Saturday, May 28, 2016

NEW!! Disney's Animal Kingdom AT NIGHT!

Disney's Animal Kingdom park is now Alive with Magic. For the first time since the Park opened, it now has nighttime hours. During that time, you can see Animal Kingdom in a whole new way. Not only are the attractions like Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest a totally different experience in the dark, but additional entertainment throughout the Park creates an exciting new environment.
Vibrant energy fills the streets of Harambe Village in Africa and Discovery Island during the night. There's new live music, dancing, and even stilt walkers dressed in brightly colored clothing. It's an interactive party atmosphere and Guests were enjoying dancing and being part of the entertainment when I was there.
The most spectacular new happening at Animal Kingdom Park now is definitely the Awakening of the Tree of Life. I recently spoke with Laura Offerdahl, a Producer for Disney's Animal Kingdom at Night. She was very excited about this new experience. 
Awakening of Tree of Life Concept Art
Not only are there several different 4-minute animation sequences that appear throughout the night on the tree (at random times, so please be patient), but the tree is always showing signs of life from evening until Park closing time. You can see my FULL video of one of the beautiful animations HERE on The Princess Papers Facebook page.
I was able to see the Awakening in person and I'm stunned! I watched for over an hour to catch glimpses of "life." You may see a tail twitch on one of the animals that is carved into the side of the tree, another animal move its head, a fluttering of butterflies appear, or flowers suddenly grow up the trunk of the tree.

My favorite is the big wild cat that stands up and then resettles itself for a nap.
It's difficult to grasp how mesmerizing this is until you actually see it. Even THEN it's difficult to grasp. The most common phrase of the evening was, "how did they do that??"  Video and photos do not do it justice. When I asked Laura how it's done, she simply responded with a smile and said, "Disney magic."  And MAGICAL it is!

Another new show has opened as well. The Jungle Book Alive with Magic new evening show takes place in a curved, stadium-style theater surrounding the river. It combines projections from the Jungle Book story onto massive walls of water spray.
In addition, dancers on floating stages, live music, and even fire dancers round out the show. I attended the soft opening on May 27th. The music and performers were fantastic and energizing, but the projections were blurred (at least from my viewpoint). 
I was also distracted by the parts of the show where cast performers stood in the aisles as they blocked my view of the stages. This occurred about five different times (intentionally choreographed ). I believe it was to create a more immersive environment. That would be the case if they were interacting and dancing with Guests, but they were just stationed in select positions on the stairs. Unfortunately it gave the effect of Guests standing in the aisles blocking the stage views.
I liked the show, but as with any soft opening, the bugs need to be worked out. (Please see notes below regarding handicapped accessibility details.) Until the new Rivers of Light show is ready, this is a nice (but not spectacular) evening addition to the extended hours in the park, especially for Guests who may enjoy sitting for an hour or two in the evening, relaxing, and enjoying a snack while waiting for the show.
If you would like to see The Jungle Book Alive with Magic, there are a few tips to help your experience. Either get a FastPass, book a reserved seating dinner package (available by special reservation at Tiffins or Tusker House), or wait for the second showing of the night. Waiting on stand-by for the first show is not recommended.  The crowds are much lower and less hectic for the second show.

To hear about more about this and other Awaken Summer events at Walt Disney World resort such as Star Wars and Frozen, listen to the Disney Dream Girls Podcast, available on iTunes or listen here to Disney Dream Girls Podcast Episode 109!

*The Awakening of the Tree of Life is handicapped accessible. However, views may be limited due to other Guests standing around (much like a show at the Castle). The new street shows are out in open areas and are handicapped accessible. The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic has handicapped seating but it is limited. Even if you have reserved seating or a FastPass arrive early. For stand-by you must wait in the regular line and then be directed individually to handicapped seating. For the lower level, there is a special ramp (rather long) on the side of the theater. For the upper level, enter through the normal entrance. If you agree to transfer out of a wheelchair or ECV, NOTE: you will be required to go up and down a few stairs and seats are flat, backless, narrow benches.
*Find Jeanie on Twitter @PrincessPapers, Facebook @ThePrincessPapers or @JeanieGallo and as a regular correspondent on The Disney Dream Girls Podcast, on Twitter @DisDreamGirls and The Disney Dream Girls Podcast on Facebook.
*For your next Disney Vacation, contact Katherine at and let her know the Princess sent you.

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