Actors dressed for Lion King pageantry

14 Must-See Shows at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World is known for its incredible rides like Avatar Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios, but it also puts on some equally enjoyable shows. At Disney World, guests can dive into the big, blue world of Finding Nemo, take part in a reenactment of a tale as old as time alongside Belle, sing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” with Simba, Timon and Pumbaa, and so much more—all without leaving their seats.

But which live shows at Disney World should you add to your trip to-do list? Whether you’re looking for exciting entertainment options with heaps of character (Disney characters, that is!) or an informational animal extravaganza, these can’t-miss shows are sure to make your next visit your most magical Disney vacation yet. Curtains up!

14 Best Live Shows Disney World Has to Offer

From Broadway-style musicals and character spectaculars to interactive, tech-driven shows and fun-loving sing-alongs to an informative look at the animal kingdom, you’ll find it all in the Disney Parks at the Walt Disney World Resort. Unfortunately, taking in a show can also take up a lot of time, which can be a tough sell when you already have a busy day of theme park fun. Fortunately, we’re here to help you narrow it down with our picks for the top live performances to enjoy during your Disney World vacation. Alright, it’s showtime, so let’s get started!

Please note that while some shows run continuously, others are only offered at certain times. As showtimes are subject to depending on the day and time of the year, refer to the My Disney Experience app for the most up-to-date schedule. 

Actors dressed for Lion King pageantry

Magic Kingdom Park

Disney’s Magic Kingdom is home to a host of enchanting attractions, including a number of worthwhile shows. Before we break them all down, we would be amiss not to mention another must-do entertainment offering: the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade. While not a “show” per se, this fantastical parade is not to be missed.

Featuring a slew of your favorite characters, including Disney Princesses and classic Disney pals like Mickey and Minnie, as well as Maleficent as a steampunk, fire-breathing dragon, the Festival of Fantasy Parade is an absolute must. The parade route runs from Frontierland, through Liberty Square and down Main Street, USA, so be sure to find a spot to see the floats roll by. Now, let’s get down to business.

Enchanted Tales with Belle (Reopening February 19, 2023)

When it comes to close-up character interactions, nothing can compare to Enchanted Tales with Belle. Held in Fantasyland in her father Maurice’s quaint cottage, this adorable, interactive attraction will charm guests of all ages. Some guests (though not all) are chosen from the audience to act out parts from Beauty and the Beast alongside Belle and Lumiere for a delightful reenactment and meet-and-greet on steroids you’re sure to remember for years to come. A Disney PhotoPass photographer is also on-hand to capture the moment, so feel free to strike a pose.

Runtime: Roughly 20 minutes

Part of Disney Genie+: Not yet confirmed (FastPass+ offered in the past)

Viewing Tips: Due to the more intimate nature of the attraction, the line moves slowly, so go early in the morning or during the last couple hours of the day for the shortest wait.

Let the Magic Begin Welcome Show

What better way to start your day at The Most Magical Place on Earth than with a warm welcome from Mickey and the gang? Let the Magic Begin is the opening show for Magic Kingdom and is held just a few minutes before the park opens for the day (that’s the official opening time, not the start of Early Park Entry). The show takes place in front of Cinderella Castle, so walk right down the middle of Main Street, USA, head straight to the Hub and kick off your day with a bang—literally.

Runtime: 5 minutes

Part of Disney Genie+: No

Viewing Tips: Unlike the other parks at Walt Disney World, it isn’t unheard of for cast members to open the gates and allow guests on Main Street, USA as early as an hour before opening time. Best of all, you don’t need to be a resort guest to take advantage. So, consider getting a head start on your day and head to Magic Kingdom early to enjoy excellent views of the show, as well as relatively crowd-free photo opportunities.

Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire

This next magical show also takes place on the Cinderella Castle stage. Formerly known as Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire is a great way to see a ton of characters at Magic Kingdom, making it a decent alternative if you don’t have time for the Festival of Fantasy Parade.

The show features classic Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Goofy alongside more contemporary favorites like Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from Tangled, Tiana and Prince Naveen from The Princess and the Frog, and Elsa and Anna from Frozen. So, it’s bound to please everyone in your group no matter who they’re fans of.

Runtime: 23 minutes

Part of Disney Genie+: No

Viewing Tips: You only need to arrive between 15 to 30 minutes before showtime to snag a front-row “seat.” However, since the pavement angles down toward the stage, creating a makeshift stadium, great views can still be had as far back as the Partners statue.

Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor

The Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor is no ordinary stage show. Located in Tomorrowland next to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, the show is one of the more unique shows at Magic Kingdom and is appropriately made possible through the magic of technology. Set up like an open mic in Monstropolis, this monstrous comedy show takes place on a large screen and incorporates plenty of audience interaction. Not only do the monsters do crowd work in real-time with folks in the audience, but you can even text jokes to a number provided for a chance at having your one-liners incorporated into the act.

Runtime: 15 minutes

Part of Disney Genie+: Yes

Viewing Tips: As the auditorium can hold several hundred people, the wait time doesn’t typically get too out of hand. If you’re visiting Tomorrowland first thing in the morning, stop by after you’ve completed the other attractions in the area; otherwise, try to hold off until after the Festival of Fantasy Parade when the crowds start to thin out.


Although you’ll find plenty of entertainment options at Epcot, most of them are either live musical performances (the Voices of Liberty at the American Adventure Pavilion in World Showcase are a must-listen if you have the time) or pre-recorded films. In fact, you’ll only find one live “stage show” at this edu-taining Disney theme park, and it’s well worth a watch if you’re visiting with kids or looking for a cute distraction that also comes with some A/C.

Turtle Talk with Crush

Similar to the Monsters, Inc. comedy show at Magic Kingdom, Turtle Talk with Crush is more of an interactive, tech-powered Q-and-A session led by everyone’s favorite Disney turtle than an actual show. With the help of a hydrophone, this one-man one-turtle improv show plunges dudes and dudettes into the world of Finding Nemo, giving them an opportunity to ask all their burning questions about life in the big, blue world and beyond.

Naturally, with more than 150 years spent surfing the ocean’s currents, the tubular turtle has a ton of knowledge in his noggin. He’s like the surfer-dude Yoda of the East Australian Current. As you can imagine, it can be downright hilarious. The live chat is held throughout the day in the Turtle Talk Theater at The Seas with Nemo & Friends.

Runtime: 15 minutes

Part of Disney Genie+: Yes

Viewing Tips: Crowds usually clear out of the building by the late afternoon, so save the show until you’ve finished going on the ride and checking out the many aquariums.

Turtle Talk signage on wall with Cruch

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

There’s no business like show business, and since Disney’s Hollywood Studios is all about the movie-making magic of Tinseltown, it’s no wonder that the theme park is home to several star-studded shows. Having said that, there was sadly one casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic at Hollywood Studios: the Voyage of the Little Mermaid.

Sure, Ariel, her handsome prince and their fishy friend, Flounder, may have been able to defeat the evil sea witch, Ursula, and live happily ever after. What couldn’t they conquer, however? An infestation of mold (or, at least, that’s what the rumor mill says). That’s right—although we’ve been waiting hopefully, no amount of crossing our fingers could save the Voyage of the Little Mermaid from its untimely, moldy fate. According to some social media posts, they’ve even sold off the puppets used during the show, confirming that this beloved musical has left Animation Courtyard and Hollywood Studios for good.

Beauty & The Beast Live on Stage

Get caught up in the romance of a classic love story during Beauty & The Beast Live on Stage. Featuring lavish costumes, a stunning set, beloved songs and a talented cast, this lush Broadway-style musical retelling of Disney’s treasured animated film will leave you feeling giddy. Held in the open-air Theater of the Stars on Sunset Boulevard, the auditorium can get pretty steamy during the hot summer months. On the bright side, aside from some overflow seating, the theater is covered, so you don’t need to worry about Florida’s hot summer sun or rain showers.

Runtime: 30 minutes

Part of Disney Genie+: Yes

Viewing Tips: As one of the more elaborate stage shows at not just Hollywood Studios but Walt Disney World overall, Beauty & The Beast Live on Stage can unsurprisingly get pretty busy. So, we recommend you arrive at least 25 to 35 minutes ahead of time if you want a good (AKA shaded) seat.

Mickey with fireworks at night


No trip to Walt Disney World and Disney’s Hollywood Studios is complete without catching a showing of Fantasmic, the park’s must-see nighttime spectacular. Along with dazzling fountains, colorful projections and thrilling fireworks, this incredible performance features Mickey Mouse in an epic battle of good versus evil, as well as a mind-blowingly big cast of many other Disney characters, including new additions like Mulan, Moana, Aladdin and Elsa. You’ll also see a diabolical gang of Disney Villains, including an appearance by Maleficent in her fire-breathing dragon form.

At its heart, Fantasmic is a loving ode to Disney animation and its many characters, with an array of both live action sequences and projected scenes. Everyone from Ariel and Prince of The Little Mermaid to King Louie from The Jungle Book can be seen in some shape or form, making for a truly unmissable experience. Don’t be surprised if the grand finale brings a tear to your eye.

Fantasmic takes place on Sunset Boulevard in the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater next to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Yes, that means that the show is completely uncovered and can only be run weather permitting. On top of that, only one or two showings are offered each night, depending on if it’s the high or low season. So, be sure to plan your day accordingly. If you can, try to find a seat as close to the middle as possible for a centralized view. We also recommend bringing snacks along from one of the restaurants outside the theater since the lines for food stands inside can be long.

Runtime: 29 minutes

Part of Disney Genie+: Not currently, though the show was part of FastPass+ in the past

Viewing Tips: If you couldn’t already tell, Fantasmic draws some of the biggest crowds of any stage show at Walt Disney World and certainly Hollywood Studios. So, be prepared for long wait times if you want a good seat. If one is available, try to wait it out until the second showing, as the crowds tend to be slightly less extreme. Alternatively, if you’d rather splurge a bit in order to secure a great view, consider booking a dining package.

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

Feeling a bit stressed out by all those crazy theme park crowds? Let it go during a showing of For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration. Held at the air-conditioned Hyperion Theater in Echo Lake, this charming stage show is a must for all those families who have the soundtrack on repeat. Headlined by Elsa, Anna and Kristoff, as well as the Royal Historians of Arendelle, the show is a mishmash between a comedic retelling of the popular Disney film and an interactive sing-along. Don’t know the words to all those Frozen tunes? Not to worry! The song lyrics are displayed so everyone can belt out the many show-stoppers.

Runtime: 30 minutes

Part of Disney Genie+: Yes

Viewing Tips: Due to its location near the front of the park, the Frozen sing-along sees a lot of traffic early in the day. So, plan to visit in the afternoon for a better view.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular

Entertaining guests with its daring thrills since August 1989, the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is a Hollywood Studios mainstay. Featuring a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to film some of the more suspenseful scenes from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, complete with the famous rolling boulder, the action-packed stunt show is one of the few attractions that still follows the original vision of Disney’s Hollywood Studios as both a theme park and an operational production studio, giving guests an edu-taining inside look at stage combat and more. If you like, you can even join Indy’s stunt double and volunteer to be an extra in the bustling Cairo scene.

Runtime: 30 minutes

Part of Disney Genie+: Yes

Viewing Tips: For the smallest crowds, try to make it to the very first showing of the day. Otherwise, plan to arrive at least 20 minutes early if you want a spot up close. Just like any good student, this is especially where you want to sit if you’re hoping to be an extra. However, be aware that the pyrotechnics can feel unbearably hot the closer you get to the stage.

Stunt show entrance sith signage

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park also boasts its fair share of worthwhile entertainment offerings, including what is arguably the best stage show in all of Walt Disney World: the Festival of the Lion King.

Feathered Friends in Flight!

If you are or are traveling with an animal lover, then you’ll definitely want to make your way to Asia in Animal Kingdom for Feathered Friends in Flight. Although you can no longer see Russell and his pal Dug like you could during the show’s previous iteration, UP! A Great Bird Adventure, this fascinating stage show is still worth a watch.

The show takes place in the Anandanpur Theater, which features architecture evocative of the Himalayan Highlands, making for an especially atmospheric setting. The scene is made even more enchanting with over 15 bird species from across the globe, including toucans, macaws, eagles and more. Much like the rest of Animal Kingdom, the show is interspersed with conservation messages alongside presentations by animal trainers of the birds’ natural behaviors. Want to get even closer to these majestic creatures? Volunteer to be part of the show.

Runtime: 25 minutes

Part of Disney Genie+: Yes

Viewing Tips: This isn’t one of the busier stage shows at Disney World. So, feel free to arrive around 20 minutes before showtime to claim a good seat.

Asia at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park 1

Festival of the Lion King

Ok, we’re just going to go ahead and say it. Festival of the Lion King is the best stage show at Walt Disney World. That’s high praise, we know, but trust us. It has all the goods to back it up. Featuring acrobats, fire jugglers, aerial artists, stilt walkers, much-loved songs, an incredibly talented cast of singers and even appearances by Simba, Timon and Pumbaa (in puppet form), this extravagant stage show needs to be at the very top of your Disney vacation to-do list.

The vocals are breathtaking. The costumes are gorgeous. The puppetry and acrobatics are show-stopping. Seriously, what else do we need to say to convince you? Best of all, this stunning, Broadway-caliber production is held in the round at the Harambe Theater in Africa, meaning there really isn’t a bad seat in the house.

Runtime: 40 minutes

Part of Disney Genie+: Yes

Viewing Tips: As one of the most popular stage shows at Disney World, the Festival of the Lion King draws large crowds throughout the day. If you can’t make it to the first or last two shows of the day, be prepared to arrive at least 35 to 45 minutes prior to the start time.

Actors dressed in Lion King costumes

Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond!

Believe it or not, Animal Kingdom is home to not one but two Broadway-style musicals. Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond immerses guests in the underwater world of its titular clown fish and features appearances by many other fishy Pixar friends. With impressive puppetry, talented performers and original music composed by dynamic songwriting duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who are renowned for their work on Frozen, this is yet another stage show that deserves your precious time.

In this updated version of the show, a dazzling screen at the back of the stage does much of the heavy lifting when it comes to the set. However, that means that some of the previous set pieces have been cut. Fortunately, most guests won’t even know they’re missing. Finding Nemo the Musical is held at the Theater in the Wild in DinoLand USA, which is located on the path to Asia.

Runtime: 25 minutes

Part of Disney Genie+: Yes

Viewing Tips: The Theater in the Wild is large and cool, with plenty of great seats. Still, we recommend you show up at least 30 minutes prior to showtime for the best view.

Actors on stage with sea creature costumes

Outside the Theme Parks

You don’t need to go to the theme parks to take in a great live show at Disney World. Folks looking for a little post-park entertainment can also enjoy wonderful stage shows in Disney Springs and at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.

Drawn to Life Presented by Cirque du Soleil & Disney

Watch with wonder as sketches come to life amid a backdrop of beloved Disney animation during Drawn to Life, an exuberant collaboration between Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering. With an animator’s desk as the stage, thrilling acrobatics and a soaring score styled after timeless Disney songs, this whimsical stage show follows the story of a girl who completes her father’s unfinished drawings with the help of a magical pencil and a childhood filled with Disney memories. 

Typically held twice nightly, with showtimes at 5:30 PM and 8:00 PM, on the West Side of Disney Springs, this vibrant, spellbinding production is well worth the trip to the popular entertainment district. Just be aware that the price of admission can be steep, especially if you’re traveling as a family. Tickets range from $75 to as much as $200, depending on the showtime and seating category.

Runtime: 90 minutes

Part of Disney Genie+: No

Viewing Tips: Drawn to Life takes place in a circular theater, meaning there really isn’t a bad seat to be had. That said, this isn’t necessarily a show where you want to be right up next to the stage, as you may end up missing out on some of the action. So, be sure to choose your section accordingly. Don’t worry about booking several months in advance—there is usually plenty of availability.

Disney Springs Shopping in the evening

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

For this next Disney show, you don’t just get to enjoy some incredible entertainment—you’re also served a tasty meal, too. Held at Pioneer Hall at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground since September 1974, the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is a true Walt Disney World classic. This Wild West-themed dinner show is chockful of fun, with singing, dancing, laugh-out-loud comedy and plenty of audience interaction. It’s a hootenanny of a good time. And, not to mention, the food is delicious. Throughout the show, guests dig into bottomless helpings of hearty fare like BBQ ribs, fried chicken, baked beans and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Yum! Oh, and for all the adults out there, unlimited alcoholic drinks are also included.

Shows are offered three times nightly, with seating beginning at 4:00 PM, 6:15 PM and 8:30 PM. Though the experience isn’t cheap (prices range from $66 to $74 for adults or $39 to $44 for kids), we think it’s a great deal considering the quality of the show and the amount of food that’s included (and the booze!). Be aware that reservations are highly recommended and prepayment is required.

Runtime: 2 hours

Part of Disney Genie+: No

Viewing Tips: As the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue is held at Fort Wilderness, actually getting to the show can be quite a lengthy adventure. So, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get there. For folks coming from the Magic Kingdom, the most direct route is to take the resort boat launch. Otherwise, if you’re driving or taking a bus to the resort, please note that you will need to get on a separate bus to get to Pioneer Hall.

Cast of broadway show on stage

Top Tips for Watching Shows at the Disney Parks

Ok, now that you know which shows at Disney World you want to see, here are some handy-dandy vacation planning tips to help you have the most magical experience possible.

Plan to Arrive Early for the Best Views

Just like the most in-demand rides at the Walt Disney World theme parks, stage shows and other live performances can also be incredibly popular, and that means possibly having to contend with large crowds, long lines and jam-packed theaters. While you could certainly arrive shortly before showtime and hope for the best, if you don’t want to get stuck with a bad seat, your best bet is to beat the masses and show up early. After all, you’re on vacation and you deserve a good view.

Keep in mind that an early arrival time varies from show to show. For example, since Fantasmic is only held once or twice each night, the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater is usually crazy full. So, if you don’t want to be towards the back row or in one of the outside sections, you should plan to get in line at least 45 to 60 minutes (or more—the amphitheater opens 90 minutes prior to showtime) before the show starts. In contrast, as the Festival of the Lion King offers several showtimes throughout the day and is performed in the round, meaning that the stage is in the middle of the room, you don’t need to arrive at the Harambe Theatre quite as early. Showing up at least a half-hour beforehand will get you a great seat.

Upgrade to Disney Genie+ to Guarantee a Good Seat

Though not offered at all of the shows at Disney World, many of the live performances on our list do have Lightning Lanes. So, if you want to guarantee an excellent view for you and your crew without the hassle of arriving ridiculously early (we get it—you only get so much time in the theme parks, and every minute is precious), consider upgrading your Walt Disney World vacation with Disney Genie Plus.

Sure, Disney Genie+ isn’t as cheap (AKA free) as its FastPass predecessor, especially if you’re traveling as a family with kids. However, since those with the service receive priority seating, it can be a worthwhile investment if an up-close view is important to you, particularly if you’re short on time.

Festival of the Lion King Christmas garland

Try to Take Advantage of Audience Participation Opportunities (or Not)

Ok, this next suggestion isn’t for everyone. That said, if you or one of your kiddos love being in the spotlight, then you might want to give it a go. For all the aspiring actors and actresses out there, a handful of the shows on our list do outsource parts of the production to audience members, including Enchanted Tales with Belle and, to a lesser extent, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor at Magic Kingdom, Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot, the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular at Hollywood Studios, and Feathered Friends in Flight and Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom.

As you can probably imagine, taking to the stage during a show at Walt Disney World can be a downright magical experience (or incredibly terrifying if you’re like me and you have stage fright). So, if you’re someone that thrives on being the center of attention, then throw your hand in the air, wave it wildly and hope that one of the cast members calls on you. Should you be lucky enough to get picked, you’re sure to leave with a memory you won’t soon forget.

On the other hand, if someone in your party would rather drink a bottle of the infamous(ly disgusting) Beverly soda from Epcot’s Club Cool than go up on stage, please don’t volunteer them as tribute. And that means you, too, parents of wallflower-like little ones. While you might get a kick out of seeing them up there, they’re probably going to be absolutely mortified and, as a result, super cranky once the show is over. Fortunately, there are also some low-key ways to get involved, like belting it out at a sing-along, texting your favorite one-liner or asking a question about life under the sea.

Use Live Performances as a Chance to Rest 

Although they can take up more time than a typical attraction, watching shows at Disney World gives you an opportunity to slow things down, take a load off your park-weary feet and, if the performance is inside, soak up some blissful air conditioning. Central Florida can get hot, ya’ll! Heck, you might even be able to sneak in a power nap. (Don’t worry, this is a judgment-free zone, and we fully support your decisions. Self-care is important at any time, but especially when you’re on vacation.)

So, don’t just go from ride to ride and packed queue to packed queue all day long. Do yourself a favor and take active breaks during your day. After all, you’re still immersing yourself in plenty of Disney magic. You just happen to be doing it while (hopefully) sitting down. Trust us, you’ll thank us later.

Be Respectful of the People Around You

Last but certainly not least, please, please, please do your part to keep the show as enjoyable as possible for everyone around you. We know that you’ve spent a good deal of money to make it to The Most Magical Place on Earth—and so has everyone else at Walt Disney World. In other words, while it might be tempting to talk loudly about all the action happening up on the stage or stand up so you can see better (or, worse yet, throw little Timmy on your shoulders), be aware of your surroundings and respectful of your fellow guests.

Not only do you make it difficult for others to hear or block the view of the people behind you (hi, short person here!), but for those with kids on their shoulders, it can also be incredibly dangerous. With so many people crammed in next to each other, it’s easy to get accidentally knocked over, putting both you and your child at risk. If you see that all of the people around you are sitting, stay there so that everyone can enjoy the great view. Of course, if you’re at the back of the pack or against a wall and won’t obstruct someone’s view, then by all means, give your kiddo a boost. Oh, and those Mickey or Minnie Ears you’re wearing, be a pal and take those off, too.

Similarly, be kind to cast members. Speaking as a former employee of the Mouse, your safety is a cast member’s number one priority. So, if someone asks you to go a different direction or not climb all willy-nilly over the theater bleachers, it’s because they have your best interests at heart. Following their instructions will ensure you have both a safe and enjoyable experience.

Fantasmic signin Disney's Hollywood Studios

Well, folks, that brings our list of the best Disney World shows to a close. Before we take a bow, what is your favorite live production at Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments below! Then, learn how you can save on your next Disney vacation with our discount Disney World tickets.