Are the nighttime shows at Disney World becoming too similar?

Walt Disney World’s four theme parks are home to outstanding nighttime entertainment that guests can enjoy each night of their visit. Whether it’s Happily Ever After at the Magic Kingdom or Rivers of Light at Animal Kingdom, there’s a spectacular to wrap up your day at each theme park.

However, as Disney makes changes and updates to its nighttime shows, the question must be asked whether their shows are becoming a bit too similar.

Happily Ever After at the Magic Kingdom paved the way for the modern shows with projections, lasers and fireworks celebrating iconic Disney films. Meanwhile, Epcot offered something completely different with Illuminations: Reflections of Earth and so too did Animal Kingdom with Rivers of Light.

Now, Disney is preparing a new permanent nighttime show at Epcot that will begin following a short run of the Epcot Forever interim show. This new offering will reportedly include many Disney characters and songs that represent different cultures. Meanwhile, Rivers of Light at Animal Kingdom will be updated with Disney songs and animals from Disney films.

Disney also debuted a new show called World of Animation that shows at Hollywood Studios before the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular show. Here they celebrate all things Disney animation with projections, lasers and some fireworks. It follows a similar pattern to Happily Ever After where the show uses film montages in themes such as friendship, love and action.

Excluding Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, all of Disney’s nighttime shows will have a similar theme following the updates to Rivers of Light and the debut of Epcot’s permanent show. While there are some unique elements found in each show, such as one using fountains heavily and no pyrotechnics while others are heavy on fireworks, they all may take on the feel of a Disney clip show using many of the same movies and characters.

That’s a stark contrast to the current format where Animal Kingdom’s show is about the beauty of animals and nature, Epcot’s show is about the spirit of humanity, Hollywood Studios’ show is about Star Wars and the Magic Kingdom’s show is the classic Disney montage / clip show. The updated and new shows will make three of those four carry a theme that’s just “Disney” in its description.

Is that bad? Or even wrong?

There’s nothing wrong with Disney World shows carrying a “Disney” theme. It’s what many might expect when they are planning their vacation. But, it might feel a bit repetitive and redundant to see several shows that have very similar stories and themes during your vacation.

Happily Ever After stands out and is memorable currently because it’s different than the other nighttime offerings. Will it still feel that way when Epcot has a show infused with many of the same characters? Will the Wonderful World of Animation feel redundant compared to Once Upon a Time at the Magic Kingdom?

What do you think about the evolving nighttime shows at Walt Disney World?

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David is a Disney travel expert who created Notes from Neverland in 2018 after visiting Disney theme parks countless times. Previously, David spent way too much time writing about sports, and was featured in Sports Illustrated, MSN, Yahoo!, and in many other publications. Learn more or contact us.

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