Summer is almost officially here and that means vacation time at Walt Disney World for many families with kids now out of school. This also means it is a more popular time in the parks where wait times can increase. We thought we’d share some of our favorite Walt Disney World entertainment options that can give you a break inside or in the shade or pass the time while waiting for your Fast Pass time to roll around.
Betsy – I absolutely love the Dapper Dans! They remind me of one of my favorite movie musicals, the Music Man. I have even been lucky enough to be serenaded by these guys while getting my haircut at Harmony Barber Shop, which was perfect. I love their often A Capella performances, which are sometimes accompanied by the awesome Deagan organ chimes. It is especially cool to see them entertain as the Cadaver Dans during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
Cheryl – Push the trash can is very entertaining to watch with kids.
Dana – Wowzer is an acrobatic clown that usually juggles while balancing on boards that he has set up himself. He has a spinning plate act as well. Wowzer is fun and super talented.
Beth – I love watching the Dapper Dans tap dance! You never know when they’ll grab you from the audience and make you part of the show!
Kelly – Main Street Philharmonic – No matter how many time I’ve seen them perform there is a simple, yet amazing way to how they play and what they play with such ease, especially in the Florida weather! It’s awesome to hear Disney songs that most of us know in a slightly different style. Also, to hear them during Flag Retreat is fantastic!
Mike – One of my favorite things to experience while in the Magic Kingdom is the famous Main Street U.S.A. barbershop quartet, the Dapper Dans. Serenading guests, the Dapper Dans are a true piece of Americana. Not only are they delightful to listen to singing classic songs such as “Mr. Sandman” and “Hello My Baby”, but also the Dapper Dans love to get their guests involved in the show by allowing them to play the infamous Deagan Organ Chimes.
Shelley – To me nothing says the Magic Kingdom quite like the Main Street Trolley Show! I will stop EVERY time I see the Main Street Trolley Show, to sing and dance along with the performers. It also holds a special place in my heart, because Zoe has loved them from her very first visit!The Citizens of Main Street really are the heartbeat and soul of Main Street USA! They’re always willing to talk to you about your day, your celebrations, and especially about their lives on Main Street USA. Don’t forget to shake the Mayor’s hand, ask Scoop Sanderson about his latest pin, or let the Fire Chief know he’s doing a great job!
Betsy – This is a toss up for me. Off Kilter and Voices of Liberty are my two favorite entertainment options in Epcot. I love how Off Kilter covers some eclectic choices of songs with their Celtic Rock flare. They range from classics like Amazing Grace and Danny Boy to Bob Marley and Byan Adams hits. Voices of Liberty perform American classics from hymns to revolutionary war songs. I absolutely love their set last year for the Fourth of July! It was one of the most moving performances and brought me to tears.
Cheryl – Voices of Liberty – It is great to get out of the sun and just sit in air conditioning
Dana – Miyuki – I always stop to watch her when I hear she is making candy. Yes, I said hear because she usually has a mic on. Her personality is as fun as the candy she creates for guests who stop to watch her. I’ve never been lucky enough to be picked by her, but still very entertaining.
Beth – Hands down Mariachi Cobre at the Mexico Pavilion. They are so talented and genuinely enjoy meeting and talking with their audience.
Kelly – JAMMitors – It never fails that when I’m walking by Innoventions that they are out there playing. The crowd they draw is amazed by how they are playing and what they are playing. British Revolution – I’m a sucker for British music and the atmosphere is a great way to relax and take in some awesome songs.
Mike – One of my favorite entertainment offerings in the World Showcase is the Celtic rock band known as Off Kilter. They rock out five times a day to some of the best in traditional Celtic music and sometimes will even throw in a few modern day hits in their set as well. If you love the sound of bagpipes combined with guitar, drum and bass this is definitely the band for you. Some of my favorite songs that Off Kilter plays include “Danny Boy” and “Bonnie Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond”.
Shelley – Off Kilter – Dancing to Off Kilter is quite possibly one of my favorite things to do at Epcot! They’re a really fun group of guys who play music that is great to dance (and maybe drink) to even if you’re just walking by around World Showcase. Their version of Whiskey In The Jar is awesome! Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps – There is something quite special about catching the Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps in the American Adventure Pavilion. They have several sets they play, but my favorite is when they have the kids march around, and as a fun bonus they receive a copy of the Declaration of Independence as a gift for participating.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Betsy – You may or may not have seen me at the Studios enjoying a performance of Mulch, Sweat and Shears. I have an affinity for the lead guitarist Axe and may even have picks he has tossed during shows. They cover classic and more current rock and some pop songs.
Cheryl – Citizens of Hollywood – They have some totally funny acts, and it is great to stop and watch.
Dana – Citizens of Hollywood – I love them strictly for the comedy. They can go unnoticed sometimes, but when you spot them, hilarity ensues. Jedi Training – Super cute. I watched it the first time last week. Everyone loved Darth Maul and I loved the sound effects that were perfectly timed to his lightsaber.
Beth – I enjoy the Citizens of Hollywood. You never know when you’re gonna stumble upon a performance.
Kelly – Citizens of Hollywood – Improv acting mixed in with random Hollywood Studios guests always makes for a great show.
Mike – Often found over in the Streets of America, Mulch, Sweat & Shears plays some of the greatest classic rock hits from bands such as Van Halen, Aerosmith, Queen, Kiss and so much more. Not only is this band extremely entertaining but also they do an amazing job with getting the crowd involved and allowing the audience to become an honorary member of the band by playing the cowbell, rocking out on the guitar with band leader Morris Mulch and even singing along with the band.
Shelley – Catching Mulch, Sweat, & Shears at the Studios is something I try to do as often as I can, because it is definitely a family favorite. Zoe will dance her heart out, and has high hopes of playing the cow bell with the band one day!!! Whatever you do, PLEASE take a moment from your day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to watch the Citizens of Hollywood!!! This talented group of performers are great at improvisation and making you laugh no matter how long you had to wait for Toy Story Midway Mania.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Betsy – DJ Anaan is one of the newer additions to the live entertainment at Animal Kingdom. I remember going shortly after the Bhangra dance party started last year. It is so much fun watching the dancers move along with the Punjabi style music. Every time I have seen kids of all ages joining in with the party learning moves straight out of some of your favorite Bollywood movies.
Cheryl – I enjoy watching DJ Anaan and the dancing in front of Yak and Yeti.
Dana – DiVine – The first thing you notice is a group of people looking into the plant life on the walking between Africa and Asia. Then you spot her when she finally moves. It’s fun to watch her move into plant-like poses and watch her disappear back into the foliage.
Beth – My 4 yr old nephew Alex visited DAK for the first time this year. He loves playing the guitar and singing songs. As we were walking through Camp Minnie Mickey, Gi-tar Dan spotted Alex and started singing about his grey dinosaur shirt and grey shoes. The look on Alex’s face was priceless as he discovered the song was about him.
Kelly – Tam Tam Drummers – When these guys start playing their instruments you feel like you’re in their homeland. Such a cool dance party!
Mike – If you’re looking for an immersive cultural experience that can be enjoyed by people of all ages then look no further than the Burudika band at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Located over in the Harambe Village of Africa, Burudika plays some of Africa’s modern hits and encourages all guests to dance freely in front of the stage joining the band in an African street party. Sometimes if you’re lucky enough, the Tam Tam Drummers will join Burudika’s street party and aid them in teaching guests some traditional African dance moves that they can take home with them to show their friends and family.
Shelley – Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe – NOTHING makes me happier than being able to dance in a park, and the Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe are my favorite to dance with at Animal Kingdom…maybe even all of Walt Disney World! These guys play a mean song and dance with everything they have. They put on a great show, and taking in a show is a great way to spend time waiting for your Kilimanjaro Safari Fast Pass time!
Betsy – One of my absolute favorite ways to unwind after a fun day in the parks is to grab a drink at Mizner’s and to listen to the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra. They play big band music mixed in with some Disney tunes and even take requests. I adore sitting for hours to catch their sets alternating with the piano player in the Grand Floridian lobby.
Cheryl – Yehaa Bob – It is no longer a “secret” at Disney. Its great to go and watch him perform.
Dana – Grand Floridian Society Orchestra – This could be a time to relax, beat the heat, and just listen to the Orchestra’s music.
Beth – Watching the Electric Water Pageant from the beach of the Polynesian Resort is fantastic. The pageant sails the Seven Seas Lagoon and around Bay Lake nightly and can be seen from any of the monorail resorts as well as the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness.
Kelly – Grand Floridian Lobby Society Orchestra – I love, love, love listening to the orchestra play classic Disney songs. You can hear it all throughout the lobby and it makes Grand Floridian that much cooler when you walk in and hear them playing. Scat Cat’s Club musician – This bar is nice and relaxing and to hear some jazz music in the background is a great way to end a day.
Mike – One of my all-time favorite entertainment options located on Disney property is Yehaa Bob Jackson located over at the River Roost Lounge at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside. Join Yehaa Bob for his whimsical piano sing-along featuring numerous classic songs like “Sweet Caroline”, “Piano Man” and of course my all time favorite audience participation song “Sarah, Sarah” (Don’t mess it up!!!) The reason why I love going to see Yehaa Bob so much is because he is not your ordinary piano player. In fact, he is the complete opposite. Instead, Yehaa Bob Jackson is a phenomenally talented piano player who is almost rarely sitting down and plays a piano that rarely sits still.
Shelley – Boardwalk Magician, Juggler, Musicians – The Boardwalk performers are quite different than what you will find at the Walt Disney World Resort, and they variety of shows they put on are sure to please every member of you traveling party. There is nothing like grabbing a snack on the Boardwalk and watching a performance! Yehaa Bob Jackson – Some of my most favorite memories of living so close to Walt Disney World involve going to a Yehaa Bob Jackson show! We’ve had girls nights, birthday parties, and gatherings there and we always have a blast! It can get a little loud, but don’t let that intimidate you from joining in on the fun…just donnnnnnnnn’t mess it up!!!!!!
These are just a few of the many options that Walt Disney World entertainment offers in and around the theme parks. We hope that you take some time to take a break and enjoy some of these fantastic choices for ways to spend time outside attractions. So much of what makes Walt Disney World amazing is the people and interacting with these performers and even other guests can provide some priceless memories. I know I will never forget the time I got pulled up to “sing” with Mulch, Sweat & Shears and my friends just happened to be there with a video camera. Seeing someone spot DiVine for the first time is often quite entertaining. If you haven’t enjoyed the ragtime piano playing while grabbing a snack at Casey’s Corner, you’re missing out on one of the best secrets in the Magic Kingdom. Hearing the Voices of Liberty perform Golden Dream live is a transformative moment to say the least. Take a moment and slow down while you’re on your vacation to experience the live Walt Disney World entertainment. You won’t regret it!
So the other night on twitter I asked what people’s favorite song was from the Sound of Music when mine came up randomly in iTunes (Something Good, btw). One of my friends answered My Favorite Things. While struggling to come up with a topic for a blog post, I was reminded of this when I saw Do-Re-Mi-Fa trending on twitter and saw it as a sign. Inspiration has to come from somewhere, so why not twitter? I’ll take this opportunity to highlight some of my favorite things at Walt Disney World. Some are obvious choices as E Ticket attractions and others may not be as well known.
At the Magic Kingdom, and probably in all of Walt Disney World, my favorite ride is Pirates of the Caribbean. I guess I’ve been enamored with the idea of pirates in general since we did Peter Pan as our second grade play. Despite the fact that I always tend to get soaked from either the cannon fire or even the drop, this remains my fave. I love the smell of the queue, have a whole soundtrack of the theme song with various remixes (yes, this exists), and the addition of Captain Jack Sparrow certainly didn’t hurt or compromise the integrity or feel of the ride, in my opinion. Two other classic attractions round out my top three in MK: Haunted Mansion and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover. I have been fortunate enough to take a walking tour of the Haunted Mansion and it was beyond incredible. The storytelling on this is probably the most complete of any attraction in the Magic Kingdom. TTAP is just a great ride that gives you an overview of Tomorrowland with narration. You can read more about my love of the Peoplemover here.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is not my favorite of the four parks by a long stretch, however there are some things that I completely love about this park. The theming of Harambe and Anandapur are spectacular. I especially love the artwork and details in the Asia section of the park along the Maharajah Jungle Trek. It may also be because the tigers are my favorite animals to visit. As far as rides are concerned, I love the Kilimanjaro Safaris, especially towards the end of the day. I used to think that I’d see more animals first thing in the morning, but the last few times I have ridden in late afternoon I saw way more. My favorite show, possibly in all of WDW, is the Festival of the Lion King. It has great interactivity for the kids, lots of entertainment with singing, dancing, aerial acrobatics, and my absolute favorite part: TUMBLE MONKEYS!!! The quality of this production is always great and is fun for everyone.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is magnificent at night, possibly stealing the show from the other parks with the luster of old Hollywood and the luminescence of neon. While I’m not a huge fan of all of the rides, I do love to experience some of the lesser appreciated attractions. Probably my favorite activity at the Studios is the Animation Academy. I have done this dozens of times, and typically go twice each day I visit that park. You can see some of my attempts at drawing here. Another attraction that I enjoy and try to catch each time is Mulch, Sweat & Shears. If you haven’t seen these guys (and sometimes girls) perform, you are missing out on one of the best live acts in WDW. They cover great rock songs from the 60s through today. Usually found on New York Street, but sometimes by the Sorcerer’s Hat, Mulch is a great way to spend some time rocking out and dancing to some music you don’t often hear in the parks. Last, but certainly not least, is my favorite ride in DHS: the Great Movie Ride. It harkens back to the classic days of Hollywood with nods to some of the greatest films in cinematic history. For more in depth details on some more of my favorite things at the Studios, take a look at my blog post from a few weeks ago here.
Finally, this brings me to my favorite park (actually I go back and forth between MK and Epcot, but most of the time Epcot wins). I am completely fascinated with World Showcase at Epcot, partially because I love to travel, but haven’t outside of the US. This is like a magical journey that transports me to lands both near and far when I set foot in WS. My favorite film in Epcot is definitely Impressions de France. As several of my friends know, I love (j’adore) this attraction to the point where I have practically memorized the script and can recite it almost verbatim, including the parts in French. The scenery all around France is magnificent, the score is beautiful, using classical works from composers like Maurice Ravel, Camille Saint-Saens and Claude Debussy just to name a few. I have even made a cd of the tracks used in the film. You can ask for a copy of track listing from the Cast Members as you exit through the gift shop. Since Test Track is out of commission, my favorite ride is Spaceship Earth. I know some fanboys take issue with Dame Judi Dench’s narration, but being a James Bond fan, I don’t mind. Plus, I don’t have recollection of the Cronkite or Irons versions. Taking the time to “thank the Phoenicians” has become a ritual part of every trip. My third favorite attraction in Epcot goes to the entire American Adventure pavilion. This includes the Fife & Drum Corps, shows like Candlelight Processional, Flower Power Concert Series, Eat to the Beat Concert Series, the Voices of Liberty and the American Adventure attraction itself. Americana is something that is near and dear to me and all of these elements combine to celebrate some of the best things about this great nation of ours.
What are some of your favorite attractions? Hope you enjoyed learning about some of mine.