I think we've all been pretty skeptical of Animal Kingdom at night, especially after the first reviews came back as, more or less, terrible. With Rivers of Light pretty much permanently postponed, the "Awaken Summer" campaign has somewhat fallen through, although I do know that Disney has tried their best to make up for lost time and money. Whether or not "making up for it" works, I'm still not entirely sure, but I can say that what I saw at Animal Kingdom certainly wasn't the worst of what I saw on my most recent trip.
Let's start with The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic, because the panorama above is nothing short of one of my favorite pictures from this trip. Granted, the view up there is more clouds and natural beauty than beauty of the show, but it does also give you an idea of where I was sitting, and I was in a prime spot too. I used one of my Fastpass+ Selections for the show, which allowed me to enter from the Expedition Everest/Asia side. Since I was alone, I managed to listen to recommendations and make my way down to the fifth row, where I also managed to squeeze in on an isle seat, allowing me a pristine view of the stage in front of me. Since I was on the inner portion, it also gave me a decent view of the main stage that sits in the middle, which I can't imagine is very visible from the outer seats on either side.
As for the show itself, I actually somewhat enjoyed it. Yes, it's not Rivers of Light, and I'm sure that if you go into the show expecting Rivers of Light, you'll be sorely disappointed. However, if you immediately accept the fact that maybe this isn't Rivers of Light and maybe it won't be the best thing I've ever seen, it may just be better than you expect. The performers do a simply astonishing job, from the live music performers, to the vocalists, and right down to the dancers that bring the show to life, and while the deep neon colors bothered me a bit (largely because my camera hates picking up neon), everything seems bright, colorful, and full of life. Obviously there's still a lot to be worked out before Rivers of Light makes its appearance, but I'm excited for what that show may bring, as I'm positive it will be at least a few steps up from what's in Asia now.
As for the Nighttime Safari...I'm not really sure. About the only positive thing I could say about this is that it gives the most amazing view of the lions. Since they sleep frequently and are mostly nocturnal, all three lions were up and about when I drove past on my safari around 10 pm. Other than that, we didn't really see much, and the lights, which everyone has mentioned, seemed oddly placed to me. It's obvious which exhibits don't have animals during the nighttime hours, and the lights there are obtrusive and completely unnatural. Granted, I'm not sure how you'd make lights like that natural, but something was still off about the entire thing. And that's about all I have to say about the Nighttime Safari.
Onto Tiffins, which I was fortunate enough to have dinner at. While extremely expensive, I can't deny that Tiffins had some of the greatest food I've had in a long while. I went with the Curry Lobster Bisque, which I pretty much had finished by the time my server came back to check on me, and the Duck for a main dish, which I had cooked to the chef's recommendation and was absolutely delicious. Also...a note about the iced tea. Get the specialty iced tea. Just do it. More on Tiffins in a few months though!
And finally, to perhaps my favorite of the new attractions and shows this summer at Walt Disney World: the Tree of Life Awakening. I LOVED this projection show, which obviously uses some of the newest projection technology to bring animals to life. There are multiple different shows you can catch, and they run randomly, so if you want to see all of them, you'll have to sit in the area in front of the Tree of Life for roughly a half hour. I grabbed some food from Starbucks on my way out and waited for all of the shows, and I think I loved each new show more than the previous. There's something incredibly brilliant about taking the animals carved into the tree and bringing them to life in brand new ways, and I'm sure I could sit there for much longer than I did watching what used to be just a simple tree.
Overall, Animal Kingdom didn't really disappoint me. In comparison to some of the other new offerings across the resort, I feel that what's there was more impressive than what I was led to believe (with the exception, perhaps, of the nighttime safari). If you haven't had a chance to check out the new offerings, I suggest doing so soon, as many of them will cease at the end of the summer, when park hours are shortened and a nighttime safari becomes much less nighttime oriented. I'm excited for what's yet to come for Animal Kingdom, and I can't wait to see what happens next.
Have a magical day!