Comparing DLR and WDW Stage Shows
Hi everyone. Today I’m continuing my series of posts comparing Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort’s offerings. In this post, I’m going to take a quick walk thru the Live Entertainment stage shows offered in each park.
A note before we begin — this post is really about the stage productions, not the atmospheric entertainment. The stage shows are the big ones in a theatre, where you typically have to wait in line or have a Fastpass, where the atmosphere shows are things you happen across, like the Dapper Dans at Disneyland, or the small shows doting the World Showcase in Epcot. There are a LOT of different atmosphere entertainment offerings on both coasts, but I’m leaving that for another post.
Typically each park features one big show, so let’s go ahead and get started by breaking down the stage shows in each park.
Walt Disney World
Magic Kingdom – Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire
Magic Kingdom features an original show and story, shown multiple times a day on the stage directly in front of Cinderella’s Castle. This show features Mickey Mouse meeting up with a few different sets of “friends” from other Disney movies and having interactions with each of them. They all become friends and celebrate you joining in friendship with all of them at the end of the show.
While this features a mixture of “face” and “fur” actors on stage, there are only 1 or 2 cast members who have mics. Most of the vocals (even for the “face” characters) are pre-recorded and lip-sync’ed by the actors on stage. While most of them do a fine job, it doesn’t have the same soul to me as a show that features all live vocals.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast is an abbreviated retelling of the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast. This features a decent sized cast of dancers dressed in various houseware-based costumes, as well as a singing Belle and Gaston… and of course Beast in a glorious fur suit.
Much like the Magic Kingdom show, there are only 2 people who actually sing / talk during the show (Belle and Gaston). There’s a particularly odd moment where the guy who plays Gaston sings for the Beast from backstage. Again, not a bad show… a little juvenile, but it’s Disney so this is forgivable.
Animal Kingdom – Festival of the Lion King & Finding Nemo
Festival of the Lion King is absolutely incredible!! This show features a quartet of singers, each leading a section of the audience in group cheers. But the real stars of the show here are the various gymnasts, dancers, and even a fire dancer who make up the rest of the cast. These incredibly talented people all do a turn taking center stage and performing an incredibly fun and amazing show. This turned out to be my favorite live show at all of Disney World!
Finding Nemo is similar to Beauty and the Beast — a staged retelling of the story of Finding Nemo. I didn’t have time to catch this one during my Animal Kingdom day, but I feel like there was no way it could have topped Festival of the Lion King, so I’m happy with my choice.
Epcot – No “Big” Show
While Epcot features far more “small” shows than any other park, with each country featuring one or more different entertainment offering. So many of these shows are fun and well done, but they don’t have the same high production value as a large stage show does. As such it would be unfair to compare these to the other shows.
Disneyland – Mickey and the Magical Map
Mickey and the Magical Map tells an original story of Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey trying to paint the magical map. Thru a series of funny interactions with an unpainted “spot” in the map, Mickey travels to the four compass points (North, East, South, and West) and meets various Disney characters at each stop.
I really enjoy this show. First off, all of the lead vocals are sung live by a cast of LA artists. There is a noticeable difference between the average talent level between Disneyland and WDW. The screen the show takes place on is a great technological marvel — enhancing the show by giving each character their own unique backdrop.
Disney’s California Adventure – Frozen: The Musical
Frozen is a retelling of the story of Elsa becoming the queen of Arendelle. It features a huge cast and chorus, as well as a super charming (but non-speaking) puppeteer performing as Sven the Reindeer. Be warned, this show is LONG. It’s currently just under an hour, but they’ve cut a bunch of numbers from the show. (When it premiered it was over 1.5 hours!).
I absolutely love this show. The production quality rivals any Broadway musical, in terms of both the cast as well as the sets and special effects featured in the show. This is definitely my favorite show at Disneyland Resort in California — I highly recommend you go see this show!
So what’s your favorite big stage show? Let me know in the comments or message me on IG.