Must-See Entertainment at Disney World

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We all go to Disney for the experience, the characters, and the rides, but have you ever gone just for the entertainment?  The fireworks, the nighttime shows, the parades and the live action shows that Disney offers?  For us, these 10 entertainment options are some of the best that Disney has to offer, and are must-sees anytime we travel to Disney.

Must-See Entertainment at Disney World

Fantasmic!

  • Location: Hollywood Studios
  • Time: Check your park guide
  • Best time to go: Later show, because there will be fewer people!
  • Best place to sit: Somewhere in the middle if you’re taking pictures, otherwise anywhere is fine since it’s stadium seating!  Be warned though, you will get wet if you sit in the front!Fantasmic

Fantasmic! is one of my favorite shows at Disney World!  It combines pyrotechnics, laser lights, and a water show that will immerse you into Mickey’s imagination and take you through some of the best Disney classics.  You’ll also get to see a few of our favorite love to hate villains as they try to steal the show from Mickey Mouse.  This show is a great way to end the day, and your little ones will love being able to see all the characters in one place.

Main Street Electrical Parade

  • Location: Magic Kingdom
  • Time: Check your park guide
  • Best time to go: Later show, because there will be fewer people!
  • Best place to sit: Main Street, especially if you’re taking pictures because the castle will be in the background.  It also means you’ll be in a good spot to watch the Fireworks show after the first parade ends.

Chris and I usually don’t watch this parade (even though I always want to) because we find that it’s a great time to get in line for rides with minimal wait times.  However, I have always loved this parade for its music and all the characters you get to see.  All of the floats and the characters outfits are lit up too which makes it fun for the kids!

Festival of Fantasy Parade

  • Location: Hollywood Studios
  • Time: Check your park guide
  • Best time to go: Show up at least an hour early to get a prime spot on Main Street for this parade!
  • Best place to sit: Main Street USA is my favorite place to sit for this parade!  But, anywhere along the parade route will give you a great view.Festival of Fantasy

This is by far my favorite parade at Disney World.  It’s relatively new and we’ve only seen it once, but once was enough for me.  I fell in love.  The music for this parade is spectacular and the costumes are colorful and gorgeous.  And there is even a fire-breathing dragon!  Even Chris agreed that he was happy we stopped to watch it (and he is not a big parade lover).  If there is one show you shouldn’t miss while at Disney World, it’s this one.

Festival of the Lion King

  • Location: Animal Kingdom
  • Time: Check your park guide
  • Best time to go: n/a
  • Best place to sit: If you’re taking pictures you’ll want to sit relatively close to the front, otherwise it doesn’t matter.  The seating is stadium style so you’ll have a good view no matter where you are.

The Festival of the Lion King just opened up in its new location inside Animal Kingdom, and it was still incredibly busy when we went to go watch it.  You may want to grab Fastpasses for this one if you’re thinking about doing it.  There is lots of singing, dancing, and acrobatics and audience participation.  It’s a fun show and also a really great way to get out of the heat and sit in an air-conditioned room a little while!

Voyage of the Little Mermaid

  • Location: Hollywood Studios
  • Time: Check your park guide
  • Best time to go: Towards the end of the day.  Less crowds means you have a better chance of getting the seat you want.
  • Best place to sit: Anywhere in the middle.  Chris and I like to sit in the back but that’s because I don’t want to disturb anyone while I take pictures.Voyage of the Little Mermaid

This is by far my favorite show at Hollywood Studios.  You’ll see all of your favorite characters from The Little Mermaid and listen to your favorite songs all in a short 17 minute show.  There is no flash photography allowed because the theater is dark and it could blind the performers, so please be considerate to those around you while in the theater!  My favorite part of the show is Ursula, because she is one of my favorite villains and her interactions with Ariel are the best!

Finding Nemo, The Musical

  • Location: Animal Kingdom
  • Time: Check your park guide
  • Best time to go: Later in the day, because there will be fewer people!
  • Best place to sit: Somewhere in the middle if you’re taking pictures, otherwise anywhere is fine since it’s stadium seating!

Chris and I haven’t done the musical on the past few visits, but it is definitely one of our favorites!  We love the songs they wrote for the show and the costumes are just fantastic.  We always walk out singing a few of our favorite songs, and they stay in your head long after you get back home.

Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage

  • Location: Hollywood Studios
  • Time: Check your park guide
  • Best time to go: Later show, because there will be fewer people!
  • Best place to sit: The front is my absolute favorite spot for this show, but you have to get there super early to get a seat there.  They save the first two or three rows for those in wheelchairs, but the seats behind them are just as good!  If you don’t care about sitting up front, any seat towards the middle is fine!  Disney loves their stadium seating so no matter where you sit you’ll have a great view (as long as you’re not directly behind the sound box).Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage

As a kid, this was by far my favorite show in all of Disney World.  As I’ve gotten older a bit of the magic has worn off, but I still love going just to listen to my favorite songs.  The musical numbers are so much fun and I absolutely love the Be Our Guest number!  Anytime Gaston is on the stage is an absolute riot (they always pick a great guy to play him) and it’s always fun to see him interact with the other performers.

Celebrate the Magic

  • Location: Magic Kingdom
  • Time: Right before the Wishes Fireworks Show (check your time guide for the fireworks show time)
  • Best time to go: n/a
  • Best place to sit: Right in front of the Castle but you can still get relatively good views from a little further back on Main Street.

This is a 10 minute show right before the fireworks, and it’s a great way to pass the time while waiting!  Images are projected onto Cinderella’s Castle creating some fun and interesting effects.  You’ll see Mickey, some classic Disney movies and even some of the newer ones like Wreck it Ralph and Frozen all projected onto the castle to music.  It’s definitely a fun show to watch!

Wishes Nighttime Spectacular

  • Location: Magic Kingdom
  • Time: Check your time guide
  • Best time to go: n/a
  • Best place to sit: Right in front of the Castle but if you’re taking pictures either the Train Station or in front of the Ice Cream Shop on Main Street.

    This was taken over at the Rose Garden, which is no longer at the Magic Kingdom due to the expansion construction.  This was also my first time taking fireworks photos back in January of this year!
    This was taken over at the Rose Garden, which is no longer at the Magic Kingdom due to the expansion construction. This was also my first time taking fireworks photos back in January of this year!

I guess it’s no secret that I love anything at the Magic Kingdom, and this is why.  There is nothing more magical than Cinderella’s Castle to me, so anytime there is a parade or fireworks show (or anything else for that matter) I am right there soaking in all the fun.  This is why Wishes will always be my favorite fireworks show.  I love watching the colors light up the castle, Tinkerbell take flight, and listening to the music all while the bursts go off above me.  It’s truly magical and a great way to end the night.

Bonus Entertainment Shows

  • Jedi Training Academy: Located at Hollywood Studios, you have to get there first thing in the morning to sign your children up to be Padawans.  They learn how to use lightsabers from a real Jedi Master and even get to fight Darth Vader!  If you have Star Wars fanatics in your household, this is a must-do!
  • Indiana Jones Stunt Show: Located at Hollywood Studios, this is a fun interactive show to see!  Experience what it is like to be on a set, watch fight scenes with stunt doubles, and see how they made some of the Iconic Indiana Jones scenes!  It’s a lot of fun to watch and see how they bring movie magic to life.  But be warned, there are rumors that Disney will be taking out this show to make room for a Star Wars area.  So, definitely try to see this show before that happens!
  • Lights! Motor! Action! Extreme Stunt Show: This is also located at Hollywood Studios and is a great show for the car enthusiast.  Film professionals give you some of their special effect secrets all while performing stunts.  This show is not a favorite of ours, but we have friends whose kids think this show is spectacular.  They also love that Lightning McQueen makes an appearance.
  • Voices of Liberty: Located in the America Pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase, this a capella group will entertain you while you watch for the next showing of The American Adventure (one of Chris’ favorite shows).  Their harmonies are beautiful, and you will love listening to them at any age.
  • Illuminations, Reflections of Earth: This fireworks show is located at Epcot, and is a fun way to end the day.  The fireworks are beautiful and we love the music, but this is not a show we need to see every time we’re at Epcot.  The show starts off pretty slow and it takes a while for the actual fireworks part to get started.  For this reason, it’s usually a pass for us.
  • Dapper Dans:  Located on Main Street USA you can sit on the curb and listen to this Barber Shop Quartet serenade you with old-time songs.  It’s a fun way to people watch and relax for a little bit!
  • Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It!: This fun party is located in front of Cinderella’s Castle.  While it’s not technically a parade, it does have a few floats that come around with different characters.  Wait for it to stop and then the characters will come into the crowd and grab people to dance with.  It’s a ton of fun for your little ones!

So, what do you think?

Did I miss any of your favorite entertainment must-sees at Disney?

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