Friday, February 19, 2010

Top 10: Live Performances In The Mouse

Many important factors make Walt Disney World what it is: attention to detail, phenomenal theming, great music, incredible food, constant upgrading, meticulous cleanliness, respect for tradition, family entertainment, education, thrills and one thing that sometimes gets overlooked: live entertainment.

There are countless live performances all throughout each park and resort every single day. These ultra-talented artists of every kind help make Walt Disney World what it is: a totally engrossing experience. They add to the atmosphere of the area of the park they're in and sometimes give you the most memorable experiences of your vacation. They're the unsung heroes of The Mouse.

In this article, we count down our top 10 best live performances around Walt Disney World. This will encompass singers, dancers, musicians, acrobats, stage shows, comedy acts and everything in between. If it's performed live, it's a candidate. Now, we do have to draw the line somewhere; we won't be counting CMs who work the queue lines and such, even those with larger role-playing efforts like the Haunted Mansion or Tower of Terror crews. These have to be scheduled live performances in and of themselves.

So without further ado, the 10 Best Live Performances in The Mouse:

10. Off Kilter
Canada Pavilion, Epcot

Off Kilter is incredibly popular. Every time they're on stage at Epcot's Canada pavilion, huge crowds gather to hear their fusion of Celtic and Rock music. I love their unique sound and because I'm such a fan of classic rock, their covers suit my personal taste perfectly. They're awesome and fun.

9. Finding Nemo, The Musical
Animal Kingdom

The longest stage show in Walt Disney World, this elaborate production is wonderful. The fact that they made a musical out of a movie that was not a musical is what's truly intriguing. The singers are ultra talented, the songs are well-written and catchy and the costumes and stage props are awesome. This show is extremely well designed and even if you've never seen the movie, it's very easy to follow the story. Plus, it's a great way to escape the heat for a good chunk of time.

8. DiVine
Animal Kingdom

We gave DiVine her props in a recent article (The Mouse Is In The Details: DiVine, Feb. 4, 2010). She's amazing, plain and simple.

7. Dragon Legend Acrobats
China Pavilion, Epcot

This acrobat troupe can make your jaw drop, no matter how many times you've seen them.

6. Citizens Of Hollywood
Hollywood Studios

So many of these talented folks belong on this list that we decided to include them all under one umbrella. They're called "streetmosphere" because they MAKE the atmosphere at Hollywood Studios what it is...a wonderful recalling of the Hollywood of yesteryear. Except they are hilarious. My personal favorite is the one and only Bucky Greenhorn.

5. Mulch, Sweat & Shears
Hollywood Studios

Quite simply, these guys are FUN. They are the ultimate party band and they put a smile on everyone's face. They usually set up camp around the Streets of America and inevitably a huge crowd gathers around to hear their stylized covers of classic rock songs. Basically, they're very talented musicians who make everyone feel good.

4. The Main Street Philharmonic
Magic Kingdom

These guys are big part of the flavor of Main Street, USA. There's nothing like being in the Magic Kingdom under the bright morning sun and hearing these guys playing their instruments in the background in Town Square. Talk about atmosphere. These guys ARE atmosphere.

3. Festival of the Lion King
Animal Kingdom

This is the closest thing The Mouse comes to Cirque Du Soleil inside the parks, except this includes live singing along with the acrobatics, unbelievable costumes and props. Katie was once chosen to grab an instrument and encircle the stage with other kids at the end of the show and it's a highlight of her Disney World life.

2. Voices of Liberty
United States Pavilion, Epcot

Inspiring, jaw-dropping, phenomenal talent. I can't count how many times they've made me choke up during America The Beautiful or The National Anthem (or countless other songs). The setting inside the rotunda in the American pavilion is perfect visually, and for their phenomenal sound.

1. Fantasmic!
Hollywood Studios

Even though not every aspect of Fantasmic is "live", I included this huge production because of the amount of actors and dancers who so expertly perform their role every show to make this the most mind-bending on-stage experience in The Mouse. I was simply blown away by Fantasmic the first time I saw it and have been addicted to it ever since.

Honorable Mention:
Jedi Training Academy
Push The Trashcan
Main Street Ragtime Piano Players
YeeHaw Bob Jackson
Flights of Wonder


  1. We love the Nemo musical...even my then 2yo!

    We love Fantasmic, too. My younger son was less than a year old when he first saw it...he loved it then and still does now!

    We are actually going to DHS for one day during Easter week (yikes!). Our original plans we for March but the shuttle launch date was changed to April. I haven't looked yet but I hope Fantasmic is scheduled for our night!

  2. I hope Fantasmic is going for you's awful that they cut it down from showing every day to just a couple days a week. Now DHS is absolutely slammed on most days it's showing.

    Ah well...if they have two showings, try to go to the second show if your little ones can stay up for it (if you've never tried the 2nd show before). Way more manageable crowd situation.

    Plus, with about 7,000 people in line for the first showing, that opens up some lines for attractions and ADRs! ;)

  3. It is not the case with the 2nd show anymore it is more crowded than the first show because "THE TOWER OF TERROR & ROCKING ROLLER COASTER CLOSE AN HOUR BEFORE THE 2ND SHOW"!