Theater is one of my favorite things ever, next to Disney, of course. So naturally, I always tend to be on the lookout for amazing theatric productions, which happens to be something that Disney does best. While theater is all around the parks, these are my personal top ten spectacles in Disney, although several of them are fairly even in my mind.
10. Citizens of Hollywood
These performers are an improv acting troupe that hangs out around Hollywood Studios. They are dressed up in old Hollywood getup and live in the Golden Era. While this is less of a show in the traditional sense, the performers pull you into their act, quite literally. They pop up with no warning, but they certainly make an entrance. The Citizens put on comedy sketches that are completely goofy but entirely hilarious.
9. Hoop-dee-doo Musical Revue
An oldie but a goodie. The Hoop-dee-doo Revue has seen many changes over the years, but its spirit and fun remain. While you are eating your very-American meal, presented by a very eccentric server, six lively entertainers put on a show you’ll never forget. Through various skits and numbers, you’ll be laughing and clapping along with everyone else. This show is hilarious and never dull. Although it’s been over ten years since my grandmother’s passing, I can still hear her singing “Hoop-dee-doo, hoop-dee-dee, that kind of music is like heaven to me.”
8. Voices of Liberty
This group of extremely talented singers performs as the pre-show for “We, the People.” Their act is only about 15-20 minutes long, but completely worth it. The group is small, only about 8 members, but their voices are incredible. Their stage is the middle of the American Adventure Pavilion (under the dome, for the best sound). Their set list includes well known Americana and folk songs, some silly, some serious, and all classic. The Voices of Liberty’s harmonies can honestly move you to tears. It can cause patriotism to swell even in the heart of the American bear. (Muppet Movie? Anyone? No? Okay.)
7. Happily Ever After
Happily Ever After fireworks show captures the essence of story-telling and brings it to life with all your favorite Disney characters. The fireworks are fantastic, but the Castle is just awesome as it changes colors throughout the performance and the lights are synchronized to the incredible soundtrack. The highlight of the show is Tinkerbell’s flight. In the middle of the fireworks, Tink flies from Cinderella Castle across the park. She can be seen from all over, even the Polynesian’s beach, which is where I always watch Happily Ever After.
6. Finding Nemo-The Musical
This show in Animal Kingdom is incredible. It is a production that most closely resembles a Broadway show, in my opinion. The story follows that of the movie, however songs are added to make it a musical. Personally, I think the songs are a little corny and probably overdone, but it’s a great way to tie the story together and fill in details that a 40-minute production can’t cover. The characters are brought to life through intense puppetry, which is wonderfully done. If anyone has seen The Lion King on Broadway, the characters are presented in the exact same way, with the actors camouflaged and in control of their character. If nothing else, go to look at the set and the puppets, they’re awesome.
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5. Festival of the Lion King
This show is brilliant, mainly for the visuals. The acrobatics are reminiscent of Cirque Du Soleil, and are what make the show special. In the beginning of the performance, the four main leaders separate the audience into four groups: the elephants, giraffes, lions and warthogs. This part is a little silly but perfect for the kids in the audience as they are encouraged to make the sounds of their particular animals. The actual musical performances are amazing and visually stunning. Festival of the Lion King brings the spirit of the beautiful film to life, promising a fun time all around.
4. EPCOT Forever
This is EPCOT’s nightly spectacle. Epcot Forever is a huge firework and light production and takes place in the middle of World Showcase Lagoon with the pavilions as its backdrop. Epcot at night is one of my favorite things to begin with, so ending the day with this beautiful display perfects the trip. EPCOT Forever is a temporary show however. We can expect to see HarmonioUS, Disney’s newest and largest nighttime spectacular, in the near future!
3. Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
My family and I adore this show. It’s goofy but so sweet. This show is an extremely condensed version of the timeless movie. The main, classic numbers are still in the production like “Belle,” “Gaston,” and of course “Be Our Guest.” The show basically starts like the movie, with Belle in the town, Gaston being primeval, and Belle wishing for adventure in the great wide somewhere. We then transition to Beast’s castle and dive right into “Be Our Guest.” The songs still make me smile and sing along with everyone else. While this show is very short, it is a perfect little taste of Broadway.
2. Candlelight Processional
This is a special holiday event for Christmastime. This production is the original Christmas story narrated by a selected celebrity, backed by a 50-piece orchestra and a mass choir. The Processional takes place in the America Gardens Theatre in Epcot. A major asset to this event is the Candlelight Dinner Package. Disney sets up particular dining options for your family, which also gives you preferred seating in the theatre along with VIP fireworks viewing. This production is a treasure for the senses and fills you with the true Christmas spirit.
This one is an essential at-least-once-in-your-lifetime type event. Fantasmic is an extravagant fireworks and water show held inside Hollywood Studios. The show begins as soon as the park closes and seating is on a “first come, first served” basis, unless you make reservations ahead of time. You can also purchase a dining package and eat dinner in the arena before the show. The spectacle itself is a 30-minute story of the villains trying to change Mickey’s dreams into a nightmare. Fireworks, lasers, and dancing waters bring this story to life. The show is fantastical and magical and everything you’d expect from an all out Disney fireworks show.
Main Street Entertainment: This includes every little act and show performed on Main Street, USA such as the Dapper Dans, Casey’s Corner Pianist (look for Jim!), the Trolley Show, the Castle stage shows and so much more.
Enchanted Tales with Belle: This Fantasyland show consists of Belle narrating her story of falling for the Beast. This little attraction is silly, but extremely well done. It allows kids (and grown-up kids) to become a part of the story instead of simply watching.