We previously visited our top rides at WDW in this post here. Now, we are going to look at our picks for the top shows the Vacation Kingdom has to offer.
Now, there are tons of attractions that technically qualify as shows at WDW, but for the sake of simplicity, I am going to adhere to the following guidelines for this list:
- Attraction must have scheduled show times. Continuous running shows like Country Bear Jamboree or The Enchanted Tiki Room are out.
- Attraction must be “free” or included in the cost of the park ticket. No dinner shows such as Hoop Dee Doo. Shows with dinner packages are fine as they can be experienced for free if preferred.
- I didn’t include any “streetmosphere”. The Dapper Dans and Main Street Philharmonic are fantastic, but I find they are typically things you stumble across rather than plan around. The same goes for things like the Citizens of Hollywood at HS and World Showcase performers at Epcot. I would prefer to do another post dedicated directly to this type of entertainment.
- I am not including any shows from “hard ticket” events such as the holiday parties.
With these rules set in place, here are our top 11 shows at WDW!
11. Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
As this list will clearly show, I am a sucker for a good nighttime spectacular. That being said, some are not as great as others. I discussed Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular a bit in a previous post here. Basically my thoughts on it are that its good, but not great. While it could be better, it’s still Star Wars, fireworks and lasers. All that is enough for it to eke its way onto the list.
Rivers of Light is a beautiful display. Its vibrant colors, relaxing feeling and catchy soundtrack make it an overall enjoyable experience. That being said, the show as a whole has a little bit of a “that’s all?” feel. Read our full review here!
The show was chopped to bits after almost a full year of delays due to technical difficulties. What we ended up getting was a condensed show missing a lot of the special effects shown in the original concept art. It also lacks that big wow moment and does not have much of a finale. It just kind of ends.
All of this causes ROL to drop to the bottom part of this list. Still, despite its shortcomings, we really enjoy the show and always make time to see it once per trip.
9. Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire
The current castle stage show at Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire is a ton of fun. The show replaced “Dream Along With Mickey” a couple years ago and is a clear upgrade in my opinion. It features musical numbers from Tangled and The Princess and the Frog, both of which are greatly under represented in the parks. It also features Frozen which is “slightly” over represented in the parks.
We recommend trying to see either the first of last performances of the day as it can be brutal watching this while standing out in the hot mid-day Florida sun.
8. Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular
The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is not quite and opening day attraction for Hollywood Studios, but its close. The show opened a few months after the park and is the the closest thing left to the original vision of the park.
We have seen this show many many times. Admittedly seeing the same thing over and over again can get a bit stale after a while, but we still don’t feel that this show should be replaced. For those who don’t make yearly trips to WDW (which is shockingly the majority of WDW guests), this show can still be a highlight of their trip. Its exciting, funny and really gives you the feeling of watching a movie being made.
Generally, I am not a huge fan of daytime parades. Festival of Fantasy is the exception to that. The floats are all great and the soundtrack is catchy. Its the perfect daytime parade for the Magic Kingdom.
We are still holding out hope that WDW will finally bring a night parade back to MK, but the longer we go without an announcement, the more likely it is that Festival of Fantasy will continue to be the only “non-party” parade offered on property.
Disney touts this as a Broadway type show too, and while it’s not, its still great. As is obvious from this list, we much prefer it to the Finding Nemo or Beauty and the Beast stage production. The show has all the great songs from the film (performed live), perfect pacing, some great variety acts (who doesn’t love The Tumble Monkeys?) and is just plain fun.
Disney recently announced a dining package for this show. As of right now we do not recommend it. The show is easy to see even without fastpass and there is not a bad seat in the house.
4. Great Moments in History With The Muppets
I grew up watching The Muppet Show on tv. If you had told little me that I would be able to essentially watch a live version of it in person, I would have been to the moon with excitement!
Well, as an adult 25 years later, I finally got to live that excitement. Two different “Moments in History” are performed throughout the day, and they are essentially The Muppet Show live in person. They are hilarious, charming and everything that is great about The Muppets.
3. Illuminations: Reflections of Earth
Illuminations is the current long running Epcot nighttime spectacular. The show is set to end its run on September 30, 2019. This bums out a bit since we love the show, but we also realize its had a very long run and its time had come to be replaced.
Illuminations: Reflections of Earth has a beautiful message, an inspiring soundtrack and just the right amount of subtlety. In addition to this, nothing beats a post Illuminations stroll around World Showcase with the post show music playing! Its one of our very favorite experiences in all of WDW.
Happily Ever After is the best Disney fireworks display ever to be put on in the Disney Parks. Many people will still tell you they think Wishes was better but I think they are letting nostalgia get the better of them. HEA is longer, has more pyro and adds the projections to go with it!
The way in which the pyrotechnics, projections and musical score all work together is absolutely phenomenal! The soundtrack is strong from start to finish and it features a ton of Disney animation characters, several of which aren’t really found anywhere else in WDW. Its the perfect end to a day at the Magic Kingdom!
While it’s admittedly inferior to the amazing Disneyland version, we still LOVE Hollywood Studio’s Fantasmic. It’s everything we love about Walt Disney World.
Its got a great cast of characters, an incredible soundtrack and the best use of Mickey Mouse in the parks! I know “Disney Magic” is cliche, but that is exactly what this show is. Magical!