12 Most Crowd Pleasing Shows in Walt Disney World Parks

Nemo Show
Photo Credit: Matthew Cooper (

It’s no secret that Disney Parks around the world are renowned for putting on some of the greatest shows and entertainments of all time. From nighttime spectaculars to live stage productions, family-friendly celebration bashes with favorite characters and everything else in between, Disney certainly knows how to keep crowds happy. So it should come as no surprise to learn that you will find a wide range of different shows taking place at Walt Disney World Resort at any given time. While sought-after experiences and interests do sometimes differ amongst various vacationers, these 12 must-see picks are arguably the most crowd-pleasing shows across the board in all of Disney World.

1. Finding Nemo—The Musical

This longtime favorite, found within Animal Kingdom’s DinoLand U.S.A., combines majestic puppetry, live music, and stellar set pieces to plunge audiences into new depths in this unique retelling of the heartwarming story ofFinding Nemo. A most unfathomable show you just have to experience for yourself, it’s no wonder that Finding Nemo—The Musical remains one of Disney’s most crowd-pleasing shows of all time. While the original film was not a musical, Academy Award-winning songwriting duo Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez—masterminds behind the soundtracks in such films as Frozenand Coco—compiled 14 original songs exclusive to this live show production, creating a whole new sea of possibilities for experiencing this well-loved modern classic. Finding Nemo—The Musical runs approximately 40 minutes in length and shows at various times throughout the day between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

2. Up! A Great Bird Adventure

Also located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a bird of a very different feather in the way of entertainment. It’s Up! A Great Bird Adventure, and it’s been a major crowd pleaser for park visitors since its debut in April of last year. The show takes place in the spacious outdoor Caravan Theater where its predecessor Flights of Wonder was also held. And like Flights of Wonder, the show’s star performers include a cast of a thousand amongst real-life actual birds of all varieties, from strutting chickens to a soaring marabou stork sporting a 10-foot wingspan, pretty peacocks to the imposing Andean Condor, and everything else you can imagine (or perhaps had never even imagined since you’d never heard of before now). And don’t forget the majestic Bald Eagle! Now with its new Up!-inspired theme, the storyline follows Russell and his furry companion Dug as they meet a senior Wilderness Explorer lady who welcomes them into the aviary she now serves to protect, all while educating them (and the audience) about the great diversity of different birds. The show includes unique live tricks and other antics from featured feathered friends, making each installment a one-of-a-kind viewing that is never quite the same twice. Up! A Great Bird Adventure is shown multiple times throughout the day every day, starting with a 10:30 a.m. morning installment and running its last performance at 5 p.m. The show’s duration is approximately 25 minutes in length.

UP! A Great Bird Adventure

3. Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!

Over in Hollywood Studios, the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! has been drawing in scores of fans for close to 30 years now. A longtime crowd pleaser, this 30-minute live action stunt show thrills audiences of all ages with daring feats, explosions, and exclusive inside looks into how such magic is made in the movies. The show has remained an unchanged staple park classic since its debut, with our hero Indy and leading lady Marion Ravenwood at the center of all the action and stunts, as well as helpful audience volunteers and a directing crew to lend a feel for an actual film-in-progress effect.  However, it has been announced recently that various updates are slated for this attraction in the coming years, including the removal of the behind-the-scenes studio motif and more at-the-heart-of-it-all action. In order for these updates to take effect, however, the show will come to a temporary halt for a duration spanning from some time between 2020 and the summer of 2021. The update is set to premier just in time for both the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration as well as the fifth installment of the Indiana Jonesfilm franchise. But for now, diehard fans can still see the show they know and love so well at various intervals throughout the day between noon and 6 p.m.

4. For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration

Another more recent hit to be enjoyed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is hands-down the coolest new crowd-pleasing show around. It’s For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration. With its location in the former American Idol Experience Theater, there is plenty of room for eager audiences to crowd around for the blissful blizzard of frozen fun that accompanies each and every 30-minute performance. Gather around for an original retelling of the Frozen story you already know and love so well, but as described by two of Arendelle’s quirky Royal Historians and accompanied by some of the film’s most popular musical numbers. As audience members you are invited to sing along to these hits with the accompaniment of the songs’ lyrics as projected onto the screen for your facilitation. Also note that the show includes appearances by Anna, Kristoff, and Queen Elsa herself, live and in person. For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration takes place at various times throughout the day between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Anna and Elsa from Frozen

5. Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire

Disney’s Magic Kingdom is the place to experience plenty of timeless traditional crowd-pleasing endeavors of all kinds. And one such experience, which takes place right onsite at Cinderella Castle is Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire. This live stage show, which spans around 20 minutes, brings together beloved Disney classic characters old and new alike. You’ve got Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy, of course but also friends like Tiana and Prince Naveen from The Princess and the Frog, Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from Tangled, and Anna, Elsa, and Olaf from Frozen. And then there are also their friends, all of whom also delight in joining the fun in this ultimate celebration showcase of music, dancing, and special effects. Friendship is royal and all are cordially invited to attend this Castle Stage event, which takes place at various times throughout the day beginning with a 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. show and then afternoon installments that run at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 4:15 p.m. daily.

6. Festival of Fantasy Parade

Another crowd pleaser and Magic Kingdom mainstay is Walt Disney World’s daily parade procession. While specifics in floats, theming, and character appearances have changed over the years (and are subject to change again over time), the tradition of hosting a Disney parade each day is a longtime occurrence and a highly anticipated right of passage many guests come here seeking during their vacations. Festival of Fantasy is a park-wide celebration of the Fantasyland embodiment with several classic Disney characters, old and new alike, joining in on the procession via whimsical state-of-the-art floats and charming music. The parade runs for a 12-minute duration, with a point of origin that begins between Frontierland and Adventureland. The route runs through Liberty Square and on towards Main Street, U.S.A. Plenty of vantage points allow for optimal viewing of the parade in its entirety along the way, which makes it accessible to plenty of spectators at a given time. Daily viewing regularly takes place at 3 p.m. each day, though it’s always recommended to check the Times Guide the day of, as on occasion the parade is subject to changes in time.

7. Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party!

As we’ve explained thus far, Disney’s Magic Kingdom is the place to be for many mousey approaches to crowd-pleasing fun. And it’s Disney’s newest street party that really drives the point home. The Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party!, which opened on January 18, as part of the limited engagement Mickey & Minnie Surprise Celebration, is a replacement to the popular Move It! Shake It! Dance and Play It Street Party!, which concluded this past December. This latest installment follows the same concept as its predecessor in the way that spectator participation is both encouraged and expected, with sideline guests invited into the street to dance along to the music. But this newer version is more ingrained with classic Disney and features only original characters. Some are popular, recognizable longtime friends like Donald and Daisy Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale, and Mickey and Minnie, of course. Other interesting characters joining in the fun include Clarabelle the Cow, Clarice the Chipmunk, Horace Horsecollar, Max Goof, JoséCarioca, and Panchito Pistoles, First-ever live singing is another thing that sets this dance party apart from all the rest with the premier of an original new song “It’s a Good Time,” along with modern remixes of beloved classic Disney songs.The Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party! runs for approximately 35 minutes in all and is held at various times throughout the day between 11 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.

8. Festival of the Lion King

Heading back over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom there is another longtime favorite crowd-pleasing show attraction—Festival of the Lion King. With regularly occurring performances throughout the day beginning at 10 a.m. and concluding at 6 p.m., this must-see spectacle takes Broadway caliber entertainment to a whole other level. This live on-stage pageantry celebration brings together a whole host of talented singers, dancers, acrobats, life-sized puppetry works, and stunning feats, including fire dancing. It isn’t a retelling of the Lion Kingstory we already know, but rather an original production featuring whimsical floats, stunning imagery and costumes, and many of the film’s iconic classic songs. Descriptions are not enough to do this Pride Land celebration justice. You just have to see this 30-minute spectacle for yourself!

9. Rivers of Light

Since it’s debut at Animal Kingdom in February 2017, Rivers of Light has been offering up a pleasing nighttime spectacular to countless visitors. Unlike other park spectaculars that incorporate the use of fireworks and other more boisterous features, Rivers of Light is a tamer presentation designed not to disturb the park’s animal inhabitants yet still offering up a stellar ambiance of lights, projection imagery, and awesome aquatics. The show has become an instant hit, and we didn’t think it could get any better, but recently it has exceeded its own merits. Now as Rivers of Light: We Are One, fans of the original and newcomers alike get to experience a reimagined journey that still incorporates all the stunning on-water effects, floats, and premium attributes but with a new focus highlighting the milestones through the “circle of life” and interconnectedness of both animal and human life. More nature imagery clips from Disneynature films have been incorporated into this latest installment along with classic moments from some of Disney’s most beloved animated animal-themed movies. The show’s original musical score has also been reimagined to incorporate elements from other well-loved Disney themes, making this crowd pleaser even more pleasing. Rivers of Light: We Are One shows twice nightly at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. Current seasonal hours are at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.

10. Happily Ever After

Because there is no better place to celebrate your “happily ever after” than at Walt Disney World Resort, it seems fitting that one of the most popular crowd-pleasing nighttime spectaculars you will find here is rightfully named Happily Ever After.  The ultimate sendoff for a day spent at Magic Kingdom Park, this must-see experience brings together state-of-the-art imagery projection techniques to transform Cinderella Castle into a phenomenal backdrop for the countless classic Disney film moments highlighted throughout the 18-minute presentation. Come gather around and watch as myriad Disney character favorites from films old and new alike celebrate their own “happily ever after” experiences as captured by memorable scenes and motivating music. Also incorporated into the overall effect is the use of lasers, lights, and special effects of all types along with classic firework displays, of course. Disney’s Happily Ever After Nighttime Spectacular is shown nightly at Cinderella Castle, currently at 9:15 p.m.

11. Wonderful World of Animation

This brand new nighttime spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios may be just shy of a month old, but there’s no denying that it’s already the next big thing. Disney’s new Wonderful World of Animation celebrates over 90 years of Disney magic in the making, with state-of-the-art projection imagery effects highlighting Disney Animation and Pixar films new and old, alike. Shown every evening on the outside of the Chinese Theatre, this ultimate tribute to animation is already exciting scores of visitors, earning itself a high-ranking reputation among Disney’s top crowd-pleasing shows. The current showing for this spectacular is 9:10 p.m. The total duration lasts for approximately 12 minutes.

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12. Fantasmic!

Disney’s Fantasmic! show at Hollywood Studios is one of the biggest longtime crowd-pleasing experiences for the whole family. Featuring a combination of watery wonders at work, phenomenal fireworks, well-loved familiar music, and stunning pyrotechnical feats, it’s the ultimate culmination of the finest Disney show-stopping performances of all time. The story follows Mickey Mouse through his dream-studded quests, conquering the terror of nightmares and then his eventual triumph of good over evil. Along the way, iconic classic Disney characters, both villainous and heroic, make appearances. Fantasmic! performances run for a total duration of 30 minutes each installment, with current showings taking place nightly at 9 p.m.

Disney show times and performances are always subject to change, especially considering the season and other park happenings occurring at any given time, so it’s always best to keep up-to-date by consulting the most recent printed Times Guide (available at parks and resorts). Also keep in mind that there are numerous other Disney crowd-pleasing experiences to consider as well, from Beauty and the Beast—Live on Stage or Voyage of Little Mermaid in Hollywood Studios to interactive 4-D shows like Mickey’s PhilHarmagic at the Magic Kingdom or It’s Tough to Be A Bug! in Animal Kingdom—and we can’t forget Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room and other delights! Whatever entertainment pursuits you come seeking at Walt Disney World, each and every magical experience is designed to make all your dreams come true.

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About Laura

Laura Catherine aka “LC” is a writer who resides in Maryland with her family and several pets. She visits Walt Disney World whenever she can. Additionally, she is a published author of three novels, a children’s book, and has a passion for gardening.

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