The Best Live Shows at Walt Disney World You Must See

As we all know, the rides at Walt Disney World are fantastic! We spend much of our Disney vacation planning focused on making sure we don’t miss any of the rides that we love – as we should. 

That being said, sometimes in our planning we don’t pay enough attention to the world class entertainment Disney puts on with their live shows. It is a mistake to forget to plan seeing a show or two during your vacation to Walt Disney World.  

The mistake many people make in their planning is this: they will focus on rides such as The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Millennium Flacon: Smugglers Run…and then as an after thought they might try to fit in a show.

We realize there are only so many hours in a day and many people are only able to find the time and money to visit one park during their Disney World vacation. We want to strongly recommend you give consideration to the many shows Disney has to offer in all four Disney parks if you have the option to visit more than one park.

In order to help with your planning, we are sharing with you some of the best shows Disney has to offer.  One of the remarkable things Disney does so well with their live shows is making them entertaining for literally any age.  

Your children will be spell-bound by familiar music, bright colors, and incredible props. Grandpa and Grandma will be totally captivated by the performance. It truly is a win-win for all ages! So which shows should you consider in your planning?  Read on.

Best live shows at Walt disney world

Best Live Shows at Walt Disney World

Be sure to check Disney’s site for exact show times as these may vary.

1. Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular 

Disney used to have a few shows that looked at the “behind the scenes” aspect of Hollywood but only one has remained: Indiana Jones. Quite frankly, we are not certain how much longer it will be around. Call it nostalgia or just good old fun entertainment, we still think it’s great! 

Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular

Opening in 1989, this show started out as one of Disney’s great live shows with the famous rolling boulder that Indy narrowly escapes – a scene straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark!

The rolling boulder, along with epic fight sequences, falls, and of course, huge explosions are standard in this amazing stage show! Now, over 30 years later, we feel this stunt show doesn’t get old. Our family has watched this show on several occasions and have enjoyed it each time!

  • Location: Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Time of show: 30 minutes
  • Show Schedule: five or six shows per day depending on park attendance
Family at Disney World show

Notes: Some lucky people are chosen to be in the show.  Get there early and be super enthusiastic and you never know.

2.  Festival of the Lion King  

Festival of the Lion King sign
Photo Credit Alexis Larcy

Opening in 1998, this wonderful show is as fresh today as it was when it started headlining almost 25 years ago.  We first want to tell you what it’s not, so you won’t be disappointed.  

This is not a retelling of the movie and isn’t similar to the Broadway musical.  What it is, is a charming show that incorporates dancers, extravagant costumes, acrobats, fire jugglers and other visually amazing performers – think a mix of broadway, the circus, and cirque soleil. 

Festival of the Lion King show
Photo Credit Alexis Larcy

This incredible performance is all centered around the wonderful music that came from The Lion King movie.  Can you Feel the Love Tonight, The Circle of Life and the fun, Hakuna Matata along with other nostalgic songs will have you singing and cheering during the finale.  

  • Location: Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Time of show: 30 minutes
  • Show Schedule: the top of each hour beginning at 10am
  • Genie+: We suggest not using a Genie+ on this show.  
  • Notes: The theater is “in the round” so there is really no bad seat.

*Be sure to check out our post on Animal Kingdom’s Kilimanjaro Safari for some secrets we bet you didn’t know!

3.  Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond!

Unlike Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo is an adaptation of the original movie. Finding Nemo The Musical has human performers paired with huge – seriously gigantic – creative puppets. At times the actors/puppeteers will come off the stage and into the aisles, making this extra entertaining.

Nemo and Friends

It is an amazing concept to watch as the original story of Finding Nemo is condensed to make it fit in the time of the show.  Children and adults alike are captivated by the puppetry, sound and music. You will find yourself forgetting that there are actors on stage as you become immersed in the story and songs. 

  • Location: Animal Kingdom
  • Time of show: 25 minutes
  • Show Schedule: Up to six times a day
  • Genie+: We suggest not using a Genie+ on this show.  
  • Notes: This wonderful show is the closest thing you will find to a Broadway Show at Disney World.

4. Fantasmic!  

If you are looking for a nighttime show, Fantasmic is a great option. This show includes over 50 live performers centered around the canvas of water as you sit in a 7,000 seat amphitheater that curves around the lagoon. You will be amazed by what Disney can do with light, water, and technology mixed together.  

Hollywood Hills Amphitheater -Fantasmic and Beauty and the Beast

The storyline: Mickey Mouse falls asleep and dreams he is a mighty sorcerer’s apprentice with the power to control water, color and magic.  Unfortunately, the Disney villains turn Mickey’s dream into a nightmare! However, have no fear, it all works out in the end.  Many of the classic Disney Characters make cameo appearances which is fun to anticipate. Along with everything else, there are great special effects and fireworks effects you are sure to enjoy.

  • Location: Hollywood Studios
  • Time of show: 30 minutes
  • Show Schedule: every night, one performance
  • Notes: If you sit in some of the first rows of this huge theater, you could get a bit wet.  

5.  Beauty & the Beast – Live on Stage 

This wonderful stage show of the beloved Beauty and the Beast is great for adults and kids alike.  Performed in the Theater of the Stars theater, located on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood Studios, you will be entertained with amazing backdrops, props, costumes and live performances.  Songs like Be Our Guest and Beauty and the Beast will have you leaving humming these iconic songs everyone knows and loves.  

Hollywood Hills Amphitheater -Fantasmic and Beauty and the Beast

Though we love the show, there are pros and cons for the 25 minute showtime.  The biggest negative is the story can get a bit “rushed” in order to have it all told.  There are probably very few people that will attend Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage that have not seen the animated show, so in our opinion condensing it doesn’t really detract from the story.  Also in the con area is the fact that the theater is an outdoor venue with a canopy roof, no air conditioning and bleacher style seating on metal bleachers with backs. 

The biggest Pro is we feel 25 minutes is the absolute perfect time. If it gets much longer, children would start to lose interest and if it’s shorter, there is no way they could get in all the songs and characters they are able to get in the show.

  • Location: Hollywood Studios
  • Time of show: 25 minutes
  • Show Schedule: 11 AM, 1 PM, 2 PM, 4 PM, and 5 PM (subject to change)
  • Genie +: Though it is a Genie+ attraction, we suggest not using it.  
  • Notes: The Theater of the Stars holds 1500 guests and we feel the best seats are mid to back center in order to really capture the entire stage.

6.  Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire  

Performed in front of the Cinderella Castle, everyone’s favorite classic characters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy) interact with modern Disney characters (Tiana, Rapunzel, Flynn, Olaf, and more!) This is a festive, incredibly produced stage show with music and even some Disney magic thrown in.  This is a great show, however, it does have some drawbacks.  

Mickey's Magical Friendship Faire characters

First, there is no seating for the 22 minute presentation. If you have been on your feet all day with very tired children who have also been on their feet all day, it can make this a difficult show to stand through.

You may want to consider hitting this show up earlier in the day. As an added perk to an early show – your child will see Mickey, Minnie, and others early on, making it less stressful to try to find these characters later on in the day!

Goofy, Mickey, and Minnie Friendship Faire

Second, there is no shade at all. If it’s a typical hot Florida day, all you can think of is finding some shade!  It must be said that this is really the only “show” that features Mickey Mouse so if you want to see him, this is where you need to be. You are guaranteed to see many of the Disney World favorite characters in this show. 

  • Location: Magic Kingdom
  • Time of show: 22 minutes
  • Show Schedule: typically, there are 5 shows a day
  • Notes: Great effects and music everyone loves makes this a crowd pleaser!

7. For the First Time in Forever – A Frozen Sing- Along Celebration 

Ok, let’s get the elephant in the room out in the open right away.  This show will definitely not be for everybody!  In some respects we think of Frozen as a one hit wonder.  It came on the scene and blew up!

Of course, Disney wanted to capitalize on the success of the movie, but in playing the same songs over and over again it has gotten a little irritating to many people. Not to all, but to many (parents out there, you hear us)!

Frozen Sing Along Entrance

If you, your children or grandpa must have their Frozen fix and hear their favorite songs, this is the show for them.  It features all the Frozen tunes, sung by very talented actors with a wonderful stage show and fantastic production quality.  

The question is, will you be loving every minute of every song or will you be fuming that Twilight Zone’s Tower of Terror’s line just expanded to an hour’s wait while sitting here? Only you know the answer to that question!

  • Location: Hollywood Studios
  • Time of show: 30 minutes
  • Show Schedule: Many shows throughout the day
  • Genie+: We suggest not using a Genie+ on this show.
  • Notes: If you are doing this for your child, bless you and remember it’s only 30 minutes long.

Look Out For Other Live Shows

As you’re planning your Walt Disney World vacation, we hope this helps you in not only knowing what the best stage shows are but which one is right for you and your family! Do consider trying to hit up at least one of these shows! 

street performers at Disney World

Of course there are often live performances popping up all over the Walt Disney World theme parks. You may see the barbershop quartet performing on Main Street or the muppets hanging out of windows in the Magic Kingdom. Bird shows happen in Animal Kingdom and you never know when the Star Wars characters will show up in Galaxy’s Edge!

You never know when a character will be strolling by or when a dance party will pop up in Tomorrowland. Be sure to take a minute and enjoy the entertainment happening as you walk by! We promise you won’t regret spending 10 minutes dancing with the Incredible characters or 2 minutes listening to a song. Disney World is a magical place, and part of the magic is stopping to notice it.

Each Disney theme park is full of amazing popular attractions. You can see some of the best rides at Magic Kingdom, the best rides at Animal Kingdom and how to avoid long lines at Disney World.

Author

  • David Flavin

    Dave visited Disneyland as a little boy and made his first visit to Walt Disney World in 1972. He has been visiting Disney World every few years since!

    Dave and his wife took their young family to Disney World several times all while on a teacher's budget. He knows how precious time and money are, and his goal is to help you not waste either while you are on your Walt Disney World Vacation.

    Dave's three kids are grown up and married. Dave loves his role as a grandfather to 9!

    Dave's favorite attraction at Walt Disney World is The Pirates of the Caribbean. When he isn't writing about Disney he enjoys composing music for Disney+ series, hanging out with his wife and their golden doodle, and being with his family.