One of the biggest changes to Walt Disney World® Resort in recent years has been the update to nighttime shows, starting when both Happily Ever After and Rivers of Light debuted in 2017. With the announcement that Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is on its last run, the trend continued.
The Wonderful World of Animation is also scheduled to debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, and by using the walls of the Chinese Theater, it shows guests projections with lasers and fire effects. It looks to be the visual story of Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to new after-dark entertainment for Disney.
Disney just announced additional changes to both Rivers of Light and HalloWishes, now indicating that almost every major nighttime spectacular has undergone a recent change.
Rivers of Light is reinventing itself just two years after its initial debut, as Rivers of Light: We Are One is scheduled to begin Memorial Day Weekend. Named after what has become the most beloved song of the original production, this new version of the show is set to mix its original score with iconic Disney music. Alternate interpretations of original Disney songs are becoming an ever-popular trend with the new nighttime spectaculars, as both Happily Ever After and the upcoming replacement for Illuminations: Reflections of Earth feature them.
Visuals from Disney’s animation catalog are going to find their way to the updated show in Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park, weaving in between moments from Disneynature films. All signs also point to an extension of the show’s current message, as Disney said it will contain elements of love, family, discovery, fear, fun and friendship. It is certainly a welcome sight for fans who have been hoping for Disney to connect more with its roots, as the show’s updated themes are perfectly in tune with what the theme park was originally designed around.
The new Rivers of Light still only marks a small portion of the changes coming to nighttime entertainment in the parks, as HalloWishes, the fireworks show of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party that began in 2005, has come to an end. It was an inevitability seeing as the show it was initially inspired by was removed for Happily Ever After, and it has the potential to be one of the most jaw-dropping of Disney’s new additions. Featuring an original storyline in which Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy will experience a haunted house, the projections made famous by Disney’s newest castle-centered fireworks show will make an appearance.
With the changes in place for a vast majority of Disney’s major nighttime shows, it is natural to wonder if a new night parade might be due for an appearance sometime soon. The Main Street Electrical Parade, which was brought from California to Florida in 2010, left Orlando in 2017. No night parade has taken its place yet, and while it is no more than speculation, it is not out of the realm of possibility for all of these new nighttime shows to be leading to the addition of a new parade.
It is also entirely possible that with the sheer volume of new nighttime entertainment in the parks that a new parade will not feel necessary. While no official timeline on any potential announcement has been given, the Magic Kingdom® Park’s 50th anniversary in 2021 might be a good timeframe to keep in mind.
Regardless, the additions to old and new nighttime shows are a welcome treat to propel Disney’s after-dark entertainment into the parks’ modern era.