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Festival of Lion King Set to Return, Disney's Animal Kingdom Introduces New Night Show & Entertainment

by Mommy Frog on May 5, 2014

There are big changes afoot in Disney's Animal Kingdom! First off, The Festival of the Lion King show is set to return in June inside the newly built Harambe Theatre. Additionally, Disney has announced two nighttime entertainment events coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom. One of them, Harambe Nights, is set to begin this summer. The other, the "Rivers of Light" night show does not yet have an opening date, but promises to be truly amazing.

Disney's Animal Kingdom night show

As you may recall, Disney's Animal Kingdom is set to undergo the largest expansion in its history with the creation of the Avatar-inspired land Pandora. The Festival of the Lion King stage closed as Pandora construction began, and the show has been awaiting the opening of the new theater, which we now know will be in June.

As part of the Pandora expansion, Disney is set to expand the hours of the animal-based theme park. It will create additional experiences after sundown with the Animal Kingdom night show, live performers on Discovery Island and a nighttime version of Kilimanjaro Safaris.

While construction on Avatar broke ground earlier this year, it is expected to open in 2017. The good news is that the first of these new nighttime experiences is coming sooner -- as in this summer!!

Harambe Nights

Disney's Animal Kingdom night show

Harambe Nights will celebrate the 20th anniversary of "The Lion King" and will take place in the newly built Harambe Theatre. Guests will be offered appetizers and African-inspired wine and beer upon arrival. Then they will experience "The Lion King -- Concert in the Wild," a new theatrical experience. Through a live orchestra, choir, dancers, movie moments and lighting and scenic elements, it will tell Simba's journey to find his place as the Lion King. It will be hosted by a celebrity guest narrator.

Here is the expected Harambe Nights lineup:

  • June 7 – Viola Davis: “The Help,” “Ender’s Game”
  • June 14 – TBD
  • June 21 – Montego Glover: “The Following,” “Memphis”
  • June 28 – David Alan Grier: “Porgy & Bess,” “In Living Color”
  • July 5 – Michael Beach: “ER,” “Third Watch,” “Sons of Anarchy”
  • July 12 – Harry Lennix: “The Blacklist,” “The Five Heartbeats”
  • July 19 – Joe Morton: “Scandal,” “American Gangster,” “The Good Wife”
  • July 26 – Alfre Woodard: “Desperate Housewives,” “Miss Evers Boys”
  • August 2 – Brian Stokes Mitchell: “Ragtime,” “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Glee”
  • August 9 – Patina Miller: “Pippin,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

Disney's Animal Kingdom night show

After the show, guests can continue the festivities at the Harambe Nights Street Party, where there will be music, performers, characters and an all-inclusive buffet of African cuisine and gourmet desserts.

The event will take place every Saturday from June 7 through Aug. 9 this summer, starting at 7 p.m. This is a separately ticketed event, with prices starting at $119 for adults and $79 for children ages 3-9 plus tax. You can get tickets through or by calling 407-939-1319.

Disney's Animal Kingdom night show -- "Rivers of Light"

Disney's Animal Kingdom night show - Rivers of Light

"Rivers of Light" will take place on Discover River, between Discover Island and Expedition Everest. It will combine live music, floating lanterns, water screens and animal imagery. The first rendering for the spectacular looks absolutely amazing!

We absolutely love Disney's Animal Kingdom for the animal encounters and attractions during the day, and we think "Rivers of Light" will be an incredible experience. We can't wait to experience Disney's Animal Kingdom at night!

What do you think of the nighttime entertainment and shows coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom? Share in comments below!

Related: AVATAR-Inspired Land to Open in 2017 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Hoppy planning!


Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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Kevin May 11, 2014 at 11:48 p.m.

Did they give an exact date in June for the Festival of the Lion King?

FrogBlog May 12, 2014 at 12:05 p.m.

Hi Kevin,

No exact date as of yet, but we will announce it here!

Mommy Frog

Tooty May 15, 2014 at 2:05 p.m.

Does the price include admission to the park earlier in day like the holiday events at MK?

FrogBlog May 15, 2014 at 4:28 p.m.

Hi Tooty,

No. The event begins at 7 p.m. and guests are encouraged to arrive 45 minutes in advance.

Mommy Frog

Debbie Yusella May 15, 2014 at 2:21 p.m.

I haven't seen where any other attractions will be available during this hard-ticket event for Harambe Nights? Will you be able to ride Everest?

FrogBlog May 15, 2014 at 4:27 p.m.

Hi Debbie,

No other attractions will be available during the event. You would need regular park admission to ride Everest earlier in the day.


Mommy Frog

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