lounge, for small plates and a large selection of beer, wine, and mixed drinks in a beautiful waterfront setting.
In the meantime, Disney is busy building Pandora—The World of Avatar, scheduled to open sometime in 2017. For this upscale table service restaurant and lounge to be a success, it is important that the new land opens as soon as possible, as guests will still leave the Animal Kingdom early if they do not get a Fastpass+ for the viewing of the nighttime show.
What do you think about the new Animal Kingdom nighttime entertainment? We would love to hear from you.
For more information on all there is to see and do at the Animal Kingdom check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa.