Animal Kingdom’s night show and things to do after dark

A few years ago, my husband and I escaped to Disney World for a weekend getaway.

After dropping our bags at the hotel, we headed straight to Animal Kingdom for the evening.

We arrived as hordes of families with young children headed toward the exit. And the crowds were thinning.

I noticed just a hint of pink in the evening sky on our ascent to the peak of Expedition Everest. The roller coaster certainly felt a bit spookier at twilight. 

We were amazed at the increased activity of the wildebeest, giraffes, and African wild dogs after the sun had set on the Kilimanjaro Safaris.

As we strolled leisurely from Asia to Africa, we could hear the lions’ eerie chuffing from some distance.

Our next stop was Discovery Island to see the Tree of Life Awakenings show. And after the show, we stopped at Nomad Lounge for cocktails and a bite to eat.

By that time it was properly dark and we entered the Pandora section of the park. The vivid colors and dazzling bioluminescence made us feel as though we had truly stepped onto another planet. 

Animal Kingdom's Pandora at night
Pandora – home of Avatar Flight of Passage, the Na’vi River Journey and the Kali River Rapids – glows by night. Bioluminescent flora and intricate nighttime experiences with special effects add a dreamlike quality to Animal Kingdom’s World of Avatar (photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort)

What is there to do at Animal Kingdom at night?

There is something special about Disney’s Animal Kingdom park at night. The whole park transforms before your eyes

The heat of the day dissipates and the energy shifts.

Most of our favorite Animal Kingdom attractions continue running into the evening. And early-rising visitors tend to leave in the late afternoon. In other words, the evening is a good time to take advantage of shorter wait times.

Plus, experiencing a familiar ride at night can offer a different perspective. It’s cooler – usually both literally and figuratively.

Also, the darkness can make thrill rides like Dinosaur, Primeval Whirl, and Expedition Everest a bit more frightening (in a good way!)

Where can we find late night libations at Animal Kingdom?

EPCOT is perhaps the Disney Park most famous for its selection of spirits, but did you know that Animal Kingdom serves adult beverages, too? There are, in fact, several bars, lounges, and kiosks offering a variety of libations throughout the park.

In Africa, Tamu Tamu Refreshments serves special adult Dole Whips. You may also want to check out Thirsty River Refreshments in Asia for specialty spirits. Trilo-Bites in DinoLand U.S.A. serves margaritas and a seasonally rotating selection of draft beers.

Despite its central location on Discovery Island, Nomad Lounge feels a bit off the beaten path. It shares a building and kitchen with Tiffin’s, the park’s fine dining restaurant. The Snow Leopard Salvation will hit the spot for Moscow Mule lovers. Finally, if you’re looking for something more colorful, try Pongu Pongu Refreshments in Pandora. 

Most locations also offer mocktails for those who do not imbibe. Many of these can be purchased in a souvenir cup that you can take home with you. 

Read Also: Butterbeer at Universal: What is Butterbeer made of?

A lion on a Kilimanjaro Safaris
Each evening, for those who wish to experience the majesty of nature, the popular Kilimanjaro Safaris is bathed with special lighting allowing guests to explore this open-air vehicle attraction well into the night. If you’re lucky, you might even get to spot a lion, or a baby African elephant (photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resorts)

What are the best places to eat at Animal Kingdom at night?

Animal Kingdom has interesting food options.

Satu’li Canteen in Pandora serves amazing bowls that will appeal to both picky and adventurous eaters and is usually open until the park closes. Choose a base, protein, and sauce for a customized meal that satisfies your personal tastes and dietary needs.

In Asia, Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafes (also normally open ’til the park closes) offer a selection of take-out-style Asian cuisine. Barbecue lovers should opt for Flame Tree Barbecue near the Tree of Life.

Looking for more traditional theme-park food options? On Discovery Island, you’ll find salads and personal pies at Pizzafari. Pizza is always a good idea when you have little ones in tow.

Be sure to download the My Disney Experience App for the most up-to-date dining hours and locations while inside the park.

tree of life at night
At night, The Tree of Life awakens during the nighttime show and transforms into a beacon of magic. It’s the best place to be in Animal Kingdom when the sun goes down (photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resorts)

Does Animal Kingdom have a night show?

Animal Kingdom doesn’t incorporate fireworks into its nighttime entertainment portfolio. Surely, a nightly series of nearby explosions would be terrifying to a herd of elephants.

Which makes perfect sense. Disney doesn’t want to give its hippos hernias, so no fireworks. 

And the original Rivers of Light show is now sadly a thing of the past.

But yes, there is still a night show, as well as a variety of smaller more intimate entertainment options.

There are several locations throughout the park where you can catch pop-up shows.

In particular, the Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe, with live performers, are mesmerizing. The shows take place throughout the day and into the evening. Outgoing guests are invited to learn traditional dance as part of the show.  

And Pandora’s Valley of Mo’ara comes alive at night with glowing color.

The floating mountains take on an ethereal presence in the moonlight. Beneath the mountains, you will find a circle of huge drums. An interactive Na’vi musical ceremony happens throughout the day and at night.

And then, of course, we have the Tree of Life Awakenings show, often referred to as the Animal Kingdom night show.

Read Also: Is there a Star Wars hotel? How much is the Galactic Cruiser resort?

What is Tree of Life Awakenings like?

When the sun goes down, a series of animations are projected onto the magnificent Tree of Life located at the center of the park.

You’ll be captivated by the gentle music and bright colors as several short stories of animals participating in the circle of life unfold. The show repeats every ten minutes or so until the park closes.

Special stories are on display on select nights during special events – like Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.

There are multiple opportunities to see the show as you cross from one section of the park to another or before it’s time to head home. This creates a relaxed atmosphere and keeps the crowds small. 

What time is the Animal Kingdom night show?

Disney is known for its spectacular shows and special displays.

The Tree of Life Awakenings show is pure Disney enchantment on display.

The show begins just after dark.

The exact start time will vary seasonally. It will depend on the park hours and the time the sun sets, which is earlier in winter and later in summer.

If you’re otherwise occupied when the sun goes down, no worries! The show repeats every ten minutes or so until the park closes. 

Is visiting the Animal Kingdom at night worth it?

Animal Kingdom is typically the only park that regularly maintains shorter hours compared to the other parks, like Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom.

However, there’s still plenty to do after dark in Disney World’s largest park.

Exceptionally long lines on popular rides are rare. And old familiar experiences are made new again by the energy that night brings. 

So yes, for me, a nighttime visit to the park is very much worth it.

What is your favorite park to visit when the sun goes down? What do you think is the best thing about visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park at night? Let us know in the comments below!

Leave a Comment