Disclosure: Consideration provided by brands mentioned in this post.
Rivers of Light is finally here and the long wait is so worth it! The night show that debuted February 17, 2017 marked an exciting time at Walt Disney Resort’s Animal Kingdom, especially since the original launch was slated for April 2016. As an attendee of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I was one of first to view the light spectacular (and more importantly share it with you!).
The nighttime show is an dazzling experience complete with music, incredible special effects and animal folklore. Rivers of Light stays true to the park it inhabits. The animal theme can’t be mistaken as the illumination takes the shapes of the Tiger, Turtle, Elephant and Owl.
What to Expect?
The show’s duration is just over 15 minutes. There is narration at the beginning with characters choreographing aboard boats but the real stars are the animals that come to life in the water luminescence. You are guided through the jungle of Asia, African savannahs and mountains of the Americas’.
As you can see from the image below, the amphitheater is not so big that you really need to jockey for an incredible seat. With the venue being a bit smaller, any vantage point is a good one. If you’re still picky and absolutely want to ensure the best view, aim for center just like you would at a movie theater. I would not sweat this too much, though.
Before you arrive, I recommend you check the My Disney Experience mobile app, or visit the park schedule, for showtimes. Rivers of Light displays on select nights, so be sure to pick up the Times Guide in the park for the most up-to-date schedule.
I recently saw an advance screening of Alice Through The Looking Glass at #DISNEYSMMC. Review is my opinion of the film.
A Peek Behind the Looking Glass (no spoilers)
1. Alice Through the Looking Glass is one of those rare sequels that trumps its prequel, Alice In Wonderland (2010).
I did not grow up with the original Alice, neither the Carroll stories nor the cartoon released in 1951. That could be why I was a bit blasé about the first movie. Alice Through the Looking Glass, however, is a must watch and enjoyable from beginning to end, especially in 3D.
2. Alice demonstrates strong feminism in her dealings with traditional roles with style and grace.
In the sequel, Alice returns to Underland – Director Tim Burton’s version of Wonderland – to save her friend the Mad Hatter. Disney has done an extraordinary job transforming its princesses into female super heroes. The same is true for this film and it makes no apologies for doing so. Alice demonstrates her feminist panache and you can’t help but to root for her throughout the film.
3. Time is a gift, and so is Sacha Baron Cohen in this movie.
A few new characters are introduced including Time himself, played by Sacha Baron Cohen. Cohen is remarkable in this role and does not overact, as could have easily been the case. There are important takeaways when thinking of time in life.
4. We learn The Red Queen’s backstory as to why she’s so eager to be off with everyone’s head – and it kind of makes sense.
We learn the background of Alice’s antagonist, the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). Do we know what made other villains in Disney films bad? Evil step-mother in Cinderella? Maleficent in Snow White? The evil queen in Sleeping Beauty? Learning what made the Red Queen vicious reveals a humanity uncommon in fantasy films, and you can *almost* understand why she’s so callous.
5. “The only way to achieve the impossible is to believe it’s possible.” -Alice Kingsleigh
Alice is able to do the impossible through a story of loyalty, especially when it comes to family ties. A lot of this film feels impossible because the effects are spectacular (see my comment above about watching in 3D).
Alice Through the Looking Glass: Behind the Scenes
Beyond the story and actors, the film itself is visually stunning. Burton creates a digital masterpiece where reality and fantasy are blurred – not only in the story but in the movie’s visuals, as well. Most of the movie – all of it? – was filmed in front of a blue screen. Alice, played by Mia Wasikowska, is filmed traversing the real world and Underland. When in Underland, Wasikowksa is looking at random dots that only get populated after the shoot. Can you imagine acting without any props or other actors around you? I have a profound respect for her as she brings Alice to life in settings that were completely lifeless behind the scenes.
What does P!nk Have to do with Alice Through The Looking Glass?
P!nk wrote an original song for the movie and did a version of White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane’s classic. It would be a disservice to not share the music here from one of the official trailers. Enjoy – it’s quite catchy!
By now, everyone who has kids (or is a kid at heart) has seen the movie Finding Nemo and knows about his forgetful friend Dory. Dory, played by Ellen Degeneres in Finding Dory and its predecessor, is a bit of a tragic figure due to her short-term memory loss and inability to retain any meaningful memories. She is part of the despondency surrounding Nemo in part due to her disability but for other reasons we’ll explore, too.
Finding Story Leads to Finding Dory
The producers of Finding Nemo took 13 years to come up with a sequel for one simple reason: they were finding a story. Lindsey Collins the Producer of “Finding Dory” explains what took so long: “Andrew!” Andrew Stanton, director of Finding Nemo, was asked about his thoughts on a sequel to Nemo over the years many times. He believed Nemo’s story was complete. He did not feel it necessary to explore the saga any further without a specific need. Then one day, he thought about Dory and how her character needed an explanation.
Dory, the Tragedy
Dory was a flawed character in the sense that she herself was imperfect, especially in her own eyes. She saw no flaws in others; however, only in herself.
Take for example Nemo’s disability: his short fin. Nemo’s father Marlin was quite worried about Nemo’s short-coming, which led to some of his overprotective helicopter parenting. Dory didn’t notice. There are a few other examples of Dory’s trait in the new film that I won’t quite reveal that you should look for.
Dory comforted other characters she met and gave them a sense of hope. She was the eternal optimist except she didn’t hold herself in high regards. Stanton decided that he needed to tell the story about Dory and now we have a new film to add to Disney’s Pixar collection.
Preview of Finding Dory
There are parts I don’t want to spoil so you, too, can feel the same emotion I did when watching the film. It opens with Dory’s parents working with her on her disability. I won’t dive too deep but it was heart-wrenching as I could imagine myself with my own kids working with them through something setting them back, and the frustration and sadness surrounding it. I would compare it to the opening of Up, where the beginning gives you a lump in your throat!
Crush, the ultra-gnarly turtle, is back in the film as Dory sets out to find her parents by piecing together random memories. The journey is a fun swim through Dory’s very limited memory bank for the ultimate family reunion. As an audience, we were wanting more because we were hooked into her adventure only to be told that the 30 minutes was up. I can’t wait to see what the entire film will look like if it’s any resemblance to the beginning of the film.
Finding Dory premiers in U.S. theaters June 17.
Disclaimer: I paid a conference fee to attend the 2016 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, but was provided with discounted and complimentary items. All opinions shared are my own on what I experienced/viewed.