You may already know about some of the awesome (and popular!) featured shows and entertainment at Walt Disney World (looking at you, Festival of the Lion King!). They are certainly well-known for a reason and are not to be missed. Today, we’ll take a look at some of my favorite lesser-known forms of entertainment throughout The World.
Flag Retreat Ceremony
Where: Town Square at Magic Kingdom
When: Daily at 5pm. Check your daily Times Guide for accurate updates, as currently it is scheduled for 5:15 daily. The ceremony lasts about 15 minutes.
Many people often miss this event, as they are eating dinner, waiting in line for rides, or back at their resorts getting ready for a night in the parks. This is one of my absolute favorite traditions of the Magic Kingdom. Good luck trying to not tear up during this ceremony. If you’re like me and your heart skips a beat at any celebration of patriotism and unity, this is sure to be one of the highlights of your day (maybe even your trip!). Join the Main Street Philharmonic and the Color Guard as the American Flag is lowered, folded, and handed over to chosen Veteran guest of the park. The Veteran then marches the flag down Main Street USA in a short procession while the band plays patriotic melodies. This is a perfect tribute to end the afternoon and usher in the evening hours at Magic Kingdom.
The Muppets Present…Great Moments In American History
Where: Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom (right outside of Hall of Presidents…another great and often-overlooked show!)
When: Multiple times throughout the late morning and afternoon. Check your Times Guide for daily specifics. This show lasts about 10 minutes.
This show was just introduced in late 2016, and is a great addition to the entertainment at Magic Kingdom! Pick a comfortable spot to sit or stand in Liberty Square. The show will appear above you as Muppets pop out of the second story windows in the buildings next to The Hall of Presidents. Kids and adults alike with appreciate the fun and humorous account of American history, fraught with song and dramatic story-telling.
Voices of Liberty
Where: The American Adventure Pavilion at Epcot World Showcase
When: Multiple time throughout the afternoon, generally between the hours of 12-5. Check your Times Guide for daily specifics. The show lasts about 15 minutes.
You might have noticed…patriotic tributes are my jam. I love (okay, it’s a love-hate relationship) the feeling of my heart swelling with red-white-and-blue pride, and that lump that creeps up in my throat at the climax of Stars and Stripes Forever, as tears stream silently down my cheeks while I stand in a crowd of equally inspired and enthusiastic Americans. Throw in a few Veterans saluting the flag, and I’m done. Disney elicits this involuntary reaction from me so well. Voices of Liberty is a talented and entertaining a cappella group that sings a number of patriotic classics, dressed to the nines in fine 1800s garb. The acoustics of the rotunda dome amplify their voices beautifully, and it’s best heard when you stand or sit as close as possible to the circle.
Bonus: Go on and head into The American Adventure show after getting into the patriotic mood with the Voices of Liberty. This is a 30-minute audio-animatronic and film show that brings you on a journey of American history, with Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain as your guides. This show plays every 45 minutes, and is a great air-conditioned break from walking around the World Showcase. This is one of my favorite films of all the 11 countries represented in the World Showcase (and the most well-done, in my opinion)!
Street Performers around the World Showcase
Where: Various countries throughout the World Showcase in Epcot
When: Multiple times throughout the afternoon. Check your Times Guide for daily specifics.
Streetmosphere abounds in Walt Disney World. This is one of my favorite forms of entertainment at WDW, because stumbling upon it throughout the day can be a magical and welcomed surprise. Unless, of course, you’re paying close attention to your Times Guide. Then you’re ahead of the game and there will be no stumbling…just the satisfaction of having your high expectations met. As you’re touring the World Showcase countries, dedicate a few moments to catch the performers who’ll be gracing the streets throughout the afternoon.
My very favorites are: the amazing and daring Serveur Amusant in France, Sergio and his beloved whistle in Italy, and the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats in China.
Citizens of Hollywood
Where: Streets of Hollywood in Hollywood Studios
When: Intermittently throughout the day (9am-5:30pm)
Another shout-out to WDW streetmosphere. Except this is entertainment you actually will have to stumble upon, as these masters of improv can pop up anywhere/anytime along the streets of Hollywood. This gang encourages a lot of crowd interaction…if you enjoy a good belly laugh, you’ll want to make sure you are a part of that crowd! And if being in the spotlight is not your thing (I’m with you!), don’t let that stop you from watching…just hang back in the crowd a bit! This crew is simply not to be missed. They are the reason that as a young girl my favorite park was Hollywood Studios (though it was known as MGM back then!).
Street Performers on The Boardwalk
Where: The Boardwalk! (You can take a bus here or just exit Epcot through the International Gateway at the rear of the park…it will be a 5-10 minutes walk. If you’d rather not walk, hop on one of the Friendship Boats right outside the Gateway!)
When: Throughout the evenings, mostly after 7pm.
Here’s some entertainment you don’t have to pay park admission for! These talented performers may include magicians, jugglers, stuntmen, and musicians. We were very pleasantly surprised by these performances when making our way back to our room at The Boardwalk Inn during our last stay. Just as one performance wrapped up, it seemed another one started just down the way. It made for a wonderful night of laughter and entertainment, and created a fun atmosphere for perusing the shops and sights of the Boardwalk.
The Electrical Water Pageant
Where: The Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake (can be viewed at Magic Kingdom area resorts and outside the Magic Kingdom park)
When: Nightly beginning at 9pm. Approximate viewing times at various resort location are as follows:
- Polynesian at 9pm
- Grand Floridian at 9:15pm
- Wilderness Lodge at 9:30pm
- Fort Wildnerness at 9:45
- Contemporary at 10pm (NOTE: when Happily Ever Fireworks at MK are at 10pm, the Electrical Water Pageant will begin shortly after the fireworks conclude)
- Magic Kingdom (MK) at 10:35pm (during extended theme park hours only)
This is another show you don’t need park admission to see! Head to the beach/docks at an MK Area Resort to take in this fun, colorful water parade! Do you have an appreciation for time-honored traditions or quirky, playful music? Then you’ll enjoy watching this vintage show that has been around since Dedication Day at WDW in 1971! This is a great time to unwind from a day of crowds with your family, and reminisce on the magical moments of the day!
Pro tip: Grab a Dole Whip (if that’s your thing) at Pineapple Lanai and head down to the beach at the Polynesian Resort to watch the pageant. Even if you’re not staying at one of these MK area resorts, you can just hop on the monorail at MK and choose a stop…you can still enjoy the unique atmospheres these resorts have to offer. After the show is over, ride the monorail back to MK and hop on a bus back to your resort!
The Dapper Dans
Where: Main Street USA at Magic Kingdom
When: Multiple times throughout the day. Check your Times Guide for daily specifics. Shows last for about 20 minutes.
This barbershop quartet can’t be missed on Main Street, with their bright pin-striped suits and harmonic melodies. This vaudeville-type act delights guests with their renditions of Disney songs (like Cruella de Vil and Zip-a-dee Doo Dah) and classic Americana melodies (such as Yankee Doodle Dandee and Mr. Sandman). They may even surprise you with bouts of tap dancing and chime playing!
There are sure to be underrated shows worthy of mention that I have missed in this short overview. Let us know what your favorites are in the comments!