The Rivers of Light Dessert Party is a new offering in Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
Dessert Parties such as the Frozen Ever After Dessert Party and the Magic Kingdom Fireworks Dessert Parties offer guests the chance to enjoy a dessert buffet before taking in a park’s nighttime spectacular in a reserved viewing area.
Rivers of Light is Animal Kingdom’s nighttime spectacular, and while Rivers of Light Dining Packages have been available for some time now (which pairs a meal at a select Table Service restaurant with reserved seating), the Dessert Party is new to the scene! The experience starts with checking at the Rivers of Light Viewing Area directly across from the Expedition Everest attraction. (Your arrival time is set with your reservation — an hour and 15 minutes before the evening’s showtime.)
The Rivers of Light Viewing Area Terrace is where the dessert buffet is presented.
High top tables are set up around the event space for guests, but note that there aren’t many seats — if any — to be had. So while other dessert parties have tables with seats during the dining portion of the evening, Rivers of Light does not offer this guarantee.
From the first look, you can tell that there is a decidedly different feel from the other Dessert Parties offered in the parks.
Kicking off the culinary adventure is an assortment of fresh berries, mixed nuts, and cheese.
Then, things start to look even more interesting, as evidenced by the animal-print chocolate garnishes on the Yogurt Panna Cotta.
Moving down the line, it’s clear that food items have been chosen and formed to reflect the unique beauty of the park, and are sophisticated and a bit higher end than what you’ll find at the other parties. For instance, the Pineapple Bars pair artistic garnishes with tropical flavor.
Even otherwise simple cookies are given a makeover in honor of the park’s star residents: the animals!
Ditto for the Orange Tiger Cake Push Pop (Cream Cheese Frosting Alert)!
You know these are, like, a thing, right?
The vanilla Rivers of Light Cupcakes are gorgeous and festive.
Among my favorite items were the distinctively flavored Green Tea Cake.
I also loved the Chocolate Flower Pot de Creme.
This one is a very thick, rich chocolate ganache topped with chocolate cookie crumble “dirt” and garnished with edible flowers and a chocolate leaf.
The best part? The pot itself is edible!! I asked the chef about the best way to eat this and she said “All in one bite!”
Believe it or not, the beverages were another standout, and included plenty of standard non-alcoholic beverages like iced tea and some water to cool down on a warm evening.
Of greater interest, though, were specialty concoctions like the Purple Lotus mocktail and Jungle Juice!!
Alcoholic options are also included for of-age guests, and not only are they refreshing; they’re also unique. The Tiger Lily is a rum-based cocktail, while the Asia Chai Tea is a vodka-based drink with more complex flavors due to the spiced Monin Chai Tea.
It’s a lovely display with several items that I really enjoyed.
But I did miss the hot items and action stations that I’ve enjoyed so much at the Frozen Ever After and the Magic Kingdom After Fireworks Parties. And, as is the case with all of the Dessert Parties, there’s not enough there for guests with special diets — just cheese and fruit, basically.
It really is a beautiful party; intimate and very well done.
(Something to note, though — since the party is new, they’re not yet selling all 60 tickets each night so it still feels intimate and exclusive. But it could become fairly crowded if it were maxed out.)
Guests are welcome to stay and watch from the Dessert Party area, and here’s the view.
But the promise of great viewing was definitely fulfilled with reserved seating in the very front of the stands! The first five rows were reserved for Party attendees.
And here’s something I want to stress: I felt like it wasn’t made super obvious that this was an option. A cast member told me at almost the last minute that I could go down here to watch the show. It’s possible I missed a general announcement at some point.
But most people stayed in the Dessert Party area — not sure if they wanted to, or if they just didn’t know they had front row seating.
But the viewing is terrific from the front, and it’s something I don’t think you’ll want to miss!
If you’re considering a Dessert Party at one of the parks, there are several things to consider even in addition to which shows you want to see the most. The Rivers of Light Dessert Party costs $79 per adult and $47 per child ages 3 to 9, which lines up similarly to the other Dessert parties, with the range starting at $69 (adults) and $41 (child) and topping out at $84 (adult) and $50 (kids).
However, I do believe the $79 price tag for the Rivers of Light Party is high given that: 1. There are more limited food offerings, with no hot items or action stations. 2. There is no special add-on such as a popular attraction ride included (as it is with the Frozen Ever After Party). And 3. There are no fireworks at this particular show, and it’s pretty widely considered one of the lesser compelling nighttime shows currently. It’s still beautiful in its own right, but this is something to consider when it comes to deciding which dessert party to spend your money for.
For those reasons, it’s probably at the bottom of my Dessert Party list at this price point. It is indeed gorgeous, sophisticated, and memorable. But there’s not enough happening to truly get the bang for your buck in regards to sheer variety of food items, and even the nighttime show itself.
The one thing that might sway this is that there is a more limited capacity for seating in the (relatively) small amphitheater for Rivers of Light, which makes a guaranteed seat a boon.
But if you can see Happily Ever After or IllumiNations for this price… well, that would ultimately remain my recommendation. For now, it’s Good Night from Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
Booking information for interested guests can be found here.
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For more ways to see Rivers of Light in Animal Kingdom, you can watch our DFB YouTube Video!