(Article last updated: January 29, 2019)
Guests looking to catch the nighttime shows at Disney World have found that snagging reservations for dessert parties can be a great way to get a guaranteed spot for fantastic viewing while relaxing beforehand over sweets and beverages.
But, how does the Rivers of Light Dessert Party compare to the other parties offered?
The truth is, not all of the dessert parties are created equal, so it is important to understand exactly what you get before you spend your money on one.
Here's what you need to know before you book a reservation here....
In this article
With a gorgeous party area, beautiful desserts, delicious drinks, and fantastic Cast Members, this party has some things to offer. However, the lack of seating while eating, limited savory options, and ability to get viewing in other ways makes this party less worth it than other dessert parties. However, people who want to try something new will likely enjoy it a lot.
What is the Rivers of Light Dessert Party?
Happening a few nights each week, the Rivers of Light Dessert Party is a premium event held before the Rivers of Light nighttime show at Animal Kingdom.
The cost for this dessert party is $79 for adults and $47 per child (ages 3-9), so it is definitely not cheap.
Like the other dessert parties around Walt Disney World, guests attending the party get themed desserts, beverages, and a premium viewing spot for the show. More on all that below.
We must admit the location of the dessert party is quite lovely.
Animal Kingdom is a beautiful park, and having Discovery River (where Rivers of Light takes place) and the sights and sounds of Asia as the backdrop is very beautiful.
As you are walking towards Asia from DinoLand U.S.A., you'll find the entrance to the dessert party on your left (the opposite side from Expedition Everest), just past the bridge.
The area for the party itself is probably the smallest of all the dessert parties and a little bit tricky to find largely because of all the beautiful and lush greenery in that part of Animal Kingdom.
See what we mean? This is the entrance:
When the time draws near to check-in, Disney does put out a sign and stations Cast Members to make it easier. You can see the bridge that heads over to the theater for the Finding Nemo - The Musical in the background of the photo below.
There is a Rivers of Light FastPass+ entrance nearby, and the guests with FastPasses will be escorted to their section during the party; however, that process doesn't interfere with the party at all.
How it works
Unlike the Frozen Ever After Dessert Party at Epcot or the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party at Hollywood Studios, this party doesn't include assigned tables...or chairs.
And, we think the lack of chairs is a big deal.
At the end of a long day, the last thing most people want to do is stand. And, the lack of tables can be an issue with kids and little ones.
It is a lot easier to wrangle kids around tables of sugar and sweets if you have a spot where they can sit and enjoy their treats. Standing makes that a lot more challenging.
Guests are able to sit in the bleachers of the theater while they eat (if they want), but that isn't an ideal situation and involves you going up and down stairs with full plates of food and glasses.
Most of the other dessert parties started their runs with no chairs, too. However, all now do provide chairs for guests to use while eating, so it is very surprising that this dessert party hasn't followed suit.
Once you check in, guests are free to snag any spot they want.
If you plan to remain at the tables during the show, you may want to choose one closer to the water, but don't worry if those are all taken; the tiers in the area mean that you'll have a good view from nearly every location.
When it comes to the food, you'll find that everything is absolutely gorgeous and looks almost too good to eat.
It's just beautiful - and it all tastes delicious, too. Even those little flower pots are edible...as are the blooms, themselves.
Lovely attention to detail here that is probably made easier by the smaller venue and overall crowd size.
The one big drawback to the food offerings, however, is the lack of savory items. There were plenty of sweet things, but if you prefer the more savory items (like those found at the other dessert parties), you won't find that here.
At the price point for the parties, it is nice to have a larger lunch and then enjoy the heavy hors d'oeuvres and desserts as your "meal" for the evening. Just don't expect that here.
With the lack of savory items, it really is difficult to use this party as a small dinner, which is something you can easily do with the other parties.
Drinks (including alcoholic beverages) are included, and we found the Tiger Lily to be especially delicious and one of the better signature cocktails offered at the dessert parties.
There's also a small selection of beer and wine, and there's also water and non-alcoholic punch available.
At show time, you'll find that there are plenty of seats.
Cast Members reserve a section of the stands in the front rows for anybody attending the dessert party that would like to sit. You can head down there whenever you are ready.
Reservations can be made online or by phone by calling (407) WDW-DINE.
One important thing to note, however:
Disney opens up availability for all of the dessert parties in random batches, and, frustratingly there doesn't seem to be much of a pattern with it.
Very rarely is anything open or available at 180 days out, so you just have to keep watching and checking for the parties to open up for booking.
Some Rivers of Light Dessert Party tips
- Tables aren't reserved, so you are free to choose whichever one you want when you arrive. If you want to stand during the show, aim for one of the tables closest to the water (near the food tables) for the best views.
- Although we didn't find lines at the drink counter, you can ask for multiple drinks to save time if you run into that problem.
- When the show is over, you are free to use the dessert party space to wait for the crowds to clear the area before leaving.
Is it worth it?
Every park at Walt Disney World offers at least 1 dessert party which means you have several to choose from.
The prices do vary from party to party, however, and some parties (like the Frozen Ever After Dessert Party) offer additional perks like a ride on an attraction.
If you want to get the best value for your money, this dessert party isn't the best option (as you can see in the chart below).
For that reason we can't recommend it for people that are trying to find that 1 special thing or dessert party to try during their trip.
If, however, you've already tried the other dessert parties and you're just looking for something new, it may be worth it for you.