Top Ten Shows at Walt Disney World

Top Ten Disney World Shows

Top Ten Disney World Shows

Disney World is not an amusement park. It is a theme park. Amusement parks have rides. Theme parks have rides but they also have stories to tell. Disney tells a story with every ride but they also use a lot of shows. This is Grumpy’s list of the Top Ten Disney World Shows.

10.  Finding Nemo the Musical

Our first entry on the Top Ten Disney World Shows is found at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. This show is found in DinoLand U.S.A. It is performed in the Theater in the Wild.

Finding Nemo the Musical tells the story of Marlin’s search for his son Nemo. Of course Dory shows up to “help.” Although the movie was no a musical, unless you include that timeless classic “Just Keep Swimming” the show is. (I know who would have guessed by the name.) For the first time in history Disney has added songs to a movie to make it a musical.

The story is told through acrobats, puppets, dancers and animated back drops. Unlike many puppet shows, however, guests will see not only the puppet but the puppeteer.

Top Ten Shows at Walt Disney World
Finding Nemo the musical combines acrobats, dancers and puppets to tell Nemo’s story
9. Voices of Liberty

Number nine on our Top Ten Disney World Shows takes us over to Epcot for the Voices of Liberty.

This  acapella ensemble performs daily at Epcot’s American Adventure. They perform in the rotunda in period costumes.

As you would expect the group is great. The arrangement of the songs and the harmonies make this a must see. Generally the shows last about fifteen minutes and feature mainly patriotic songs. My personal favorite is the Battle Hymn of the Republic. It can bring tears to my eyes.

Recently they added another song from the movie Frozen. Not sure how I feel about that but you can check it video below and make up your own mind.

8.  Country Bear Jamboree

Our next entry on the Top Ten Disney World Shows takes us over to the Magic Kingdom and to the Grizzly Hall in Frontierland for the Country Bear Jamboree. Not everyone would agree that this one belongs with a list of the top ten shows at Walt Disney World. The Country Bear Jamboree is one of those love it or hate it attractions. I happen to love it.

These Audio-Animatronic bears will entertain you with songs and jokes. The show features a large cast of bears. Some of them will be on stage at all times while others may rise from the floor or descend from the ceiling to do their part.

What the bears may lack in talent they make up for in humor. Children will probably be especially fond of this one.

7.  Mickey’s Philharmagic

Mickey’s Philharmagic is located in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom.

The show begins with Mickey preparing to conduct the PhilharMagic Orchestra at the Fantasyland Concert Hall. His friends Goofy, Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck are on hand to help.  Mickey leaves Donald to unpack the instruments while he races off stage. He also leaves his hat (the sorcerer’s hat that got him in so much trouble in Fantasia) on the podium. His last words to Donald are “Don’t touch my hat!”

Of course Donald does and that is where the show really takes off as Donald has to chase the hat through scenes from newer Disney classics like the Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.

The show is presented in 4D.  4D takes the visual effects of a 3D movie and adds smell and feel to the visual and audio effeccts. For example, in the scene with Lumiere singing Be Our Guest guests can actually smell the food that is flying off screen at them. Guests will also experience gusts of air and mists.

This one is especially fun with small children. I have seen more than one reaching out to grab the objects that are “right in front of them.”

Top Ten Magic Kingdom Attractions
Donald Duck runs into some trouble when he tries to conduct Mickey’s Philharmagic.
6.  Flights of Wonder

For number 6 on the list we have to leave the Magic Kingdom and head over to that other kingdom at Walt Disney World, Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Flights of Wonder is located in Asia. The show only features a few people but it features a lot of feathered characters ranging from chickens to a bald eagle.  Unlike so many shows on this list, these birds are the real thing and not Audio-Animatronics.

The birds in the show perform a lot of tricks including stealing money from guests (and bringing it back), catching grapes out of the air, counting and singing. They do fly over the guests and sometimes get pretty close.

My favorite part of the Animal Kingdom's Flights of Wonder is the bald Eagle.
My favorite part of the Animal Kingdom’s Flights of Wonder is the bald Eagle.

The birds’ performances are wrapped around a cheesy skit involving a tour guide who is afraid of birds. As the show progresses and the guide learns more about birds he finally overcomes his/her fears. I could do without the skit but it does add a little humor.

5.  La Nouba

Number 5 on the list takes us out of the parks completely and over to Downtown Disney for Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba.  La Nouba is located on the West Side.

Top Ten Disney World Shows
Cirque du Soleil La Nouba is a blend of circus arts and street entertainment

For those not familiar with Cirque du Soleil they are a Canadian entertainment company that is the world’s largest theatrical producer. They have many different shows. This  one,  created especially for Walt Disney World,  is called La Nouba.

Cirque du Soleil bills its productions as a mix of circus arts and street entertainment. What that translates to is a combination of people flying through the air, tumbling, walking on tight ropes and more, Everything is set to live music.

To be honest, this one is hard to explain. Just watch the video below. The only down side to La Nouba is the price. Tickets start at $49 when Disney is running a promotion.

4.  Festival of the Lion King

The Festival of the Lion King takes us back to the parks, specifically Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Once located in Camp Minnie-Mickey (prior to it’s demolition for Avatar-land) the show was put on hiatus from January 2014 until its new building was ready in June 2014. The new building is in Harambe Village in Africa.

A dramatic adaptation from the hit movie the Lion King. Features great music from the movie.
A dramatic adaptation from the hit movie the Lion King. Features great music from the movie.

The Festival of the Lion King is about 30 minutes long.  While there are a few audio-animatronics they are not the stars of the show. The starring roles fall to live performers.

Those live performers include Timon and a cast of costumed characters. Some characters sing, some dance and some tumble. They all do a great job but my favorite is the one I call the bird lady. She actually flies through the air.

The show contains elements from the movie but do not expect a complete retelling of the Lion King.

3. Celebrate the Magic

Two of the top three shows at Disney World are located in the Magic Kingdom. Both involve Cinderella’s Castle. The first of the two, coming in at number three, is Celebrate the Magic.

Celebrate the Magic replaced the Magic, Memories and You show the debuted on January 8th, 2011 and ending its run on September 3rd, 2012. In November of 2012 Celebrate the Magic opened up.

The Magic, Memories and You show used Cinderella Castle as the back drop for a musical celebration of Walt Disney’s classic animated films and music interspersed with photographs of guests taken that day by the Disney Photopass photographers.

Celebrate the Magic eliminates the guest photos and focus exclusively classic Disney films and music. It continues, however, to use Cinderella Castle as a huge backdrop for a projection movie.

Do not think that the Castle is simply as huge projection screen like you would find in any theater. It is not. The show is so well done that the castle itself seems to transform from scene to scene. The show begins with Tinkerbelle flying up the castle. This is not the live action performer who flies out of the castle during wishes but a projection. Still, it is so well done that you would think Tink really is there.

Do not miss this one!

2. Fantasmic

Our number 2 (and it almost ties for number one) pick is from Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The show takes place in the 11,000 seat Hollywood Hills Ampitheater which is an outdoor venue. The seats are all metal benches surrounding a canal that itself surrounds the stage.

The performance schedule varies. Some nights it is performed once. Some nights twice. Some nights not at all. I love this one so much I will adjust my park schedule to make sure it is playing the day Grumpy is visiting the Hollywood Studios. The performance, since it is outside, is subject to weather conditions.

The story revolves around Mickey Mouse and his imagination. While Mickey is determined to use him magic to create beauty and happiness the Evil Queen from Snow White is determined to put a stop to that foolishness. Using dark magic she takes over Mickey’s imagination but in then Mickey wins. Bet you didn’t see that coming did you.

The story is told through live action sequences, music and scenes from movies projected onto huge water screens. There are elements of fire involved at times and guests can quite literally feel the heat.

1. Wishes

Our final entry on the Top Ten Disney World Shows is Wishes. Wishes is presented most nights at the Magic Kingdom.

Wishes is the nighttime spectacular at Magic Kingdom. It is not to be missed. If someone tells me they have been to Walt Disney World and they have not seen Wishes I would not call them a liar (but I would be thinking it!)

Wishes, like all Disney attractions, has a story to tell. This story is told primarily by some of the best loved Disney characters, music and spectacular fireworks.  All of these elements combine to tell the story that wishes can come true.

The story opens up with some special lighting on the Castle and an introduction by the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio. Jiminy Cricket then takes over as the narrator reminding us that wishes do come true.

What follows is a mixture of musical numbers and audio clips as famous Disney characters share what they are wishing for. All of this is synchronized to lighting changes and fireworks. One of the highlights of the show is when a real life Tinkerbell flies out of the Castle and over the audience’s head.

Like all good stories this one has a villain, the Wicked Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She has some wishes of her own and none of them spell any good for the rest of us. Of course in the end she loses as the Blue Fairy returns to set things right.

Top Ten Disney World Shows
Wishes at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom has Cinderella Castle at center stage.

Wishes is presented most nights at the Magic Kingdom. During some special events and seasons a modified version of Wishes may be presented.

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