Rivers of Light has finally debuted at Animal Kingdom and with any new offering at Disney, there is a dining package to accompany it. As a matter of fact, you have two restaurants to choose from when it comes to a meal and a show. Here’s our Rivers of Light dining package review.
For this review, we splurged, spent the $67 per person and went with Tiffins. Tusker House is the other offering at $52 (Children ages 3 to 9 are $26 at Tiffins and $32 at Tusker House). Our reasoning is that Tiffins is the best in-park dining we’ve experienced at Walt Disney World and at $67 per person, there are a few delicious combinations that can put you ahead.
Because we haven’t done a proper review of Tiffins yet, here are a few photos of the various rooms. The whole restaurant is a tribute of sorts to nature and the adventures that Imagineers went on to bring us Animal Kingdom. Throughout, you’ll find shadowboxes and tidbits that have been collected along the way.
After entering, you’ll find the Nomad Lounge to your left. This lounge is available for walk-ins and has an assortment of unique drinks along with some appetizers.
Walking through Nomad Lounge, you’ll reach the Trek Gallery. Themed to Asia, the Trek Gallery contains items that inspired Expedition Everest and the Asia area of the park.
Making our way back to the host stand, we’ll make a right and find the Safari Gallery first. This room inspired Kilimanjaro Safaris and the Africa section of the park. If you look close enough, you might even notice some pictures from the Safari that blend in with actual trips out to the plains of Africa.
The final room is the Grand Gallery and is themed to conservation. This is the room that guests with the Rivers of Light dining package were seated in when we went. You may even notice some decoration that is similar to some Animal Spirit floats you’ll find in the show later.
As I said earlier, I believe Tiffins to be the best dining at Walt Disney World. We’ve been to Tiffins 5 or 6 times now and have yet to encounter a meal or service that wasn’t excellent.
Here’s what’s included in the Rivers of Light dining package:
- Non-alcoholic beverage
So what did the two of us get? We started with the Selection of Artisanal Cheeses, and Lobster-Popcorn Thai Curry Soup. The cheeses came with house-made raisins and almonds. The cheeses offer a variety of flavors from blue cheese to goat cheese to an aged cheddar of sorts. All very good! The Thai Curry Soup does have a bit of a kick, but is nice in its own right. I would order the cheese again.
We followed that with the Wagyu Strip Loin and Braised Short Rib, and Pan-seared Duck Breast for the entree. Both of the meats were cooked perfectly and are some of the best you can get on property. While I don’t think you can go wrong with either, I’m partial to the Wagyu Strip Loin and Braised Short Rib. At $53, it may be something that you’d normally avoid for cost alone, but the fixed price nature of the dining package means that you’ll get a lot of value (and flavor) out of this dish.
For dessert we had the Calamansi Mousse, and the South American Chocolate Ganache. The Calamansi Mousse has a bit of a tart, citrus flavor, but is a wonderful dessert if you don’t mind the tartness. The Chocolate Ganache is also a wonderful option. It’s really hard to pick a favorite at Tiffins as everything is so wonderfully prepared and designed.
Rivers of Light
For the Rivers of Light dining package, you’re seated in the two sections on the DinoLand side of the amphitheater that are most centered, pictured as the furthest most section in the below picture, directly below Expedition Everest.
Having watched from the FastPass side in Asia I would say that each side has its pros and cons, but neither is dramatically better than the other. The value of this package doesn’t lie in a vastly superior viewing location, but rather a discount on a splurge meal. The dining location seating offers a generally better view of the water screen and a feeling of being closer to the lotus floats, but contains less “action” than the FastPass side. By action, I mean proximity to the Shaman boat throughout the show. For most of the show the Asia (or Fire) Shaman either stays in front of you or to the immediate left and close to the seating area. On the DinoLand side, the Shaman spends some time in front of you, but the periods of inaction lead the boat away from you and closer to the giant backdrop water screen. It becomes difficult to see the water Shaman performance through the middle of the show.
Here’s a supercut video we put together of our many viewings of Rivers of Light. Video of the water Shaman, turtle, and owl spirit animal floats were shot from the dining package seating alomg with a few water screen shots. The wide shots were all filmed from the Asia FastPass location.
If you want to be able to enjoy Rivers of Light and a great meal at Animal Kingdom with no stress, the Tiffins version of the Rivers of Light dining package is the way to go. The food is excellent and the reserved seating of the dining package means you’ll have the opportunity to wait much less than if you were to go the standby route. Right now, decent standby waits are well over an hour, maybe a bit much of an ask after a long, hot day at Animal Kingdom. Note that while the sections are reserved, the actual seats themselves are first come, first served, as you may expect. I’m of the opinion that Rivers of Light is best enjoyed from the stone benches, as uncomfortable as they may be, so arriving 20 minutes before the show is adequate. The closer you can get to the water, the better.
While we offer more detailed thoughts on our opening night review, I will say that seeing the show 5 times now has allowed me the pleasure of being able to take in some of the beautiful subtleties of the show and appreciate it all that much more.